Spotting The Early Signs & Symptoms Of Autism, By A Mum Who Knows

by Stephanie Conroy
3rd Jan 2019

As a special needs parent, I was once in a position where I was seeing things not progressing in my children and knowing something just was not right. At first, it was a feeling I could not shake. Later, it became so obvious even strangers could pick it out. There seems to always be signs and symptoms, so here are some to look for.

  • Habitual Organisation. Children with Autism will stack objects and line them up rather than actually play with them. When my boys were small, they would line up cars on a map rug I had, flap their hands and make exploding noises, but they would not actually play with the toys. They would line anything from chairs to books in long, straight lines across a room, and no one could touch these objects without a meltdown happening. Toys were stacked up like buildings; they were not played with on a flat surface.
  • Meltdowns vs Tantrums. Children with Autism also have actual meltdowns. A meltdown is not a tantrum. A tantrum is made by a child to get something from the adult, such as a toy, and the actions are very different during a tantrum. During a meltdown, the child will not make contact. A child in a tantrum wants you to watch. A child, during a meltdown, will not be consolable when you speak to them. A child in a tantrum wants your attention. A child in a meltdown never does it over wanting something like a toy or candy. It is a sensory issue, not a behavioural one.
  • Feet vs Toes. Children with Autism often walk on their toes. This is another sensory issue. They do not like being over-stimulated, therefore, they will toe walk.
  • Comfort In Sound Repetition. Children with Autism often use echolalia. They repeat sounds and words; they like to hear them. I had a friend named Monique when my boys were little. I had to not say her name in my home, or all day the boys would echo the word Monique.
  • Making Milestones. In a child with Autism, milestones are often missed. They will not potty train on target, or at all. Their speech is delayed. My boys did not talk for years, they learned after their little sister started. They are 15 now and still will not really have a real conversation with me. They are just more inside themselves.  

There are so many signs and symptoms, but these are some that I relate to pretty closely. If you think your child may have autism, you are their best advocate. Be patient, even without real answers to the why, things do get better.

For more information about Autism, visit

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