Short answer: Possibly, but it is important to check with a healthcare provider. 

There are many symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The condition is a spectrum, meaning it looks very different for different people, and not every individual has the same symptoms.

But ASD may involve problematic ‘sensory processing’ (the way our mind takes in and interprets sensory data like sounds and images), and one symptom of ASD may be a persistent and excessive fear of loud noises like vacuums.

The CDC recommends early intervention for treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other developmental conditions like ADHD. If your loved one is persistently afraid of the vacuum or other loud noises, you may want to consult with your pediatrician or a healthcare provider with expertise in developmental disorders like Autism Spectrum Disorder.

If a Baby Is Scared of the Vacuum It Could be a Sign of Autism

As a baby begins exploring the world, they will come across many new things that may interest, excite or frighten them. For many small children, vacuums are one of those scary things when they hear the noise for the first time. Of course, most will get used to hearing it and eventually will not be startled. However, kids with autism may never get used to the vacuum and, instead, perpetually fear it.

Many young children fear loud machines like vacuum cleaners.

For a child with sensory processing disorders like autism, the fear can be persistent and excessive.

Children who fear the vacuum no matter how many times it’s used could have a developmental disorder, and this is a sign that a child should be checked by a healthcare professional. Only a licensed practitioner can determine whether a child has ASD – or they’re simply slow to mature or have a phobia unrelated to any neuro-atypicality. 

Obtaining the advice of a licensed practitioner can help parents create a healthy environment for the child to learn and grow.

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism spectrum disorder is characterized by chronic social and communication difficulties, limited interests, and repetitive behavior. Most individuals with ASD have a flat affect and do not respond appropriately in conversation. They may also exhibit obsessive behaviors, becoming fixated on one thing for a very long time. Autism is considered a lifelong condition; however, the degree of impairment in functioning differs widely from person to person, and the level of need will determine which interventions are necessary for the child to succeed.

ASD can present slightly differently in babies because they are still growing and developing, and their brains have not reached maturity. It generally isn’t diagnosed from observing only one concerning behavior, but rather, after noticing several different behaviors that make it clear ASD is likely present.

It is possible to detect autism in infants before two to three years of age. Yet during this time , the disorder becomes more visible. Sometimes a parent may not notice their child’s unique behaviors until they are amongst peers, such as in a school setting, particularly if the child doesn’t have any siblings with whom to compare milestones.

Behaviors of Autistic Children

There is a wide variety of behaviors children with autism will exhibit, which is why it exists on a spectrum. Some children may have mild, almost unnoticeable, symptoms, while others may struggle with severe impairment.

Symptoms and indicators of Autism Spectrum Disorder in children

Here are some things to look for.

  • Disconnection from people.
  • Lack of communication.
  • Inappropriate social responses.
  • Becoming obsessively fixated on something.

Breaking down potential ASD symptoms by age, a parent should be on the lookout for the following:

Under Three Months

  • A baby with autism will not follow another person’s movements.
  • They will not make verbal noises.
  • They may not smile.
  • They may not respond to loud noises at all.
  • A baby with autism may ignore new people.

Under Seven Months

  • They don’t move to identify loud noises.
  • Babies may not show affection towards others.
  • They will not hold items or objects.
  • They may not try to smile.
  • They may not be attention-seeking.
  • Babies will not show interest in games like peekaboo.

Under Twelve Months

  • Babies with autism may not be crawling or they may only be army crawling.
  • They won’t speak.
  • They won’t use gestures.
  • Babies don’t motion to objects they want.
  • They can’t stand without another person holding them.
  • They may start fearing mechanical objects, including vacuums.

Every baby is different, and no case of autism is the same. It’s important for parents to observe their child closely so they can witness how they interact with their social surroundings. If the child does continue to fear vacuums or other mechanical objects as they mature, it’s best to inform their doctor. This could be a sign of a sensory processing disorder, which usually indicates that ASD is present. 1

How to Help a Child Who Fears Vacuums?

When a child is diagnosed with autism, it can complicate their life. It can also complicate the lives of those who care for them. They may require things that other kids don’t, and they may need extra care and attention. Eventually, however, a caregiver will have to vacuum the floors. So, how can they help their autistic child during this time? Here are a few ideas:

Four Steps you can take to help a child coping with a fear of loud machines and noise like vacuum cleaners:

#1. Hold a Baby Through the Challenging Moment.

If a baby is scared of the vacuum, it doesn’t always mean they’re autistic. It’s a loud and scary sound! The best thing a parent can do, whether they believe their baby is autistic or not, is to hold them. Contact comfort is soothing and may help the child to understand that the vacuum is not something to be feared. In fact, they may begin to associate it with comfort.

#2. Talk to the Baby while the vacuum or other noise is ongoing.

A caregiver’s voice matters. If an autistic baby is not babbling, that’s okay. A parent can still talk to them, and they may find comfort in their voice. Speaking to them while vacuuming and reminding them that it’s to help the house is one way to instill understanding that the vacuum is necessary and isn’t dangerous.

#3. Let Them Help with vacuuming.

If a child is older, around two or three, a parent can try to let them help with the vacuuming. Letting them plug it in and turn it on can make them feel like they have control over the sound, which can make them feel less anxious. They might also be able to slide it across the floor with some guidance, and they can turn it off when the job is finished.

#4. Get a Partner Involved to help with the frightened child.

Sitting on the floor with a child while a partner vacuums can provide comfort. Talking to them throughout the process, allowing them to express how they feel, and responding with validating remarks will allow them to understand that vacuuming is just a normal part of life.

Many babies, including those with autism, will probably grow out of their fear of vacuums. Being there for them while the fear is present can help them cope with this in a healthy way and will increase the chance of this fear eventually dissipating.

Summing It Up

Having autism can be a challenge for any parent-child relationship. Early intervention is key. There are a wide variety of symptoms associated with ASD, but luckily, there are also numerous interventions that can help. Although there is no cure for ASD, there are effective treatments that can make living with it easier. Above all, the support of loved ones can go a long way in fostering an environment for the child to thrive.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that if your child has symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder, you should contact a healthcare professional to have your child screened for ASD.

  • Info about screening for ASD is available on the CDC Website.
  • There is no cure for ASD, but there are autism therapies that can greatly help a child’s development.

Taking Tylenol® (Acetaminophen / Paracetamol) while pregnant can affect the child’s brain development. 2 3

“We have sufficient data from multiple populations and studies to say that acetaminophen is not as safe as it is considered.” 4

Prenatal acetaminophen consumption has been connected to:

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Language delay (in girls)
  • Decreased Intelligence Quotient (IQ).5

We Are Warriors For The Injured

Our only goal is justice for our clients, whatever that means for them.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) attributable to acetaminophen taken during pregnancy, now is the time to seek legal assistance.

You need experienced attorneys on your side.

Our Austin and San Antonio mass tort lawyers have successfully represented dozens of victims injured by dangerous pharmaceuticals and other hazardous substances. That’s exactly why we were founded.

The legal team at Justinian and Associates has years of experience dealing with personal injury cases involving health conditions like ASD, and medications that are far more dangerous than represented by the companies selling them.

We have the knowledge, experience, resources and trained investigators to take on large adversaries like billion dollar manufacturing companies.

All we do is fight for injured victims.  And we do not accept defeat.

Unless we get you money for your injuries, you don’t pay us a dime.

Call, text or email us for a free consultation, with no obligation.

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Speak to an Austin personal injury attorney from Justinian & Associates (not a “screener” or paralegal) to understand your rights.


[1] Marco EJ, Hinkley LB, Hill SS, Nagarajan SS. Sensory processing in autism: a review of neurophysiologic findings. Pediatr Res. 2011 May;69(5 Pt 2):48R-54R. doi: 10.1203/PDR.0b013e3182130c54. PMID: 21289533; PMCID: PMC3086654.

[2] A Systematic Review of the Link Between Autism Spectrum Disorder and Acetaminophen: A Mystery to Resolve, interpreting data from Parker SE, Collett BR, Werler MM: Maternal acetaminophen use during pregnancy and childhood behavioural problems: Discrepancies between mother- and teacher-reported outcomes. Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol. 2020, 34:299-308. 10.1111/ppe.12601).

[3] Paracetamol use during pregnancy—a call for precautionary action, Bauer, A.Z., Swan, S.H., Kriebel, D., Liew, Z., Taylor, H.S., Bornehag, C.G., Andrade, A.M., Olsen, J., Jensen, R.H., Mitchell, R.T. and Skakkebaek, N.E., 2021. Nature Reviews Endocrinology, 17(12), pp.757-766.

[4] A Systematic Review of the Link Between Autism Spectrum Disorder and Acetaminophen: A Mystery to Resolve, interpreting data from Parker SE, Collett BR, Werler MM: Maternal acetaminophen use during pregnancy and childhood behavioural problems: Discrepancies between mother- and teacher-reported outcomes. Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol. 2020, 34:299-308. 10.1111/ppe.12601).

[5] Paracetamol use during pregnancy—a call for precautionary action, Bauer, A.Z., Swan, S.H., Kriebel, D., Liew, Z., Taylor, H.S., Bornehag, C.G., Andrade, A.M., Olsen, J., Jensen, R.H., Mitchell, R.T. and Skakkebaek, N.E., 2021. Nature Reviews Endocrinology, 17(12), pp.757-766.