Surrounded by cheerful, talkative 8-year-olds, an autistic child might be non-communicative and uncomfortable with the noise and activity. Autism, according to the Centers for Disease Control, affects 1 in 110 children born in the United States. This disease impacts individuals across social and ethnic lines, yet boys are 4 to 5 times more likely to develop autism than girls. The median age for diagnosing autism is between 4.5 and 5.5 years of age, but certain symptoms in older children may indicate some issues.
Education.com describes normally developing 8-year-olds as children who work to create two-way relationships, make friends easily and are able to have close friends. An 8-year-old with autism, however, may struggle with friendships, dislike being with others and be unable to reciprocate in relationships. According to the Centers for Disease Control, children with autism struggle with taking turns and sharing, making it difficult for other children to want to play with them. Other social symptoms of autism include not respecting or understanding personal space issues, difficulty discussing or noticing other people’s feelings, and interacting only to achieve a goal, not for the enjoyment of social interaction
An 8-year-old with autism might not like to be touched, refusing overtures of affection from family and friends. A normally developing 8-year-old, however, gives and receives affection through hugs, kisses and holding hands. The Emory Autism Center suggests that sustained laughing or crying, without a visible cause, may be a symptom of autism. A non-autistic 8-year-old may be giggly, silly, fearful or sad, but the situations and reasons are apparent. A child with autism may not seek or receive comfort from parents when injured, whereas a non-autistic child turns to mom and dad for reassurance and nurturing when in distress.
Communication impairments may be among the symptoms of autism in an 8-year-old child. Words may be repeated over and over, unrelated answers may be given to questions, the child may not point or gesture and the child may speak in a monotone or singsong voice. In addition, non-verbal communication including facial expressions, gestures and body movements might not match the words. For example, a child with autism might look very sad when reading something funny or laugh and smile while reading something sad. An 8-year-old with autism might annoy other children with their persistence about a particular topic. Instead of discussing their preferred topic some of the time, they might interject their interest in cars, keys, or vacuums into every conversation they have. The Centers for Disease Control suggests that sometimes children with autism never speak like children, speaking instead like little adults.
Children with autism may suffer from issues relating to textures, sounds and tastes. A regular 8-year-old might love school but an autistic child might feel overwhelmed by the sounds and activity. Some autistic children may display unusual body motions including spinning in circles, flapping hands or rocking from side to side. In addition, an autistic 8-year-old might play with the same toy, such as a truck, repeatedly, or might play with only the wheels on the truck. Some autistic children have unusual sleeping or eating habits such as eating dirt and paper, an issue called pica.