Understanding Different Types of Autism Symptoms

Table of Content

Autism or autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a wide range of developmental conditions distinguished by how the affected person interacts with other person. A person with autism spectrum disorder experiences difficulties in social skills, speech, non-verbal communication, and repetitive behavior.  

According to the WHO, on average 1 in every 100 children has autism and another data suggests that close to 75 million people have autism worldwide. In this article, we will discuss and understand autism and its symptoms. 

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder 

ASD is a complex condition that affects the brain’s development. There are different types of disorders under autism which are connected to each other. As mentioned in the introduction, it is a spectrum condition, meaning it affects people in many different ways.  

Initial 5 Types of Autism 

ASD is an umbrella term used for autism, and it includes different types of this condition. So, in this section, let’s understand these conditions in detail. 

Asperger’s Syndrome 

Asperger’s Syndrome was named after Hans Asperger, an Austrian physician, who described this syndrome in 1944. In its earlier understanding, Asperger’s Syndrome was recognized as a separate disorder. However, back in 2013, it was reclassified as a diagnosis of the autism spectrum in the publication of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition (DSM-5). The condition is characterized by difficulty in social interaction, restricted interest, repetitive behavior, communication problems, and sensory sensitivities.  

Kanner’s Syndrome 

Kaneer’s syndrome is named after Leo Kanner, who studied children with autism. It is a classic autistic disorder and is considered a severe form of autism that is marked by communication problems, difficulties in understanding others, restricted interests, and repetitive behaviors. The condition typically appears at an early age, consequently impacting their growth, development, and daily functioning.  

Rett Syndrome 

Rett syndrome is a rare condition that affects 1 in every 10,000 female births and is rarely found in males, though they can get affected. The reason why females are more prone this condition is due to the genetic mutation on the X Chromosome. The condition, usually identified in children between the ages of 6-18 months, leads to severe impairment which impacts almost every aspect of their developmental growth. Some of the symptoms include loss of speech, problems with hand movements, slowed growth, decline in social and language skills, trouble with breathing, etc. 

Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD) 

Childhood Disintegrative Disorder also known as Heller’s syndrome is also a rare condition, affecting 1.7 children per 100,000 children and it typically starts at the later stage of development in children. In this condition, children generally grow normally till the age of 3 and then gradually start losing the learned skills over time, though, the regression may vary from child to child. The disorder was first described by Austrian educator Thomas Heller in 1908 and it was then considered a different disorder, however, in DSM-5, it was folded into the broader diagnosis of ASD. 

Pervasive Developmental Disorder 

Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), is a historical term used for a group of conditions marked by impairment of language, communication, motor skills, and social behavior, in early childhood, typically around the age of 3. In 2013, the disorder was reclassified as autism spectrum disorder under DSM-5. It is also one of the most common types of ASD, some estimate suggests, that the prevalence of PDD is about 60-70 children/ 10,000. 

How do Experts Currently Classify Types of Autism Spectrum Disorder 

Today, autism is classified into a broader category which includes many conditions that were once classified as separate or distinct conditions. Conditions like Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, and Asperger’s syndrome all were reclassified in the recent the past edition of DSM-5. Though Rett syndrome is not officially an ASD in DSM-5, but still linked to autism. Autism Spectrum Disorder is also classified into two categories which are:- 

Social Interaction and Communication  

Social interaction and communication tell how a child with autism interacts and communicates with others. For example, if a child of 9, 12, or 15 months, does not respond to their name or does not use hand gestures may be indicative of delays and challenges of autism spectrum disorder. 

Repetitive Behaviors, Interests, and Activities 

Under this criteria, medical experts evaluate the differences in movement, repetitive behaviors, and interest. For example, a child repeating a specific phrase, continuously talking about the same topic or interest, showing sensitivities to sounds and lights, or finding difficulty in adjusting to a new routine may all be considered relevant indicators. 

Different Levels of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) 

Based on the severity of autism symptoms, experts can understand the extent of challenges faced by a child and what level of support they need in their daily lives. Here’s what the levels typically imply. 

Level One: Requiring Support 

A child with L1 ASD may show difficulty in social interaction and switching from one activity to another. However, with support, they may able to function well in familiar surroundings and to a level that these impairments may not even be noticeable to others. 

Level Two: Requiring Substantial Support 

In L2 of ASD, people have more intense difficulties in social communication, may experience more difficulty in adapting to changing environments, and may need more substantial support to complete daily tasks. 

Level Three: Requiring Very Substantial Support 

A child or someone with L3 of ASD can have very limited social interaction with severe impairments in social communication and may have highly repetitive behavior, and often requires substantial support to function. 

Diagnosis of Autism 

Diagnosing Autism spectrum disorder can be difficult as there is no definite testing like blood tests or image scanning. Instead, doctors look at the child’s developmental journey or history and behavior to diagnose the condition. The first step towards diagnosing autism starts at the pediatrician level as every child gets assessed when they reach the age of 18 and 24 months. Some of the milestones the doctors check for are if the baby started smiling by 6 months, making sounds and facial expressions by 9 months, and cooing by 12 months.  

Another method is developmental monitoring which involves observing your child grow and meet developmental skills normal to a certain age. Diagnosis also involves assessing the child’s cognitive skills, language ability, social communication, and behavior. 

Treatment Options for Autism 

Autism is a complicated neurodevelopmental disorder with no definite cure, thus the treatment also greatly depends on the symptoms. However, there are multiple treatments available with the goal to improve a child’s ability to function and development and reduce symptoms. Here are a few treatment options for autism. 

Behavioral Therapies for Autism 

Under this program, children are often taught to speak and learn skills by breaking them down into smaller achievable steps and by using positive support to support expected behavior. 

Medications for Managing Autism Symptoms 

As stated earlier there is no definite cure for autism, however, certain medications can help in managing symptoms. For example, antipsychotic drugs are sometimes used to manage severe behavior concerns, and antidepression for anxiety and depression. 

Educational Interventions for Autism 

Many research has shown the effectiveness of educational intervention in children with autism. A preschooler with ASD often thrives on routine and predictability as they provide them with a clear structure for the day which helps in reducing anxiety and also makes them more focused on learning. 

Speech and Language Therapy for Autism 

Speech and language therapy helps a child with ASD address challenges in language and communication. The program starts with an evaluation by a speech-language pathologist who then creates an individual goal for therapy to help the person communicate more effectively. 

Occupational Therapy for Autism 

Occupational Therapy or OT is therapy to help autistic individuals develop skills to function in their daily activities. Many individuals with ASD experience sensory processing and an occupational therapist can understand these sensitivities and can create a sensory diet to regulate the nervous system which can help the individuals manage sensory inputs. 

Family Therapy for Supporting Individuals with Autism 

When it comes to autism, family plays a major role as they are the ones taking care of the person with ASD. Thus, it is very important for them to have a deep understanding of autism. This therapy helps family members develop skills to promote compassionate listening and validation. 

Embracing Growth: Journey through Autism with Cadabams 

It is true that there’s no cure to address the core of autism, however, with the right mindset, early intervention, treatments, and therapies, children with ASD can thrive.  

One such place wherein you and your loved ones can distance this journey with compassion, understanding, and the right knowledge is at Cadabams.  

With decades of experience, Cadabam’s offers best-in-class facilities, professionals, and comprehensive support not only for individuals with ASD but also for their family members, ensuring a holistic approach to care and well-being. 


1. What are the 5 different types of autism? 

The five different types of autism, now categorized under autism spectrum disorder (ASD), include Kanner’s syndrome, Asperger's syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and Rett syndrome. 

2. What is the most serious autism? 

The severity of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) varies greatly among individuals. There isn't a single "most serious" type. ASD is characterized by a range of challenges in social interaction, communication, and behavior, with severity levels varying from mild to severe. 

3. Is Rett Syndrome an ASD? 

No, Rett Syndrome is not classified as an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in the DSM-5. While some symptoms overlap, Rett Syndrome is a separate neurodevelopmental disorder caused by mutations in the MECP2 gene. 

4. What age does autism show? 

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) typically emerges in early childhood, with signs often becoming apparent by age 2 or 3. However, some children may show symptoms earlier, while others may not exhibit noticeable signs until later in childhood or adolescence. Early intervention is key for support and management. 

5. Why is autism more common in boys? 

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is diagnosed more frequently in boys than girls, with estimates suggesting a ratio of around 4:1. The reasons for this gender disparity are not fully understood but may involve genetic, hormonal, and neurological factors influencing brain development and social behaviors. 

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