5 Common Signs Of Autism In Toddlers

Autism spectrum disorder is a condition that encompasses a range of difficulties with social skills, verbal and non-verbal communication, and repetitive behaviors. A person who is on the autism spectrum can have  many unique challenges and strengths, and can fall anywhere on the spectrum. The signs of autism spectrum disorder often begin appearing during the toddler years. Children who are properly diagnosed and begin receiving treatment and resources tend to fare better. Some of the common signs of autism spectrum disorder in toddlers include:

Lack of Eye Contact

People on the spectrum often have difficulty making or maintaining eye contact with other people. If your toddler refuses to make eye contact or displays signs of discomfort when friends or family try to make eye contact, this may be a red flag. In addition to avoiding eye contact, it is not unusual for toddlers on the spectrum to prefer to play alone.

Repetitive Physical Behaviors

There are several repetitive physical behaviors that are associated with autism spectrum disorder. Actions such as rocking, arm flapping, or spinning are quite common in children on the spectrum. In some cases, an autistic child may resort to repetitive self-harming behaviors, such as banging their head on the floor or against a wall.

Problems with Language Development

Lack of language development may be a symptom of autism spectrum disorder. Some people on the spectrum will remain non-verbal for their entire lives. Others may have difficulty properly communicating through speech. If your toddler has language development problems combined with other symptoms of autism, it is a good idea to ask your child's pediatrician for a referral for an autism screening.

Highly Sensitive Senses

Many children on the autism spectrum have very sensitive senses. They may have extreme reactions to loud sounds, strong odors, and bright lights. Some autistic children can also react strongly to certain textures and colors. Since textures and smells can be issues for a child on the spectrum, it is not uncommon for autistic children to be extremely picky eaters, beyond what is expected for young children.

Restricted Interests

All toddlers have their favorite toys, but toddlers on the spectrum tend to have very restricted interests. They may become obsessed with always playing the same thing or watching a certain cartoon. Young children are naturally curious, but if your toddler remains fixated on a specific interest for an extended period of time, this could be a symptom that he or she is on the spectrum.