When you’re trying to figure out autism symptoms in young children, it’s often confusing. How much is normal toddler behavior, how much is a certain stage, and how much is a cause for serious concern? One thing you can use to help you decide is your child’s behavior.


Young children with autism display many behavior-related symptoms. They have an obvious need for routine and need to do everything the same way every time. For example, if you always get home from the grocery store the same way, your kids may notice if you’re taking a different route and get really frustrated. Most likely, he wants to eat the same breakfast and dinner at the same time every day. Bedtime should be consistent. This need for routine is a common autism symptom in toddlers and children.

arrange toys

A toddler may line up his toys repeatedly. These are typical autism symptoms in young children. He wouldn’t play with them in the traditional way – obviously unimaginative.

A typical child might play with a house or give inanimate objects human-like qualities. They might pretend they’re drinking tea, or at a monster truck rally, or something like that. They may pretend to have superpowers.

However, children with autism will take the same dolls or trucks their peers play with and line them up. They get very upset if someone tries to interrupt them. This desire to line up toys is another autism symptom in young children.

Other autism symptoms in young children

Parents may notice several other autism symptoms in young children, such as:

  • Children with autism do not like to share too much with others.
  • A typical child will show their parents something they are interested in, but a toddler with autism will not.
  • There will be a lot of repetitive behavior, and your child may seem interested in unusual things, such as the tilt of light through a window or the sound of something. They may spend hours watching these things.
  • Children with autism are not good at coping with new situations. If they’re forced to try something new that they haven’t done before, there’s generally a lot of screaming, yelling, and breaking down.
  • Also, due to sensory issues, crashes are common in large groups and in close, crowded places with other children due to noise and agitation levels.
  • They pay great attention to detail and will notice things you’ve never had before in any object or situation.

Autism symptoms in young children often appear in preschool years

Often, toddlers are considered a little quirky until preschool or kindergarten, and then they wake up suddenly when parents see how different their children are from their peers.

Because autism is genetic in many cases, parents may often remember having similar but less severe traits and not give too much thought to some of the milder traits. Once in school, however, the gap between the autistic child and his typical peers is wide.

Don’t worry; if you think your child is showing some of the symptoms of autism in young children, you can seek help.

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