Signs of Autism – Understanding the Spectrum and Identifying Key Indicators

In 2023, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that approximately 1 in 36 children in the US (based on 2020 data) is diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). More children will be diagnosed with autism this year than with AIDS, diabetes, and cancer, making this the fastest-growing developmental disorder in the United States. In this blog, we will be diving deep into the topic of autism, what it is, what are the implications of it, and the signs you need to look out for. So, without further ado, let’s begin.

What is Autism?

Autism, also known as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects social communication, interaction and behavior. It is characterized by a wide range of symptoms, skills, and levels of impairment that can vary greatly from person to person. Autism typically becomes evident in early childhood, often by the age of 2 or 3 years. However, it can also be detected later in life due to subtle behaviors or masked symptoms that go undetected in early childhood. Autism may manifest differently in men and women, but typical signs of autism in adults include:
  • Difficulty in understanding social “rules,” which may include not talking over people when having a conversation.
  • Getting too close to other people or getting irritated if someone gets too close to you.
  • Avoiding eye contact.
  • Being too blunt, rude, or not interested in others without intentionally meaning that.
  • Not understanding sarcasm and taking things literally.
  • & more.
Note: It’s important to understand that these signs alone do not necessarily indicate autism, as they can also be present in other conditions or be part of an individual’s unique personality. A comprehensive assessment by a qualified healthcare professional specializing in adult autism diagnosis is necessary for an accurate diagnosis. While there is no autism cure found yet that can cure this disorder from its roots, early intervention, therapies, and support can greatly improve the quality of life for individuals with autism and help them reach their full potential. Autism is considered a spectrum disorder as it encompasses a wide range of symptoms and abilities. Some individuals may have mild symptoms and be able to lead independent lives, while others may require significant support and assistance in their daily lives. The severity and combination of symptoms can vary, leading to the concept of the autism spectrum.

Can You Self-Diagnose Autism?

On paper, yes, it is possible to self-identify or self-diagnose autism. However, it is not a reliable or recommended procedure. Autism is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder that requires a comprehensive evaluation by a qualified healthcare professional specializing in autism diagnosis. Autism diagnosis involves a thorough assessment that includes gathering information about an individual’s developmental history, behaviors, and experiences, as well as conducting structured interviews and utilizing standardized assessment tools. It requires expertise in recognizing the subtle signs and characteristics of autism and differentiating them from other conditions with similar features.

Does Autism Have Physical Signs?

While there are no specific physical signs that can definitively indicate autism, there may be certain features or characteristics that can be observed in some individuals on the autism spectrum. It’s important to note that these physical features are not present in all individuals with autism, and they vary greatly from person to person. Some individuals with autism may exhibit physical traits or characteristics such as:
  • Unusual Facial Expressions – Some individuals with autism may display atypical facial expressions or have difficulty maintaining eye contact during social interactions.
  • Motor Coordination Differences – They may exhibit awkward or unusual movements, repetitive motions (such as hand-flapping or rocking), or exhibit differences in posture or gait.
  • Sensory Sensitivities – While sensory sensitivities primarily manifest as differences in the perception and processing of sensory stimuli. They can sometimes have observable physical responses. For example, an individual may cover their ears or shield their eyes in response to certain sounds or lights that are overwhelming to them.
  • Unusual or Stereotypical Behaviors – Repetitive behaviors, also known as stereotypes, are common in individuals with autism. These behaviors can include repetitive body movements such as hand-flapping, spinning, or toe-walking. While these behaviors are primarily behavioral in nature, they may have observable physical manifestations.

Unveiling Level 1 Autism Symptoms – Recognizing Mild Forms of Autism

In general, there are three levels of ASD, ranging from mild forms of autism to severe. According to the Diagnostics And Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), each level refers to the amount of assistance needed for an individual child. Level 1 ASD requires support, level 2 ASD requires substantial support, and level 3 requires very substantial support. This information can help parents prepare for different hurdles their children may face daily. Autism level 1 symptoms may include:
  • Difficulty making eye contact or reading social clues clearly.
  • Difficulty in initiating or maintaining conversations.
  • Difficulty in adjusting whenever there are variations in schedule or routine.
  • Difficulty in predicting someone’s reaction to what they say or do.
  • Difficulty in shifting focus & compulsively obsessing over a specific thing like a song or a certain memory.

What are the Signs You Don’t Have Autism?

Considering signs that indicate an individual does not have autism. It’s important to note that autism is a complex spectrum disorder, and a definitive absence of autism cannot be determined solely based on certain signs or behaviors. However, there are certain developmental milestones and characteristics that typically indicate typical neurodevelopment, including:
  • Exhibiting age-appropriate social interactions and demonstrating an understanding of social norms, nonverbal communication cues, and reciprocal conversation skills
  • Exhibiting typical language development, including age-appropriate speech, vocabulary, and grammar.
  • Exhibiting a reasonable level of flexibility and adaptability in their routines, schedules, and responses to changes in their environment or plans.
  • Achieving typical developmental milestones within the expected time frames. Including milestones related to social, language, cognitive, and motor skills. Such as responding to their name, babbling, walking, and engaging in imaginative play, among others.

Can Autism Go Away with Age?

As a developmental disorder, autism has no known cure. While individuals with autism can undergo changes in their symptoms and function over time, the core characteristics of autism typically persist into adulthood.

About ASDF – How We Help Families & Children Affected by ASD.

MYASDF-Help-Families-Children-Affected-by-ASD Autism Spectrum Disorder Foundation (ASDF) provides financial assistance to families who have children on the autism spectrum. We understand the financial burden of ensuring your child gets therapies, schooling, and medical treatment necessary for improvement of their lives. Our programs are dedicated to helping families who have children on the autism spectrum with direct financial assistance, tools, and educational resources, so that they may live productive lives. Over the last decade, ASDF has been proud to serve over 5000 families who have children on the autism spectrum. If you are a family who has a child with ASD, feel free to reach out to us.

Wrapping Up

Autism has reached an alarming state in the US. With no known cure for autism, parents and families with children on the autism spectrum must intervene early and get them access to therapies, schooling, and medical treatment. If you are a family with a child with ASD, please reach out to us. We are here to help your child get all the basic necessities they need without you worrying about the finances. You can learn more about our services on our website.