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Early Signs

Individuals with autism usually exhibit some of the traits listed below. These symptoms can range from mild to severe and vary in intensity from symptom to symptom. Please note this symptom list is not a substitute for a full-scale diagnostic assessment.

This list was adapted from the original autism checklist by Professor Rendle-Short, Brisbane Children’s Hospital, University of Queensland, Australia.

  • Difficulty interacting with other children
  • Inappropriate laughing and giggling
  • Little or no eye contact
  • Apparent insensitivity to pain
  • Prefers to be alone; aloof manner
  • Spins objects
  • Inappropriate attachment to objects
  • Noticeable physical over-activity or extreme under-activity
  • Unresponsive to normal teaching methods
  • Insistence on sameness; resists changes in routine
  • No real fear of dangers
  • Sustained odd play
  • Echolalia (repeating words or phrases in place of normal language)
  • May not want cuddling or act cuddly
  • Not responsive to verbal cues; acts as deaf
  • Difficulty in expressing needs; uses gestures or pointing instead of words
  • Tantrums – displays extreme distress for no apparent reason
  • Uneven gross/fine motor skills; (may not want to kick ball but can stack blocks)

More information on early screening tools can be found on the following websites: