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What Types Of Autism Are There

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Types Of Autism Spectrum Disorders:

Ask Dr. Doreen: How Many Types of Autism are There?

Its important to know that there are three quite different types of autism spectrum disorders: autistic disorder or what is called classic autism, Asperger syndrome and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified . The most common form of autism spectrum disorder is classic autism. Warning signs commonly associated with autistic disorder include the following: delayed speech, social and communication problems, obsessive and/or odd behaviors such as: hand flapping, rocking and/or spinning in circles and/or learning disabilities.

Someone with Autism may have unexpected reactions to sounds.

If you have autism spectrum disorder, you avoid or have a strong, negative reaction to the touch of others. You react in unexpected ways to sounds, smells, textures, tastes and/or appearance. Questions may elicit unrelated answers. Other peoples emotions are a mystery to you. You do not intend to be cold or unresponsive you just dont understand what others may be feeling.

If you have Asperger syndrome you may have the same symptoms as someone with classic autism or atypical autism, but in milder forms and without the language or intellectual problems. Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified usually causes social and communication challenges.

Social Behavior And Traits

Just as motor skills vary based on the severity of the case of ASD, social behavior will vary as well. Social skills can improve over time with the proper therapy and intervention from professionals. Social behaviors that can signal Autism Syndrome Disorder includes:

  • Aggressive social behavior such as rough play, hitting, scratching or inappropriate aggression towards their peers.
  • Inappropriate language, actions or gestures may be common for individuals with ASD. These inappropriate actions can include lewd language, gestures that are aggressive or sexual in nature or actions that are unfitting for the situation they are in.
  • Feelings, body language and actions can easily be misinterpreted with an individual with ASD. They may take a sentence or action out of context and respond accordingly.
  • Socially, individuals on the Autism spectrum may seem awkward or uncomfortable. They will likely not pursue any sort of social activity on their own and may respond to social interactions in a timid or hostile way.

We hope that this information about the different types of Autism will help you differentiate between the three different categories of Autism. We want to encourage you to embrace all people, whether they have a disability or not, and show them all the same respect. We feel that everyone is just as important and special as the next!

Managing Symptoms Of Pdd

Treatments for PDD-NOS are mostly similar to those meant for other types of autism. However, children diagnosed with PDD-NOS are advised to pursue an Early Intervention Program for a preschool child or Individual Education Program for a school-age child.

Regardless of where you may find yourself on the spectrum, or your child may be on the autism spectrum, there are several resources available for managing symptoms of autism spectrum disorder .

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Being A Good Advocate

If youre reading this article on the different types of Autism, youre probably hoping to help someone who has been diagnosed. Good for you!

When youre informed, you can better support a person with Autism. Youll find caring for someone with autism feels stressful at times. But you must do your best to show patience. Your effort matters!

Are Siblings At Greater Risk For Autism Spectrum Disorder


The truth is that genetics do play a role in autism. When one child is diagnosed with ASD, the next child to come along has about a 20% greater risk of developing autism than normal. When the first two children in a family have both been diagnosed with ASD, the third child has about a 32% greater risk of developing ASD.

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Diagnosis And Levels Of Autism Spectrum Disorder

Medical professionals can carry out screening for autism in the first few years of a childs life.

Doctors diagnose ASD by assessing the differences and signs listed above, interacting with the child or observing interactions between the child and parent or caregiver, and asking parents and caregivers questions.

There were previously four different types of autism. However, the DSM5 now lists three different levels of ASD, which doctors determine according to the amount of support an individual requires.

However, it is important to note that many mental health professionals do not find these levels helpful, instead preferring to diagnose people with autism based on the spectrum as a whole rather than classifying them using levels.

The three levels of ASD are:

What Causes Autism Spectrum Disorders

The exact cause of autism spectrum disorders is unknown at this time, but there appears to be a genetic factor involved in the development of autism-related disorder. Children, whose brother, sister and/or parent has an autism spectrum disorder is at greater risk for one of these disorders. Medical disorders such as fragile X syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, Down syndrome and other chromosomal disorders have been linked to autism spectrum disorders. Poor parenting skills do not appear to play a role in the development of this condition.

Several students who have been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome produced a graphic illustration of the biology behind autism spectrum disorders. Check this link to get a better idea of autism spectrum disorders .

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Terms For Types Of Autism That Are No Longer Used Today

When autism was categorized by types, the lines between the different types of autism could be blurry. Diagnosis was, and still is, complicated and often stressful for families.

If you or your child received a diagnosis before the DSM-5 changed, you may still be using the older terminology . Thats OK. Your doctor may continue to use those terms if they help.

Social Communication / Interaction Behaviors May Include:

Autism & Pediatric Diseases : Different Types of Autism
  • Making little or inconsistent eye contact
  • Tending not to look at or listen to people
  • Rarely sharing enjoyment of objects or activities by pointing or showing things to others
  • Failing to, or being slow to, respond to someone calling their name or to other verbal attempts to gain attention
  • Having difficulties with the back and forth of conversation
  • Often talking at length about a favorite subject without noticing that others are not interested or without giving others a chance to respond
  • Having facial expressions, movements, and gestures that do not match what is being said
  • Having an unusual tone of voice that may sound sing-song or flat and robot-like
  • Having trouble understanding another persons point of view or being unable to predict or understand other peoples actions

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Why The Types Of Autism Shifted To One Diagnosis

The current diagnosis autism spectrum disorder debuted in the latest edition of the DSM , published in 2013. Prior to that, they were categorized as five different types of autism: autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified , Asperger syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder and Rett Syndrome .

But research found that these categories were not reliably diagnosed, according to Thomas W. Frazier, a doctor of clinical psychology and Autism Speaks chief science officer. The diagnosis would shift over time and was partly dependent on the provider who made the diagnosis, he says.

Therefore, experts landed on a single diagnosis, which allows for a more nuanced understanding of the disorder. While people on the autism spectrum share common characteristics related to social communication, repetitive, restricted behaviors, sensory issues, etc., there is great diversity within the autism spectrum, says Stephen Shore, a doctor of education and clinical assistant professor at Adelphi Universitys College of Education and Health Sciences in New York. When youve met one person on the autism spectrum, youve met one person on the autism spectrum.

Is Rett Syndrome Autism

Rett syndrome or Rett disorder has also been called autism-dementia-ataxia-loss of purposeful hand use syndrome.

But its not included on the autism spectrum. Its a brain disorder caused by genetic mutations.

Classic Rett syndrome usually affects girls who display typical development for the first few months. Then, symptoms start to appear, involving issues with:

  • language and communication

If you think your child might have symptoms of autism, speak with their pediatrician or a primary care physician. They can refer you to the appropriate specialist, such as a:

You can also request an evaluation from your states public early childhood assistance center. Its free, and you dont need a doctors referral or diagnosis. Your local public school district can also provide assistance.

Theres no one medical test to diagnose autism spectrum disorder. A doctor can make the diagnosis with a comprehensive behavior evaluation and developmental screening.

Some people on the spectrum need minimal support services. Others require a lot. Either way, early intervention is associated with long-term positive effects.

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C Pervasive Developmental Disorder/ Not Otherwise Specified :

People who do not meet the full criteria for classic autism or Aspergers syndrome or better we can say meet some of the criteria of both autistic/classic disorder or Asperger syndrome can be kep under this category . This group of category also faces problems with interaction and communication with people, exhibits some kind of speech disabilities and have repetitive or eccentric behavior

Can Diet And Supplements Play A Role In The Treatment Of Autism

AUTISM. Overview What is Autism? Is there more than one ...

A number of dietary supplements are often given to persons with autism. Examples of such interventions include omega-3 fatty acids. While a significant percentage of people with autism are given dietary supplements as part of treatment, there is insufficient research to determine whether or not such interventions are helpful or harmful.

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What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder Previously Called Autism And Pervasive Developmental Disorders

Autism spectrum disorder is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by the following:

  • Difficulties in social communication differences, including verbal and nonverbal communication.
  • Deficits in social interactions.
  • Restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests or activities and sensory problems

Many of those with ASD can have delayed or absence of language development, intellectual disabilities, poor motor coordination and attention weaknesses.

The 3 Levels Of Autism Explained

Autism is a diagnosis that often carries a certain connotation. Those who are unfamiliar with the nuances of autism spectrum disorder may assume that all children on the spectrum participate in repetitive behaviors, dont make eye contact, and are largely non-verbal. While these signs can certainly be present, there are many children who fall within the spectrum whose symptoms are far milder and even those whose symptoms are more severe. Its a wide and diverse range of possible complications, and despite what some may think, children within the spectrum do not all fall into neat little categories. For that reason, the classifications of ASD have changed significantly over the years.

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An Insight Into The Various Types Of Autism

Let us now get a deeper insight into each of the following forms of Autism.

Fig 3:

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, the various types of autism spectrum disorders present a significant overlap with one another. The following 3 characteristics are carefully evaluated to arrive at the right conclusion:

  • Social skills within families coping with Autism and externally
  • Autism Communication Skills

For example, it is extremely hard to discriminate between mild PDD and moderate Aspergers symptoms as a patient may demonstrate both characteristics in the autism spectrum quotient.

Behavior Activities And Interests:

Types Of Autism | Special Education Decoded
  • Repeating the same movements constantly, such as clapping their hands, stomping their feet or rocking back and forth. Often these movements are done out of a state of relaxation or as a coping method.
  • Ways of moving may seem out of the ordinary, such as being aggressive in certain actions such as being too rough with a simple hug or being too aggressive during play time with other children.
  • Obsessive actions and thoughts towards certain things are not uncommon. They may obsess over a certain corner of a house, a toy that they love or a specific person. Failure to have this object or person around them may result in a breakdown, commonly with crying, screaming or tantrums.
  • Focusing on one specific topic all the time can prevent other topics of conversation from coming into play. Often individuals on the Autism spectrum will obsess over a certain topic, such as airplanes or trains. It can be extremely hard for them to engage in any sort of conversation that is not directly related to the object they are interested in.
  • Sensitivity to certain sensory experiences may vary. Some individuals are hypersensitive to sensations such as cold, textures, sounds, etc. whereas others are hyposensitive to them.

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Other Terminology You May Have Heard For Types Of Autism

Terms like mild or high functioning arent official diagnoses. Some people find these terms useful, but many in the autistic community havent found them to be helpful or accurate, largely due to the range of abilities that can be present in an autistic person.

You may also have heard about three levels of autism, with level 1 being the mildest and level 3 the most severe.

When Should I See My Doctor

It’s important to seek help if you are concerned you or your child has autism. Early intervention offers the best outcomes, no matter what type of autism a child has.

There may be different signs of autism in different ages.

In the first year, a baby with autism might not be interested in other people and may not make eye contact with their parents. They may not smile or gesture like other babies.

As toddlers, children with autism might not respond to their name, or might focus on activities like lining up toys. They may not be interested in playing with other children or might speak in a monotone way.

Older children with autism might have difficulties in social situations, following instructions or making friends.

Sometimes people are not diagnosed with autism until they are adults. They may spend their lives feeling like they dont quite fit in. They may have difficulties with relationships, work and social situations. They may also have mental health conditions like anxiety or depression.

Autism Awareness Australia provides information about signs of autism in people at different ages.

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Different Types Of Autism

No two people with autism have the same symptoms and behavior. And because there are so many variables involved in autism diagnosis, the way each person experiences and exhibits autism can be very different.

There are varying diagnoses within the category of autism, and under the umbrella of high functioning autism subtypes include aspergers syndrome, pathological demand avoidance, Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified also known as atypical autism. Sometimes doctors will indicate a child has mild or severe autism or even mention Broad Autism Phenotype.

For the purpose of this article, we will focus on defining what high functioning autism is, and how it is expressed.

Autism Symptoms And Screening

Why There Are No Longer 4 Types of Autism

It is commonplace to have a family member or close friend with a child diagnosed with one of the autism spectrum disorders . These are a set of neurodevelopmental disabilities affecting young children and adults, which are currently not considered “curable.” The goals of management include minimizing the symptoms and maximizing both independent function and quality of life. These are not uncommon disorders. Their prevalence has been estimated as approximately 6.5 per 1000 children, or 1 in every 150 children. Many believe that there is an “Autism Epidemic.” However, as with many diseases and disorders, there are many reasons for this high prevalence.

Fortunately, significant media coverage and increased research have resulted in a better educated public and more vigilant healthcare practitioners. It is clear that early diagnosis and intervention are associated with better outcomes.

The current Diagnosis and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition identifies two features that are associated with autism:

  • impairment in social interaction and communication, and
  • repetitive unusual behavior patterns .

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Restrictive / Repetitive Behaviors May Include:

  • Repeating certain behaviors or having unusual behaviors. For example, repeating words or phrases, a behavior called echolalia
  • Having a lasting intense interest in certain topics, such as numbers, details, or facts
  • Having overly focused interests, such as with moving objects or parts of objects
  • Getting upset by slight changes in a routine
  • Being more or less sensitive than other people to sensory input, such as light, noise, clothing, or temperature

People with ASD may also experience sleep problems and irritability. Although people with ASD experience many challenges, they may also have many strengths, including:

  • Being able to learn things in detail and remember information for long periods of time
  • Being strong visual and auditory learners
  • Excelling in math, science, music, or art

Autism Spectrum Disorder: The Accepted Term

Autism spectrum disorder is the accepted term for people with autism symptoms. This one acronym encompasses many people, behaviors, and levels of impairment.

Autism Speaks explains that no one is exactly sure what causes ASD. Itâs likely that a combination of genetics and environment is to blame. Similarly, researchers arenât sure what causes some people to live with mild impairment, while others need around-the-clock caregivers. Thereâs a lot we just donât know about autism despite years of intense research.

Years of observation highlight typical autism signs and symptoms. Those include changes in:

  • Responses to stimulus. People with autism may not point at objects to highlight interest, and they may not look at things others point to.
  • Relationships. They may not relate to other people. Some donât seem troubled by their lack of connection, while others want to get close and arenât sure how to make it happen.
  • Touch. Some dislike being hugged, held, patted, or squeezed, even by people they know and trust.
  • Speech. Some echo or repeat words while forming few full sentences. Others donât talk at all. Some talk extensively, but only about subjects that interest them.
  • Routine. Many like to stick to the same schedule every day, and they feel distressed when things change.
  • Senses. Some people with autism feel overwhelmed by loud noises, strong scents, or high levels of visual stimuli.

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