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Understanding the Different Types of Autism

Understanding the Different Types of Autism

Autism exists on a spectrum, and within this spectrum, there are five types of autism (three main forms and two less common), each with its own characteristics and differences. Autism affects each child differently, and early intervention is vital to improving functioning and quality of life. Working with an autism specialist for an accurate diagnosis is crucial to get the correct treatment for your child. 

At PediaPlex in the Fort Worth/Dallas, Texas area, our personalized approach is driven by your child's needs and provides a meaningful change in their life. Our multidisciplinary team offers evaluation and autism therapy under one roof. Here, we discuss some details about the different types of autism. 

Understanding autism as a spectrum disorder

Autism in children encompasses a variety of symptoms, behaviors, and traits that impact each child differently. Even two children with the same type of autism may behave differently. 

Some children may struggle with verbal communication, while others may excel at using scripted language.

Different children with autism may require varying levels of assistance through specialized interventions and therapies.

Classic autism

Classic autism is the broadest and most common type of autism. It’s also known as Kanner’s autism and is the most severe form of autism. Children with classic autism exhibit symptoms in all three major categories of symptom presentation — significant social deficits, communication impairments, and atypical responses to the environment. These symptoms can range from mild to severe in each child.

Asperger's syndrome

Asperger's syndrome is also known as "high-functioning autism" because people with these symptoms require less assistance to function independently. They are frequently intelligent and excel in school and work. 

However, their challenges lie in social skills. They may have a flat affect in their tone of voice and facial expressions.

Children with Asperger’s may develop one or more special interests. These are topics they frequently discuss and can significantly impact their daily lives.

Pervasive developmental disorder 

Pervasive developmental disorder (PDD) is a mild form of autism that causes a variety of symptoms. Children with PDD most commonly experience difficulties with social and linguistic development.

Your child may have delays in walking and other motor skills, along with language delays. PDD is also known as "subthreshold autism" because children with PDD have some, but not all of the symptoms of autism. Because their symptoms are mild, it’s easier for children with PPD to slip through the cracks. If you notice language delays or other social difficulties, no matter how mild, it’s wise to have your child evaluated. 

In addition to these three main forms of autism, the following are two less common forms. While fewer children with autism are affected by these forms, treatment is just as important. 

Childhood disintegrative disorder

Childhood disintegrative disorder (CDD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by the delayed onset of developmental problems in language, motor skills, or social function. Typically a child develops in these areas until the age of three and up to ten. 

For parents who had no idea their child had autism issues, the developmental loss can be distressing.

The cause of CDD is unknown, but researchers believe it is related to brain neurobiology. Boys are more likely to have childhood disintegrative disorder than girls.

Rett’s syndrome

Rett’s syndrome is a rare neurodevelopmental disorder that develops in childhood. It primarily affects females, though it can also be diagnosed in males. Rett syndrome causes difficulties in almost every aspect of a child's life. 

The good news is that with proper care, your child can still enjoy and live a fulfilling life. 

Autism evaluation

PediaPlex offers a comprehensive autism evaluation to examine your child's overall functioning. Following the evaluation, the family meets with us to review the test results and discuss treatment options. The feedback session with parents also serves as a framework for developing specific and practical interventions and accommodations at home and school.

To learn more and to schedule an evaluation, give our team a call to schedule a consultation

at one of our offices in Southlake, Fort Worth, or Frisco, Texas.  

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