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Understanding the Different Types of Autism.

While people often refer to autism as a single condition, there are actually different types of autism that manifest with distinct characteristics and symptoms. As per the definition of autism –

Autism is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder that affects individuals in various ways.

It shows that there are several ways autism manifests on the spectrum.

In this article, we will explore the various types of autism, shedding light on their unique features and helping you better understand this diverse spectrum disorder.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD):

Autism Spectrum Disorder is an umbrella term that encompasses a range of conditions characterized by challenges in social interaction, communication, and repetitive behaviors. ASD includes several subtypes, such as:

  • Classic Autism (Autistic Disorder): This is the most severe form of autism, where individuals exhibit significant impairments in communication and social interaction and often display repetitive behaviors or restricted interests.
  • Asperger’s Syndrome: Individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome typically have average or above-average intelligence and may excel in specific areas of interest. They often struggle with social interactions, have difficulty understanding non-verbal cues, and may exhibit repetitive behaviors.
  • Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS): PDD-NOS is a diagnosis given when an individual exhibits some, but not all, of the characteristics of classic autism or Asperger’s Syndrome. It is often used when the symptoms do not fit neatly into the other categories. Individuals with PDD-NOS may have challenges in social interaction, communication, and repetitive behaviors, but the severity and combination of symptoms can vary widely.

Asperger’s Syndrome:

Asperger’s Syndrome, previously considered a separate diagnosis, is now included under the spectrum of autism. It is characterized by milder symptoms compared to classic autism. Individuals with Asperger’s often have average or above-average intelligence and may excel in specific areas of interest. They may struggle with social interactions, have difficulty understanding non-verbal cues, and focus intensely on particular topics. Language development is usually not significantly delayed, and diagnosis is often made during school-age years.

Rett Syndrome:

Rett Syndrome is a rare genetic disorder that primarily affects females. It is characterized by a loss of purposeful hand skills, slowed growth, and severe cognitive and physical impairments. Individuals with Rett Syndrome often experience repetitive hand movements, breathing irregularities, and difficulties with social interaction.

Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD):

Childhood Disintegrative Disorder is a rare type of autism that typically manifests between ages 2 and 4. Children with CDD experience a significant loss of previously acquired skills, such as language, social interaction, and motor skills. This regression is often accompanied by the emergence of repetitive behaviors and a decline in overall functioning. CDD is a severe form of autism, and its cause is still not fully understood.

Autism is a complex and diverse condition, and understanding the different types can help us appreciate the unique challenges faced by individuals on the spectrum and provide appropriate support and intervention to people on the spectrum. From classic autism to Asperger’s Syndrome, PDD-NOS, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, and Rett Syndrome, each type presents its own characteristics and diagnostic criteria. By recognizing and appreciating these differences, we can foster a more inclusive and supportive society for individuals with autism.

More information and resources

You can learn more about early signs of the spectrum disorder and how to understand what it will mean for you and your family here: