Signs and Symptoms of Autism

Last week, we briefly covered what autism is, the challenges of a diagnosis, and treatment options. This week, we are going to cover the most common signs of autism and the variations of symptoms by age.

Not everyone with autism has the same severity of symptoms, and many people experience different symptoms. The most recognized symptoms of autism include communication and social difficulties, repetitive actions or behaviors, fixated interests, resistance to change, and sensory sensitivities. It is also important to keep in mind that if someone exhibits any of these signs, it does not necessarily mean they have autism, as some of these symptoms could be signs of another disorder or disease. It is crucial to be evaluated by a medical professional to receive an official diagnosis if you suspect autism.

Symptoms of autism vary by age because autism is a developmental disorder, and its impact on an individual’s behavior and abilities changes as they grow and develop. Several factors contribute to this variation in symptoms across different age groups.


Signs of autism in infants:

  1. Lack of Eye Contact: Infants with autism may avoid making eye contact with caregivers, which is typically a common behavior for infants who are developing social skills.
  2. Limited Social Interaction: They may show limited interest in engaging with others, including a lack of responsiveness to smiles, vocalizations, or attempts at interaction from caregivers.
  3. Delayed or Absent Babbling: A notable symptom in infants with autism is a delay or absence of babbling, such as not cooing, gurgling, or making other typical vocalizations.
  4. Repetitive Movements: Some infants with autism may exhibit repetitive movements or behaviors, such as hand-flapping or body rocking.


Signs of autism in toddlers:

  1. Communication Challenges: Toddlers with autism may have significant delays in language development or may not speak at all by 16 months. These are typical communication milestones in toddlers.
  2. Social Difficulties: Toddlers with autism often struggle with social interactions, including difficulty responding to their own name, lack of interest in playing with peers, and limited eye contact.
  3. Sensory Sensitivities: Many toddlers with autism exhibit sensory sensitivities, such as being overly sensitive or under-sensitive to certain textures, sounds, or smells.
  4. Repetitive Behaviors: Repetitive behaviors and interests become more apparent, including the tendency to engage in repetitive play or fixate on specific objects or topics.


Signs of autism in children:

  1. Limited Social Engagement: Children with autism often have difficulty engaging with others outside of their immediate family, making it challenging for them to form friendships or interact with peers.
  2. Communication Challenges Persist: Communication difficulties persist, including difficulty speaking clearly, limited use of gestures, and trouble understanding non-verbal cues.
  3. Rigidity and Routine: They may adhere strictly to routines and become upset by even minor changes in their daily schedule or environment.
  4. Repetitive Speech and Actions: Repetitive speech patterns (echolalia) and repetitive actions or movements continue to be prominent features of autism in children.


Signs of autism in teenagers and adults:

  1. Social Difficulties: Adolescents and adults with autism often struggle to create and maintain meaningful friendships, have difficulty empathizing with others, and may have challenges with recognizing and expressing emotions.
  2. Rigid Routines: They tend to follow rigid daily routines and may become distressed if these routines are disrupted.
  3. Special Interests: Many individuals with autism maintain intense interests in specific topics or subjects, often to an extreme degree, which can dominate their conversations and activities.
  4. Communication Challenges Persist: Difficulties in making eye contact, engaging in small talk, and repeating the same words or actions are characteristic of autism in adults and teenagers. Anxiety, stress, and depression can also be common co-occurring issues.


Understanding the signs and symptoms of autism is a crucial step toward early intervention and finding the right support. Autism is a complex and multifaceted condition, and while we’ve outlined some common signs for different age groups, it’s important to remember that individuals with autism can have varying degrees of symptom severity and presentation. These signs should serve as a guide rather than a definitive diagnosis. Seeking professional evaluation and diagnosis is paramount if you suspect autism in yourself or a loved one. With early intervention and support, individuals with autism can lead fulfilling lives, and society can become more inclusive and understanding of neurodiversity. Awareness, acceptance, and access to resources are key in ensuring a brighter future for those on the autism spectrum.

Contact our autism experts to learn more. As a Behavioral Health Center of Excellence®, we provide a holistic approach to ABA therapy that supports families as well as children, including being their insurance advocate.

A brighter future is possible with ABA therapy from The Behavior Exchange!





Ashvina attended University of Bombay and graduated with a Bachelors of Commerce. She got her Montessori Diploma in 1985 and taught ever since. Ashvina came to TBE in January of 2016 as Admin Assistant. During the years she got the opportunity to learn and work in different departments such as HR, Finance, Office Manager and Executive Assistant. Last summer TBE bought billing in house and her current focus area is Revenue Cycle Management. She is detail oriented and enjoys working with people. Ashvina volunteers to deliver meals to seniors and local shelters on the weekend. She loves to spend time with her family and grandkids. Ashvina loves her job because she enjoys hearing different points of view, and she feels her contributions help fuel the direction of our company.

Working with children comes naturally to Angela. Her mom was a special education teacher for 30 years and often had Angela join her for Take Your Child to Work Day. And in high school, Angela spent every summer as the nanny for a little boy with an autism spectrum disorder. It was this experience where her passion for working with children with autism started to blossom.

From there, she went on to graduate from Oklahoma State University with a Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Sciences. She learned about Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) in a non-normative development class and from that moment knew that ABA would be her life’s work.

Angela moved to the DFW area shortly after and began working at The Behavior Exchange as a therapist. She worked on her Master’s in Behavior Analysis at the same time. A year after graduating, she earned certification as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.

Now, as a Clinical Director at The Behavior Exchange, she brings a life-long passion to her work, holding a special place in her heart for children with limited language skills and working closely with families to develop healthy sleep habits.

Danielle’s passion for working with families is deeply personal and from the heart. Her younger brother has an autism spectrum disorder, and through their journey as a family, she found her purpose in life as an advocate for individuals with special needs.

After graduating from the University of North Texas with a degree in Human Development and Family Studies, Danielle began volunteering at The Behavior Exchange. She saw passionate therapists, meaningful change for clients, and families with hope for the future. After a summer of volunteering, she officially joined the team as Director of Admissions and found her home with The Behavior Exchange family.

With her extensive experience working as a client advocate with insurance providers, Danielle perseveres to help individuals of all ages and abilities receive the services they need to reach their full potential. She feels truly honored by each and every family who entrusts The Behavior Exchange to be part of their journey and is committed to the organization’s core values, mission, and goal of being a beacon of hope for the community.

Adam has always had a passion for helping individuals of all ages thrive and reach their full potential. He’s also an enthusiastic musician, songwriter, leader, and devoted family man, who has been helping children and team members grow with The Behavior Exchange since 2010.

Prior to joining the team at The Behavior Exchange, Adam was a mortgage loan consultant and grad student, pursuing his master’s degree in Education at the University of North Texas. He graduated in 2013 and also earned a graduate academic certificate in Autism Intervention. The following year, after years as a Behavior Therapist and seeing first-hand the power of ABA and the meaningful impact it can have on children and their families, Adam became a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. He then commenced from the Stagen Leadership Academy after completing the Integral Leadership Program (ILP), a 52-week practice-based program designed to develop executives serious about transforming themselves, their teams, and their organizations.

Adam is truly grateful to be a part of a dynamic, inspiring and compassionate team, and he’s dedicated to bettering the lives of all children and their families through the delivery of the highest quality of ABA services, while supporting the amazing team at The Behavior Exchange.

Soraya is from South Africa and moved to Texas in 1996. She graduated from The University of Texas and pursued a career, at that time, in Education. Soraya taught at a Montessori school for a few years and then took on a leadership role.

During her time in the education system, Soraya realized her passion was to assist children with special needs. So she joined The Behavior Exchange as a therapist, transitioned into a supervisory role in 2017, and a year and a half later, was promoted to Clinical Operations Manager.

She quickly learned the ins and outs of ABA operations and scheduling and successfully collaborates across departments to ensure The Behavior Exchange continues to provide quality services to clients and their families. She’s thankful to be part of such an amazing organization and excited to see what the future holds.

You could say Walter’s career started when he spent hours as a young child drawing superheroes and coloring maps. This passion, along with extraordinary swimming skills, landed him a full swimming scholarship at Texas Christian University, where he graduated in 1997 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Communication Graphics.

During the next 13 years, his design and art direction skills, conceptual-thinking abilities, and marketing-savvy know-how were honed at a few prestigious advertising and marketing agencies around the Dallas area. In the mid 2000s, he helped his wife Tammy Cline-Soza (founder and CEO of The Behavior Exchange) create a unique and concise brand for her new business. From logos and websites to uniforms, brand voice and visuals, Walter has been the main creative force for all things The Behavior Exchange.

Aside from giving birth to The Behavior Exchange brand, Walter is helping Tammy raise two amazing, beautiful children, River and Sierra. In his spare time (the two minutes he’s got per week), you can find Walter illustrating iconic landmarks of Dallas and Texas or looking around for this next open-water swim. Once he gets back in shape.

After 20 years of building The Behavior Exchange, literally from the ground up,
Tammy couldn’t be more proud of the team, culture, and organization that it has become.

As a family helping families, The Behavior Exchanges looks for opportunities that will make the biggest impact and produce life-changing outcomes – for clients, families, and even for team members. Tammy believes that if a team, a family, a community takes care of each other, the possibilities are endless and the relationships built along the way can make life more enriching and challenges easier to navigate. You could say her goal has been to build a kind of utopia full of support, love, and expertise that brings the best services possible to the community and ensures more families have access to those services.

Tammy and her family have dedicated their lives to the mission of The Behavior Exchange and continue to grow, learn, cultivate, challenge, support, and create better models for success. To that end, she is committed to her own leadership development and actively participates in advanced training, mentoring, and deep self-exploration on how to live out her purpose to love and support her family and help others reach their full potential. She takes her position very seriously and tries to serve as a channel for what the universe wants to come to fruition.

She also loves travel, gardening, being creative, MUSIC!, tennis, yoga, meditation, journaling, reading, being in nature, adventures, and more than anything, spending time with her husband Walter and their two beautiful children, River and Sierra.