Understanding the Signs of Autism

An astounding 1 in 68 children in the United States have autism according to a recent study. PNC specializes in the assessment, treatment, and support of children, adolescents, and adults with autism and their families. In honor of Autism Awareness Month (April), we have compiled some helpful information regarding the signs and symptoms. We have also provided resources for parents and families of children with autism.

Autism’s most obvious signs tend to appear around 18 months old.  For toddlers, potential “yellow flag” signs of autism may include:

  • Delayed speech development
  • Reduced response to name
  • Inability to follow a point
  • Lack of imitation of facial expressions and movements
  • Prefers to play alone
  • Little social enjoyment

For older children, signs of concern include:

  • Lack of friendships
  • Reduced pretend play
  • Difficulty reading facial expressions and/or body language
  • Poor understanding of emotions
  • Tendency to focus on his/her own interests, with no awareness of the interests of others
  • Has difficulty participating in a back-and-forth conversation
  • Inflexibility, particularly in response to novel events
  • Sensory sensitivities

The Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers , (M-CHAT-R), a free, trusted developmental screening tool for children between 16 and 20 months of age, is a great reference tool to utilize. It is carefully designed to identify children who may benefit from an evaluation.

If your child shows several signs of autism, you are not alone, we are here to help! Please call our office at (603) 433-0800 to schedule a consultation, autism assessment, or full neuropsychological assessment with Dr. Cook or Dr. Rubin.

On behalf of Autism Awareness Month, we have found a variety of sensory-friendly recreational activities, perfect for families who have children with autism. We hope you enjoy these events and would love to hear about your experiences!

Movie Theaters

Cinemagic (Salisbury MA and Portsmouth NH) – Sensory- and family-friendly showings run once per month

AMC Theaters (Methuen and Burlington MA) – Sensory-friendly films run four times per month

Chunky’s (Haverhill MA and Pelham NH) – Lights up, sound down sensory-friendly showings run monthly


Boston Children’s Museum (Boston MA) – Morningstar Access for a less crowded experience once per month

The Discovery Museum (Acton MA) – Autism-Friendly Evenings, Sensory-Friendly Afternoons, Visually Impaired Family Evenings, Mornings and Evenings for Families with Deaf or Hard of Hearing & KODA Infant and Toddlers programs that offer increased accommodations and access to exhibits in an understanding environment

The Children’s Museum of New Hampshire (Dover NH) – Exploring Our Way Program is open the first Sunday of the month for families to enjoy the museum in a less crowded, understanding environment

Museum of Fine Arts (Boston MA) – Beyond the Spectrum program one Saturday per month for children ages 8-12 to explore galleries and create art

My Day to Play Maine Discovery Museum (Bangor ME)- A program designed for children on the spectrum with a safe, comfortable environment to explore and to give their families a place to connect.


Autism Eats (Various Locations) – Hosts dinner parties in restaurants and function facilities with accommodations for sensory sensitivities

Chuck E. Cheese (Burlington, Danvers, and Methuen MA, and Newington NH) – Sensory Sensitive Sundays held the first Sunday of the month

Playspaces/Amusement Parks

SkyZone (Danvers MA) – Sensory Hours held on the second Sunday of the month

Legoland  Discover Center Boston (Boston, MA) – They are hosting a sensory-friendly event  on 4/29/18 from 8:30-10:30 am. Special modifications will be made. Lights will be adjusted, music will be quieter, there will even be designated quiet areas.

Sensory Sensitive Weekend at Storyland (Glen, NH) – Scheduled to occur on 6/23 – 6/24/18, this weekend will help individuals with Autism and their families experience a customized Storyland experience.   Park music will be turned down, ride music will be off/turned down, ride announcements will be turned down to a lower decibel, certain geysers/water features turned off and VIP passes will be available for any guests who cannot wait in line.


Amesbury Public Library (Amesbury MA) – Sensory Storytimes offered once per month