Behavior of Infants and Children with Autism



Infants With Autism

  • Avoid eye contact
  • Seem deaf
  • Start developing language, then abruptly stop talking all together

 Normal Infants


  • Study mother's face
  • Easily stimulated by sounds
  • Keep adding to their vocabulary and expanding grammatical usage


Social Relationships

Children With Autism

  • Act as if unaware of the coming and going of others
  • Physically attack and injure others without provocation
  • Inaccessible, as if in a shell

Normal Children


  • Cry when mother leaves the room and are anxious with strangers
  • Get upset when hungry or frustrated
  • Recognize familiar faces and smile


Additional Red Flags that Parents Should Note:

Your Child May Have Autism if He/She:

* does not respond to his/her name.


* cannot explain what he/she wants.

* language skills are slow to develop or speech is delayed.

* doesn’t follow directions.

* at times, seems to be deaf.

* doesn’t point or wave "bye-bye."

* used to say a few words or babble, but now doesn't.

* throws intense or violent tantrums.

* has odd movement patterns.

* is overly active, uncooperative, or resistant.

* doesn't know how to play with toys.

* doesn't smile when smiled at.

* has poor eye contact.

* gets "stuck" doing the same things over and over and can't move on to other things.

* seems to prefer to play alone.

* gets things for him/herself only.

* is very independent for his/her age.

* does things "early" compared to other children.

* seems to be in his/her "own world."

* seems to tune people out.

* is not interested in other children.

* walks on his/her toes.

* shows unusual attachments to toys, objects, or schedules

   (i.e., always holding a string or having to put socks on before pants).

* spends a lot of time lining things up or putting things in a certain order.

Source: Filipek et al. (1999). Screening and diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 29(6): 439-484.

IMPORTANT NOTE: These lists are not intended to be used to assess whether a particular child has autism. Diagnosis should only be done by a specialist using highly detailed background information and behavioral observations.