Common Signs of ASD In Preschoolers

With some children, the signs of autism might not become entirely obvious until they reach preschool (or even school age), when suddenly the developmental gap between them and their peers becomes more pronounced.

In addition to the signs for babies/toddlers, here are some of the more common ways ASD might present itself in a preschool-aged child.

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  • The child generally does not point to or share observations or experiences with others
  • The child tends not to look directly at other people in a social way. This is sometimes referred to as a lack of eye contact
  • There may be an absence of speech, or unusual speech patterns such as repeating words and phrases (echolalia), failure to use ‘I’, ‘me’, and ‘you’, or reversal of these pronouns
  • Unusual responses to other people. A child may show no desire to be cuddled, have a strong preference for familiar people and may appear to treat people as objects rather than a source of comfort
  • The child may appear to avoid social situations, preferring to be alone
  • There is limited development of play activities, particularly imaginative play
  • There may be constant crying or there may be an unusual absence of crying
Source: Autism Victoria (now AMAZE)
  • The child often has marked repetitive movements, such as hand-shaking or flapping, prolonged rocking or spinning of objects
  • Many children develop an obsessive interest in certain toys or objects while ignoring other things
  • The child may have extreme resistance to change in routines and/or their environment
  • The child may have sleeping problems
  • The child may be resistant to solid foods or may not accept a variety of foods in their diet
  • There are often difficulties with toilet training
  • The child may be extremely distressed by certain noises and/or busy public places such as shopping centres