Autism symptoms vary from case to case, so it can be difficult to classify specific warning signs. The main reason for the variation in autism symptoms is that the severity of autism goes from mild autism, where the child exhibits very few differences from other children their age, to severe autism, where the child is low functioning and has little or no communication skills.
In mild cases of autism, characteristics can be as small as the child only wanting to eat if their food is in a specific position on their plate. In more serious autism cases, the child may be completely uncommunicative and behave in a very disruptive manner that can make social interaction nearly impossible.
Autism Symptoms - Speech
Delayed or unusual speech patterns are common symptoms found in autistic children. A young child exhibiting severe autism symptoms will speak slowly, with lengthy pauses between words or syllables. Grunting is another speech symptom often seen with more severe cases of autism. Other speech symptoms include speaking in an unusually high or oddly flat tone of voice. In some cases, an autistic child's speech may be inaudible. If they are able to carry on a conversation, they will probably not use any slang or words common within their age group.
Autism Symptoms - Memorization
One of the most frequently heard about symptoms of autism is unusual feats of memory. A mildly autistic child can memorize a book word for word or recite every line from a TV show from memory. One autistic teen from Maine had memorized the complete passenger manifest from the Titanic, but he could not remember his own mother's name. Another autistic child from Texas could accurately count the number of letters in each word spoken to him but was unable to communicate even the simplest everyday detail.
Autism Symptoms - Understanding Language
Autistic children may have difficulty understanding the meaning of different types of language. For example, an autistic child will not react to humor, and has no concept of irony or sarcasm and may react oddly in comical situations. A child with autism symptoms may be able to grasp physical comedy, but both their body language and speech may be inappropriate to the situation.
It is also common for an autistic child to refrain from making eye contact when you are speaking to them. Although they are paying attention to what you are saying, they give you no physical indication that you have their interest.
Autism Symptoms - Imagination
Some autistic children lack the ability to imagine themselves in a different situation or setting. An autistic child will often have difficulty comparing themselves to people, and they cannot grasp the concept of imagining being in someone else's shoes.
Often times, autism symptoms in children are viewed negatively by their peers. Since these behaviors can be disruptive and generally seen as unusual, other kids sometimes have difficulty interacting with an autistic child. It helps to explain the circumstances to other children, and guide their interactions through adult supervision.