A Quick Overview of Autism

Autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disability, typically appearing during early childhood. It affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others; and is defined by a certain set of behaviors causing it to be a ‘spectrum condition’ as symptoms manifest differently among individuals. 

Does your child have autism?

Autism spectrum disorder causes delays in many basic areas of development, including motor skills, sensory sensitivities and impulse control.  (Please keep in mind that just because your child has a few autism-like symptoms, it doesn’t necessarily mean he or she has Autism. Autism Spectrum Disorder is a diagnosis based on the presence of multiple symptoms that disrupt a person’s ability to communicate, form relationships, explore, play and learn.)

How to spot the warning signs
Regression of any kind is a serious autism warning sign

The earliest signs of autism involve the absence of normal behaviors—not the presence of abnormal ones—so they can be tough to spot. However, you can catch warning signs early if you know what to look for.

As children get older, the red flags for autism become more diverse. The warning signs and symptoms usually revolve around impaired social skills, speech and language difficulties, and inflexible behavior. Additionally, children on the spectrum display restrictive and repetitive behaviors and interests. Examples include repetitive body movements (i.e. rocking, hand flapping, spinning, running back and forth, snapping fingers, head banging, moving fingers in front of eyes), repetitive motions with objects (i.e. spinning wheels, shaking sticks, flicking lights on and off, lining up toys, watching moving objects), and restrictive/repetitive behaviors (i.e. repeating words or noises, having a lasting intense interest in certain topics like numbers or facts, getting upset easily by slight changes in routine, being more or less sensitive than others to sensory input such as light, noise, clothing or temperature).

If you are concerned that your child has autism spectrum disorder, ask your family doctor or pediatrician to refer you immediately to an autism specialist or team of specialists for a comprehensive evaluation.


Need More Information?

Check out the following links:
Autism Spectrum Disorder A Parent’s Guide to Symptoms and Diagnosis on the Autism Spectrum
Autism Spectrum DisorderLearn the signs and ask for help if you’re concerned.
CDC’s Milestone Tracker App (free) – Interactive checklists with photos and video examples of developmental milestones to help you know what to look for in your child
– CDC’s Milestone Checklists (PDFs) – ‘learn the signs, act early’
Does My Child Have Autism? Recognizing the Early Signs and Symptoms of Autism
–  Screening and Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder for Healthcare Providers  Information regarding screening recommendations and Diagnostic tools



  • Smith, M.A., Melinda, Segal, Ph.D., Jeanne, Hutman, Ph.D., Ted. Does my Child Have Autism? Help Guide. Nov. 2018.
  • Smith, M.A., Melinda, Segal, Ph.D., Jeanne, Hutman, Ph.D., Ted. Autism Spectrum Disorder. Help Guide. Sept. 2018