Oct. 23, 2008 -- Question: How does the diagnosis of autism differ in younger children compared to older children?
Answer: The features of autism are thought to be at their worst, which means they're most prominent in the early years, between age about two to three, two to four years of age. That's when the children clearly will have problems with socialization, use of language which is communication and restricted interest repetitive behaviors.
Older children will also show that triad of dysfunction, but it's usually less severe in nature. Children can be talking but maybe not use the language the way they should, they may make attempts at socialization but are more awkward than it should be expected, and the restricted interest repetitive behaviors may be attenuated or focused just in one area. It's not an issue of quality; it's an issue of quantity where the quantity in the older child may be not as severe.