Types of Autism

There are different types of autism, and they are grouped together under the term Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD. This term describes a number of developmental disabilities, all of which can be traced to a problem within the brain. The types of autism include: Autistic Disorder, Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), Asperger Syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD) and Rett Syndrome.

Each ASD has specific symptoms that make diagnosis possible. Autistic disorder, most commonly referred to as autism, is the form of ASD that is seen most frequently in America today. Following is a list of the types of autism and their basic characteristics:

Types of Autism: Autistic Disorder

Autistic disorder is the most prevalent form of ASD and is what most people associate with the term autism. This disorder varies widely in severity from very mild to extremely disabling, sometimes requiring institutionalization. Autistic disorder affects behavior, communication, social interaction and learning abilities.

Types of Autism: Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified

PDD-NOS is a milder form of autism and serves as a catch-all group for developmental disorders that don't exactly fit within any other category. Symptoms of PDD-NOS are the same as for autistic disorder, but they are milder. An individual with PDD-NOS is able to communicate more effectively, has fewer problems learning and is more successful with social interaction.

Types of Autism: Asperger Syndrome

Individuals with Asperger Syndrome are mildly affected by the usual autistic symptoms, and oftentimes they appear perfectly ordinary. The biggest difference between Asperger Syndrome and Autistic Disorder is in language development. People with Asperger Syndrome exhibit no delay in learning to speak. In fact, they generally have good to excellent language skills, although they may use language in a unique way or have an interesting way of speaking.

Asperger Syndrome does not have the same level of cognitive disability found in Autistic Disorder. In fact, as part of its medical definition, those with Asperger syndrome must be of average to above-average intelligence and suffer from no "clinically significant" delay in cognitive development.

Types of Autism: Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD)

The diagnosis of CDD is given to a child who reaches their developmental milestones and appears normal for several years, but then loses the skills they have learned and begins to exhibit typical autistic behavior. The skill loss exhibited with CDD can range from complete loss of abilities to just a partial loss of certain skills.

Types of Autism: Rett Syndrome

Rett Syndrome occurs only in girls and is thought to be genetically based. A child with Rett syndrome begins development on a normal schedule but starts to decline in social skills and communicative abilities between one and four years old. At this point, autistic symptoms including repetitive hand movements begin to appear and overtake the child's previous behaviors.

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