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Mild Autism: What are the Symptoms?

Puja Lalwani May 6, 2019
The early signs of mild autism begin to develop in childhood, and may carry on into adulthood. It is important to identify these signs, because, the sooner they are treated, the easier life will be for an affected individual.
The perception of the world to those who suffer from autism is vastly different from others. To those who have this condition, the world appears chaotic, and understanding the purpose behind every occurrence is a task. Autism occurs in stages, from mild, moderate, and severe. Treatment is essential for everyone who is in any of these stages.
While those with mild autism relate to society more easily, those with the severe condition may be unable to do so. Autism is a neurological disorder, that may be caused due to genetics, or the environment. It has been noticed that boys are more prone to it than girls. However, till date, there has been no solid established cause of this condition.

Trouble With Social Communication

  • Those suffering from mild autism tend to take what has been spoken at face value. For instance, if they are asked something like 'what's up?', they may give a literal answer, when the question actually implies a general query regarding the happenings in one's life.
As such, they do not understand jokes, sarcasm, metaphors, and this often leads to miscommunication. Such individuals also find it troublesome to understand body language, facial expressions, and the tone of voice.
  • Thy may or may not speak much, though they are capable of understanding what is spoken to them. Some may prefer to communicate via sign language and other means, rather than speak. They also avoid making eye contact with others.
  • On the other hand, there are some cases where they have fairly good language skills. However, sometimes, they may tend to repeat themselves often, or even repeat what others are saying to them. They may be good at language, but may lack basic conversational skills. 
They also need time to understand the questions posed to them, and respond accordingly. It is best if they are asked direct questions, and are spoken to in a clear manner.

Trouble Understanding Established Social Norms

  • The norms of social interaction that are understood by us without being explained, are difficult for mildly autistic people to pick up. They may thus fail to maintain appropriate physical distances while talking to others, or may broach a sensitive or inappropriate topic of conversation.
  • One of the symptoms in adults is that they fail to understand the feelings and emotions of others, and may be perceived as insensitive. On the other hand, they themselves do not speak out their emotions clearly, and fail to communicate the feelings they may be experiencing.
  • They do not seek comfort from others, and may remain socially withdrawn. Even if they wish to make friends, they may find it difficult because of all these tendencies, and thus, social interaction may remain minimal.

Trouble Perceiving Social Situations

  • They may find it difficult to predict the behavior of others, based on their present behavior. They do gauge the consequences of any particular situation.
  • They fail to perceive danger in certain situations, and may avoid taking any precautionary measures. Thus, planning is also difficult for them.
  • They do not easily adapt to change, and find it difficult to cope with establishing new relationships.

Routine Behavior

  • Those with mild autism engage in routine behavior, just so that life is simpler for them and they know what to do next.
  • Sometimes, however, the routine behavior is involuntary, and they may not realize that they are engaging in such behavior. For instance, they may consciously follow a fixed daily routine. 
But sometimes, they may be obsessed by inanimate objects, for example, constantly turning the wheel of a suitcase, without any breaks.
  • Once a routine has been established, and they have been taught a particular way of doing things, they may not be able to change this routine or adapt to a new one. Over time, though, they can be trained to accept changes.


In spite of the earlier mentioned symptoms, those who suffer from this condition have been found to be highly creative individuals. They have been great musicians, artists, and have even been able to work extremely well with computers. If these traits are enhanced and encouraged, they can be channeled into the right direction.
This means, those with autism can study or work in such fields. On the other hand, several may face a lack of imagination, and may find it difficult to understand abstract ideas and concepts.

Extreme Sensitivity

They may be highly sensitive to their surroundings, and may be able to identify sounds and visions that most of us may overlook. These sounds and visions may disturb them causing stress and anxiety. On the other hand, they may not be able to experience pain in their own bodies.
For instance, if they are too close to a fire, they are likely to burn their hands without feeling much. Their lack of coordination does not allow them to carry out fine motor tasks, such as being able to tie their shoelaces themselves.

Associated Disabilities

Some people may experience mild autism along with other learning disabilities such as dyslexia or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). These may affect the ability of mildly autistic children to perform at school, and perform other activities such as preparing a meal for themselves.
The sooner the signs are recognized, the easier it is to intervene and introduce the right kind of therapy and behavioral changes. If these early signs of autism are identified at a younger age, it is easier to modify them, so that as adults, these kids are able to become a part of society, and be as independent as possible.
These symptoms cannot be completely eliminated, but mild autism can be controlled with the help of therapy, and of course, love and support from family and friends.
Disclaimer: This is for informative purposes only, and should not be replaced for the advice of a medical professional.