Understanding what different kinds of autism there are can help you detect early signs in your child. With a growing number of children receiving an autism diagnosis, the first step is identifying what type of autism a child has in order to help them live an enjoyable and successful life.
What is autism?
Autism is a group of disorders involving a broad range of conditions falling within a certain spectrum. These may include challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech, or nonverbal communication.
What are the 5 different types of autism?
The different kinds of autism include:
- Level 1 Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), previously called Asperger’s Syndrome;
- Rhett Syndrome, although this has been removed from the spectrum;
- Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD);
- Kanner’s Syndrome or Classic Autistic Disorder; and
- Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS).
Level 1 Autism Spectrum Disorder
The term Asperger’s Syndrome is no longer considered an official diagnosis, but is still widely used in the autism community. Instead, the correct term is Level 1 Autism Spectrum Disorder. Most people with this disorder are of normal or above-normal intelligence and possess strong verbal skills, but social communication is a challenge.
Level 1 ASD is sometimes described as “high functioning” autism. People with Level 1 ASD tend to struggle with social cues and often develop an intense interest in one or two subject areas. A speech delay is not typically associated with this type of autism, and in some cases, children may have an advanced vocabulary for their age.
Rett’s Syndrome was disqualified as a part of the autism spectrum in recent years.
However, it primarily affects girls and begins to become evident around 6 months old.
Symptoms associated with Rett’s Syndrome include social communication and an impaired ability to use one’s hands (such as difficulty with gross and fine motor skills or repetitive hand and arm flapping), symptoms that are also indicative of autism spectrum disorders.
Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD)
Perhaps, you have heard stories of children who are developing on pace and hitting all of their developmental benchmarks when they suddenly hit a wall and begin regressing around the age of two.
This type of autism can seem especially crushing for parents as it often spawns confusion and fear. Children who once seemed to be developing well, were socially interactive, and talked and made eye contact suddenly cease being themselves and shut down. Doctors postulate a correlation between this type of autism and disorders resulting in seizures.
Kanner’s Syndrome is the type of autism most people think of when picturing children on the autistic spectrum. This type of autism is also known as Classic Autistic Disorder, and its symptoms can include challenges communicating or understanding others, engaging in virtually no eye contact, and a hypersensitivity to stimuli (smell, light, noise, taste, or touch).
Children who have been diagnosed with Kanner’s Syndrome display a profound need for routine and often display no interest in the world around them. These children turn their attention inward and show little desire to interact with others.
Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS)
This form of autism is generally less severe than others. Children with this type of autism may have experienced delays in benchmarks, such as speaking or walking, and often lag behind other children who are on pace to hit their developmental milestones. Children with PDD-NOS are able to manage the symptoms of this milder form more easily than those who have been diagnosed with the more pervasive forms of autism.
Treatment and Development Strategies for the Types of Autism
Children with less extreme forms of autism, such as Level 1 Autism Spectrum Disorder, can benefit from social skills classes as well as taking part in behavioral modification to help with possible obsessive tendencies. In some cases, an altered diet free of preservatives, gluten, artificial sugars, and food coloring can be beneficial. Since many children with Level 1 ASD are advanced learners, looking into differentiated curriculum to challenge and hold their attention can provide numerous benefits.
Similarly, children diagnosed with PDD-NOS can greatly benefit from strategic changes in nutrition combined with occupational therapy and classes in life-skills development.
Girls with Rett Syndrome often need lifelong care because other symptoms may appear or grow more severe as the child ages. Difficulty breathing, cognitive disabilities, grinding teeth, seizures, and growth delays may all need ongoing treatment options. Physical therapy can help increase mobility and straighten limbs, while occupational therapy may help reduce involuntary movements and promote self care. Finally, speech therapy, diet modification, and certain medications can help control seizures.
Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD) requires early intervention on the part of doctors and parents via specialized and focused nutrition and speech and occupational therapy. Behavior modification helps children cope with this type of autism.
One of the best strategies for coping with Kanner’s Syndrome is an approach that combines a strategy for increasing social skill development coupled with cognitive and occupational therapies in the form of a weekly immersion program.
Autism Early Signs
Early signs of autism may appear when a child is as young as a few months old, while others may not appear until around age 3.
Developmental screening tests can help spot autism early signs. These are typically performed by a doctor during a routine check-up to assess a child’s speech, behavior, learning ability, and movement. Knowing how common autism is in your own family history may also let you and your doctor know if you should be watching more closely.
You can also watch for early signs by monitoring your child’s behavior. Knowing what different kinds of autism there are can help you watch for the right kinds of signs. Social impairments (like a lack of social skills) may be an early sign of autism. Some of these signs may surface as avoiding eye contact and physical contact, not responding when the child’s name is called, a desire to be alone, or an inability to understand the feelings of others.
In addition, you can monitor for communicative impairments (such as delayed speech or lack of facial expressions) or cognitive impairments (like not showing an interest in favorite toys or a sensitivity to textures and lights). Repetitive behaviors can also be indicative of early signs of autism. Examples might include repeating words or behaviors, rocking their body frequently, or flapping their hands.
How common is autism?
An autism diagnosis occurs in one of every sixty-eight births. An early intervention program can be helpful when autism is discovered in younger children. In some cases, with the right treatment program, a child can even outgrow some of the issues associated with autism and begin to display better social and communication skills.
If you want to learn more about autism or have noticed potential signs in your child, contact the caring professionals at Integrity today. We can provide you with further guidance or support and introduce you to the appropriate early intervention programs for your child.