Autism 101

Autism Spectrum Disorders are a spectrum of neurological disabilities marked by impaired social interactions, difficulty with verbal and nonverbal communication, and restricted, repetitive behaviors.

Unique in every case, it can manifest in a number of forms and levels of severity. Symptoms are usually noticeable at around six months, as the child begins missing developmental milestones, and can include compulsive behaviors, atypical eating habits, and difficulty with sensory processing, which can result in strong behavioral difficulties.

Common Signs to Watch For


  • Unresponsive to others or to external stimulation
  • Intense focus on one item to the exclusion of others for long periods of time
  • Initial normal development followed by developmental regression, characterized as withdrawal and indifference to social engagement
  • Failure to respond to their name
  • Difficulty maintaining eye contact
  • Difficulty interpreting what others are thinking or feeling
  • Difficulty interpreting tone of voice or facial expressions
  • Inability to read other people’s faces for clues about appropriate behavior
  • Inability to feel or properly express empathy
  • Repetitive movements such as rocking and twirling
  • Self-injurious behaviors such as biting or head-banging
  • Tendency to speak later than other children
  • Failure to interact with other children
  • Tendency to speak in a sing-song voice about a narrow range of favorite topics
  • Reduced sensitivity to pain
  • Abnormal (enhanced or deficient) sensitivity to sound, touch or other sensory stimulation
  • Resistance to being cuddled or hugged

Early intervention matters.

While children with developmental disorders will often develop their own coping mechanisms to navigate daily life, the earlier one intervenes with a comprehensive plan for therapy, the more easily and effectively the child will be able to adapt.