From A Mile To A Smile

Symptoms And Signs Of Autism

Symptoms Of Autism

Most symptoms tend to appear from the age of 18 months. Yet there are cases where it is discovered in a later period of life due to complex social environment.  


Common symptoms of autism include inability to follow social rules, communication, emotional deficits and having a big tantrum when their routine is interrupted. Such symptoms affect a person greatly in life and result to varying degree of learning difficulties. 


If you notice one or more of these occurring, you should seek advice as soon as possible: 

  • Unable to point to request desired items 
  • Unable to follow other’s point  
  • Poor Joint attention skills 
  • Difficulties in understanding other’s emotion and expressing own feelings 
  • Avoid eye contact 
  • Poor perspective taking 
  • Poor join-in skills 
  • Repetitive words or sentences and speak in incomplete sentences 
  • Poor imaginary play skills 
  • Repetitive actions 
  • Unable to accept changes in rules or routines 
  • Hypersensitivity or hyposensitivity to 5 senses  
  • Regression in skills (e.g., from able to speak in full sentences to not able to speak) 


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Prevalence of Autism

In Hong Kong, the prevalence rate is around 1 in 100 children. In just 10 years, the prevalence rate of autism has risen from 1 to 150 to 1 in 68 children.  

Below is a chart taken from CDC website showing the prevalence findings. 

Risk Factors

Individuals with ASD can be diagnosed at the age of 18 months old or younger. One should be assessed immediately to avoid missing the golden window for interventions, which is normally between the age of 2 to 6. The following groups are at higher risk of having ASD: 

  • Among identical twins, if one child has ASD, then the probability for the other child being affected is 36-95% 
  • Among non-identical twins,  if one child has ASD, then the probability of the other child being affected is  0-31%. 
  • If the first sibling has ASD, the chances for the second child are around 2%-18%. 
  • Children who were born with low birth weight (<2500g) and prematurely (<33 weeks) are at higher risks for having ASD. [Read article] 

There Are Couple Reasons For The Rising Numbers

  1. Broader definition of ASD
  2. Better understanding of ASD
  3. Clinicians have become better at identifying features that were previously missed
  4. Rising populations

4 Main Early Signs In Toddlers With Autism

Many parents are worried whether their child is autistic. When in doubt, we do encourage parents to seek assessment as soon as possible. 


The list below is a reference to see if your child needs an autism assessment. An early assessment enables you to grasp the prime time for treatment.  

Although Each Child Has A Different Type Of Autism, The Main Affected Areas Include:

Defective Language And Communication Skills

Social Skills And Social Interaction Barriers

Poor Cognitive And Adaptive Skills

Limited, Repetitive And Rigid Behavior And Interest

Defective language and communication skills

Parents should pay attention to their children’s ability in speaking. At the age of 16 month, children in general can use single words to communicate with person. In about 24 months, children can use 2-word phrases.  


Children’s communication is specified in using language to seek assistance and request objects. In addition, parents should also pay attention to the spontaneous use of language in terms of their children’s communication.  

Social skills and social interaction barriers

Children tend to use body language after 12 months. At such age, they start to initiate more interaction with others by smiling while facing each other, pointing to the display of others.  


Children also interact through imitation, and have eye contact while talking to adults. 

Poor cognitive and adaptive development

Cognitive ability tends to be more difficult to observe, yet parents can observe whether their child have difficulties in adapting changes. Small changes in daily life would upset children with autism and in result they throw tantrum as a response. You may seek help from professionals when you observe such happenings. 

Limited, Repetitive And Stubborn Behavior And Interest

Parents can pay attention to whether their children have limited interest in terms of choice of playing. Children with autism also tend to be less willing to try out new toys. While playing, they would focus in smaller parts of toy and repetitively play in the same way instead of varying. Moreover, their play tends to lack imagination. 

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Diminished of eye contact in Autism

One important element in diagnosing is whether your child avoids eye contact.  

It is commonly assumed that children with autism are uncomfortable with eye contact hence they avoid it.  


According to a new study, it suggests that instead of children finding eye contact uneasy, they in fact do not understand the meaning behind eye contact. They do not deliberately avoid the eye contact, yet they tend not to observe other’s facial expression. 

From a Mile to a Smile

If In Doubt, Seek Assessment As Soon As Possible.