April is Autism Awareness month. Our first blog post for the month will be giving you an overview of some of the main, early signs and symptoms you may see in a young child with Autism.

Signs & Symptoms of Autism

ASD can be diagnosed as young as 2 years. However, it’s diagnosed right across the lifespan. We’ll be focussing on early signs today, which may appear from 1-2 years of age. Some children may have many of these signs, others only a few.

The following list is from the Raising Children Network, which has a wealth of useful information for families. Remember, this list is not diagnostic! You should always seek appropriate medical and health advice if you have any concerns, from your GP.

Two of the main signs we see in children with ASD are differences with social skills and communication, along with repetitive and restricted interests or movements. Let’s look closer at signs and symptoms you may see in these areas:

Talking & Interacting:

  • Differences with eye contact

  • Not using many gestures, like pointing or showing interesting items to you, or waving and clapping

  • Not smiling at others, including familiar people like parents

  • Not consistently responding to their own name

  • Minimal copying of actions e.g. play actions, or everyday actions

  • Delays in babbling, or learning to talk

  • Not understanding simple one step instructions e.g. give me the block

Playing and forming relationships:

  • Less or no imaginative, or pretend play, such as giving a doll a bath

  • Rarely or not starting interactive games like peekaboo

  • Rarely or not at all interested in getting others attention, or starting an interaction

Repetitive and restrictive interests – this means children with ASD may have:

  • An intense interest in certain toys, such as only playing with trains. Or other objects, including things children aren’t typically interested in. e.g. flicking a switch repeatedly

  • Becoming very upset if they aren’t able to do their preferred activity e.g. listening to a favourite song repeatedly

  • Have limited ways of playing, or interacting with toys/objects e.g. spinning the wheels of a car over and over instead of driving it along the floor

  • Focus on objects in a very specific way e.g. putting their toys in a pile, or in a line

  • Repetitive movements may also be seen – for example hand-flapping, walking on tip-toes

Some other signs you may see are:

  • Becoming upset when a routine is changed. Children with ASD may be very keen on following the same routine every single time.

  • Sensory sensitivities – children with ASD may be very sensitive to certain sounds, textures, light etc. They may also seek certain sensations, like rubbing objects on their face

  • Losing skills they had previously mastered e.g. stopping talking, or smiling

There are many more signs and symptoms not covered by this list but we hope it provides you with some useful information. There is a fantastic, Australian designed app called ASDetect that equips parents to check their child against early signs. It is free and evidence-based, developed by La Trobe University and suitable for use with children aged 11-30 months.


Speech pathologists often play an important role in the early exploration and support of an ASD diagnosis. You can speak with one of our friendly team if you have concerns, or would like to make an appointment.

These links will take you to more information: