What Type of Autism Is It? Identifying 6 Main Types

Autism includes a wide spectrum of types and symptoms. This list of major types and symptoms can better help you identify and understand your child's place on the autism spectrum.

Understanding the different types of Autism

Because there are such a wide variety of autism types and spectrums, it can be difficult to group a child's symptoms together. Here's a look at 6 main types and very basic markers. If you're concerned that your child may be autistic, be sure to speak with your doctor and express any concerns you might have -- he'll be able to help you and your child assess the best course of action and find the support and education you need.

Autism or Autistic Disorder

What It Is: A collection of developmental disorders in which a child engages in repetitive behaviors and has trouble communicating and connecting with others. It's usually diagnosed around age 2 or 3, although some signs show up earlier.

Symptoms can be mild to severe.

Regressive Autistic Spectrum Disorder

What It Is: Like autism, except that a child appears to develop normally until 18 to 24 months, then starts to regress. It occurs in about 20 to 30 percent of children with autism spectrum disorders.

Pervasive Developmental Disorder -- Not Otherwise Specified

What It Is: A child has a few autistic traits but doesn't meet the full criteria for an autism diagnosis.

Asperger's Syndrome

What It Is: A milder form of autism, usually diagnosed between ages 2 and 6, in which a child has good language skills and average to above-average intelligence but is socially awkward and engages in odd, repetitive behaviors.

Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD)

What It Is: A very rare disorder in which normally developing children lose motor, language, social, and potty skills around ages 2 to 4.

Rett Syndrome

What It Is: An extremely rare disorder, similar to CDD, which occurs only in girls.

For More Information

To learn more about early signs of autism, possible treatments, and options for family support, please be sure to contact the following organizations:

  • Autism Partnership (autismpartnership.com)
  • Autism Society of America (autism-society.org)
  • Autism Speaks (autismspeaks.org)
  • CDC Autism Information Center (cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism)
  • Easter Seals (easterseals.com/autism)
  • First Signs (firstsigns.org)
  • Interactive Autism Network (iancommunity.org)

Originally published in the November 2009 issue of American Baby magazine.

All content on this Web site, including medical opinion and any other health-related information, is for informational purposes only and should not be considered to be a specific diagnosis or treatment plan for any individual situation. Use of this site and the information contained herein does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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