What Are the Symptoms of Autism?

Autism’s core symptoms are

  • social communication challenges and
  • restricted, repetitive behaviors.

In autism, these symptoms

  • begin in early childhood (though they may go unrecognized)
  • persist and
  • interfere with daily living.

Specialized healthcare providers diagnose autism using a checklist of criteria in the two categories above. They also assess symptom severity. Autism’s severity scale reflects how much support a person needs for daily function.

Many people with autism have sensory issues. These typically involve over- or under-sensitivities to sounds, lights, touch, tastes, smells, pain and other stimuli.

Autism is also associated with high rates of certain physical and mental health conditions.

Social communication challenges

Children and adults with autism have difficulty with verbal and non-verbal communication. For example, they may not understand or appropriately use:

Additional social challenges can include difficulty with:

Restricted and repetitive behaviors

Restricted and repetitive behaviors vary greatly across the autism spectrum. They can include:

Related advice posts and resources

100 Day Toolkit for Young Children

100 Day Tool Kit for School Age Children

Is It Autism and if So, What Next? A Guide for Adults