Q&A: Are There Signs Of Autism That Can Be Mistaken For Something Else?

autism definition pageQ: Are there any signs of autism that can be mistaken for something else? How do you know the difference? – T. B.

A: Autism is characterized by impaired social interaction, problems with verbal and nonverbal communication, and unusual, repetitive, or severely limited activities and interests. These disorders all have similar symptoms.

Also, there are several medical conditions that can be confused with autism because of similar symptoms. Some of these medical conditions can occur along with autism but are not classified as Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). They include:

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Intellectual disability. People with severe intellectual disabilities may have many behaviors similar to those of autism but are not necessarily autistic. People who are autistic can also be intellectually disabled.

Specific developmental disorders. Some developmental disorders, particularly language disorders, can mimic autism.

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Schizophrenia. When schizophrenia develops in childhood, which is rare, it can be confused with autism.