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Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Types

Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)

Autism Spectrum Disorders, or ASD’s, are a group of disorders in which a child has significant difficulty in three areas: 

  •  Back-and-forth social interaction
  •  Communication skills
  •  Behavior/activities/interests. 

Autism is called a “spectrum” disorder because kids can have a range of symptoms and symptom severity, and are often quite individual in how and whether specific symptoms present.

Three Types

Autism Spectrum Disorders are classified into three different diagnoses, or autism types:

  • Autistic Disorder, commonly called Autism.
  • Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (commonly called PDD or PDD-NOS).
  • Asperger’s Disorder, commonly called Asperger’s or Asperger Syndrome.

The “official definitions” of Autistic Spectrum Disorders can be found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, currently in its 4th edition.  Assessment and diagnosis are performed by trained and licensed professionals. 

Following is more information on the three types:

Autistic Disorder (Autism)

  •  “Onset” before age three.  Some children seem different from birth and many have subtle symptoms by the age of one.

  • Difficulties in all three areas: Social interaction, Communication, and Behavior/Interests/Activities.
  • Generally considered the more severe form of the disorder.  However, sometimes doctors specify levels like “mild autism,” (also sometimes called High Functioning Autism), “moderate autism,” or “severe autism.”  Categories are subjective and typically based on the child’s level of communication and disconnection from the social world, for example, whether the child is verbal or nonverbal.
  • Some children appear to develop “normally” and regress sometime around 18 months to two years old.
  • Also called:  Autism, Early Infantile Autism, Kanner’s Autism, and Childhood Autism, High-Functioning Autism. 

Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified”

  • Similar to Autism, but all diagnostic criteria of Autism are not met.  For example, some children develop symptoms after the age of three.  Some children may talk well and seem to have much milder symptoms than a child with Autism.  However, some children with this diagnosis can have challenges as significant as Autism.
  • Many children require intervention that is similar or identical to that of Autism.
  • Also called:  Pervasive Developmental Disorder, PDD, PDD-NOS, Atypical Autism, mild Autism or Autism PDD. 

Asperger’s Disorder (Asperger’s or Asperger Syndrome)

  • Compared to children with Autism, children have typical cognitive development in the first three years, and no delays in learning language.

  • Difficulties in two areas: Social interaction and Behavior/Interests/Activities.
  • Children usually talk well and may be early readers. 
  • Challenges are apparent in social interaction, behavior, interests, and/or activities, with children often preferring narrow or odd hobbies or conversation topics.
  • Also called:  Asperger’s Syndrome, Asperger Syndrome, Aspergers Syndrome, Aspergers, Asperger’s, misspelled as Asbergers, or sometimes misclassified as “High Functioning Autism.”

Autism Statistics

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that 1 in 150 children (8-year olds) had Autism in their latest study of multiple areas of the United States.  This data was released in 2007.  More geographically limited and anecdotal information has put the number as low as 1 in 67.

Concerned About Your Child?

If you believe that your child may have an undiagnosed Autism Spectrum Disorder, click for a list of Autism Symptoms or Does My Child Have Autism, PDD, or Asperger Syndrome? (Checklist).

For information on steps to get your child assessed and diagnosed, click Autism Assessment and Diagnosis (for Autism, PDD, or Asperger Syndrome).

If you have a child with autism symptoms in Spokane, Washington State, Year For Change offers additional services for children and families.  Click for more information on a Therapy Goals Assessment and/or Treatment and Therapy.

Need more help?  Call  (509) 448-1506 or Click to Email 

Deborah Skalabrin, MSW, LICSW

701 W. 7th Avenue, Suite 15
Spokane, WA  99204
(509) 448-1506 - Phone
(509) 624-7500 - FAX

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