Autism Symptoms and Issues Reported by Parents

149 parents of children/adults with autism reported on the symptoms and issues experienced by their children.    Speech and language, social issues, and sensory processing symptoms top the list of “severe” issues experienced by these children. (“Severe” issues are those ranked as a 4 or 5 on a 5-point scale.)

Some of the most concerning symptoms (aggression and self-injury, wandering/bolting, sleep issues, anxiety and depression) are experienced “severely” among only a small subset of these children and adults with autism (28% or less).

Autism Symptoms


Looking at the top 5 concerns among respondents mirror what is seen above:  Expressive language and social issues are most often listed in the people’s top 5 concerns and also are most often mentioned as the #1 most pressing concern facing these parents of children with autism.      About one-third or slighty less report receptive speech/language issues, sensory issues, other speech/language issues, attention issues, and self-care/self-help in their top 5.

Aggression/self-injury and Anxiety stand out as concerns that are more often listed as #1 among respondents despite the fact that these serious issues are typically just experienced by a subset of respondents.

top 5 concerns

Sensory, social, attention issues are almost universal among these children with autism (more than 90% experience these symptoms at least mildly).   More than three-quarters experience at least some level of the following symptoms:  Stimming/repetitive behavior, self-help or self-care issues, receptive speech/language issues, other speech language issues, academic problems, impulsivity, and eating issues.

Despite the fact that Aggression/self-harm is the least-often reported symptom, this is one of the most-pressing issues among parents, highlighting the need to address this problem among the children who experience it.

symptom occurrence and importance

Next blog post:  More on symptoms and issues by sub-group

Last blog post:  Co-occurring conditions with Autism