Toddle Walking With Eyes Closed : Sign of Autism Spectrum Disorder ?

Understanding autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in young children can be a complex and daunting task for parents and caregivers.

This blog post offers insights into the developmental signs of autism in infants and toddlers, with a focus on behaviors like keeping their eyes closed and avoiding eye contact.

By the end, you’ll gain a comprehensive understanding of ASD, its various aspects, and how early intervention can make a significant difference.

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurological and developmental disorder that begins early in childhood and lasts throughout a person’s life.

It affects how a person acts and interacts with others, communicates, and learns. The term “spectrum” highlights the range of symptoms and their severity that individuals diagnosed with autism can experience.

How Do You Identify a Child with Autism?

One of the first signs of autism in young children might be an absence of certain behaviors—such as not responding to their name by the age of 12 months.

Parents may notice that their toddler is not engaging in “pretend” games, e.g. like pretending to feed a doll, around 18 months.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children be screened for autism by their pediatrician at 18 months of age.

Why Might an Autistic Child Avoid Eye Contact?

Eye contact is a form of social engagement that many young children with autism find overwhelming.

This could be due to a number of reasons, including sensory overload or difficulty interpreting visual cues.

If you notice your child may be avoiding eye contact, it could be one of the early signs related to autism.

What Are the Developmental Delays Related to Autism?

Developmental delays in autism often involve speech and language development. Children diagnosed with autism may struggle with understanding and using both verbal and non-verbal cues like gestures.

For example, they may have difficulty interpreting what a kiss or cuddle might mean in social terms.

Is Repetitive Behavior a Sign of Autism?

One common sign in many children diagnosed with autism is repetitive behaviour. They may repeat certain motor behaviors—like flapping their hands or spinning a toy car.

These repetitive actions are often a way for the child to self-stimulate and cope with their environment.

What Role Do Sensory Experiences Play in Autism?

Sensory experiences are particularly impactful in autism. Some children with autism often present as either hyper-sensitive or hypo-sensitive to sensory stimulus.

For example, they may seek specific sensations, like spinning or flipping objects, or may be overwhelmed by too much sensory input like noise or light.

Why Do Some Children with Autism Keep Their Eyes Closed?

Closing the eyes can be a coping mechanism for some children with autism to filter out overwhelming visual input.

If a child is frequently keeping their eyes closed, it may be a sign that the visual stimulation in their environment is too much to handle.

Parents and caregivers should consult with a therapist specialized in sensory processing issues to evaluate the child’s needs.

How Important is Early Intervention?

The sooner a child with autism gets intervention services, the better their developmental outcome can be.

Early intervention can include a variety of services, such as speech therapy, occupational therapy, and behavioral interventions.

The therapies aim to improve a child’s social, emotional, and communicative skills.

What Steps Can Pediatricians Take?

Pediatricians play a critical role in the early diagnosis of autism. Once they evaluate a child and suspect autism, they may refer the child to a specialist in developmental disorders or psychiatry for a comprehensive evaluation.

This is essential for beginning intervention services as early as possible.

How to Foster Social Engagement in Young Children with Autism?

Promoting social engagement is crucial for young children diagnosed with autism.

Practical ways to help foster social interactions include engaging the child in pretend play that involves turn-taking, using facial expressions to convey emotions, and encouraging interaction with peers.


  • Understanding Autism: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental disorder that affects social, emotional, and communicative skills.
  • Signs: Lack of eye contact, developmental delays, and repetitive behaviors are some early signs of autism.
  • Sensory Overload: Many children with autism are sensitive to sensory experiences, which might lead them to close their eyes frequently.
  • Early Intervention: The sooner the diagnosis and intervention, the better the outcome for the child.
  • Role of Pediatricians: Pediatricians are often the first healthcare providers to notice signs of autism and can guide parents toward appropriate resources.

Knowing the early signs of autism can help in the timely diagnosis and intervention for your child, improving their quality of life significantly.

Frequently Asked Questions


1. What is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that impacts a person’s social, emotional, and communicative abilities.

The symptoms and severity vary from person to person, hence the term “spectrum.”

2. At what age can autism be diagnosed?

Autism can be diagnosed as early as 18 months, although many children may not receive a diagnosis until they are much older.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children be screened for autism by their pediatrician at the age of 18 months.

3. Are boys more likely to have autism than girls?

Yes, boys are more commonly diagnosed with autism than girls. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that boys are about four times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than girls.

4. What are some early signs of autism?

Some early signs of autism include lack of eye contact, delays in language development, repetitive behaviors, and limited social engagement.

Parents might also notice that their child seems to be overwhelmed by sensory experiences, like noise or light.

5. Why does my child with autism avoid eye contact?

Avoiding eye contact is often a form of social overwhelm for children with autism. Eye contact can be a complex social cue to interpret and might result in sensory overload for some children with autism.

6. What role do sensory experiences play in autism?

Children with autism often have unique sensory sensitivities. They might be hyper-sensitive or hypo-sensitive to sensory stimuli.

This can manifest in a variety of ways, such as finding certain sounds, textures, or lights overwhelming or seeking out specific sensations for comfort.

7. Is keeping eyes closed a sign of autism?

While it is not a definitive sign, some children with autism keep their eyes closed to cope with overwhelming visual input.

This could be a strategy to filter out excess sensory information.

8. What is early intervention and why is it important?

Early intervention involves a range of services, such as speech therapy, occupational therapy, and behavioral therapy,



This post is written and edited by Sandy who is a clinical pharmacist with over 20 years of experience specializing in pre-natal and post-natal care.