The first signs of ASD can already be seen in infants and young children. Key symptoms that may indicate the disorder in the youngest are considered to be:

  • lack of divided attention (e.g. not following an adult’s gaze);
  • failure to point fingers at objects of interest to the toddler;
  • lack of imitative and “pretend” play.

Children with autism also show indifference or aversion to physical contact, e.g. to hugging. In addition, they do not smile at the sight of their mother’s face and do not react with liveliness when she approaches. They also do not need the presence and attention of caregivers.

The early signs of autism also include a disorder of eye contact. The child actively avoids it (covers his or her eyes or turns his or her face away) or is incapable of maintaining it (looks as if through glass). Toddlers with ASD also do not respond to their parents’ voice and are not interested in other children.

It is not uncommon for an autistic child to be afraid of household noises or harmless objects (e.g. stuffed toys). In addition, a toddler affected by the disorder may play in strange ways – only to provide tactile sensations.

Symptoms of ASD that occur early in life also include sleep and eating problems. The latter are manifested by difficulties in switching to solid foods or limiting the diet to only a few foods, e.g. only sweet, salty etc.

A child with autism also does not report feeling unwell – their only reaction to ailments is agitation.