In autism spectrum disorder (ASD), as its name mentions, a spectrum describes the wide variation and severity of different autism symptoms and signs. Researchers have observed this condition in all ethnic, economic, and gender groups.
Autism symptoms and signs are unique to each patient, but professionals can often identify difficulties with communication, interaction, repetitive behaviors, and sensitivity to stimuli.
Although awareness of the real meaning of autism has grown, many cultures still hold unrealistic ideas about the disorder, such as the notion that people on the spectrum are nonverbal but geniuses in areas like mathematics or music. This conception is incorrect, as each person on the spectrum presents unique difficulties and strengths, and in many cases, autism symptoms and signs can be subtle. With proper support, neurodivergent individuals can be social and achieve great things.
Autism is not an uncommon condition. According to the CDC, data from 2023 showed that 1 in 36 children aged eight years or older has an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis, and an estimated 2.21% of the adult population in the United States lives with this disorder. However, awareness of autism has not always been high; many people have lived with this condition, thinking they were different without receiving any diagnosis or support.
At ABA Centers of America, we aim to provide reliable information to help people recognize autism symptoms and signs, encourage early intervention, and offer services that support the autism community. These services include diagnostic assessments, ABA therapy for children and adolescents, and early intervention.
What Are Autism Symptoms And Signs?
Autism symptoms and signs can vary. However, the following examples are common among people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Difficulty with social interactions is one of the critical signs shared by individuals on the spectrum. These social difficulties encompass various behaviors that can hinder the formation of meaningful social connections in people with autism.
People with ASD commonly exhibit these traits:
- Difficulty maintaining or making eye contact in conversation
- Problems with maintaining physical boundaries and personal space
- Sometimes, people may perceive them as rude or aggressive even if they do not realize it
- Difficulty making friends
- Feelings of anxiety in social situations
- Stress when in environments with many simultaneous conversations
- Difficulty understanding social cues
- Difficulty adapting behavior to different social conditions
Most people with autism exhibit difficulty communicating effectively. Some standard features that make communication challenging for people with ASD are:
- Use of overly literal language
- Difficulty understanding jokes, sarcasm, idiomatic phrases, and figurative language
- Struggling to find the appropriate volume or tone of voice in conversation
- Difficulty participating in conversations on topics that are not of interest
- Problems expressing thoughts, emotions, and needs
- Talking for extended periods about a specific topic without allowing others to participate or noticing when others react indifferently
- Facial expressions, movements, and gestures do not match what they vocalize
- Problems predicting and understanding other people’s actions
Repetitive behaviors are a common feature of people with autism. These behaviors serve as a form of self-regulation in response to stimuli and as a way of coping with anxiety and stress. Repetitive behaviors in individuals with ASD include:
- Repetitive movements like hand-flapping, rubbing, rocking, lining up objects, or facial tics
- Continuously counting
- Repeating phrases or words
- Deep preoccupation with specific topics such as numbers, details, or facts
- Tapping objects or surfaces repeatedly
- Moving back and forth, following a particular pattern
A common symptom of autism is heightened sensitivity to stimuli. What may be perceived as commonplace by a neurotypical person is often noticed more intensely by a neurodivergent individual. Bright lights, noises, textures, and movements can trigger hypersensitivity, distraction, and discomfort in people with autism. Some sensory challenges associated with autism include:
- Discomfort with loud noises and bright lights
- Strong preferences for specific textures
- Avoidance and discomfort in crowded and noisy places
- Heightened perception of details that may not be readily noticeable to others
- Difficulty in trying new foods
- Experiencing sensory overloads, leading to emotional and physical discomfort, often requiring solitude and silence to recover
Fixation On Routine:
Typically, individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) struggle to adapt to changes. Fixation on routines includes behaviors such as:
- Difficulty adapting to change
- Resistance to introducing new activities
- Strong adherence to schedules and practices
- Feeling discomfort with routine disruption
- Challenges with transitions
Sometimes, individuals with autism exhibit limited interests that may seem obsessive. Individuals with autism often demonstrate impressive abilities in memorizing information on specific and complex topics, which may be less common among neurotypical individuals. These particular interests or habits are typically intense and enduring to the extent that they may seem unusual or age-inappropriate.
Early Signs Of Autism:
Early intervention is crucial for addressing autism and significantly improving its symptoms. Sometimes, parents and caregivers ignore these early signs of autism, as they are unaware of their importance. Autism symptoms and signs are sturdier in infancy and childhood and can evolve while getting older. ABA therapy effectively manages the symptoms and signs of autism, regardless of their level or severity. While early intervention ensures more successful results in ABA therapy, it is also effective for adolescents and adults with ASD.
It is essential to identify early signs of autism to address and intervene in any developmental difficulties in children as soon as possible. These signs may include:
- Delayed or limited language development
- Little interest in communicating
- Pointing to objects instead of asking for them
- Repetition of words or phrases, known as echolalia
- Tantrums when not understanding or not getting what they want
- Limited interest in playing with other children
- Lack of imaginative play
- Failure to respond to their name by nine months
- Minimal or no use of gestures, such as waving goodbye, by 12 months
- Lining up toys instead of playing with them and becoming upset if the order of toys is changed
- Engaging in repetitive behaviors like hand flapping, rocking the body, or spinning in circles
- Unusual reactions to sounds, smells, tastes, sights, or textures
- Delayed movement skills
- Delays in cognitive and learning skills
- Atypical eating and sleeping habits
- Distinctive mood or severe emotional reactions
- Signs of excessive anxiety, stress, or worry
Early signs of autism encompass a wide range of behaviors. The previously mentioned are some key indicators that may manifest in early childhood. Fortunately, the increasing awareness about autism has resulted in the development of evidence-based diagnostic methods and treatments, including ABA therapy. These interventions help individuals with ASD and their families learn healthy behaviors, enabling them to thrive academically, professionally, and in their interpersonal relationships.
ABA Centers of America And ABA Therapy
Regardless of age, symptoms, and signs of autism, healthcare professionals consider Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy the gold standard. ABA therapy is a science-backed, outcome-based approach that has been proven for more than six decades to help individuals on the spectrum manage their emotions and acquire new behaviors and skills, thereby improving their quality of life and that of their families.
ABA therapy employs effective learning techniques, including positive reinforcement, to teach social skills such as conversational skills, eye contact, emotion management, and problem-solving skills, enabling individuals with ASD to lead the most independent lives possible.
ABA therapy plans at ABA Centers of America are designed by professional behavioral experts and customized to each client’s and their families’ needs.
If you think you or a loved one may have autism and could benefit from ABA therapy, call (844) 923-4222 or contact us on our website to start working towards a better future. You can also explore our services and the valuable information we constantly update on our blog.