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How Symptoms of Autism Can Change with Age

It can be overwhelming to think of the future when your child receives an autism diagnosis. Will the current concerns always be the same? What will their symptoms look like down the line? What potential challenges should I look out for as they age?

It’s important to remember that all individuals diagnosed with autism are just that – individuals. This means that each child’s needs will be different. They will have different strengths and weaknesses, meaning that symptom presentation will not be a one size fits all conversation. In the article below, I will go over some common difficulties that may arise and considerations for how autism can generally present across the lifespan. That being said, always refer to your individual provider for current concerns your child is facing.

If you have general questions or concerns about autism, see Autism in Children: What you need to know. If you are wondering what therapies are typically recommended for children with autism, see Supports and Services for Children with Autism.

Elementary School Years


Some children with autism have difficulty with loud noises, bright lights, or certain clothing (e.g., tags, various textures).


Tantrums or meltdowns can be a common occurrence for some children with autism, especially when the child experiences difficulty communicating their wants and needs.


School can be tough, and children with autism are not immune to that. Frequent transitions, bustling classrooms, and limited one-on-one support are a few of the challenges in school that can cause difficulty for children with autism. 


Similar to sensory difficulties, your child may have a hard time eating foods of a certain texture, color, or be brand specific about the food they are willing to eat. 

Middle & High School Years


On top of the elementary school concerns previously discussed, increasing educational expectations, peer relations, and social skills deficits can add to the challenges of school in middle and high school years. 


Some individuals with autism may experience difficulty learning new hygiene routines and keeping up with the increasing hygiene demands that go along with a growing body.

Sibling Relationships

In addition to peer relations, sibling relationships may present as difficult for some individuals with autism as their siblings are maturing, growing, and evolving.



Learning a new skill, communicating effectively with a boss and coworkers, and navigating social expectations can lead to challenges in the workplace for some individuals with autism. 

Independent Living

Independent living can pose a safety concern for some individuals with autism. Buying groceries, cooking, cleaning, and managing a household are learned skills and some may take extra time to master. 


Some individuals with autism may experience difficulty managing finances independently (e.g., bookkeeping, banking, understanding the concept of money). 

Forming Relationships

Similar to sibling relationships, individuals with autism often experience difficulty developing and maintaining friendships and romantic relationships due to social skills deficits and other factors. 

A free therapy consultation in Draper

Hopefully this helps answer your questions about how autism presentation can change with age. If you have other questions, feel free to call me at (801)-613-9184 for a free 15-minute phone consultation. I’d be happy to answer additional questions or direct you to the right person. If you are looking for parent training or challenging behavior support for your children, you can read more about how I can help HERE.

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