Autism refers to a broad range of conditions called autism spectrum disorder (ASD). These conditions are characterized by impairments with communication skills, repetitive behaviors, and nonverbal communication. According to many statistics, one in fifty children in the United States only are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. ASD is typically diagnosed in the early stages of life, during childhood, or in young people. This is why we have compiled the most common symptoms that make it easier for you to recognize autism among young people.

Social issues

One of the most common symptoms in all types of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is social issues. These issues aren’t quite the same as general problems with communication such as “just being shy”. They are more complex and they can cause serious problems in everyday life. Some of the most common examples of social issues related to autism spectrum disorder are that a child prefers to play alone, avoids eye-contact, as well as physical contact, and generally has trouble understanding how other people might feel, themselves included.

Some people who have autism may not even be interested in other people at all, while others might be very interested in making friends, but failing to do so because of their social issues. Additional social troubles stem from the inability to show or talk about their feelings. Furthermore, people with ASD have what is called self-stimulatory behaviors (stimming) which can look unusual to others. Anxiety and depression also affect some people who have ASD, making their other social problems even harder to manage.

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Impaired communication skills

Autism disorder spectrum has the word “spectrum” in it for a good reason. Each person with an ASD has different types of communication skills. Some people might not have any problems speaking well, while others can speak very little or not at all. Statistics have shown that almost half of the children diagnosed with ASD don’t talk at all and that almost a third of children speak some words until they reach a certain age and lose them completely. Situations where young people with ASD don’t speak until a certain age are also known to happen, making it harder to diagnose it.

Young people who have autism spectrum disorder who fall under the ones who do speak might unusually use language. Some of the common ways they do so are that they say one word at a time, or they aren’t able to put words into real sentences. An additional aspect of communication that might be tricky for people with ASD is using and understanding body language, gestures, and tone of voice.

Development rate

Autism spectrum disorder is usually diagnosed in people while they are either children or young adults. This development rate is discussed as one of the telling symptoms of this disorder. Development is reflected across many aspects such as language, social skills, learning skills, and physical abilities. Different people will have different development rates in these categories, but they are almost always present in at least one of them. While young people with ASD may have trouble learning certain things, they might also excel in other ones. And it’s fairly common for a person with ASD to learn a hard task before an easy one.

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Children and young people develop at their own pace so it can be difficult to tell exactly when a child will learn a specific skill, so ASD can be diagnosed. In fact, studies have shown that autism in women is diagnosed a year and a half later than it is in men because girls and women may exhibit these symptoms differently than their male peers.

Unusual behaviors and interests

It’s been well established that many people with autism spectrum disorder have certain interests and behaviors that may be deemed as unusual. Some of the common ones are that they have to follow certain routines, have obsessive interests, and move their body in a repetitive manner such as rocking back and forth, spinning in circles, or flapping hands. These repetitive motions may involve one part of the body or the whole body, but sometimes include moving objects in this manner too. Things like switching the lights on and off repeatedly are just one of the many examples.

Another aspect of the behavior of people with ASD that falls under the category of unusual is that they thrive on routine. This can go to extreme lengths where a small change in their usual pattern can be very upsetting, causing them to have a tantrum, especially if they find themselves in unusual places. Additional unusual behaviors that may seem unnecessary, such as having to look out the window every time they walk by it have also been reported.

Other symptoms

As we have already pointed out, autism represents a spectrum of disorders. This means that, aside from the most common symptoms, there will be some less common ones, but important to consider nevertheless. Some of these are hyperactivity, impulsivity, temper tantrums, and even aggression. Unusual mood or emotions, as well as unusual eating and sleeping habits, should also be noted, as well as the unusual reaction to the way they experience the world through their senses.

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A more thorough explanation and examples are needed for these symptoms to be better understood. Some of them include having a person with ASD over-or under-react to stimuli such as pain or a very loud noise. In addition to unusual behaviors, they might have abnormal eating habits such as having their diet limited to certain foods. Others might have what is called a “pica”, which represents the consumption of non-food items like dirt or rocks.

Researchers have been going out of their way to make it clear that high quality and early intervention can significantly improve learning abilities, communication, and social skills, as well as the underlying brain development of people affected by autism spectrum disorder. This is why it is so important to be very well-informed about what the symptoms of autism are and how to recognize them among young people, so they could have a better chance of early treatment and improved development.