Autism spectrum disorder varies widely in its severity and symptoms. Individuals with ASD have unique strengths, challenges, and needs, and cognitive and behavioral symptoms can range from mild to severe.
People with ASD may communicate, behave, interact, and learn in different ways than other people. They often have difficulty with social interaction, emotional skills, and verbal and nonverbal communication.
Early symptoms often include a significant delay in developing language or social skills. The behaviors associated with ASD usually appear within a child’s first 2 years. Children or adults with ASD may:
- avoid eye contact or prefer to be alone
- have trouble understanding or talking about feelings
- have difficulty reading social cues (including tone, facial expressions, and body language)
- show a narrow, intense focus on specific topics, interests, or objects
- engage in repetitive behaviors, such as rocking or repeating words or phrases
- have difficulty adapting to changes in routine
- be sensitive to light, sound, clothing, or temperature
Some people on the spectrum may also demonstrate strengths for certain types of learning and remembering detailed information. They can be strong visual or auditory learners and may be gifted in math, science, music, or art.