Autism Symptoms and Levels: A Detailed Overview

by | 15 Aug 2023 | Autism, Blog

What are the main symptoms of autism?

The main symptoms of autism, also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), can vary widely among individuals. However, common characteristics include challenges in social communication and interaction, repetitive behaviours, and a preference for routines. Some specific symptoms may include difficulty with making and maintaining eye contact, challenges in understanding nonverbal cues, delayed language development, repetitive movements or actions, intense focus on specific interests, and sensitivity to sensory stimuli.


When do signs of autism start?

Signs of autism typically become apparent in early childhood, usually before the age of 3. However, some children may show signs as early as 18 months. These signs can vary in severity and may be noticed by parents, caregivers, or teachers. Early recognition and intervention are crucial for providing appropriate support and resources to children with autism.


What are the symptoms for different levels of autism?

Autism is classified into three levels of severity based on the amount of support an individual may need to function effectively in daily life. The symptoms for each level are as follows:

Level 1 (Requiring Support): Individuals with Level 1 autism, also known as “mild” autism, may exhibit noticeable challenges in social interactions and communication. They may struggle with initiating or sustaining conversations, experience difficulty understanding social cues, and might prefer routines and sameness. Despite these challenges, they can typically function independently in daily activities with some support.

Level 2 (Requiring Substantial Support): Level 2 autism, termed “moderate” autism, involves more pronounced difficulties in social communication and interactions. People at this level may have significant challenges with verbal and nonverbal communication, exhibit restricted and repetitive behaviours, and may have limited interests. They often require more substantial support to navigate daily life and may face difficulties in academic or vocational settings.

Level 3 (Requiring Very Substantial Support): Level 3 autism, often referred to as “severe” autism, represents the most significant challenges in social communication and behaviour. Individuals at this level may have minimal verbal communication or may be nonverbal, exhibit highly repetitive behaviours, and require extensive support to manage daily tasks. They may have significant intellectual or developmental disabilities that impact their ability to function independently.

What does level 1 autism look like in children?

In children with Level 1 autism, the symptoms may be milder, but challenges in social interactions and communication are still apparent. These children may have difficulty maintaining eye contact, struggle to understand jokes or sarcasm, and find it hard to initiate or participate in conversations. They may have specific interests or hobbies and might prefer sticking to predictable routines. While they may need some support in social situations, they can often interact with others and participate in school and community activities.

What does Level 2 autism look like in children?

Children with Level 2 autism exhibit more significant challenges in social communication and interactions. They may have limited speech or difficulty expressing themselves verbally. Social interactions can be challenging for them, leading to difficulties making and maintaining friendships. They may engage in repetitive behaviours or display intense interests in certain topics. Children at this level require more substantial support and accommodations to navigate daily life and participate in various activities.

What does Level 3 autism look like in children?

Children with Level 3 autism face the most severe challenges in social communication and behaviour. They may be nonverbal or have minimal speech, relying on alternative forms of communication. These children may have difficulty engaging with others and may appear withdrawn or unresponsive in social situations. Repetitive behaviours may be more pronounced, and they may require extensive support to perform daily tasks and activities.

What are the three main symptoms of autism in adults?

In adults with autism, the three main symptoms typically include challenges in social interactions and communication, repetitive behaviours, and sensory sensitivities. Adults with autism may find it challenging to understand social norms and cues, leading to difficulties in forming and maintaining relationships. They may have specific routines or interests that they adhere to rigidly. Sensory sensitivities to lights, sounds, textures, or smells may also be present, affecting their daily experiences.


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