Autism Symptoms Checklist

Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD is found in people all over the world irrespective of culture, race, or economic background. While the exact cause is not known, some attribute the rising problem to environmental factors, genetic factors or even a combination of disorder that exhibit similar symptoms. As sometimes, it becomes difficult to diagnose autism, an autism evaluation or screening is developed that analyses relevant symptoms. The autism symptoms checklist will help in identifying a child with autism better.

Autism Symptoms Checklist

Autism Symptoms Checklist

Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD is a wide term that is used for describing a group of neurodevelopmental disorders. These disorders can be problems with social interaction and communication. People with ASD show repetitive, restructured, and stereotyped patterns or interests of behavior. The child having autism exhibits several symptoms. Based on these, an autism symptoms checklist is developed, which is useful in making a possible diagnosis. Depending on the screening with this autism symptoms checklist, a diagnosis can be made and the severity can be assessed. This helps to develop a treatment plan involving the appropriate developmental activities, behavior training, rehabilitation and treatment, as needed.

The autism symptoms checklist used to identify a child with autism includes the following:

Communication Deficits

Communication difficulties are an important part of the autism symptoms checklist. Children with autism have challenges with language and speech but until the challenges are very obvious, it is difficult to spot them. This is because children with autism use many words and use more words than their peers.

  • They use no spoken words or a few words by the age of two and they do not use gibberish, gestures, or any other means for communicating their thoughts or needs.
  • Lack of eye contact
  • They repeat words that they have learnt from movies, television, or other people, particularly when they do not use words for communicating a meaning.
  • They do not respond when their names are called.
  • Never initiates conversations or interactions with others.
  • They do not undergo the usual gibberish or babbling stages of speech.
  • They speak spoken language but have an unusual flat voice, does not understand the actual meaning of words, or use the words in situations where it isn’t applicable.

Play Skills of Children with Autism

Children with autism react in unusual ways with toys, objects, and playmates. They prefer their own company or demand that their playmates interact in a predictable manner. These behaviors too are noticeable and the related points are included in the autism symptoms checklist.

  • Lining up the toys or objects rather than using them to play.
  • Interacting with objects such as doors, toys, and containers in the same way repeatedly.
  • Enacting the same scenes from television in the same manner over and over again.
  • Engaging in a parallel play. Two children playing near each other but they do not interact.
  • Responding angrily or ignoring when attempts are made to join them in a play or when changes are made in the game schemes.
  • Having difficulty with a play that is age appropriate like rule-based games, organized sports, pretend play, and other activities where social communication is needed.

Unusual Physical Behaviors

The unusual behavior of children with autism makes them different from their peers. These behaviors can be a keynote in many cases, hence must be looked for in autism symptoms checklist.

  • Flap, rock, or stim to calm themselves.
  • Under or over-respond to sensory inputs like pain.
  • Unusually picky eaters and refuse foods with strong flavors or particular textures.
  • Unusual gait including awkward movements or toe walking.
  • Respond inappropriately according to age such as extreme anxiety or angry melt-downs because of minor changes.
  • Show age-inappropriate interests or behaviors or having difficulty to develop age-appropriate abilities in dressing, toileting, etc.

Co-existing Medical Symptoms

The disorder may not include mental or physical illness but these issues are common among children with autism. The autism symptoms checklist also include some commonly noted physical complaints like

  • Sleep problems are very common. Many children suffering from autism have problems falling asleep and even adults have the same problem.
  • Mild as well as significant delays to develop fine and gross motor skills. For instance, problems to use scissors, jumping, or climbing.
  • Seizure disorders are common.
  • Gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea, constipation, and vomiting are common among children.

People with autism of all ages have more chances compared to their peers to have generalized anxiety, social anxiety, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), mental illness, and other developmental disorders.

Less Common Symptoms of Autism

Some of the children with autism might also experience the following symptoms. These can be considered as gifted abilities, which if recognized well, can be used to their advantage.

  • Hyperlexia. An ability to decode a written language without the ability to understand the text meaning.
  • Synesthesia. Unique responses to color, sound, numbers, or letters. Some people hear colors, see sounds, or experience unique responses to a sensory input.
  • Savant Syndrome. Autistic savants are a small percentage of autistic people who may have great abilities to do complicated calculations, memorize information, play the piano, etc.


If you note your child having such complaints as given in the autism symptoms checklist, it is advisable to seek help to get a proper diagnosis done. Contact your pediatrician and ask for a referral clinic, a developmental pediatrician or any other specialist. Parents often notice the symptoms in their child but they delay often due to denial. Doctors see a child once quarterly or yearly whenever the child falls sick, so, they may not get an opportunity to notice what a parent notices every day. Hence, if parents note any such symptoms, it should be discussed with the doctor.

Although autism cannot be cured completely, yet its progression can be stopped. A child who is diagnosed early and gets an early intervention, grows and develops better and can attain improvement in their ability as compared to a child who has not got intervention on time. The autism symptoms checklist is a guide that can further help to chalk a treatment plan for the child.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:January 18, 2020

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