This article is evidence-based, verified by Dr. Ahmed Zayed
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that relates to the differences in the structure of a child’s brain. Although the exact causes of this disorder aren’t known, some people may have some more apparent differences, such as genetic conditions that could be linked to ASD.
When it comes to symptoms of ASD, there isn’t a particular pattern that you can use to set apart a child with an autism disorder. However, there are some signs that make the children suffering from this disorder a little bit different in their behavior, interaction, and communication.
We are going to be discussing the signs of autism, specifically in boys.
Autism in Boys
Often, boys with autism may show developmental changes while they are still babies. However, many parents can’t identify the symptoms of this disorder at an early age with their baby. This is common because babies with autism will usually still crawl, sit, and walk on time.
Some less obvious signs like gestures, social language, and pretend play usually go unnoticed. Furthermore, boys with autism show delays while learning to speak. Some other behavioral differences that the parents may notice are associated with the interaction of their child with other kids.
Below is the epidemiological data for autism.
- Almost 1 in 59 children suffer from autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
- This disorder tends to occur in all ethnic, racial, and socioeconomic groups
- Autism is more common in boys (4 times) as compared to girls
- According to a survey conducted in 2006-2008, about 1 in 6 children in the United States suffered from a developmental disorder. These issues ranged from mild disabilities (language/speech impairments) to more serious developmental issues like cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities, and autism
Obvious Sign of Autism in Boys
Each child with ASD has different symptoms, yet there are some obvious signs that one may identify.
Social Differences in Children With Autism
- Make little eye contact or don’t maintain it for very long
- Show the inability to judge the facial expressions of others
- Don’t show visible facial expressions
- Are unable to show interest in making friends
- Don’t share the objects of their interest with parents
- Don’t show any feelings for others
- Don’t look at objects or identify them when pointed out by the parent
Communication Differences in Children With Autism
- Don’t point at things to share them with other kids
- Don’t start to speak even after 16 months
- Usually, repeat what others say without knowing what others are saying
- Don’t respond when you call their name but respond to other voices like a car horn or animal sounds
- Normally refer to others as “I” and self as “you.”
- May mix up pronouns or make other language mistakes
- Usually, are not interested in communicating with others
- Follow routines and order, and don’t welcome any kind of change
- Show obsession with some unusual activities and continue to repeat them throughout the day
- Display certain behaviors, such as spinning, swaying, twirling fingers, walking on toes, and flapping hands
- Show hyper or zero sensitivity to smells, lights, and touch
- Don’t play with the whole toy, only with specific parts
- Don’t respond to pain
- Look at the object from an unusual angle
Early Signs of Autism in Males
Given below are some examples, which may assist parents in looking for the early signs of autism.
At the age of 12 months, a boy with typical development will respond by turning his head when someone calls his name. On the contrary, a boy with ASD won’t look, even if you repeat his name several times.
When a child with delayed speech turns 18 months, they will try to compensate with gestures or facial expressions when communicating with others. However, a boy with autism doesn’t even attempt to communicate with others. He may repeat only what you say or what he may hear from others.
Two years after birth, a baby with typical development can relate a picture of theirs and show it to their parents. Nevertheless, a boy with autism doesn’t show any interest in playing with others or sharing a pleasant moment with the parents.
Children with normal growth are interested in the people and things around them. After reaching one year of age, a toddler interacts with parents and other people while looking into their eyes. In most cases, they start to copy actions and some words.
They even start to repeat some simple gestures, like waving or clapping hands. These toddlers also respond well to social games such as pat-a-cake and peek-a-boo. However, a young boy with autism may turn out to be less responsive when it comes to learning or interacting with other people.
For instance, some kids with ASD don’t even bother to notice other people. Nevertheless, there might be some boys with this disorder who like to make friends, yet they don’t have the social skills to develop friendships.
In fact, other children may not like to play with the children suffering from ASD. This is because children with ASD find it difficult to take turns and play games. Boys with autism might also show problems with talking about or showing their feelings.
These children also don’t like to know about the feelings of other people. In most cases, boys with ASD tend to be more sensitive to touch, and they don’t like the idea of being held or cuddled. In addition, self-stimulatory behaviors, such as flapping arms or clapping hands, are common among boys with ASD.
In some older boys, autism disorders may also increase the chances of anxiety and depression. These and some other symptoms make it hard for the child to handle their social issues in a prudent manner.
Unusual Behaviors and Interests
Another aspect that differentiates typical kids from those with ASD is their unusual behavior or interests.
Some of the examples of unusual behaviors and interests are listed below:
- Play with the same toys over and over
- Play with toys by lining them up
- Tend to be organized while playing with them
- Rock body, flap hands, or spin in circles
- Continue with their routine for most of the time
- Respond to the minor changes or gets angry when you try to change their routine
- Usually, show obsessive interests
Furthermore, kids with autism show repetitive motions, which they repeat over and over. These children may also only show interest in one part of any object or toy. For example, children with this type of disorder love to spend a lot of time rocking from side to side.
They may continue to turn a light on and off or open or close the cupboard. These kinds of activities are referred to as self-stimulation. Boys with autism follow a strict routine and respond to any change in their regular pattern. For instance, an unusual stop while coming back from school would irritate the child with ASD.
Furthermore, they might show anger or lose control when they find themselves in a strange place. Boys with ASD may also develop certain routines that may appear to be unusual. For instance, a boy with this disorder will look through every window when passing through a building.
These kids also like to watch a video from beginning to end every time you play it. They even insist on showing the credits and previews of a movie. If someone tries to change their routine or introduce some changes in their daily routine, these kids will experience tantrums and frustration.
A few of the other symptoms of ASD in boys include:
- Short or limited attention span
- Potential for self-injury
- Temper tantrums
- Unusual sleeping and eating habits
- Irregular emotional or mood reactions
- Lack of fear or excessive fear in some cases
- Irregular reactions to different sounds, smells, tastes, or feelings
Children with ASD may overreact or underreact to pain or loud noise. Their eating habits are also abnormal, which helps to identify children suffering from this disorder. For example, children with ASD love to eat only a few foods, thereby limiting their diet to specific types of foods.
In addition, boys with ASD may also show odd sleeping habits. Their emotional reactions and moods are also abnormal. They may start to cry or laugh at unusual times. Similarly, they don’t respond to the activities that you would normally expect them to laugh at.
Apart from this, they might not seem to be afraid of dangerous things or, at times, they may show fear from harmless objects.
When you witness any of these symptoms in your child, you should be concerned about their condition. If your baby is showing difficulty while learning, speaking, and playing with other kids, make sure to see a pediatrician.
Prior to booking an appointment with a practitioner, try to look for an experienced practitioner who is capable of dealing with ASD. By doing so, you and your pediatrician can help your baby relieve the symptoms of autism as he grows.
Dr. Ahmed Zayed, MD holds a baccalaureate of Medicine and Surgery. An avid contributor to the Huffington Post and Chicago Tribune, Dr. Zayed believes in providing accurate and accessible information to general readers. With years of writing and editing content in the medical niche, Dr. Zayed likes to think of himself as a man with a mission, keeping the internet free of false medical information.