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Five Signs That Your Child May Be Autistic

Updated on July 13, 2017
Ivan Hernandez profile image

Erick is an autistic person who graduated from high school with a regular diploma. He researches autism, science, and technology topics.

Autistic child stacking blocks.
Autistic child stacking blocks. | Source

Facts & Figures

A study conducted in 2014 by the National Center for Health Statistics found that 1 in 45 children in the United States live with autism spectrum disorder.1 That is almost 2.3% of American children.

Why is this number so high? Researchers suspect that part of the reason may simply be that today there is much more awareness—and therefore diagnosis—of the condition than there was in previous generations.

Initially diagnosed as a mental illness before the turn of the 20th century, research during the last 30 years has finally paved the way for doctors to treat autistic patients. For years, people with autism were ridiculed and put on a circus show, but during the 1990s, new therapies were developed to give autistic children the necessary tools to attend school. Most autistic people never graduate high school with a regular diploma. Only a few of them do—but those few often succeed in life.

There are many signs that doctors and parents look for in children with autism. I will discuss five examples below.

My Own Version of Today's Autism Prevalence Chart.

This is my own chart representing the current autism prevalence. The 2s represent American Children. Notice that one of those 2s is blue. That blue 2 represents autism. Also notice that there are 45 2s. This represents the 1 out of 45 prevalence.
This is my own chart representing the current autism prevalence. The 2s represent American Children. Notice that one of those 2s is blue. That blue 2 represents autism. Also notice that there are 45 2s. This represents the 1 out of 45 prevalence. | Source

Autism Prevalence and Annual Projected Cost

Autism prevalence and cost (as of 2010)
Autism prevalence and cost (as of 2010) | Source

My Background (and a Disclaimer)

I am autistic myself—but in no way, shape, or form am I a doctor. I've tried my best to research this topic without copying information from other sources. Bear with me here. This is just my opinion, and not anybody else's. If you are seeking a medical opinion, you should go to your doctor for professional guidance. My perspective on this subject may be biased because of my background.

5 Signs Your Child May Be Autistic

1. Child Doesn't Play With Other People

Non-autistic children enjoy playing and interacting with other children by the time they reach the age of 2-8 years old. They will play, show affection, and maybe even tussle with each other. Autistic children, on the other hand, tend to prefer being alone. They do not seem to enjoy playing with other children or interacting with adults.

Often, autistic children don't seem to share other people's interests or enjoy playing games. They don't participate in group or family activities, which can be disconcerting to parents. If your child exhibits these kinds of behaviors, you should call a doctor. If the doctor tells you that it's normal behavior, find another doctor.

2. Child Makes Noises to Get Your Attention

Grunting, whining, repetitive vocalizing, throwing food, and banging on the table is perhaps to be expected if your baby is six months old—but not when your child is nearly four years old. This may be another sign that your child is autistic. You can try to reduce these behaviors by not having any items near the table, taking good care of your child, and encouraging your child to use words.

Talking with your child may help, but only after you teach your child some words, first. If at first you don't succeed, keep trying again, and again, and again, and again, and again—as often as you can to encourage your child to speak.

(I should note, however, that some autistic children never do gain the ability to say more than a few words, if any. I'm not at all suggesting that you keep trying to get your nonverbal child to speak; nor am I suggesting that if your child is nonverbal that somehow it's because you haven't tried hard enough to encourage them to speak.)

3. Child Has Trouble Understanding or Talking About Feelings

Whether it's love, happiness, sadness, hate, or heartbreak, many autistic children have trouble talking about their feelings or understanding other people's feelings.

Puberty is a particularly challenging time because hormonal changes can exacerbate an autistic child's behavioral issues. At this age, all children may begin to experience things like crushes, drama with friends, bullies at school, and increasing homework loads. For an autistic child, these issues can be much more complicated to navigate.

Parents may seek help from doctors to mitigate these challenges, and some doctors may start prescribing pills. My opinion is that pills are not a good solution. Doctors may prescribe a new pill in an attempt to fix autism, but then the side effects kick in.

Parents, if your child has communication problems, please talk to them. It will make them feel better in the end. Try to speak to them as soon as possible. Don't let them hide their feelings inside, like soda in a bottle with a pressure of 100 atmospheres.

4. Child Uses Incorrect Grammar or Refers to Him/Herself in the Third Person

Don't get me wrong. A lot of autistic people make this mistake when speaking. For example, instead of saying, "Have you guys met the new therapist at work today?" they say "Did you guys met the new therapist at work today?" and that's totally cool. I get it. It's the natural language of autistic people. They are subject to producing grammatically incorrect sentences, and that's okay. It's the frequency that annoys a lot of people.

There is a common perception that many autistic people refer to themselves in the third person. I can explain that one for you. Third person means using the words "he" or "she" to refer to a person. Take a fictional person, such as a person named John Doe. If he refers himself in first person, he would say "I am playing softball." If he refers to himself in second person, he would say "You are playing softball" (but referring to himself). If John uses third person, he would say, "He is playing softball" (again, referring to himself).

See what I'm saying? Autistic people always love to refer to themselves in third person.

5. Child Is Sensitive to Loud Noises and Bright Lights, and Also Makes Strange Movements

While it is true that loud noises and bright lights can be very irritating for normal people, autistic people can be particularly sensitive to these things because of how their nervous systems have developed. Higher sensitivity to light means that autistic people with no history of seizures may be prone to them, and a higher sensitivity to sound means that they may develop hearing problems down the road.

Autistic children may also exhibit unusual movements. This is often a self-soothing process. These movements can vary unpredictably from bending backwards to bending completely forwards when emotions run high. For some people, it develops in early childhood but dissipates in adulthood. For others, it's a lifelong behavior.

Tips for Parents

If your child is autistic, here are a few tips to consider:

  • Don't give up on your child, even if he/she has severe autism.
  • Don't be afraid to call the doctor if you see any of these five signs. Helpguide.org has a more complete list of signs.
  • Apply for an individualized education plan (IEP) at your child's school in order to get the individually tailored help your child needs.
  • Don't stop fighting for your child's education. Fight until he/she gets a regular diploma. Don't stop fighting for your child's rights.
  • Give your child a gluten-free diet.
  • Finally, don't give up—even if your child has.

Final Thoughts

Autistic people very interesting and complex. People on the autism spectrum are very intelligent and can do many things ordinary people can't. Some have special skills in drawing or art. For others it is writing. Some can do complex math problems in their heads. All I know is that every single autistic person is special and deserves to have a meaningful, purposeful life.

Autistic Teen Explains What It's Really Like

Autism Guide at Every Age

Age 0-2
Age 2-8
Age 8-18
Age 18+
Monitor their progress
Early therapy is key
Make education plans
Make college plans if your child graduates high school with a regular diploma
Call the doctor
Have your child develop skills
Plan for the future
Make job plans
Nurture the child
Keep your eyes on your child
Make sure your child succeeds
Manage your child's behavior

Excellent Book by a Professional Autism Consultant

Autism Every Day: Over 150 Strategies Lived and Learned by a Professional Autism Consultant with 3 Sons on the Spectrum
Autism Every Day: Over 150 Strategies Lived and Learned by a Professional Autism Consultant with 3 Sons on the Spectrum

This is an excellent book written by a professional autism consultant who has three children on the spectrum. It's great resource for parents of autistic children everywhere.


Autism Poll.

Are you, or any of your family members, friends and/or relatives, autistic?

See results


1. "New government survey pegs autism prevalence at 1 in 45." AutismSpeaks.org. November 13, 2015.

Final Notes.

All names have been changed to protect peoples' identities.


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    • melbel profile image

      Melanie Shebel 2 weeks ago from New Buffalo, Michigan

      Very interesting! I didn't realize that autism was so prevalent.

    • Ivan Hernandez profile image

      Erick Hernandez 5 weeks ago from Creating The Ivan Brand in Miami, FL

      Thank you, Poppy, for this great comment.

    • poppyr profile image

      Poppy Reid 5 weeks ago from Tokyo, Japan

      Great article, and useful for those looking for help with their potentially autistic child. Well done.

    • Ivan Hernandez profile image

      Erick Hernandez 5 weeks ago from Creating The Ivan Brand in Miami, FL

      Amy. I think we could follow each other. It's beneficial for both of us. However, your Hubberscore is of concern. It's less than 60, and I'm worried that it might lower my overall Hubberscore. However, given the fact that we're both Autistic people, I think that we could use a symbiotic relationship (not dating because, obviously, you have a husband who's also Autistic) and learn from each other. You could learn a thing or two about me.

    • Ivan Hernandez profile image

      Erick Hernandez 5 weeks ago from Creating The Ivan Brand in Miami, FL

      Thank you, DLayne for your wonderful comments. What you said made me feel better about how this article will do in the future.

      As I write this, I'm only focusing on this article because I think that it has great potential. Generally speaking, I don't think that even I could've written this article myself. It was through the work of HubPro that enabled this article to go to this website. I hope it stays that way.

    • DLayne profile image

      DLayne Lawson 5 weeks ago from Cincinnati, OH

      Well written in an easy-to-read, easy-to-understand format. I think that you did an excellent job at putting together this article.

    • brutishspoon profile image

      Amy 6 weeks ago from Darlington, England

      I don't spend much time promoting may articles as I write them more as a pass time than as a money making project. When I was more active I could make $10 to $20 a month off just a hand full of articles. This was on another site that is no longer active though.

    • Ivan Hernandez profile image

      Erick Hernandez 6 weeks ago from Creating The Ivan Brand in Miami, FL

      You're right, Amy. Autism doesn't mean disability. It just means that we are different. I understand that non-autistic people might not understand us. Me, I just keep my autism as best as I can to myself. To date, there's only 18 normal friends I talk to about my condition. Most of my friends are either family or high school friends--normal and autistic.

      There's a person with Aspergers in the group home where I live. I rarely talk to him, though. I only talk to more intelligent Autistic people, people that are willing to talk to me.

      I hope this helps out. I just wanted to make a quick note. I saw your profile, and I have a few questions. How could you have over 100 articles, but only have between 1,000 and 10,000 views in a little over 3 years? Just asking.

    • brutishspoon profile image

      Amy 6 weeks ago from Darlington, England

      As we know we are different not just from none autistic people but from each other. All Autistic people are unique and not all of us show visible signs of it. I like the fact that I can hide it if I need to, but in recent years since learning to understand who I am I have come to embrace it and find it easy to talk to my colleagues and others about it.

      I agree with you about our personalities.

      By the way I can talk about anything for hours and that annoys some of my none autistic colleagues.

      We are the proof that Autism does not have to mean disability.

    • Ivan Hernandez profile image

      Erick Hernandez 6 weeks ago from Creating The Ivan Brand in Miami, FL

      Amy, I'm sorry if I didn't give a more thorough explanation. What I meant to say was that individuals with HFA are more likely to be successful at math, science, or astronomy than non-autistic people. The fact that you were one of those people that voted in the poll suggests that you are at least aware that you are autistic. Nothing more, nothing less.

      Autistic people are far more beautiful (in terms of personality) because of their child-like nature than non-autistic people. I hope you find that useful.

    • Ivan Hernandez profile image

      Erick Hernandez 7 weeks ago from Creating The Ivan Brand in Miami, FL

      Thank you for the comment.

    • brutishspoon profile image

      Amy 7 weeks ago from Darlington, England

      I voted that my whole family are autistic. This is because me and my partner are HFA and my eldest daughter is also. My mam shows signs that she is to.

      Most of my friends when I was younger were autistic and my eldest's best friend has it alongside turrets.

      One of my things was rather than rock back and forth I would and still do shake my arms from the elbows. I struggle in certain lighting and have problems with certain smells but noise is not really a problem for me.