A Guide to the Five Types of Autism Spectrum Disorders

A Guide to the Five Types of Autism Spectrum Disorders

If you’re wondering what the different types of autism are, this post is for you. We break down each one and what they mean.

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a group of complex disorders of brain development that affect social interaction and communication skills. ASD is characterized by restrictive, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, and activities. It can range from mild to severe and impacts the daily life of many individuals affected by autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

Autism affects one out of every 68 children in the United States today—up from one in 110. As recently as 2000, and according to some estimates, the statistics will increase to one in 42 by 2025! In addition to being diagnosed with ASD, some people also have other conditions associated with developmental delay. These are normally caused by variations in genes or environmental factors, such as toxins, if someone was exposed too early on in life.

In the following section, we will take a look at the five different types of autism.

Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS)

Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) is a diagnosis used to describe children who have difficulties with social interaction and communication, but don’t meet the full criteria for autism or another specific PDD. 

PDD-NOS is considered a “subthreshold” autism spectrum disorder, which means that the child has some autistic features, but not enough to be diagnosed with autism. PDD-NOS is sometimes referred to as “atypical autism.” 

The symptoms of PDD-NOS can vary widely from one child to another. Some children may have only mild symptoms, while others may have more severe symptoms. In general, children with PDD-NOS have difficulties with social interaction and communication and may also have repetitive behaviors or interests. 

The cause of PDD-NOS is unknown, but it is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. There is no cure for PDD-NOS but there are treatments that can help improve the child’s symptoms. With early diagnosis and treatment, children with PDD-NOS can make significant progress.

Asperger’s Syndrome

Asperger’s Syndrome is a neurological disorder that is characterized by social and communication difficulties, as well as repetitive behaviors. Many people with Asperger’s have difficulty understanding jokes or sarcasm, and they may take things very literally. They may also have trouble reading nonverbal cues, such as body language or facial expressions.

People with Asperger’s Syndrome often have above-average intelligence, and many are extremely knowledgeable about a few specific topics. They may obsessively collect information about their areas of interest, and they may become experts on their chosen subjects.

While people with Asperger’s Syndrome can be successful in many walks of life, they may struggle with social interactions. Many people with Asperger’s choose to avoid social situations altogether because they find them difficult or stressful. Others may try to compensate for their social difficulties by studying social cues and practicing small talk.

If you think you or someone you know may have Asperger’s Syndrome, it is important to seek professional help. There is no “cure” for Asperger’s but there are treatments that can help improve social and communication skills. 

Many people with Asperger’s go on to lead successful lives. Some famous people who are thought to have had Asperger’s include Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton and Ludwig van Beethoven.

Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD)

Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD) is a rare form of autism that can cause severe developmental delays in children, as well as behavioral problems. CDD was originally named after Elisabeth Heller, who first described the condition in 1989.

It is also known as Heller’s syndrome and may be mistaken for other disorders such as major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder. In fact, many people who have been diagnosed with CDD actually have these other conditions entirely unrelated to their symptoms; however, if you are experiencing any of these symptoms—including anxiety or depression—it's important to seek immediate medical attention so that your doctor can properly diagnose you and prescribe
treatment accordingly.

Rett Syndrome

Rett syndrome is a genetic disorder that causes problems with brain development. It’s caused by mutations in the MECP2 gene, which is responsible for producing meprin-B, an essential protein for brain function. The symptoms of Rett syndrome vary from person to person, but most people affected have difficulty walking and speaking at early ages—usually between six months and two years of age—and lose ground as they grow older. Symptoms can also include seizures, loss of muscle tone (hypotonia), small head size (microcephaly) and flat facial features due to abnormal bone growth (skeletal dysplasia).

Kanner's syndrome

Kanner’s syndrome is a rare autism spectrum disorder that is characterized by delayed language development, social withdrawal, and repetitive behaviors. It was named after Leo Kanner who first described it in 1943.

The cause of Kanner’s syndrome is unknown, but it is believed to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. There is no cure for Kanner’s syndrome but early intervention and treatment can help improve symptoms and quality of life. 

Managing the different types of autism

There is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to managing autism, as the condition can vary greatly from person to person. However, there are some general tips that can help when it comes to managing different types of autism.

One of the most important things to remember is that every individual with autism is unique, so what works for one person may not work for another. It's important to be flexible and willing to try different approaches until you find what works best for the individual.

 Here are some general tips for managing different types of autism:

  • Create a routine and stick to it as much as possible. This can help provide a sense of structure and predictability which can be very calming for people with autism.
  • Try to provide clear and concise instructions. This can be difficult, as people with autism can often have difficulty understanding abstract concepts. However, breaking things down into concrete steps can help make them more manageable.
  • Be patient and avoid getting frustrated. People with autism often need more time to process information and may not be able to communicate as quickly as neurotypical people. It's important to be patient and give them the time they need.


Autism spectrum disorders are a group of developmental disabilities that affect the brain and central nervous system. They can affect a person’s ability to communicate with others, think abstractly and make sense of the world around them. Each type has its unique features, but all share some common features such as difficulties in social interactions and problems with nonverbal communication like facial expressions or gestures and some people may also have language deficits. 

Treatment varies depending on which type an individual has been diagnosed with; however, there are several steps families should take early on to help prepare themselves for the challenges ahead.

If you are looking to support people living with disabilities and the Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) who care for them, visit the 1CFS shop and buy one or more of our cool 1CFS T-shirts. The purchase goes a long way to spread the word and support people living with autism.

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