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Autism Symptoms: Repetitive Behaviors or Narrow, Obsessive Interests

Many children with symptoms of autism engage in repetitive movements, such as rocking and twirling, or in self-abusive behavior, such as biting or head-banging. They also tend to start speaking later than other children and may refer to themselves by name instead of "I" or "me."
 
Children with autism don't know how to play interactively with other children. Some speak in a sing-song voice about a narrow range of favorite topics, with little regard for the interests of the person to whom they are speaking.
 

Autism Symptoms: Sensitivity

Many children with autism have a reduced sensitivity to pain, but are abnormally sensitive to sound, touch, or other sensory stimulation. These unusual reactions may contribute to behavioral symptoms, such as a resistance to being cuddled or hugged.
 

Symptoms of Autism and Other Medical Conditions

Children with autism symptoms appear to have a higher-than-normal risk for certain coexisting conditions, including:
 
  • Fragile X syndrome (which causes mental retardation)
  • Tuberous sclerosis (in which tumors grow on the brain)
  • Epileptic seizures
  • Tourette syndrome
  • Learning disabilities
  • Attention deficit disorder (ADD).
     
For reasons that are still unclear, about 20 to 30 percent of children with autism develop epilepsy by the time they reach adulthood.
 
While people with schizophrenia may show some autistic-like behavior, their symptoms usually do not appear until the late teens or early adulthood. Most people with schizophrenia also have hallucinations and delusions, which are not found in autism.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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