Coole Road, Multyfarnham,Mullingar, Co. Westmeath. N91 WC67
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Characteristics of Autism

It is important to understand that no single behaviour is indicative of autism, nor will a child show all the behaviours listed. The significant factor is a pattern of behaviours. Some of the behaviours may be intense whilst others are relatively mild. Some of the behaviours that indicate autism are seen at specific times in a typically developing child. The significant difference in autism is the intensity of the behaviour and the persistence of the behaviour beyond the normal developmental time-frame.


  • Has flat or limited facial expressions
  • Does not use gestures
  • Rarely initiates conversation
  • Fails to imitate actions or sounds
  • May have little or no speech or may be quite verbal
  • Repeats or echoes words and/or phrases
  • Uses unusual intonation or rhythm
  • Seems not to understand word meanings or understand implied meaning but uses words literally

Social Interaction

  • Spends time alone rather than with others
  • Less responsive to social cues such as eye contact or smiles
  • Seeks social contact in unusual ways
  • Uses an adults hand as a tool


  • Lack of spontaneous or imaginative play
  • Does not imitate others actions
  • Is very attached to certain toys or objects and plays with them in an unusual way
  • Does not play turn-taking games
  • Play is repetitive


  • Is upset by and resists change to routines or environment
  • Drifts aimlessly
  • Exhibits strong and inflexible interests
  • Throws tantrums for no apparent reason
  • May he over/hyperactive or passive

Sensory Impairment

  • Sometimes appears deaf
  • Exhibits panic or pain related to specific sounds
  • Plays with light and reflection
  • Flicks fingers before eyes
  • Pulls away when touched
  • Strongly avoids certain smells, foods, clothes etc
  • Is attracted to certain patterns/textures/odours.
  • May spin, whirl, bang head or torso, bite wrist or hand, bounces or jumps, climbs
  • Exhibits unusual or non response to pain, heat or cold
  • Toileting problems