Children are often diagnosed with autism once they get to school, when their social communication and behavioural characteristics mark their development out as different to their peers.
Signs of autism in primary school aged children and teenagers:
- Issues with conversation, perhaps dominating conversations with their favourite topic and not knowing how to take turns.
- Not being able to interpret the non-verbal communication of peers and adults.
- Unusual speech patterns, a monotonous tone or an old fashioned way of talking.
- Seeking solitude, and finding being with others very stressful and exhausting
- Being rigid in following rules at school and in sport and games
- Finding it hard to read social cues and the unwritten rules of friendship
- Having unusual interests and obsessions, no breadth of interests
- Sometimes there are unusual physical movements, such as touching, biting, rocking or finger flicking
- Having sensory issues, either heightened or lack of sense of smell, touch, taste, sound and vision
- Need to follow routines to feel secure, become very upset when expected routines change
- Having few or no real friends
- Aggression is sometimes seen, usually as a way of avoiding overwhelming situations
- Anxiety is also common, especially as children enter the teenager years