What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a neurodevelopmental disorder that occurs in roughly one out of every 44 children in the US. Individuals with autism are affected in certain areas and experience the world differently and may not behave, communicate, or interact with others in ways that are seen as typical.

Autism is most often diagnosed in young children between one and three years old when developmental delays are most apparent. Signs of autism in children include delays in speech, communication, difficulty or disinterest in socializing, and restrictive and repetitive behaviors.

Generally, symptoms of autism appear when a child is very young. Boys are diagnosed with ASD more often than girls, at a rate of about 3:1.

The Drake Institute has helped patients with Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, anxiety disorders, depression, and other disorders achieve a reduction of symptoms. Our non-invasive, drug-free treatment protocols help patients achieve better outcomes emotionally, socially, and academically.

At the Drake Institute, we use qEEG brain map-guided neurofeedback therapy to help patients improve their Autism Spectrum Disorder symptoms. To learn more about how we can help, call the Drake Institute at 800-700-4233 or fill out the contact form.

What Is Autism?

Autism Spectrum Disorder includes the neurodevelopmental disorders previously called Autistic Disorder, Asperger’s Disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS).

Autism does not contribute to physical differences; people with autism won’t look any different from neurotypical individuals. In other words, there aren’t any clear physical symptoms of autism. Additionally, because autism falls on a spectrum, the disorder affects people differently in severity and impairment. Autism Spectrum Disorder symptoms can vary widely in children, teenagers, and adults.

Signs & Symptoms Of Autism In Children

Because even mild autism symptoms usually appear by age three, the diagnosis most often occurs in children rather than teenagers or adults. Though autism affects each person differently, there are a few common signs of autism, especially autism in children. Autism indicators in children include impairments in social communication and restrictive and repetitive behavior.

So just what are the signs of autism in children? Find more below:

Communication Symptoms In Children

Autism Spectrum Disorder affects how a person interacts with the world, including how they communicate with others. Because of their brain differences, the typical ways humans communicate with each other may not come naturally, and they can show impaired social communication and interactions. This leads to communication-based autism characteristics in toddlers and young children. At this age, the signs of mild autism may not always be identified early.

According to the CDC, the signs of autism include:   

  • Avoids eye contact
  • Doesn’t respond to name by 9 months of age
  • Lack of facial expressions (e.g., happy, sad, angry, etc.) by 9 months of age
  • Doesn’t play simple interactive games (e.g., pat-e-cake) by 12 months of age
  • Uses few or no hand gestures (e.g., doesn’t wave hello or goodbye) by 12 months of age
  • Doesn’t share interests with others (e.g., doesn’t show you their favorite toy) by 15 months of age
  • Doesn’t point to show you something interesting by 18 months of age
  • Doesn’t notice when others are hurt or upset by 24 months of age
  • Doesn’t notice other children and play with them by 36 months of age
  • Doesn’t pretend to be someone else (e.g., teacher, superhero, etc.) by 48 months of age
  • Doesn’t sing, act, or dance for you by 60 months of age

Behavioral Symptoms Of Autism In Children

The behavior of a child with autism may also be different from their peers. Interests and related behaviors may be repetitive or restricted and appear unusual. The following is a list of autism symptoms related to behavior in children taken from the CDC:

  • Gets upset when the “order” of their toys or other belongings is disturbed
  • Repeats words or phrases
  • Plays with toys the same way every time
  • Focuses on parts of objects (e.g., wheels on a car)
  • Gets upset by minor changes
  • Has obsessive interests
  • Follows specific routines
  • Has unusual reactions to the way things taste, sound, look, or feel

Signs & Symptoms Of Autism In Teenagers

Autistic behavior and other autism characteristics appear differently in teenagers than in children. Difficulties typical for teenagers, like social interaction and “fitting in,” may be even more challenging for teens with autism. See the list below for what the symptoms of autism are like in teenagers[i].

  • Problems forming friendships
  • Misinterpreting social cues and body language
  • Has an easier time forming friendships online
  • Has difficulty maintaining eye contact
  • Feels like he or she doesn’t “fit in”
  • Experiences sensory overload
  • Difficulty labeling their own emotions
  • Excessive anxiety
  • Depression

Signs & Symptoms of Autism In Adults

Autistic signs and behaviors usually persist into adulthood, though they may lessen over time. Social situations and social communication continue to be a particular challenge for autistic adults. Because of these social challenges, many autistic adults prefer to spend time alone or with a select few people. [ii]

 Here are a few of the most common signs of autism in adults:

  • Difficulty with understanding other people or “putting themselves in someone else’s shoes”
  • Difficulty making or maintaining close friendships
  • Trouble maintaining eye contact
  • Difficulty regulating emotions
  • Extreme interest in one particular topic
  • Frequent monologues on certain subjects
  • Hypersensitivity to certain sounds and smells
  • Difficulty interpreting sarcasm
  • Limited inflections when speaking
  • Limited interests
  • Reliance on daily routines
  • Has a hard time dealing with change
  • Repetitive behaviors
  • Social anxiety

How The Drake Institute Treats Autism

For over 40 years, the Drake Institute has been using advanced treatment technologies to treat a variety of brain-based medical conditions, including ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, stress disorders including PTSD, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and more.

Using a combination of brain mapping and neurofeedback, our Medical Director creates customized treatment protocols to address each patient’s needs. Here’s how we do it:

Brain Mapping

Brain mapping is the first step in helping our patients reduce the symptoms of their condition. Using specialized sensors and medical technology, the patient’s brain activity is measured, recorded, and analyzed to identify any areas of dysregulation that could be contributing to symptoms. This map is then used to design a treatment protocol with specific practices and techniques to help guide brain activity toward healthier functional patterns.


After the brain has been mapped, neurofeedback therapy is used to help the patient reduce symptoms of autism.

To do this, sensors measure and display the patient’s brain activity in real-time. The information is presented in an interactive and easy-to-understand form, like an animated car on a screen. When the patient accurately guides their brain waves to the desired pattern, the vehicle on the screen moves appropriately. Repetition of this training can help stabilize improved brain functioning.  


As an adjunct to neurofeedback, we may also use neurostimulation guided by qEEG brain map findings to gently stimulate the brain into healthier functional patterns. In our experience, patients may benefit even more from neurofeedback if we also use neurostimulation. We have found this to be particularly helpful for lower functioning children on the Autism Spectrum.

Contact The Drake Institute Today!

Autism Spectrum Disorder presents unique challenges to both autistic patients and their families.  If you’d like to know more about how the Drake Institute can help, call us at 800-700-4233 or fill out the free consultation form.


[i] https://www.aspriscs.co.uk/news-blogs/signs-and-symptoms-of-autism-in-teenagers/

[ii] https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326841#signs-and-symptoms

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“David F. Velkoff, M.D., our Medical Director and co-founder, supervises all evaluation procedures and treatment programs. He is recognized as a physician pioneer in using biofeedback, qEEG brain mapping, neurofeedback, and neuromodulation in the treatment of ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and stress related illnesses including anxiety, depression, insomnia, and high blood pressure. Dr. David Velkoff earned his Master’s degree in Psychology from the California State University at Los Angeles in 1975, and his Doctor of Medicine degree from Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta in 1976. This was followed by Dr. Velkoff completing his internship in Obstetrics and Gynecology with an elective in Neurology at the University of California Medical Center in Irvine. He then shifted his specialty to Neurophysical Medicine and received his initial training in biofeedback/neurofeedback in Neurophysical Medicine from the leading doctors in the world in biofeedback at the renown Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas. In 1980, he co-founded the Drake Institute of Neurophysical Medicine. Seeking to better understand the link between illness and the mind, Dr. Velkoff served as the clinical director of an international research study on psychoneuroimmunology with the UCLA School of Medicine, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, and the Pasteur Institute in Paris. This was a follow-up study to an earlier clinical collaborative effort with UCLA School of Medicine demonstrating how the Drake Institute's stress treatment resulted in improved immune functioning of natural killer cell activity. Dr. Velkoff served as one of the founding associate editors of the scientific publication, Journal of Neurotherapy. He has been an invited guest lecturer at Los Angeles Children's Hospital, UCLA, Cedars Sinai Medical Center-Thalians Mental Health Center, St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, California, and CHADD. He has been a medical consultant in Neurophysical Medicine to CNN, National Geographic Channel, Discovery Channel, Univision, and PBS.”

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