What is Infantile Autism?

Infantile autism, also known as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects communication, behavior, and social interaction. It is a complex and mysterious condition that is often misunderstood. In this article, we'll explore what infantile autism is, its symptoms, causes, and treatments.

reuben kesherim
Ruben Kesherim
December 9, 2023

What is Infantile Autism?

Understanding Infantile Autism

Infantile autism, also known as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects how individuals perceive and interact with the world around them. This section will provide an overview of what infantile autism is and the prevalence and diagnosis of the condition.

What is Infantile Autism?

Infantile autism is a complex disorder characterized by persistent challenges in social communication and interaction, as well as the presence of restricted and repetitive behaviors and interests. It typically appears in early childhood, before the age of three, and continues throughout a person's life.

Individuals with infantile autism may experience difficulties in various areas, including social interactions, communication, sensory processing, and behavior. Each individual with autism is unique, and the severity and manifestation of symptoms can vary widely. Some individuals may have significant impairments that require support in their daily lives, while others may have fewer challenges and lead more independent lives.

Prevalence and Diagnosis of Infantile Autism

The prevalence of infantile autism has been increasing in recent years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 1 in 54 children in the United States is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. While the exact causes of infantile autism are still being studied, a combination of genetic and environmental factors is believed to contribute to its development. To learn more about the causes of infantile autism, you can refer to this article on causes of infantile autism.

Diagnosing infantile autism involves a comprehensive evaluation by healthcare professionals with expertise in developmental disorders. The diagnostic process typically includes a thorough assessment of the individual's behavior, communication skills, social interactions, and developmental history. It may involve observations, interviews with caregivers, and standardized assessment tools. Early diagnosis is crucial to ensure timely access to intervention and support. For more information on the diagnosis of infantile autism, you can refer to our article on diagnosis of infantile autism.

Understanding what infantile autism is and its prevalence and diagnosis is the first step in recognizing and supporting individuals with this condition. Early intervention and access to appropriate therapies and resources can greatly improve outcomes for individuals with infantile autism. To explore available therapies and interventions, you can refer to our article on therapies for infantile autism.

boy hugging woman during daytime

Common Symptoms of Infantile Autism

Infantile autism is characterized by a wide range of symptoms that affect a child's social interaction, communication, and behavior. While the severity and presentation of symptoms can vary, understanding these common signs is crucial for early identification and intervention.

Social Interaction Challenges

Children with infantile autism often struggle with social interaction and have difficulty forming and maintaining relationships. Some common social interaction challenges include:

  • Limited Eye Contact: Children with infantile autism may exhibit reduced or minimal eye contact during interactions, making it challenging to establish emotional connections.
  • Lack of Social Reciprocity: They may have difficulty responding to social cues and engaging in back-and-forth communication, such as taking turns during conversations or sharing interests.
  • Difficulty with Empathy and Understanding Emotions: Understanding and expressing emotions can be challenging for children with infantile autism, which can impact their ability to empathize with others.

Communication Difficulties

Communication difficulties are another hallmark of infantile autism. These challenges can manifest in various ways, including:

  • Delayed Language Development: Children with infantile autism may experience delays in speech and language acquisition. They may exhibit limited vocabulary, struggle with sentence structure, or have difficulty initiating or sustaining conversations.
  • Echolalia: Echolalia, the repetition of words or phrases, is commonly observed in children with infantile autism. They may repeat words they hear without fully understanding their meaning.
  • Nonverbal Communication Challenges: Nonverbal cues, such as facial expressions, gestures, and body language, may be difficult for children with infantile autism to understand and utilize effectively.

Repetitive Behaviors and Restricted Interests

Repetitive behaviors and restricted interests are characteristic features of infantile autism. These behaviors serve as a way for individuals to cope with sensory overload and maintain a sense of predictability. Common examples include:

  • Stereotyped or Repetitive Movements: Children with infantile autism may engage in repetitive movements, such as hand-flapping, rocking, or spinning. These behaviors can provide a soothing effect or help regulate sensory input.
  • Rigid Adherence to Routine: They may demonstrate a strong preference for sameness and become upset or anxious when routines are disrupted. They may resist changes in their environment or daily activities.
  • Intense Focus on Specific Interests: Children with infantile autism often develop intense interests in specific topics or objects. They may spend excessive amounts of time engaged in these activities, showing little interest in other subjects.

Understanding these common symptoms of infantile autism is essential for parents and caregivers to recognize potential red flags and seek professional evaluation. Early identification and intervention can greatly improve the child's development and overall quality of life.

Early Signs and Red Flags

Recognizing the early signs and red flags of infantile autism is crucial for early intervention and support. While every child is unique, there are common indicators that may suggest the presence of autism spectrum disorder. Here are three early signs and red flags to be aware of:

Lack of Eye Contact

One of the early signs of infantile autism is a lack of eye contact. Typically, infants and young children begin making eye contact with their caregivers as a way to engage and connect. However, children with autism may avoid eye contact or have difficulty sustaining it. This can impact their ability to engage in social interactions and may be an early indicator of autism.

Delayed Speech or Language Skills

Delayed speech or language skills are another red flag for infantile autism. While every child develops at their own pace, delays in speech and language milestones can be a cause for concern. Children with autism may have difficulty expressing themselves verbally or understanding language. They may also exhibit echolalia, which is the repetition of words or phrases without understanding their meaning.

Sensory Sensitivities

Sensory sensitivities are common in individuals with autism, and they can manifest in various ways. Children with autism may be hypersensitive or hyposensitive to certain sensory stimuli. For example, they may be overwhelmed by loud noises or have a heightened sensitivity to certain textures. Sensory sensitivities can impact their daily routines, social interactions, and overall well-being.

Recognizing these early signs and red flags is an important step towards seeking professional evaluation and support for your child. It's important to remember that these signs alone do not provide a definitive diagnosis of infantile autism. Consulting with healthcare professionals, such as pediatricians or developmental specialists, is crucial for an accurate diagnosis.

Understanding the early signs of infantile autism allows for timely intervention, which plays a significant role in improving outcomes for children with autism. If you have concerns about your child's development, don't hesitate to reach out to healthcare professionals who can guide you through the evaluation process. There are various support and resources available to assist families in navigating the journey of autism.

Additional Characteristics of Infantile Autism

In addition to the hallmark symptoms of social interaction challenges, communication difficulties, and repetitive behaviors, there are other characteristics that may be observed in individuals with infantile autism. These characteristics can provide further insights into the unique profile of individuals on the autism spectrum.

Intellectual and Cognitive Abilities

Individuals with infantile autism exhibit a wide range of intellectual and cognitive abilities. While some may have average or above-average intelligence, others may have intellectual disabilities. It's important to remember that intelligence is not solely determined by the presence of autism, and each individual's abilities should be assessed on an individual basis.

Intellectual and Cognitive Abilities

  • Average or above-average intelligence
  • Intellectual disabilities
  • Varying degrees of cognitive strengths and weaknesses

Motor Skills and Coordination

Difficulties with motor skills and coordination are common in individuals with infantile autism. These challenges can manifest in both fine motor skills (such as writing, buttoning clothes, or using utensils) and gross motor skills (such as running, jumping, or balancing). Occupational therapy and other interventions can help individuals develop and improve their motor skills.

Motor Skills and Coordination

  • Fine motor skill difficulties
  • Gross motor skill difficulties
  • Challenges with coordination and balance

Emotional Regulation

Emotional regulation refers to an individual's ability to manage and regulate their emotions. Many individuals with infantile autism may struggle with emotional regulation, which can lead to intense emotional reactions or difficulty understanding and expressing emotions. Teaching emotional regulation strategies and providing support for emotional well-being is essential for individuals with autism.

Emotional Regulation

  • Difficulty managing and regulating emotions
  • Intense emotional reactions
  • Challenges understanding and expressing emotions

Understanding the additional characteristics of infantile autism provides a more comprehensive picture of the diverse experiences of individuals on the autism spectrum. It's important to approach each person with autism as an individual, recognizing their unique strengths, challenges, and needs. Seeking professional evaluation and accessing appropriate support and resources, such as therapies and interventions, can greatly benefit individuals with infantile autism and their families.

Seeking Professional Evaluation

When parents suspect that their child may be exhibiting symptoms of infantile autism, seeking a professional evaluation is essential. Early intervention is crucial for providing the necessary support and resources to help individuals with autism thrive. In this section, we will explore the importance of early intervention, the steps to take for evaluation and diagnosis, and the available support and resources.

Importance of Early Intervention

Early intervention plays a critical role in supporting children with infantile autism. Research has shown that early identification and intervention can significantly improve long-term outcomes for individuals on the autism spectrum. By starting interventions as early as possible, children can benefit from targeted therapies and strategies tailored to their unique needs.

The sooner a child receives appropriate interventions, the better their chances of developing essential skills such as communication, social interaction, and adaptive behaviors. Early intervention can also help address other developmental challenges that may be associated with infantile autism, such as sensory sensitivities and motor skills difficulties.

Steps to Take for Evaluation and Diagnosis

If parents suspect that their child may have infantile autism, it is important to consult with healthcare professionals who specialize in autism spectrum disorders. The evaluation process typically involves several steps, including:

  1. Initial Screening: The child's pediatrician or healthcare provider may conduct a preliminary screening using standardized tools to assess developmental milestones and identify any red flags.
  2. Comprehensive Assessment: If the initial screening raises concerns, a more in-depth evaluation will be conducted by a multidisciplinary team. This team may include psychologists, developmental pediatricians, speech-language pathologists, and occupational therapists.
  3. Diagnostic Criteria: The evaluation process will consider the diagnostic criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). These criteria help professionals determine if the child meets the criteria for an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis.
  4. Developmental History: Gathering information about the child's developmental history, including milestones, behaviors, and concerns, is an important part of the evaluation process.
  5. Observations and Assessments: The professionals involved will observe the child's behavior and may administer various assessments to gather comprehensive information about their social interaction, communication skills, and repetitive behaviors.
  6. Collaboration and Consultation: The evaluation team will collaborate and consult with each other to develop an accurate diagnosis and provide recommendations for intervention and support.

Available Support and Resources

Upon receiving a diagnosis of infantile autism, families have access to a range of support and resources to help navigate their journey. These resources may include:

  • Early Intervention Programs: These programs provide specialized services tailored to the unique needs of children with autism. They may include therapies such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), speech therapy, occupational therapy, and social skills training.
  • Support Groups: Joining support groups allows parents to connect with others who have similar experiences. These groups provide a supportive environment where parents can share information, resources, and emotional support.
  • Educational Resources: Numerous books, websites, and online communities provide valuable information and guidance on understanding and supporting individuals with infantile autism. They offer strategies for managing challenges and promoting development.
  • Therapeutic Services: Various therapeutic approaches, such as speech therapy, occupational therapy, and behavioral therapy, can help children with autism develop essential skills and reach their full potential. These therapies are often tailored to the individual needs of the child.
  • Advocacy Organizations: Autism advocacy organizations offer resources, educational materials, and advocacy support to help parents navigate the educational system, access services, and stay up-to-date with the latest research and information.

By seeking professional evaluation and diagnosis, parents can gain a clearer understanding of their child's unique strengths and challenges. This knowledge allows them to access the appropriate support and resources necessary for their child's development and well-being. Remember, every individual with infantile autism is unique, and interventions should be individualized to meet their specific needs.


Is infantile autism the same as Asperger's syndrome?

No, they are not the same. While both conditions fall under the umbrella of ASD, Asperger's syndrome is considered a milder form of autism. People with Asperger's often have normal or above-average intelligence and may excel in certain areas such as math or science.

Can infantile autism be diagnosed in adults?

Yes, while it is typically diagnosed in early childhood, some people may not receive a diagnosis until adulthood. This can happen if symptoms were mild or not noticeable in childhood, or if the person was misdiagnosed with another condition.

Are vaccines a cause of infantile autism?

No, there is no scientific evidence to support the claim that vaccines cause infantile autism. This myth originated from a now-discredited study published in 1998 that has been thoroughly debunked by numerous studies since then.

Can diet affect symptoms of infantile autism?

Some people with infantile autism may benefit from dietary changes such as eliminating gluten or dairy products. However, there is little scientific evidence to support these claims and more research is needed to determine their effectiveness. It's important to consult with a healthcare professional before making any significant dietary changes.

What kind of support is available for families affected by infantile autism?

There are many resources available for families affected by infantile autism, including support groups, therapy services, and educational programs. Many communities also offer specialized schools or programs for children with ASD. It's important for families to seek out these resources and connect with others who understand their experiences.


Infantile autism is a complex and often misunderstood disorder that can have a significant impact on a person's life. While there is no cure, there are a range of treatments and therapies that can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life. By understanding the causes and symptoms of infantile autism, we can better support and advocate for those affected by this condition.