Which responses to environmental stimuli are characteristic of autism spectrum disorder (ASD)?

Updated: Sep 30, 2019
  • Author: James Robert Brasic, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Caroly Pataki, MD  more...
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In contrast to toddlers with delayed or normal development, toddlers with autism spectrum disorder are much more interested in geometric patterns. Toddlers who prefer dynamic geometric patterns to participating in physical activities such as dance merit referral for evaluation for possible autism spectrum disorder. [113]

Parents of children with autism report unusual responses to environmental stimuli, including excessive reaction or an unexpected lack of reaction to sensory input. Certain sounds (eg, vacuum cleaners or motorcycles) may elicit incessant screaming. Playing a radio, stereo, or television at a loud level may appear to produce hyperacusis, a condition in which ordinary sounds produce excessive auditory stimulation of a painful magnitude. Sometimes parents must rearrange the family routine so that the child is absent during noisy housekeeping activities.

Children with autistic disorder may also display exaggerated responses or rage to everyday sensory stimuli, such as bright lights or touching.

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