A person covering her face with her hands

Description automatically generated

While some of the traits associated with introversion and autism occasionally overlap, the two are very different. So, understanding the differences between the two is incredibly important!

There’s a common misconception that introversion and autism are intrinsically linked with one another. On the contrary, the two are completely independent of one another. Put simply, autism is best described as a neurodevelopmental disorder, while introversion is an individual quality of being shy and reserved.

Recognizing the signs of introversion, as opposed to autism, is incredibly important, especially when it comes to young children. Whilst having an introverted personality doesn’t have a major impact on a child’s growth and development, being autistic certainly can. That’s why children who are diagnosed with autism often require additional support and their parents need to become well versed in special educational needs law.

In this post, we’ll be covering the details of both introversion and autism, taking a look at the traits commonly associated with both. Be sure to keep reading to find out more!

What is Introversion?

As we touched on earlier, introversion is the quality of being shy or reserved. It’s a personality trait that’s focused on being more comfortable with internal feelings rather than external stimulation.

Introversion is generally seen as being along a continuum with extroversion. As the name suggests, extroversion represents the complete opposite of introversion, that being the qualities of being outgoing and outspoken.

Exploring the nuances of introversion and extroversion can be a fascinating field of study, and it opens up a world of job opportunities for psychologists specializing in personality research and analysis.

Common Signs of Introversion

So, now we know what introversion is, how might someone spot if their child, or anyone else for that matter, is introverted? Let’s take a look…

Struggling in Group Settings

Group settings can often be a little overwhelming for introverts. When someone is made to socialise or complete an activity with others, you may spot that they quickly go into their shell and hesitate to contribute.

That’s especially the case in situations where an introverted person is completing group work with strangers, or classmates they aren’t familiar with. 

Changes to Personality in Different Situations

It might be the case that someone’s general personality changes dramatically in different situations. For example, a child might be incredibly vibrant and talkative when they’re in their home environment, but becomes very quiet and hesitant when they’re in school or playing with other children.

When a child’s personality changes depending in the environment, they find themselves in, this could be sign that they have a more introverted personality.

Can Become Absorbed in Solo Play

Play time is incredibly important for children’s general development. As a parent, you’ll know that you can choose to engage in collaborative play with your children while they’re at home, or you can leave them to play by themselves. Some children struggle to engage in play if they’re by themselves, while others tend to thrive.

Those that find it very easy to engage in solo play, or take themselves off to play, or carry out an activity like reading or drawing by themselves, may well be introverted.

What is Autism?

So, we’ve got a better idea of what introversion is? But what about autism? Well, that’s where things can get a little trickier to precisely pin down.

Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a wide range of different conditions. They are generally characterized by difficulties with social skills, behaviour, speech and nonverbal communication.

There is no one type of autism. Rather, there are a number of different subtypes, most of which are strongly influenced by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. 

Autism is also considered to be a ‘spectrum disorder’. This means that individuals who are diagnosed with autism have a distinct set of strengths and challenges. Some people with autism may be highly skilled at learning and solving problems, while others may experience severe challenges.

Common Signs of Autism

Spotting signs of autism is challenging, given how many different subtypes there are, but it is possible. They may exhibit:

A Lack of General Social Skills

A child with autism may have a difficult time interacting with others, both their own age and older. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the child is introverted and doesn’t like speaking to others; there are a range of different social difficulties that could be on display.

For example, a child with autism may not respond to their name, avoid eye contact, struggle with empathy, and find it difficult to properly comprehend their own emotions.

Behavioural Issues

Autism can have a profound effect on someone’s behavioural patterns. This doesn’t explicitly mean that someone behaves poorly; it means that their behaviour falls outside what would be expected of someone the same age.

Someone with autism might frequently exhibit repetitive behaviours, have specific routines that they want to follow, have fussy eating habits, or act on impulse. Someone with autism might demonstrate one of these signs, or a combination. Every child is very different.

Difficulties with Communication

It’s been found that children with autism have difficulties with communication, whether its verbal or nonverbal in nature. That could mean hitting communicative milestones much later than expected. Or, in serious cases, failing to develop any sort of communicative awareness whatsoever.

There are a number of other more intricate signs to be aware of with regards to communication problems in autistic children. For example, autistic children might struggle with more nuanced language features, such as sarcasm or jokes, or they may exhibit echolalia (repeating the same phrase over and over).

Are You Questioning Whether Your Child is Introverted or Autistic?

In this post, we’ve taken an in-depth look at what it means to be introverted and autistic, as well as covering some of the common signs that are associated with both. It’s certainly true that someone can be both, but the two shouldn’t terms shouldn’t be used interchangeably.

Have you got any more questions regarding introversion or autism? Or perhaps you have some tips related to caring for an introverted or autistic child? Feel free to leave a comment below so we can keep the discussion going!