Monarch Center for Autism Cleveland Ohio

Autism Symptoms

DOCTOR-blue-symbolEvery person with ASD is an individual, and like all individuals, has a unique personality and combination of symptoms. Some individuals with mild autism may exhibit only slight delays in language but greater challenges with social interactions. For example, they may have difficulty initiating and/or maintaining a conversation. Individuals with autism are often described as talking at others instead of with others (for example, monologue on a favorite subject that continues despite attempts by others to interject comments).

Children with ASD process and respond to information in unique ways. In some cases, aggressive and/or self-injurious behavior may be present such as biting, hitting, or head banging. These children may also exhibit some of the following traits:12

Language and Communication

  • Difficulty in expressing needs; uses gestures or pointing instead of words
  • Repeats words or phrases in place of typical, responsive language
  • Interprets language very literally
  • Difficulty in understanding nonverbal cues, including facial expression
  • Not responsive to verbal cues; acts as if deaf although hearing tests in normal range


  • Lack of social interaction
  • Little or no eye contact
  • No sense or feeling of personal distance from others
  • Inappropriate peer interactions
  • Responses that do not match situations; including over- or under-reaction

Unique Behaviors

  • Insistence on sameness; resistance to change
  • Tantrums/meltdowns
  • Sustained odd play
  • Special interests or inappropriate attachment to objects (e.g., spins or lines up objects)
  • Stereotyped behaviors, including hand flapping, whole-body rocking, clapping, and so on


  • Lack of awareness of own and others' feelings
  • Little or no display of affection
  • No real fear of danger

Sensory and Motor skills

  • Over- or under-sensitivity related to one or more sensory processing system, including touch, balance, body awareness, sight, hearing, taste, smell
  • Clumsy gross-/fine-motor skills
  • Odd posture or gait
  • Noticeable physical over-activity or extreme under-activity

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