Autism Spectrum Disorder Types
The definition for autism spectrum disorder is essentially an umbrella of a number of somewhat similar disorders.
Different levels of autism and different types of autism, including other closely-related disorders like asperger syndrome
and pervasive development disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), are all referenced when explaining autism
spectrum disorder. All disorders for autism spectrum disorder are characterized by abnormalities of communication and
social interactions, as well as highly repetitive behavior and severely restricted interests. Of the documented forms of
autism spectrum disorder, PDD-NOS was diagnosed the majority of the time, with autism types and asperger
syndrome much less of the time. Rett syndrome and childhood disintegrative disorder were much rarer disorders from
the total number of diagnoses.

Explaining autism spectrum disorder can be somewhat confusing because the three main forms are somewhat similar in
signs and symptoms:

Asperger syndrome: Sharing some of the same behavioral and physical symptoms like repetitive motor behaviors and
intense focus on an object, unlike autism, children have no significant delay in their language development and will
approach others.
Autism: Shares similar behavioral characteristics, but children with the disorder are more often withdrawn and have
trouble with language.
Pervasive Development Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS): Usually diagnosed when it's clear a child has
some form of autism spectrum disorder, but the criteria are not met for one specific disorder.
Usual characteristics and symptoms are associated with impairments of interaction and social communication along
with repetitive activities and interests. However, particularly with asperger syndrome, there is a part of the autism
spectrum disorder population that show unusual abilities like memorization of numbers or trivia and other rare talents.
This shows how varying and deceptive the disorders can be. Make sure to not mistake one or two symptoms as your
child having a disorder. It's important to notice a trend and have the child professionally diagnosed.

Autism spectrum disorders have shifted from being somewhat misunderstood to something we can diagnose and help
families work through. Using Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) as our instrument of teaching, our goal is to help give
your child the best possible life they can have. This process does include the parents, as well, and our services include
teaching you how to reinforce positive behavior while reducing behaviors that could be considered harmful. Especially
for a disorder within the autism spectrum - there isn't a "one size fits all" treatment. Individuals deserve personalized
care, and we'll do everything it takes to find what works well for your child and family.

Autism may not be what you think it is.

The 1988 movie "Rain Man" — starring Hollywood heavyweights Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise — introduced
autism to mainstream America. It also cemented stereotypes that all autistic people are savants with outstanding math
skills, that they have no emotions or senses of humor, that they cannot make eye contact or show affection.

This is true for some people, but autism comes in many shapes and sizes, in countless combinations of characteristics.

Autism is one of five disorders coming under the umbrella of Pervasive Developmental Disorders, a category of brain
disorders that affect the way people speak, socialize, play and react to their environment.

Below are definitions and characteristics of these five disorders.

• Classic autism — This is the most severe form of autism. People with classic autism have problems talking and
relating to people. They can be hypersensitive to their environment. Certain sounds, colors and textures can upset
them. They compulsively cling to rituals, such as eating the same foods or watching the same TV show every day at
the same time. Changes in routine can upset them.

Caitlin and Kiernan O'Donnell have this disorder.

• Asperger's Syndrome — A type of autism that causes problems with social and communication skills, but does
not trigger language delays. People with Asperger's can be socially awkward, may not understand conventional social
rules or may show a lack of empathy. They may make limited eye contact, seem to be unengaged in a conversation
and not understand the use of gestures. They also have average or above-average intelligence.

Deirdre O'Donnell has this disorder.

• Childhood Disintegrative Disorder — A type of autism that develops in children who previously seemed perfectly
normal. Sometime between ages 2 and 4, these children stop talking, lose potty-training skills and stop socializing. They
can stop playing, lose motor skills and fail to make friends.

None of the O'Donnell children have this disorder.

• Rett Syndrome — A condition that usually affects girls and is marked by poor head growth. People with this
disorder have poor verbal and social skills. They have repetitive hand movements such as hand-wringing, excessive
hand-washing and clapping. Mental retardation is common.

None of the O'Donnell children have this disorder.

• Pervasive Developmental Disorder­Not Otherwise Specified — A condition in which some — but not all — of
the symptoms of classic autism and another pervasive developmental disorderare seen. In these cases, there can be
social and speech problems, as well as unusual sensitivities to specific sights and sounds.

Erin and Patrick O'Donnell have this disorder.


Sources: Autism Society of America, Cure Autism Now, Yale Child Study Center at Yale University, National Institute
of Mental Health