Mild Autism: Initial Symptoms in Children

Updated in June 2022

Mild autism is not an accurate diagnosis used in medicine. Although it is a popular term, even within healthcare teams, it is used to describe a person on the autism spectrum that is capable of completing all activities of daily living. Some examples include communicating, reading, writing and completing basic hygiene measures independently. 

Currently, mid autism is considered to fall within level 1 autism, as the symptoms of this type are very mild. Symptoms in children with this type of autism are noted at around 2 to 3 years old, when they start having interactions with other people and start completing more complex tasks that are observed by family, friends or teachers.

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Main symptoms 

The characteristic symptoms of mild autism or level 1 autism can fall within these 3 areas: 

1. Communication problems 

One sign that the child may have autism is problems communicating with other people. Children may not be able to speak correctly and use incorrect words. They may not be able to express themselves with words. 

2. Difficulty socializing

Another very characteristic sign of autism is the difficulty socializing with other people. Children may have difficulty making friends, starting or keeping a conversation, or even making eye contact. 

3. Changes to behavior

Children with autism often have some challenging behavior that would otherwise not be observed in a child without autism. Some examples include having a repetitive pattern of movements and having a fixation for specific objects. Generally, some characteristics that may contribute to a diagnosis include: 

  • Interpersonal relationships are impacted 
  • Inappropriate laughing 
  • Lack of eye contact
  • Emotional distance
  • Reduced demonstrations of pain
  • Desire to always plays with the same toy or object
  • Difficulty focusing on one task and completing it 
  • Preferring to play on their own rather than with other children 
  • Not showing any fear in dangerous situations 
  • Repeating words or sentences in inappropriate places
  • Not responding to or ignoring their name 
  • Tantrums
  • Difficulty expressing their feelings with speech or gesture

People with mild autism are generally very intelligent and extremely sensitive to unexpected changes. 

Autism test

To assess the probability of your child having autism, report their characteristics in our online test below: 

This test is not a diagnostic tool. If you suspect autism in your child, you should consult a pediatrician for a thorough assessment. 

Autism diagnosis 

The only way to confirm an autism diagnosis is to consult a pediatrician, who will formally assess the child’s behavior together with a health care team. The team will additionally discuss observed behavior with the parents and caregivers. 

Diagnosis can take months to years due to fear of a wrong diagnosis, even after parents or caregivers have noticed the initial signs. For this reason, autism interventions related to developmental obstacles can be initiated by a psychologist, even if a diagnosis is not confirmed. 

Treatment options 

Treatment of mild autism should be guided by a healthcare team, which may consist of a speech therapist and a psychotherapist. Different health care professionals can help the child to develop and to interact better with others, to help in their daily life. In addition, nutrition is very important for the treatment of autism, therefore children should also consult with a registered dietitian. 

Most children with autism require some assistance with some tasks, but with time, they may be able to gain independence to complete most of their activities of daily living. This autonomy will depend on the child’s level of commitment and interest. 

Is there are cure for level 1 autism?

Mild autism is not an illness, and therefore it is not a condition that requires curing. With the right stimulation, speech therapy, nutrition, occupational therapy, psychology and specialized education, a person with mild autism can achieve high levels of development.