Press "Enter" to skip to content

Identifying Autism

Recognizing something is the first step towards understanding & acceptance.

In infants:

  • Doesn’t play the drop game (drop something – often a utensil at meal time – a hundred times for you to pick up one hundred and one times)
  • Doesn’t throw their food (I thought we were so lucky to not have to deal with those stages…. oops!)
  • Doesn’t crawl which is needed for cross body organization (look into ATNR reflex) – rolls, scoots or skips to walking or climbing (ours was climbing before they could walk!)
  • Doesn’t point (see below)
  • prefers tummy time – again thought we were lucky, more likely avoiding eye contact
  • gets overstimulated and calms down when put down (often with either a swing for vestibular input and/or mobile for visual stimulation)
  • I want to do some reading on distractibility while breastfeeding norms

In toddlers:

  • Knows their name… but doesn’t turn to look or otherwise respond or acknowledge when you call it (this video reminded me of this one and why I missed it, other ways it gets described can make it sound like they don’t know their name, it’s more that they don’t know to respond to it
  • Doesn’t point to direct your attention (and if you aren’t looking at them to see them pointing…. you might want to get evaluated), and/or doesn’t look at you when you say things like “look at that!” or “it’s over there” to see where you are looking/pointing – if the person is verbal they might even ask “at what?” or “where?” without looking since you didn’t give any verbal location information
  • instead of running around with other kids, they are arranging/lining up/sorting things
  • they can get very upset about cleanup – taking photos can help (forgetting something can feel like it then never happened, photos help release the anxiety that if things are put away, it will be like it never existed)
  • sensory differences – they hate getting wet or messy or they are sensory seeking (spinning/merry-go-round, water obsessed, etc.), won’t wear certain clothes or only wears certain clothes, specific sounds/smells/tastes/textures are upsetting (others can be soothing)
  • Difficulties with transitions – doesn’t want to get in the bath, then wants to stay in for hours and not get out

In females:

  • “Shy” – can be any combination of social anxiety, lack of interest in peers, introversion, overwhelm, sensory issues
  • collects things (shoes, purses, dolls, books, can be anything – I used to say I collected collections because I had so many different ones)
  • hyperlexic (teaches themselves to read before 5 or 6, obsessive reading) And Next Comes L – Hyperlexia Resources
  • extremely considerate (anxiety, worry around what others think/feel – it doesn’t come naturally so extra effort gets put into it)
  • can’t stop talking (this link is so-so, I’ll look for better….eventually: ADHD in Girls: Symptoms, Early Signs, and Complications (
  • has ADHD – see above for how that looks different in females
  • has more male friends, or closest friends are male, is a “tomboy” (NT female social conventions and skills are way too hard, males tend to make more sense to ASD females)
  • has an immediate family member with ASD
  • extreme fatigue during puberty – masking gets WAY harder and takes more energy
  • have to self diagnose because of how much they mask
  • are “ok” until a life change puts too much strain on their ability to cope/mask (many females getting diagnosed after their kid(s) are or other major life changes lead to burnout and the inability to mask anymore)
  • seem “fine” to all their friends but secretly struggle with anxiety and/or depression
  • I loved certain counter-culture clothing styles, but didn’t feel comfortable wearing them myself, I just realized this week that it was because I was masking an thus couldn’t allow myself to be so obviously different
  • friends are mostly older and/or younger, not the same age