What are Signs of Autism in Two Year Olds?

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Having a child on the autism spectrum is an increasingly common occurrence. While no one fully understands how or why autism occurs, many people begin to diagnose their children around the age of two. This is when some of the symptoms that are known to be present into adulthood become more consistent. Here is a look at some of the things that might be occurring in your child.

It is important to say that any one of these symptoms alone is not a sign of autism, and can be a part of a very normal, healthy two year old's development. Even a combination of symptoms should be confirmed by a medical professional before deciding that your toddler is autistic.

Eye Contact and Empathy

One of the first signs that your child may be autistic is if they are uncomfortable with eye contact. This goes beyond being interested in other things, it actually is a case of being severely uncomfortable with eye contact from a loved one like a parent. Attached to this is often a lack of empathy.

Your two year old should be trying to mimic your emotions to understand them. They look to you with something unfamiliar to see if they should laugh or cry. If they are not doing this, this could be an early sign that they are not empathetic, which can be a symptom of autism.

Overstimulation Issues

Children who can't cope well with a lot of noises, distractions, or people are easily overstimulated. If your child melts down in a shopping mall or restaurant, it may be hard for him or her to cope with these sounds.

This is a possible autism sign, but it can also be linked to other diseases like ADHD, or just a sensitive child. This can be overcome to some extent by spending a lot of time outside in a natural setting, which is said to reset a child's senses.

Need for Routine

Children who have autism often have a need for routine. This is beyond the need that most kids have for a secure, understandable environment. Autistic children can have severe, overinflated meltdowns if something simple in their routine is altered, like putting his or her shoes on before their jacket, when the reverse is the norm.


Language delays or a lack altogether of language are both hallmarks of autism, particularly for children on the low end of the spectrum. On the higher end, such as with children who have Asperger's syndrome, language will focus on certain things of interest, but emotions are rarely named or considered.

A child may know every dinosaur well, but they cannot distinguish a happy face from a sad one in a picture.

Cite this page: N., Sam M.S., "What are Signs of Autism in Two Year Olds?," in PsychologyDictionary.org, March 6, 2016, https://psychologydictionary.org/what-are-signs-of-autism-in-two-year-olds/ (accessed August 12, 2022).