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Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Perhaps you’ve heard the words from your family pediatrician, a psychiatrist, or a well-intentioned friend. Perhaps the words can scarcely escape your lips without a feeling of fear for your child’s future or maybe even a sense of relief because your precious child’s challenges finally have a name and an explanation.
While every child is unique and special, there are certain characteristics and symptoms that may be present in your child’s actions that will help determine his or her diagnosis. If you are new to the autism world, it may be difficult to understand the differences between ASD, Asperger’s, and Autism. Our Genes2Teens experts help you to make sense of it all below.
The 3 types of autism
People commonly use ASD and the term “autism” to refer to the same condition. However, the term autism refers to a wider spectrum. There are 3 different types of autism: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Asperger’s, and PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified).
A child with ASD has several manifested symptoms in the areas of social interaction, language development and/or a restricted set of behaviors. Asperger’s patients may have autistic-like challenges usually in areas of social skills and sensory input. But their language development is normal or near normal. Children with PDD-NOS, otherwise known as atypical autism or “mild autism,” have challenges in the same areas as one with ASD though not to as great of a degree.
Autism and Asperger’s are no longer separate diagnoses
When using diagnostic tools previously, autism and Asperger’s were diagnosed separately by pediatricians or specialists. It is now recognized that these terms merely identify where a person sits on a spectrum, known as the Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD for short. It covers all the different indicators a person may have to be classified as having ASD. Previously people who received an Asperger’s diagnosis generally had functional language, were of normal or high intelligence but lacked the ability to interpret social cues. I know I have one of these special creatures!
An autistic diagnosis could include a whole raft of identifying features such as: poor or no language, repetitive behavior, aversion to foods, sounds, stimuli and no understanding of emotions or social cues, to name a few. Some people with autism may have savants which is an exceptional gift or talent.
It is important not to get caught up on the label, but more what it means for your child so that you can ensure you get targeted support to enable them to function as effectively as possible.
Asperger’s is a milder form of autism
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder, usually affecting communication and behavior that develops during early childhood (before age 2). As the disorder has varying degrees of severity it is known as a spectrum disorder.
Autism is a disorder where language delays, difficulty socializing, and unusual behaviors may occur. Intellectual disability may also be present. Asperger’s Syndrome is considered a milder subgroup of the disorder, where a child may show some developmental delays, but fewer issues with language, and typically no significant intellectual disability.
Asperger’s, autism, and ASD are all the same in the DSM-5
Autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disorder that involves challenges with communication, social interaction, and repetitive behaviors. Symptoms can range from mild to severe, from the level of ‘quirky’ to truly debilitating.
In the DSM-V, the diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder covers previous diagnosis’ such as Asperger’s, Autism, and Pervasive Developmental Delay Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS). The diagnosis of Asperger’s generally covered a range of symptoms found in higher functioning levels of autism. While that diagnosis is no longer used in the DSM, some members of the autism community prefer to use the term over autism spectrum disorder.