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5 Main Types of Autism – What to Look Out For

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The term ‘autism’ can often lead to preconceived ideas about what the individual in question may be like, but not everyone who is diagnosed with Autism shares these common features and characteristics. In fact, there are several types of Autism, each with different signs and symptoms. In light of World Autism Awareness Day, we’re taking a look at the five main types of autism.

Different Types of Autism

Asperger’s Syndrome

People with Asperger’s Syndrome can find interpreting social cues difficult and they can struggle in social situations as a result. They might develop an intense or even obsessive interest in a subject, as well as showing a high level of intelligence.

People with Asperger’s are often described as ‘gifted’. They can have sensory challenges though, such as intense sensitivity to clothing tags, for example. Asperger’s Syndrome is sometimes wrongly diagnosed as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder or Attention Deficit Disorder, as some of the symptoms can be similar.

Rett Syndrome

Rett Syndrome is a progressive disorder, which begins with common characteristics that are found in other types of Autism and develops as the person gets older. For example, in children, there are symptoms such as hand waving and repetitive motions, as well as delayed speech, but as the child gets older, they can develop other symptoms such as growth delays, seizures and grinding their teeth.

Childhood Disintegrative Disorder

This type of autism tends to show signs after the child is a little older. Children with Disintegrative Disorder can seem fine in the first two years of life, and then they start to regress as they get older which can be confusing and challenging for parents of children with this type of Autism. Their child may stop talking altogether, having shown no problems or issues beforehand. It’s a rare type of Autism that is often connected to seizure disorders.

Kanner’s Syndrome

Kanner’s Syndrome is also referred to as Classic Autistic Disorder. People with this disorder often show classic signs of Autism such as difficulty communicating with others, struggling to make eye contact or a need for a specific routine. People with Kanner’s Syndrome tend to keep to themselves and don’t show much interest in interacting with other people or engaging in the world around them.

Pervasive Developmental Disorder

Pervasive Developmental Disorder is a milder form of Autism that can have symptoms such as social delays, such as walking or talking at a later stage than other children. However, people with this type of Autism often learn to cope more easily than those with more severe forms of Autism.

Common Signs of Autism To Look Out For

Autism can often present itself in the early developmental years of childhood, up to the age of 6. It’s during these early years that children might miss specific milestones or be delayed for their age, which can be concerning for parents. The symptoms that someone with Autism displays will vary depending on the type of Autism, the severity of the condition and the individual. Here are some common signs to watch out for that could signify this condition:

  • A loss of speech, babbling or social skills, especially if previously acquired
  • Avoidance of eye contact or difficulty maintaining eye contact
  • A desire to spend time alone
  • Difficulty comprehending other people’s feelings or picking up on social cues
  • Delayed language development
  • Continual repetition of words or phrases
  • Difficulty coping with minor changes in routine or surroundings
  • Limited interests or an intense obsession with certain interests
  • Repetitive behaviours like hand waving or flapping, spinning, or rocking back and forth
  • Intense reactions to sounds, colours, smells, tastes, textures or lights

It’s important to remember that these are just some of the common signs of an Autism disorder - they are not a sole indicator of the condition. It’s also worth noting that just because someone has one or two of these symptoms, it doesn’t necessarily mean they have Autism. There may be another reason why someone is experiencing these symptoms.