How to tell if someone has autism

Signs and Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorders

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability caused by differences in the brain. People with ASD often have problems with social communication and interaction, and restricted or repetitive behaviors or interests. People with ASD may also have different ways of learning, moving, or paying attention. It is important to note that some people without ASD might also have some of these symptoms. But for people with ASD, these characteristics can make life very challenging.

Learn more about ASD

Social communication and interaction skills can be challenging for people with ASD.

Examples of social communication and social interaction characteristics related to ASD can include

  • Avoids or does not keep eye contact
  • Does not respond to name by 9 months of age
  • Does not show facial expressions like happy, sad, angry, and surprised by 9 months of age
  • Does not play simple interactive games like pat-a-cake by 12 months of age
  • Uses few or no gestures by 12 months of age (for example, does not wave goodbye)
  • Does not share interests with others by 15 months of age (for example, shows you an object that they like)
  • Does not point to show you something interesting by 18 months of age
  • Does not notice when others are hurt or upset by 24 months of age
  • Does not notice other children and join them in play by 36 months of age
  • Does not pretend to be something else, like a teacher or superhero, during play by 48 months of age
  • Does not sing, dance, or act for you by 60 months of age

Restricted or Repetitive Behaviors or Interests

People with ASD have behaviors or interests that can seem unusual. These behaviors or interests set ASD apart from conditions defined by problems with social communication and interaction only.

Examples of restricted or repetitive behaviors and interests related to ASD can include

  • Lines up toys or other objects and gets upset when order is changed
  • Repeats words or phrases over and over (called echolalia)
  • Plays with toys the same way every time
  • Is focused on parts of objects (for example, wheels)
  • Gets upset by minor changes
  • Has obsessive interests
  • Must follow certain routines
  • Flaps hands, rocks body, or spins self in circles
  • Has unusual reactions to the way things sound, smell, taste, look, or feel

Other Characteristics

Most people with ASD have other related characteristics. These might include

  • Delayed language skills
  • Delayed movement skills
  • Delayed cognitive or learning skills
  • Hyperactive, impulsive, and/or inattentive behavior
  • Epilepsy or seizure disorder
  • Unusual eating and sleeping habits
  • Gastrointestinal issues (for example, constipation)
  • Unusual mood or emotional reactions
  • Anxiety, stress, or excessive worry
  • Lack of fear or more fear than expected

It is important to note that children with ASD may not have all or any of the behaviors listed as examples here.

Learn more about screening and diagnosis of ASD

Learn more about treating the symptoms of ASD

ASD Symptoms and Risks for Females

Q: “Do the symptoms of autism in women differ from typical ASD symptoms in men?”

A: Yes. For one, women on the autism spectrum may be able to mimic social standards better than some autistic men — they often describe taking on personas or mimicking other people to fit in. A woman with autism may show a larger range of emotion in her face and voice. She might be able to adopt social standards fairly well but find it exhausting and stressful. The drama of female peer relationships can feel really overwhelming and not enjoyable — she might even gravitate toward male friendships for this reason.

Intense, fixed interests are a main symptom of autism. Women may fixate on more socially relevant hobbies: they might jump into church work or environmental causes. Their autism may be missed because of the mainstream nature of these interests, but the people who know them best are often quick to point out how obsessive their interest actually is.

Autism in women can present with an eating disorder. In fact, research shows that around 23% of females with eating disorders are on the autism spectrum.1 Studies also suggest that women with autism who are diagnosed with anorexia benefit less from treatment than do non-autistic patients.2 The fixation for these women might be nutrition, or they might have really restricted, repetitive eating profiles because of sensory issues or because they crave repetition. Since the eating disorder is the most critical and evident condition, the autism spectrum disorder often gets overlooked.

A significant risk for women with autism is being taken advantage of in relationships. One particular study reported a shockingly high incidence (9 of 14 participants) of sexual abuse; half of the accounts occurred in relationships.3

The following information came from Theresa Regan, Ph.D and her webinar “Could I Be on the Autism Spectrum?” The Adults’ Guide to Pursuing an Accurate ASD Diagnosis. That webinar is available for replay here.

[Self-Test] Autism Spectrum Disorder Symptoms in Adults]

View Article Sources

Wentz E, Lacey JH, Waller G, Råstam M, Turk J, Gillberg C. Childhood onset neuropsychiatric disorders in adult eating disorder patients. A pilot study. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (Dec. 2005)

Stewart, C. et al. Impact of ASD Traits on Treatment Outcomes of Eating Disorders in Girls. European Eating Disorders Review: The Journal of the Eating Disorders Association (Jan. 2017)

Bargiela, S., Steward, R., & Mandy, W. The Experiences of Late-diagnosed Women with Autism Spectrum Conditions: An Investigation of the Female Autism Phenotype. Journal of autism and developmental disorders (Jul. 2016)

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"Children of the rain".

What you need to know about autism

11 April 2019 12:01

Behind the poetic expression "children of the rain" lies the daily feat of people who are faced with a diagnosis of autism. Children who will never be able to perceive themselves as part of the world around them, and parents for whom every day is a series of battles and victories. First, fighting with yourself, accepting and realizing that their child will never be cured, and then fighting the disease for every gesture, every smile, every look and word of the child - small, but such important victories.

Scientists have not been able to reliably establish the causes of the disease. It is known about the genetic predisposition: signs of autism are more often manifested in people whose family already has an autistic person. Pregnancy in mothers of such children proceeds normally, and the children themselves are often very attractive in appearance - autism, as a rule, does not affect the physical development of the child. However, the development of autism is still in some cases associated with the manifestation of other diseases:

  • cerebral palsy;
  • maternal rubella infection during pregnancy;
  • tuberous sclerosis;
  • impaired fat metabolism (the risk of having a baby with autism is greater in obese women).

All of these conditions can have a bad effect on the brain and, as a result, provoke symptoms of autism. However, what autism is, and what are the causes of its manifestation, is still not completely clear.

Early diagnosis plays an important role in the further development of an autistic child. Autism in children is manifested by certain signs. Early childhood autism is a condition that can manifest itself in children at a very early age - both at 1 year old and at 2 years old. What is autism in a child, and whether this disease occurs, is determined by a specialist. But you can independently figure out what kind of illness a child has and suspect him, based on information about the signs of such a condition.

Early signs of autism in a child

This syndrome is characterized by 4 main signs. In children with this disease, they can be determined to varying degrees.

Signs of autism in children are as follows:

  • impaired social interaction;
  • broken communication;
  • stereotyped behaviour;
  • early symptoms of childhood autism in children under 3 years of age.

The first signs of autistic children can be expressed as early as the age of 2 years. Symptoms may be mild when eye-to-eye contact is impaired, or more severe when it is completely absent. As a rule, autism manifests itself very early - even before the age of 1, parents can recognize it. In the first months, such children are less mobile, react inadequately to stimuli from the outside, they have poor facial expressions.

The child cannot perceive a holistic image of a person who is trying to communicate with him. Even in the photo and video, you can recognize that such a baby's facial expressions do not correspond to the current situation. He does not smile when someone tries to amuse him, but he can laugh when the reason for this is not clear to anyone close to him. The face of such a baby is mask-like, grimaces periodically appear on it.

Baby uses gestures only to indicate needs. As a rule, even in children under one year old, interest is sharply shown if they see an interesting object - the baby laughs, points with a finger, and demonstrates joyful behavior. The first signs in children under 1 year old can be suspected if the child does not behave like this. Symptoms of autism in children under one year old are manifested by the fact that they use a certain gesture, wanting to get something, but do not seek to capture the attention of their parents by including them in their game.

An autistic person cannot understand other people's emotions. How this symptom manifests itself in a child can be traced already at an early age. If ordinary children have a brain designed in such a way that they can easily determine when they look at other people, they are upset, cheerful or scared, then an autistic person is not capable of this.

The child is not interested in peers. Already at the age of 2, ordinary children strive for company - to play, to get acquainted with their peers. Signs of autism in children of 2 years old are expressed by the fact that such a baby does not participate in games, but plunges into his own world. Those who want to know how to recognize a child 2 years old and older should simply look at the company of children: an autist is always alone and does not pay attention to others or perceives them as inanimate objects.

It is difficult for a child to play with imagination and social roles. Children 3 years old and even younger play, fantasizing and inventing role-playing games. In autistics, symptoms at 3 years old may be expressed by the fact that they do not understand what a social role in the game is, and do not perceive toys as integral objects. For example, signs of autism in a child of 3 years old can be expressed by the fact that the baby spins the wheel of a car for hours or repeats other actions.

Child does not respond to emotions and communication from parents. Previously, it was believed that such children are not emotionally attached to their parents at all. But now scientists have proven that when a mother leaves, such a child at 4 years old and even earlier shows anxiety. If family members are around, he looks less obsessed. However, in autism, signs in children of 4 years old are expressed by a lack of reaction to the fact that parents are absent. The autist shows anxiety, but he does not try to return his parents.

In children under 5 years of age and later, there is a delay in speech or its complete absence (mutism). The speech is incoherent, the child repeats the same phrases, devoid of meaning, speaks of himself in the third person. He does not respond to other people's speech either. When the “age of questions” comes, parents will not hear them from the baby, and if they do, then these questions will be monotonous and without practical significance.

Stereotyped behavior includes obsession with one activity, repetition of daily rituals, development of fears and obsessions. At the same time, if the sequence of the ritual is violated, the child becomes hysterical or may show aggression or self-aggression.

Can autism be cured and is it curable at all? Unfortunately, there is no cure. How you can help your child depends on each individual case. Drug treatment is prescribed only in case of destructive behavior of a small patient. But, despite the fact that the disease is not curable, it is possible to correct the situation. The best "treatment" in this case is regular practice every day and the creation of the most favorable environment for the autistic. Classes are held in stages:

  • To form the skills that are needed for training. If the child does not make contact, gradually establish it, not forgetting who it is - autistics. Gradually it is necessary to develop at least the rudiments of speech.
  • Eliminate forms of behavior that are non-constructive: aggression, self-aggression, fears, withdrawing into oneself, etc.
  • Learn to observe, imitate.
  • Teaching social games and roles.
  • Learn to make emotional contact.

The most common treatment for autism is practiced according to the principles of behaviorism (behavioral psychology). One of the subtypes of such therapy is ABA therapy. The basis of this treatment is to observe what the reactions and behavior of the baby look like. After all the features are studied, incentives are selected for a particular autist. Speech therapy practice is obligatory: if the kid regularly works with a speech therapist, his intonation and pronunciation are getting better. At home, parents help the child develop self-service and socialization skills. Since autists have no motivation to play, they get used to the daily routine, everyday affairs, cards are created where the order of performing this or that action is written or drawn.

Why is early diagnosis important? There are conditions that mimic autism that can be confused with its symptoms. But other methods are used to correct them.

ZPRR with autistic features

The symptoms of this disease are associated with a delay in psychoverbal development. They are in many ways similar to the signs of autism. Starting from a very early age, the baby does not develop in terms of speech in the way that existing norms suggest. In the first months of life, he does not babble, then he does not learn to speak simple words. At 2-3 years old, his vocabulary is very poor. Such children are often poorly developed physically, sometimes hyperactive. The final diagnosis is made by the doctor. It is important to visit a psychiatrist, speech therapist with the child.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

This condition is also often mistaken for autism. With a lack of attention, children are restless, it is difficult for them to study at school. There are problems with concentration, such children are very mobile. Even in adulthood, echoes of this state remain, because it is difficult for such people to remember information and make decisions. You should try to diagnose this condition as early as possible, practice treatment with psychostimulants and sedative drugs, and visit a psychologist.

Hearing loss

These are various hearing impairments, both congenital and acquired. Hearing-impaired children also have speech delays. Therefore, such children do not respond well to the name, fulfill requests and may seem naughty. At the same time, parents may suspect autism in children. But a professional psychiatrist will definitely send the baby for an examination of auditory function.

Hearing aid helps solve problems.


Autism was previously considered one of the manifestations of schizophrenia in children. However, it is now clear that these are two completely different diseases. Schizophrenia in children begins later - at 5-7 years. The symptoms of this disease appear gradually. Such children have obsessive fears, talk to themselves, later delusions and hallucinations appear. This condition is treated with medication.

It is important to understand that autism is not a death sentence. Indeed, with proper care, the earliest correction of autism and support from specialists and parents, such a baby can fully live, learn and find happiness, becoming an adult.

signs and diagnostics. How to recognize autism

Autism in adults - symptoms, causes and classification of the disease. How is autism different from autism spectrum disorder. External signs of an autist, the possibility of rehabilitation and social adaptation, the main directions of treatment. The importance of the Internet for adults with autism as a means of communication and virtual socialization. Everything related to autism in adults, we decided to find out in an interview with the Chief Physician of the Health Harmony Medical Center, a psychiatrist, psychiatrist-narcologist and psychotherapist Vladislav Sipovich.

What is autism and autism spectrum disorder, what is the difference?

Autism has many synonyms. It is also called infantile, childhood, early infantile autism, as well as Kanner's syndrome or autism, in the American DSM-IV classification it is called autistic disorder. All these are the names of a disorder associated with impaired development of the brain (GM) and manifested by such main symptoms, the so-called triad:
• Difficulty or complete impossibility of establishing social ties and communication.
• Restrictions on areas of interest.
• Repetitive compulsions. Learn more about obsessive-compulsive disorder syndrome.

Other symptoms are characteristic, but not decisive in the diagnosis of autism. They can manifest as:
• Inadequate response to stimuli, when a strong stimulus is ignored, and the reaction to a weak one is excessive. For example, the slightest noise can cause crying and screaming, and loud speech does not attract attention.
• Selectivity in food.
• Perfectionism, etc.

True autism develops in early childhood, the first pronounced signs appear before the age of 3 years. It is simply impossible not to notice them, unlike autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which has milder symptoms and therefore can go undiagnosed. There is a theory that autism in adults is an autism spectrum disorder not noticed in childhood.

What causes autism and how common is it?

The etiology of autism is not fully understood. The genetic theory of the origin of autism is generally accepted, which is confirmed by cases of multiple development of autism or ASD in families. For example, when a mother and two out of three children suffer from ASD. It is believed that this process involves the genes responsible for the maturation of connections in the GM synapses. But how this happens - whether due to a mutation in a single gene, or due to multiple mutations - is not clear. The most reliable is the assumption that during meiosis (the process of formation of germ cells with a half set of chromosomes), when they diverge, deletions are observed (loss of one of the genes) or the entry into the genome of two identical genes - duplications. As a result of such chromosomal aberrations, germ cells undergo mutations, which are later inherited, more often through the maternal line.

Factors leading to an increased risk of mutations can be almost all teratogens, ie. substances that cause birth defects. They have the strongest effect on the fetus in the first 8 weeks of pregnancy.

Other factors that increase the risk of developing autistic disorders or complicate them are:
1. Infectious diseases.
2. Disorders of metabolism and development of bone tissue.
3. Ingestion of harmful substances, namely:
• Exhaust gases from diesel engines
• Heavy metals.
• Phthalates and phenols in plastics.
• Pesticides.
• Bromine-containing substances.
• GMO-containing foods.
4. The triad of vices - smoking, alcohol, drugs.

The risk of having children with autism is significantly increased by stressful conditions during pregnancy, intrauterine infections of the fetus, certain medications taken by pregnant women, as well as asthma, fever, obesity or malnutrition in a pregnant woman.
In addition, it is generally recognized that autism progresses rapidly in an unfavorable psychological environment, as well as severe physical and mental overwork.

For some time, there was an assumption that the development of autism in children was associated with their vaccination against measles, and specifically with the mercury-containing substance thiomersal in the composition of the vaccine. But scientific studies have not confirmed this assumption.

Some experts associate the development of autism with hyperactivity of the immune system in the direction of enhancing autoimmune processes in relation to one's own neurons and their synapses.
Currently, the scientific medical community is inclined to the idea that autism is a complex disorder caused by separate etiological factors, often acting simultaneously.

The incidence of autism is 1-2 people per 1000, and ASD - 6 people per 1000. With the growth of diagnostic efficiency, these figures have begun to grow, but there is no reason to talk about a specific increase in the incidence. By the way, ASD is 4 times more common in boys than in girls.

What are the most typical signs of autism in adults?

ASD, especially in mild autism in adults, is often confused with depression, bad mood, stressful conditions, etc. Therefore, the question of how to recognize autism in adults is quite relevant. Establishing the correct diagnosis will allow you to understand in a timely manner what is happening to the person and help him. Indeed, suffering from autism in adulthood, a person does not understand why it is difficult for him to communicate with other people, why he reacts to certain circumstances differently than others, why he does not find it funny when everyone laughs at a good joke, why he does not know at all that this is a joke. This further reinforces autism “involuntarily”, when a person feels isolated from society and is burdened by this. In severe forms of congenital autism, a person does not feel the need for communication at all, which is not interesting to him and even annoying.

By the way, autism in adult men occurs 5 times more often than in the fairer sex, and the overall prevalence, according to statistics from British scientists, is 1 autistic per 100 healthy people.

It is possible to suspect autism in adults, the signs of which can be rather mild and, as it were, erased, on the basis of the following symptoms: When meeting acquaintances, an autistic person pretends not to notice them and tries to pass by without saying hello. Communication with even likeable people is painful for a person with ASD.
• Unwillingness to look into the eyes of the interlocutor, or vice versa, too close, unblinking gaze.
• Ignoring former hobbies, narrowing the range of interests.
• A person does not perceive and does not react to events in the life of loved ones and his own.
• Loss of guilt, duty, responsibility, emotional impoverishment. A person does not experience any feelings at all, except for anger, anger and irritation.
• Feeling of unreality of what is happening, lack of orientation in time.
• Appearance of stereotypical movements, repetition of phrases from films, songs, etc.
• Perfectionism - the desire to do everything and arrange in a certain order. Hence the conservatism in dress, habits, skills, food, and so on. Some autistics, through constant repetition, hone certain skills to perfection, but this is by no means a sign of genius, as some believe. The slightest deviation from the rituals for an autist is simply unacceptable and causes extreme irritation.
• The constancy of the inner world. Any change in the course of life is perceived dramatically and can cause a negative reaction.
• Total lack of sense of humor.
• Misunderstanding and ignoring the elementary rules of behavior, emotions, feelings and intentions of another person. Autistic people simply do not realize that their behavior or words can offend another person, associating him with an inanimate object. Only an autistic person, after listening to unflattering remarks in the team, can approach the boss and ask: “Are you really a fool?”.
• Inability to form romantic or friendly relationships due to lack of knowledge and communication skills.
• They hear about love, but they cannot feel this feeling, because they do not feel affection even for their relatives.
• Autistic people do not understand romantic gestures, kissing is considered meaningless, and hugs are perceived as restraining freedom of movement.
• Sexual feelings are familiar to them, but they cannot discuss them with others. All knowledge about sex is drawn from serials and films, often with pornographic content.

Even if a person has only a few of the above symptoms, an urgent consultation with a neurologist, psychiatrist or psychotherapist is necessary.
Outwardly, an autistic adult is given out by meager facial expressions, aversion of the eyes, a meager vocabulary and speech devoid of emotional coloring (like a cyborg).

What are the types of autism, what is its classification based on?

Autism, as a concept, combines several pathological conditions, namely:
• Autism proper, known as Kanner's syndrome/autism. This is the most severe form of the disease with a full range of symptoms. Patients are completely asocial, speech is undeveloped or absent altogether, the speech apparatus is atrophied. Cognitive abilities at the lowest level.
Mental retardation of moderate or severe form is noted, important nerve centers are not developed, therefore independent existence is impossible, constant supervision is necessary. In especially severe cases - hospitalization in specialized medical facilities.
• Asperger's syndrome/autism, which is a mild form of autism in which there are problems with socialization and communication, but without impairment of cognitive and speech functions. Closure, strange behavior and some constraint do not prevent them from being absolutely independent and full-fledged members of society.
• Rett syndrome is a neuropsychiatric disorder in women. It manifests itself after a year of life and is accompanied by a rapid regression of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems, which cannot be stopped with medication. Usually, only rare women with this syndrome reach the age of thirty, so it is quite difficult to meet adult women with Rett syndrome.
• Atypical autism, which includes ASDs not identifiable by the first three forms, ie. all those that have atypical symptoms.

Asperger's syndrome and atypical autism are the most common in adults. However, they may be distinguished by high intelligence or other outstanding abilities, such as photographic memory. They can even make discoveries and achieve significant career growth. For example, the prominent artist Van Gogh had signs of autism, although the exact diagnosis of his mental disorder is still a mystery.

Through the differential diagnosis of autism in adults, it was possible to classify 5 groups of autistic people with different intensity of symptoms:
1. Patients with little to no interaction with the outside world. These are incurable patients who need daily care.
2. Closed people who rarely strive for communication, and then only on their own initiative. It is almost impossible to impose communication on them from outside. They like to be alone and spend hours doing one thing without sleep, food and rest. They also require daily supervision and organization of life.
3. People who do not understand and do not perceive the rules of conduct and social norms.
4. Autistic people who are easily offended and unable to confront problems on their own. They are quite difficult to distinguish from healthy ones, which can only be done by a psychotherapist or psychiatrist.
5. Autistic adults with above-average intelligence who have mutations not only for mild autism, but also for “genius” genes, which confirms the Van Gogh example.
By the way, studies have found that only 33% of people with autism are able to live independently or only occasionally need help.

What is autism in adults, we have already found out. But is it possible to get rid of it, or at least socially adapt the patient?

As for the possibility of a cure for autism, then, unfortunately, I will answer in the negative. Autism is forever, but it's not a death sentence yet. It all depends on how severe and how autism is manifested in adults, as well as the type of autistic disorder. It is practically impossible to help patients with autism proper, which manifested itself in early childhood. The complete lack of interaction with the outside world cannot be cured by either psychotherapy or medication. All that remains is the care of the sick in the family or in a specialized hospital institution.

Asperger's syndrome and atypical autism, the most common in adults, have a fairly large opportunity for social adaptation. People with a mild form of autism often come to a psychotherapist already sufficiently adapted in society, engaged in professional activities, and even having a family. They turn when the symptoms of the disease intensify, transform and begin to interfere with their implementation in society, i.e. when the problem escalates and others begin to notice it. It becomes more and more difficult for a person to imitate feelings that he does not experience, not to sleep at night from the inability to solve insignificant problems, to suffer from the consciousness that he is different from others and not understanding the reasons for his “exclusivity”. Fortunately, there are encouraging statistics that with early diagnosis and timely rehabilitation, more than 50% of autistic people begin to lead an independent lifestyle and do without the care of relatives.

Of course, it will not be possible to completely cure autism, but it is possible to teach the patient the basic skills of independent existence and communication, designating “what is good and what is bad” and thus correcting his behavior. In practice, treatment comes down to rehabilitation and social adaptation. The main direction is psychotherapeutic, in particular cognitive-behavioral therapy. Sometimes it is possible to prescribe antidepressants, antipsychotics, psychotropic and anticonvulsants to relieve symptoms, stabilize the condition, and when autism is associated with other mental disorders.

Can modern information technologies contribute to the social adaptation of people with autism?

Very interesting question. It has long been noted that autistic people have difficulty making direct verbal contact, but they are quite willing to communicate in various social networks. Special forums have even begun to appear on the Internet, where an autistic person can find a partner with the same disease. Correspondence allows you to establish friendly or personal relationships with a similar person, as well as organize various communities to protect your rights. Many autistic adults believe that autism is not a disease, but a unique way of thinking and relating to the world around them. To protect such a life concept at 19In 1996, the NJAS network community was created, which stands for Independent Living on the Autism Spectrum. In addition, all over the world April 2 is celebrated as the day of the dissemination of knowledge about autism, which clearly emphasizes the relevance of this problem for the world community.

In addition, computer technology expands the ability of a person with ASD to find a remote job and thus realize themselves professionally. Moreover, the high intellectual abilities of some autistic people allow them to perform tasks of increased complexity, especially those that require taking into account the smallest details.

Learn more