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Signs of Autism

Learn what the signs of autism are.

Signs of autism in deaf babies: dog in bowl

  • They may not smile at you when you smile at them. Often they are very quiet and easy babies, staying in the crib without crying out for attention.
  • They may be very interested in moving things, like ceiling fans or lights, and less interested in your face.
  • They may not copy you when you clap hands, wave 'bye-bye' or play peek-a-boo.
  • Sometimes it feels like they are looking 'through you' instead of looking AT you.
  • They may look up at the ceiling, instead of paying attention to someone who's trying to play with them. This is a big problem for deaf babies and children. Deaf children really need to look to learn.

Signs of autism in deaf children:

  • Deaf children with autism don't look at other people in the eye. For deaf people, when you don't look each other in the eye, you can't communicate. This is true for both children who sign, and for children who mainly talk.
  • They don't always respond when somebody calls their name, taps their shoulder, or signs to them.
  • They don't "get" other people's feelings.
    • Children with autism don't respond to or understand other people's feelings.
    • Autistic children don't look at other people's faces.
    • Some autistic children may act as if they don't care about other people's feelings.

Autistic children often do the same thing over and over again. Like:

  • Rocking
  • Twirling
  • Hand biting
  • Hand flapping
  • Spinning

Deaf children without autism don't do these things unless they have been ignored or neglected for a very long time.

Next: How you can help your child

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NIDCD

National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
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