The characteristics for autism tend to be across the four areas of impairment:

  • Communication
  • Social Interaction
  • Flexibility of thought
  • Sensory Issues

To read more about the triad of impairments listed here check out our autism signs page.

Characteristics of Autism


Your childs autism may be characterized by perseveration which is the unintentional, continuous, repetitive behavior, speech, or thoughts which interfere with normal activities.

You may notice that your child has issues in the following areas: Auditory, Tactile, Taste, Smell, Visual, Vestibular(balance), Proprioception(body awareness)

You may see your child do the following repetitive behaviors in these areas:

  • Auditory - your child may tap fingers, grunt, clear throat constantly, hum, click pens on and off or lights on and off etc

  • Tactile - your child may scratch, clap, twist hair, toe walk, feel objects, dribble etc

  • Taste - your child may lick objects even wallpaper and carpets etc, put objects in mouth such as stones, money etc

  • Smell- your child may sniff people, hair or shoes etc. smell objects, small food and drink

  • Visual -your child may stare at lights, gaze at fingers and hands, line up objects, blink constantly etc

  • Vestibular (balance) - your child may twirl, spin, jump, pace the floor, rock hand flap, or any other rhythmic, repetitive motion(also called stimming)

  • Proprioceptive (body awareness) -your child may rock back and forth, swing, bounce, head bang etc.

our child may be:

  • Hypersensitive - have acute, heightened or excessive sensitivity
  • Hyposensitive - have below normal sensitivity

This may change depending on:

  • Time
  • Within environments
  • The amount of stimulation

Characteristics of Autism


Autism symptoms often include sleep problems, a child with autism sometimes appears to need very little sleep. It is thought that they may produce less melatonin than normal. To help some children are given melatonin to help them to sleep. We have used this and found it to be very good, however you do have to have breaks from it otherwise it ceases to be effective.

Characteristics of Autism


You may find it difficult to toilet train your child. Many children on the autism spectrum have tremendous difficulty with digestive problems. This can include constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, leaky gut syndrome, and gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD) and yeast overgrowth syndrome. Sometimes this can be helped with a special gluten and cassein free diet.


Your child may continue to have tantrums well passed the age other children stop. Our daughter still has what is also known as meltdowns now and she is coming up to 10. Often your child can appear to be out of control and very angry. This can lead to self harming or being aggressive towards others.

Characteristics of Autism


Your child may or may not have learning difficulties. Most high functioning individuals are quite capable and can do exams and gain certificates. Your child's development and abilities may appear very uneven they may have poor skills in some areas, and exceptional abilities in others, such as music, memory, math, drawing or manual dexterity in doing puzzles etc. However the learning environment needs to be right for your child.

So many autistic children have sensory issues that are not helped within a school environment. This may mean your child cannot learn well because they experience too much sensory stimulation. Some children may use all their energy in coping with the social and sensory demands made on them.

Children with autism often want to be accepted y peers and so can contain their anxieties or repetitive behaviors( remember these repetitive behaviors help your child to feel good) for many hours. This can result in total meltdown when your child gets home to their "safe place".

You can imagine it like this.

  • If you had a coke can and shook it every time something happened in the school day that put your child on edge ie:
  • Somebody touched them
  • They didn't like the sound of the teachers voice.
  • The fire alarm went off
  • They had a new teacher today
  • The timetable changed
  • The lights were too bright
  • They didn't understand how to play a game etc.

Now if you opened the coke can what would happen? It would explode over you. This is what can happen to our children after some hours of trying to fit in. This is why it is important that a school environment is right, that your child at least has a "safe place" where they can be themselves for a while.

Characteristics of Autism

Motor Skills

Your child may have severely impaired handwriting and some difficulties with their fine motor skills. This is called dysgraphia. Our daughter for instance would be constantly dropping her pencil.

For more information check out our page on kids with autism.

If your child has several of these characteristics of autism then it will be worth getting them checked out. is dedicated to looking at the early signs of autism.

To find out who to speak to about referring your child for Early Intervention services in your area, you can contact the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities or call 1-800-695-0285 Your local Department of Health or Department of Mental Health may also provide you with information on how you may apply for Early Intervention services in your state.

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