What are the Different Types of Autism?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a set of intricate neuro-developmental disorders that impact one’s behaviour, social interactions, and overall ability to engage with their environment. There are several symptoms associated with autism that can vary widely in intensity depending on the person and affect people in many different ways.

People with autism may encounter the following difficulties:

  • Displaying repeated behaviours
  • Exhibiting poor communication abilities with others
  • Experiencing challenges carrying out various regular activities.

Individuals with autism typically exhibit behavioural and response-related difficulties from an early age. Studies revealed that boys are more likely to have this disorder than girls; however, some evidence suggests this could be because some girls with autism may not receive a diagnosis.

While some people with ASD will have a few symptoms, others can have more. Again, signs exhibited by a three- or four-year-old may differ from those of teens or adults.

Levels of Autism Spectrum Disorder

The diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is based on the evaluation of the specific symptoms and indicators by medical professionals while engaging with the concerned child. They also observe the interaction pattern between the child and parent or caregiver and inquire with parents and caregivers about the proper assessment and diagnosis.

There are three distinct degrees of ASD as identified by medical experts, and they are determined according to the extent of need by the person.

It’s crucial to remember that a lot of mental health specialists think that these levels are not so sound for treatment purposes. They would suggest diagnosing autistic individuals based on the spectrum as a whole without considering the levels that categorise them.

Three Levels of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Autism in Australia

The three levels of ASD are explained as follows:

Level 1: Requiring Support Level

A person diagnosed with Level 1 ASD may experience the following communication problems:

  • Trouble starting conversations
  • Unusual or ineffective reaction to social interactions
  • Reduced interest in certain social situations
  • Difficulty communicating and talking clearly when engaged in a two-way discussion with others
  • Having trouble building up friendships

With Level 1 ASD, one may exhibit some recurrent behavioural problems in the following ways:

  • Rigidity that hinders usual functioning in one or more contexts
  • Difficulties are shifting between different activities.
  • Problems in planning and organising that may affect independence

Level 2:Requiring Substantial Support

The Level 2 ASD diagnosis is based on the following communication problems demonstrated by the individual:

  • Major trouble with social communication abilities, both vocal and nonverbal
  • Persistent social interaction problems in spite of available resources
  • Restricted initiation of social interaction
  • Inadequate response to others during social interactions
  • Interactions are only centred around specific niche interests.
  • Significant changes in nonverbal communication

The recurrent behavioural problems with Level 2 ASD in individuals can be as follows:

  • More rigidity in behaviour and actions
  • Difficulties in adjusting to changing situations
  • Limited or repetitive behaviours that are usually noticeable and disturb performance in a variety of situations
  • Extreme difficulty in shifting attention or course of action

Level 3: Requiring a Great Deal of Support

Those with Level 3 ASD may experience the following communication problems:

  • Substantial problems in both verbal and nonverbal communication that seriously affect usual activities
  • Extremely poor social interaction initiation
  • Minimum communication in response to interactions with others
  • Using a few words for answering
  • Uncommon ways of addressing social needs

The below-mentioned recurrent behavioural problems are common for people with Level 3 ASD.

  • Lack of flexibility in actions and behaviour
  • Severe trouble adjusting to change
  • Restricted and repetitive behaviours that seriously hamper mostly all normal activities of life
  • Feeling extremely distressed or showing resistance when shifting attention or action is required

The levels of the above-described autistic symptoms reflect the intensity of problems, which determines the nature and extent of support needed to address the issues. Furthermore, it is also observed that an autistic person’s support requirements can change depending on their age or circumstances. 

Previous Types of Autism

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Until recently, medical professionals discussed multiple kinds of autism, like Asperger’s syndrome, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise defined (PDD-NOS), and autistic disorder. Now, though, they’re all given a familiar name: autism spectrum disorders (ASD). You need to determine what people mean if they still use some older terminologies.

Asperger’s Syndrome

Asperger’s syndrome fell into the mild category. Persons suffering from this problem were frequently seen as highly intelligent (or above average) and without speech disabilities.

The symptoms and indicators included:

  • Fewer abilities to interact socially
  • Difficulty in interpreting social cues, body language, and facial expressions
  • Unable to interpret humour, sarcasm, or metaphor
  • Exhibiting unusual body language, like speaking loudly or standing too close
  • Not making eye contact
  • Repeating the same behaviour or actions

Asperger’s syndrome is somewhat different from autism because the former has less severe symptoms and doesn’t involve linguistic impairments.

Sometimes, children with Asperger’s syndrome can have good intellectual and creative skills. Children with this problem often show the following indications:

  • Rudeness in behaviour means friendships can be challenging to establish.
  • Poor and clumsy handwriting, only one interest area, or a very narrow range of interests
  • Repetitive actions
  • Requires strict routines and monitoring to control
  • Quickly get upset when things don’t go as planned.

Autistic Disorder

Autistic disorder is on the severe end of the autism spectrum. This disorder can be detected by the pronounced symptoms shown at an early age. The primary signs are as follows:

  • Difficulties in social interaction
  • Communication issues
  • recurring actions
  • Occasional outbursts
  • Hyper-activity
  • Disruptions in eating and sleeping

Children suffering from this problem tend to remain alone and avoid interacting with others. A high level of support is required for them.

Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS)

Sometimes, a developmental disorder does not exactly fit the criteria for autism or the disorders mentioned above. In that case, it was diagnosed as PDD-NOS.

PDD-NOS symptoms are given below:

  • Deficiencies in social conduct
  • Inadequate development of skills
  • Poor development of language and speech abilities
  • Resistance to accept change
  • Unusual reactions in response to touch, sound, smell, taste, or sight
  • Extremely narrow range of interests

 Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD)

Childhood disintegrative disorder (CDD) was considered severe. During the first several years of life, a kid with this disorder has to go through typical developmental phases, which in the long run result in poor acquisition of the following skills:

  • Speech and interaction abilities
  • Play, social skills, and self-care abilities
  • Bowel and urine control, as well as independent movement 

Rett Syndrome

Rett syndrome was once included in the spectrum of autism because the symptoms were comparable to autism in children. However, it is no longer classified as an ASD because medical experts found that a genetic mutation causes it.

Typically, girls with classic Rett syndrome show typical development issues during the first few months, and then symptoms begin to show up, which include problems related to the following:

  • Language and communication
  • Learning
  • Coordination.

Children who are impacted may eventually develop the issues mentioned below.

  • Reduced head size or delayed growth
  • Curved spine
  • Drooling and spitting
  • Unusual eye movements
  • Repeated hand movements
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Breathing issues


Why is Early Intervention Crucial for Managing Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in Children, and What are the Recommended Strategies?

Medical specialists frequently advise that therapy for ASD must be started as soon as a child is diagnosed. Early intervention will help reduce the challenges, enabling children to adjust and develop new abilities.

Autism spectrum disorder cannot be diagnosed with a single medical test. A physician can only evaluate the condition by analysing the concerned individual’s developmental issues and behavioural patterns.

Some autistic individuals only require basic assistance, whereas others demand extensive support. In both cases, early intervention can ensure favourable long-term outcomes. The unique difficulties that people with autism experience can be effectively addressed with the use of various clinical and behavioural therapies.

The different methods that can be applied to manage ASD are:

  • Therapy for education and behaviour development
  • Therapy that helps learners learn life skills to overcome challenges
  • Assistance to improve social, communicative, and language abilities using speech, language, and occupational therapy.
  • Medication to address associated mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, hyperactivity, aggression, and impatience.
  • Nutritional adjustments or diet supplements to keep the person healthy and fit.
  • Psychotherapy can help improve body strength and flexible movements. 


Autism explained

Doctors diagnose ASD as a range of disorders ranging from basic to severe levels that demonstrate different types of behavioural issues, especially in children. Persons showing severe disorder symptoms may need special care and assistance to function and manage their lives. It is now proven that with proper diagnosis and quick support, many individuals with autism may lead productive, independent, and satisfying lives.

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