Early Signs of Autism in Children (how I knew my son was on the spectrum)

This article is to shine some light on some early signs of autism spectrum disorder.

These are the signs my son had.

If you suspect your child has ASD (even mild) please speak to their PCP.

Do NOT give up when it comes to getting the proper help your child needs.

Get second opinions and always follow your gut mama.

Only you know them best.

You are their advocate…

Related: Common misconceptions about autism in children

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism Spectrum Disorder is classified as a ‘lifelong developmental disability’ which can affect people’s lives in many different ways.

A large proportion of people are diagnosed with autism from an early age; however, symptoms can go amiss and a diagnosis might not be made until later in the individual’s life.

Below, are numerous signs and symptoms that can indicate Autism Spectrum Disorder:

Physical Development

Babies and young children with autism have a range of both physical and communication difficulties.

Part of a child’s development is learning to come to grips with the sensory world surrounding them and in order to do this, they need to make use of their fine-motor and gross-motor skills.

Some children might find that they struggle with either their fine-motor or gross-motor skills, or, they might encounter problems with both.

Fine motor skills: these skills involve picking-up and holding small objects, like a crayon or a spoon, and being able to grip onto them.

A child with autism may struggle to make use of the small muscles in their hands so you might see them having difficulty playing with building blocks or other toys.

Gross motor skills: gross motor skills require the use of almost all of our body and larger muscles that are responsible for children crawling, walking, catching, throwing and movements that are required for everyday functioning.

Babies can learn to walk from anywhere between 9-12 months so if you notice a delay with your baby attempting to shuffle, crawl, or make any attempt at trying to get up, you should consider visiting a pediatrician for further advice.

(my son didn’t walk till he was almost 18m old)

Communication Difficulties

Many young children are intrigued by new language and understanding what different words mean, but for a child with autism, the way in which they verbally communicate and interpret the world can be very different.

Some children with autism spectrum disorder may not be able to speak at all and others may communicate in a way that is unique to them.

Alternatively, some children, especially those with an above-average IQ, might become fixated on particular words and those of a specific topic.

It isn’t uncommon for children to say nonsense words or repeat words that they hear from others: this is referred to as ‘echolalia’.

The child might not even understand words that they hear and repeat and they might also speak in a robotic manner or a sing-song way.

Furthermore, children with autism might not understand:

  • non-verbal cues and following instructions meaning of various facial expressions where different vocal tones are used.


As children with autism might struggle to identify how they are feeling and verbally express themselves, they can often become extremely angry and have complete meltdowns or anger episodes.

Furthermore, other factors can also lead to a meltdown:

If there is a dramatic change in routine a child feels very tired or hungry they are emotionally overstimulated

For a parent that has no understanding of their child’s reactive behavior, it can be very distressing to observe: an agitated child can resort to biting, hair-pulling, and smearing.

In order to calm the child down, different strategies, dependent upon the child, would be required.

Behavior diaries and relaxation techniques are all useful ways to monitor a child’s behavior and develop their coping strategies.

Additional Signs and Symptoms

Although signs such as your child becoming physically or verbally aggressive might be a key indicator that there is a problem, other symptoms such as ‘pica’, consuming non-edible objects, can also be a sign that they might have autism.

Many children can also be extremely sensitive to lights and sounds; if they encounter new or unfamiliar smells, sights, sounds, or textures, the unfamiliarity can cause confusion, hypersensitivity and also contribute to a meltdown.

The signs and symptoms can vary from child-to-child and parents that have any concerns or notice a lack of difference in behavior, it is best to consult a local GP.

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