What Does Level 1 Autism Look Like in Children?
Children who display milder symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often face challenges in receiving timely diagnoses or may even be misdiagnosed. Identifying and accurately diagnosing level 1 autism in children is crucial to ensure they receive the necessary resources, therapies, and educational accommodations that can greatly enhance their development.
Level 1 autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by challenges in social interactions, communication, and behavior. Children with level 1 autism typically exhibit milder symptoms compared to those with level 3 autism, typically requiring less support in their day-to-day activities. However, they still face difficulties in areas such as understanding nonverbal cues and adapting to changes in routines. It’s important to note that autism is still a spectrum disorder so each child will present symptoms differently.
There are key features and behaviors commonly associated with level 1 autism in kids that can help families and professionals seek an accurate diagnosis. Common level 1 autism symptoms in children include:
Children with autism level 1 often struggle with social interactions. They may find it difficult to initiate or maintain conversations, interpret nonverbal cues, or understand social norms. They may have limited eye contact, struggle with reciprocal play, and find it challenging to make friends. Kids with level 1 autism might also have difficulty understanding humor, sarcasm, or figurative language.
Communication difficulties are another hallmark of autism level 1. Children may develop language skills at a typical pace, but they often struggle with pragmatic language, which involves using language appropriately in social situations. Children with level 1 autism might have difficulty understanding and responding to abstract or ambiguous questions, maintaining a conversation on a particular topic, or adjusting their communication style to match the context or audience.
Repetitive behaviors and specific interests are often observed in children with autism level 1. These behaviors can manifest in various forms, such as repetitive body movements (e.g., hand flapping, rocking), the need to keep rigid routines or rituals, and strong attachments to certain objects. Additionally, they may exhibit intense fascination or expertise in specific topics or activities, often referred to as “special interests.” While these interests can be a source of passion and motivation, they may also limit their focus and engagement in other areas.
Children with level 1 autism frequently experience sensory sensitivities. They may be hypersensitive or hyposensitive to stimuli, such as sound, light, touch, taste, or smell. Some children may become overwhelmed or distressed by certain sounds or textures, while others may seek intense sensory experiences. Sensory sensitivities can significantly impact a child’s daily life, affecting their ability to concentrate, regulate emotions, and participate in typical activities.
Level 1 autism in children often possess unique cognitive abilities. While some may be gifted in specific areas, such as mathematics, visual processing, or memorization, they may face challenges in other cognitive areas. Executive functioning skills, including organization, planning, and flexibility, can be particularly difficult for them. It’s important to recognize and support their strengths while also providing interventions to address areas of difficulty.
Understanding the characteristics of level 1 autism in children is essential for providing effective support and intervention. While each child’s experience with autism is unique, recognizing common features can help parents, caregivers, and educators navigate the developmental journey more effectively.
At Empower Behavioral Health we offer comprehensive autism evaluations which allow us to provide an accurate autism level 1 diagnosis in children who may showcase mild symptoms. We also offer Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) services including part-time focused intervention to help your child develop the skills they need to thrive in all areas of their life. Contact us to learn more about our autism evaluations and ABA programs, or get started today.