The most prominent and often most disturbing symptom is that of altered body image: the sufferer will find that they are confused as to the size and shape of parts of (or all of) their body. The parts usually mentioned are the head and hands; growth seems more usual than shrinkage. This phenomenon seems to have the medical term 'metamorphosis'.

The second major symptom is the distortion of visual perception. The eyes themselves are normal, but the sufferer 'sees' objects with the wrong size or shape and/or finds that perspective is incorrect. This can mean that people, cars, buildings, etc. look smaller or larger than they should be, or that distances look incorrect; for example a corridor may appear to be very long, or the ground may appear too close.

Other symptoms which have been referred to as part of AIWS include:

  • Distorted time perception; time moving quickly or slowly.
  • Distorted touch perception, e.g. a feeling that the ground is 'spongy' under the feet or that the sensation received from touching something is simply incorrect or unrecognised.
  • Distorted sound perception.