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How to Spot the Symptoms of Autism

Learn the symptoms of autism and how to recognize them from Dr. Kimberly Williams in this Howcast video.


When a child comes to my office, and we're considering whether the child has a diagnosis of autism, I'm looking at a few different things. First of all, I want to sit down and have a very extensive history with the parents to understand early developmental milestones, such as language, such as social interactions, such as motor development. Symptoms of autism include difficulties in speech limitations, or development that was once present that has started to decline.

I often sit with parents, and we're discussing possible or potential symptoms of diagnosing autism or an autism spectrum disorder. What we do recognize is that children with autism have difficulties or some limitation or delay in language. We do know that they have difficulties with social and peer interactions. We do know that they often have visual, motor, spatial integration issues, and there's often difficulty with processing sensory input. More specifically when we're diagnosing autism, you want to take a look at the child's acquisition of language. Many parents will tell you that their child's language skills were developing perfectly, and then once the child became up to 18 months or past 18 months of age, they're language skills significantly declined. Similarly, with their social engagement, and the child is more isolated and withdrawn. As children get older, we start to recognize that their motor skills, gross and fine motor development, have started to show some type of limitation.

Children with autism are on a very wide spectrum. And some of them are completely non-vocal, whereas, some of them have a very strong use of their verbal abilities, but aren't necessarily conversational or have great social reciprocity with their conversation. Many children with autism spectrum disorders will present a wide spectrum of symptoms and behaviors. But these are some of the diagnostic markers that I look for when I'm diagnosing autism in children.

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