10 of the Earliest Signs of Autism

10 of the Earliest Signs of Autism

10 of the Earliest Signs of Autism

The rates of autism diagnosis are at a high, but how is it possible to tell if a young child is displaying signs?

Here are ten of the most noticeable symptoms.


If you notice that a child tends to be disconnected from their family, distanced from others at school or nursery, and generally appears to be disinterested in those around them, they may be displaying signs of autism.

Often, these children will be emotionally removed, and on top of these struggles, they will not have the same capacity for analyzing facial cues, making them more removed from those around them. So, if someone is smiling, the child might not necessarily respond any differently than they would to a frown.

What is important for people to recognize is that autistic children are not actually emotionally disconnected; it can just appear that way because they are unable to pick up on social cues with the same ease that other children can.

On top of being unable to react in the same manner as others to facial expressions and social cues, babies with autism normally do not smile often or act "bubbly" in the way some imagine babies to be. Another signal to look for is that babies with autism do not normally share sounds and facial expressions with their parents or caregivers in the same way that many babies do.

Normally, these symptoms will develop by the nine-month mark.

Avoiding social interaction

While many children use this formative time to explore their social selves, those with autism normally don't engage in these behaviors. This includes avoiding staring at people's faces, being unresponsive toward their own name, and refraining from touch. Games and activities also tend to be avoided. Normally, children with autism will appear to prefer solitude to playing with other children.

As the child grows up, and is put into more social situations, these symptoms may appear to be more noticeable.

These are usually symptoms that develop between one year and 18 months.

Lack of empathy

A hallmark symptom of autism is a struggle to empathize with others. You may be wondering "how can I tell if my child lacks empathy?" However, there are ways to look out for it. For example, autistic children may have difficulty understanding a situation from a different person's point of view. The reason for this is that they have trouble understanding the fact that others do not necessarily experience the world in the same way that they do.

Again, it is important to note that the child may not actually lack empathy, but simply that the appearance of lacking empathy can be a symptom of autism. Autistic children also tend to have a more limited range of emotions, so they may not yet have developed access to empathy.


If you have noticed that a child suffers emotional outbursts that appear to stem from normal, day-to-day situations, it may be a signal of autism. Of course, children will always throw temper tantrums occasionally, but sometimes physically aggressive behavior can occur to themselves or those around them that it appears they cannot control. This may be especially common when placed in new, unusual, or stressful situations.

Experts advise parents to pay close attention to how a child's social responses change as they grow older and have more experiences in social setting. Certain milestones will be present, when some troublesome behaviors are usually "grown out of." If your child does not seem to be keeping up with this time frame, you may want to speak to your doctor about what the issue may be, as it may be a sign of autism. Keep track of emotional outbursts from your child, as well as what the apparent trigger was. Not only will this help the doctor in developing a diagnosis, but you may find a way to better avoid these outbursts if the triggers are eliminated. Of course, this depends on what kind of trigger it is, as some are inevitable in daily life and should instead be worked through.

Read on to learn about 6 more early autism symptoms you should be aware of.