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Autism Test for Kids and Teens

Our free Symptom Checker can help you determine if your child might have autism.

Writer: Caroline Miller

Autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, can be hard to spot and easy to confuse with other diagnoses, especially in young children. If you’re looking for an online autism test, you can use our free Symptom Checker to help you determine if your child might have autism. 

The Symptom Checker gives you a list of behaviors and traits and invites you to mark the ones you are seeing in your child. If they correspond with the symptoms and behaviors associated with autism, it will let you know. If your answers to the quiz suggest another disorder, you’ll see that too.

The Symptom Checker was developed in partnership with expert clinicians and is aligned with the Child Mind Institute’s rigorous editorial standards.

Is any online autism test reliable?

Only a mental health professional can diagnose autism. But if you’re looking for an online autism test, our Symptom Checker can help you know if the behaviors you notice in your child could be signs of autism, or something else. You’ll also find links to articles where you can learn more, and help you prepare for a conversation with a mental health professional who can diagnose your child.

What are the signs of autism?

To identify signs of autism at different ages, from babies and toddlers to teenagers, try using our free Symptom Checker.

Autism is called a spectrum disorder because autistic kids may have a wide range of symptoms, cognitive abilities, language skills, and behaviors. They range from nonverbal to highly verbal. But there are some symptoms of autism these children share.

Symptoms of autism are grouped into two main categories: social-communication challenges and restrictive, repetitive behaviors (RRBs). RRBs are repetitive body movements or modes of behavior that “restrict” the way a person interacts with the world.

Children on the autism spectrum display traits from both categories from an early age, including babies and toddlers. Signs can be seen in babies as young as 1 year old, and signs of autism often appear in children who are 2, 3, or 4 years old.

Social-communication signs in babies and toddlers under 3 years old:

  • Failure to respond to their own name
  • Disinterest in giving, sharing, or showing objects of interest
  • Aversion to displays of affection
  • Doesn’t use gestures to communicate 
  • Preference for solitary play
  • Hasn’t spoken a word by 18 months  
  • Cannot say two-word phrases by 2 years old 

Social-communication signs of autism in older children:

  • Difficulty carrying on a reciprocal or back-and-forth conversation
  • Lack of eye contact
  • Difficulty using body language and reading it in others
  • Difficulty recognizing others’ emotions, responding appropriately to different social situations, and understanding social relationships
  • Aversion to displays of affection
  • Preference for solitary play

Repetitive and restrictive behaviors that are signs of autism:

  • Repeats the same action over and over again 
  • Focuses on small details and nothing else 
  • Lines, sorts, or organizes toys or objects instead of playing with them
  • Gets fixated on specific topics or objects 
  • Becomes upset by minor changes in daily routine
  • Has unusual sensory sensitivities

What is high functioning autism?

Kids with autism who do not have cognitive impairment are sometimes described as having high functioning autism. They may be highly verbal, do well in school, in college and in the workplace, and they may be exceptionally bright or talented. But kids with high-functioning autism may struggle with social-communication challenges that make it hard for them to function socially. They may have trouble handling changes in routine, and be extremely sensitive to sensory stimulation such as bright lights or loud noises. They are also sometimes called “neurodivergent,” because their brains work differently from typically developing or “neurotypical” people.

What is profound autism?

Profound autism is a term for kids on the other end of the autism spectrum. They are cognitively impaired, with an IQ of under 60, and are non-verbal. They are severely disabled, and will require life-long support with the tasks of daily living.

When can you test a child for autism?

Children as young as 12 months old can show signs of autism, and the signs become more clear as they get older. Some experts consider a diagnosis by a professional reliable by the time a child is 2. But many children are are diagnosed later, as toddlers, elementary school children, or teenagers.

How is a toddler tested for autism?

An autism evaluation usually start with a screening questionnaire. If the questionnaire indicates that a child might have autism, then it’s time for a more in-depth evaluation, which will include a set of autism tests in which the clinician watches how the child plays, behaves, and communicates.

A full evaluation should also include interviews with parents, teachers, and other adults who know the child. Structured cognitive tests should be part of the evaluation as well, to show how the child thinks and suggest what kinds of support at school would be helpful.

Read more about autism testing here.

Who can test a child for autism?

A pediatrician might give the first screener, but the full evaluation should be done by someone specially trained in diagnosing autism. That is because symptoms can be hard to interpret, especially in toddlers. For instance, in a baby or toddler, not making eye contact can be a symptom of autism, but it can also be caused by shyness.

This article was last reviewed or updated on December 21, 2023.