Understanding The Different Types of Autism

By Alley Benton
Updated December 13, 2016
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Understanding The Different Types of AutismThe autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, is a very complex type of brain development disorder. It is important to understand the different types of autism, because the disorder is so wide ranging and complex. All of them, however, are characterized by a number of specific problems, including:

- Exhibiting repetitive behavior

- Having problems with verbal and nonverbal communication

- Difficulty with social interaction

How badly patients experience these, however, depends on the different types of autism they suffer from, and how strongly they experience it.

It is believed that autism starts when a child is still in the womb. This remains somewhat controversial, however, mainly because the symptoms of autism usually do not become apparent until children reach the age of two or three. The signs and symptoms above are experienced by all people with autism, regardless of their age. However, because young children have few social interactions and communicate very little anyway, these symptoms can often be missed.

The Different Types of Autism:

Three specific types of autism can be found in the autism spectrum. These are:

1. Autistic disorder, which is referred to as "classic" autism. This is the type of autism that comes to mind for most people when they think of the disorder. Usually, classic autistic people have problems with language development delays, struggle with communication and social situations, and have unusual interests and behaviors. Often, they also have a significant intellectual disability.

2. Asperger syndrome, whereby the typical autism signs and symptoms are usually milder. However, they often do have specific challenges, particularly with social interactions, as well as unusual interests and behaviors. However, they usually do not have intellectual disabilities, nor do they have any language problems.

3. Pervasive development disorder - not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), which can be referred to as "atypical" autism. Here, people do meet some of the diagnostic criteria for autism, but not all. Usually, someone with PDD-NOS has mild symptoms of autism, and only very few of them, when compared to those with autism disorder or Asperger's syndrome. Often, the only problems these people experience have to do with communication and social interaction.

Autism Signs and Symptoms:

In order for children to be diagnosed with autism, they must meet a number of specific criteria as set out by the American Psychiatric Association. These include:

- Children who are 12 months who are not deaf but do not respond to their name

- Children who are at least 14 months who do not show an interest in objects by pointing to them

- Children who are at least 18 months who do not play any pretend games

- Children who want to be alone and will rarely make eye contact with others

- Children who have very little empathy, and who find it difficult to express their own feelings to other people

- Children who are experiencing significant delays in speech and language development

- Children who have echolalia, whereby they repeat the same phrase or word again and again

- Children who answer questions with inappropriate, unrelated answers

- Children who get very upset after small changes are made

- Children who spin around, rock their body, or flap their arms in a seeming effort to calm down

- Children who respond in a strange way to specific stimuli, including how items feel, look, taste, smell, or sound





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This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other health-care professional.