What Are The Major Types Of Autism in Children?

What Are The Major Types Of Autism in Children?

 Have you been wondering why people with autism show different types of symptoms? 

This is because there are different types of Autism disorders. 

Autism doesn't have a single cause, but there are certain risk factors that make some children more susceptible than others.

Autism is a brain disorder that affects how people behave or interact with their surroundings. 

It may be subtle, moderate, or critical. 

But to effectively manage autism in a child, you have to know the type of autism you are dealing with; so what are the major types of autism?

We have different types of autism, but in this article, we shall look at the five major types of autism. 

They are Rett Syndrome, Asperger's Syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD), Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), and Kanner's Syndrome.

Autism Therapists in Colorado

Olivia Woodring, LPCC, NCC

Olivia Woodring, LPCC, NCC

(719) 345-2424
Jennifer Wilson, LPCC, NCC

Jennifer Wilson, LPCC, NCC

(720) 437-9089
Sierra Brown, SWC

Sierra Brown, SWC

(719) 345-2424
Annalise Saylor, LPCC

Annalise Saylor, LPCC

(720) 449-4121
Samantha Zavala, LPCC

Samantha Zavala, LPCC

Aurora, Colorado
(719) 345-2424
Dominique Schweinhardt, MA, LPCC, LPP

Dominique Schweinhardt, MA, LPCC, LPP

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 602-1342
Bethany Cantrell, LPC

Bethany Cantrell, LPC

Colorado Springs, Colorado
(719) 602-1342
Susan Taylor, LPCC

Susan Taylor, LPCC

(719) 345-2424
Chelsea Bruntmyer, MA, LPCC, NCC

Chelsea Bruntmyer, MA, LPCC, NCC

(719) 696-3439
Laura Brinkman, MA, LPCC

Laura Brinkman, MA, LPCC

Aurora, Colorado
(720) 449-4121

High-functioning Autism and Low-functioning Autism

High-functioning autism: People with high-functioning autism have no intellectual disability, but they may need support in other areas such as social skills development, speech, and language therapy, or occupational therapy. 

These types of support can help people with high-functioning autism lead full and productive lives. 

Low-functioning autism: People with low-functioning autism exhibit more significant challenges than those who are considered high-functioning. 

Low-functioning autism is often used to describe individuals who do not use speech to communicate or who have an intellectual disability. 

Individuals with low-functioning autism tend to need more support from parents or caregivers than those who are high-functioning. 

Rett Syndrome 

Rett Syndrome affects the normal development of the brain, which causes a gradual loss of speech and motor skills; it mostly affects girls. 

Development in most babies with Rett syndrome is normal for the first six to eighteen months. 

But they start losing skills they developed like the ability to walk, crawl, use their hands, or communicate.

As time goes on, children diagnosed with Rett syndrome start having serious problems using the muscles associated with coordination, movements, and communication. 

In severe cases, it may result in the child having seizures and eventually losing intellectual abilities.

Symptoms Of Rett Syndrome

Symptoms that are associated with Rett syndrome include:

  • Loss of normal movement. At first, there will be a sudden decrease in hand movements and body position. Gradually, the child will begin losing the ability to walk or crawl.
  • Slowed growth. Brain development begins to slow after birth. Also, the size of the head becomes smaller than normal – this is the first and obvious sign that a child has Rett syndrome. As the child grows older, other parts of the body begin to experience slow growth.
  • Loss of communication skills. The ability to communicate with others begins to deteriorate such as making eye-contacts, hand gestures, and speaking. They may begin losing interest in interacting with people, using toys, and even their surroundings.
  • Abnormal hand movements. Children with Rett syndrome exhibit awkward hand gestures such as squeezing, clapping, hand-wringing, and tapping even when the situation does not call for those actions.
  • Seizures. They experience seizures at some periods in their life.
  • Unnecessary crying and irritability. Children with Rett syndrome become agitated and irritable as they grow older. They may scream and cry for no apparent reason, sometimes lasting for hours. They may also experience panic attacks.
  • Difficulty breathing. The child may experience breathing problems such as holding their breath, swallowing air, hyperventilation, and exhaling forcefully.

Asperger's Syndrome

Asperger's syndrome is also called level 1 Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). 

It is one type of autism that is at the mild end of the spectrum. In this type of autism, children have problems related to social interaction and communication skills but have normal intelligence levels and language skills. 

Unlike other forms of autism, people suffering from Asperger's do not have any significant delays in cognitive development or speech.

Symptoms of Asperger's Syndrome 

  • Hyper-focus. Some people with Asperger's syndrome typically focus too much on a narrow topic of interest. This behavior can be too exhausting and overwhelming to others as it usually leads to one-sided conversations.
  • Problems with coordination and motor skills. Children diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome may have difficulty with essential coordination and motor skills like running or walking, riding a bike, and climbing stairs.
  • Inability to understand people's body language. People with this syndrome tend to have difficulty making or reading facial expressions. They might also have a hard time understanding how people feel. They may avoid eye-contacts and even speak in a monotone.
  • Problems identifying social cues. People with this syndrome also tend to be unaware of attempts to change conversation topics – one of the reasons why it is often hard for them to socialize. Additionally, they may not know when to lower their voices in specific situations or environments.

Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD)

Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD) is a rare medical condition that occurs late in the life of a child usually older than three years. It is a type of autism that affects the development of motor skills, language skills, and social functions. 

It affects many different aspects of a child's development. It is grouped under the Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD) category and is also related to the commonly known Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

CDD has been found to have no specific medical or neurological cause.

Symptoms of Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD) 

  • Problems understanding language. Children with this condition have difficulty expressing themselves verbally and also lost their receptive ability (do not understand what they are being told).
  • Problems with coordination and motor skills. Inability to use essential motor skills like walking or carrying items. They may also have difficulty catching thrown objects.
  • Inability to control bowel or bladder. At first, they can use the toilet and urinate by themselves, but gradually they lose that ability.
  • Difficulty socializing. They have a hard time keeping conversations which is one of the reasons they have a difficult time socializing with others.
  • Repetitive movements. They may exhibit repetitive movements like nodding the head continuously, waving, clapping, etc. 

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

 Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) is a group of medical disorders characterized by impaired development in verbal and nonverbal communication, imaginative activities, social interaction, and a drastic decrease in interests and activities that are usually repetitive.

It usually occurs in infancy, but it is not categorized until after three years. Parents usually begin to worry when they notice their child lagging in developments that are associated with age like speech production and the appropriate motor movement.

Symptoms of Pervasive Developmental Disorder

  • Inability to use and understand language. E.g. speech production, etc.
  • Difficulty relating with others. E.g. Unusual pointing, unable to read facial expressions, or understanding people's feelings.
  • Unusual interaction with toys or other objects.
  • Paranoia. Children with this syndrome usually exhibit sudden fright, anxiety, and sudden erratic behaviors. 
  • Irritable behaviors. Easily gets upset, lashes out at minor situations, and has emotional breakdowns. Laughs for no apparent reason.
  • Repetitive movements. E.g. hand-wringing, hair-twirling, hand-flapping, foot-tapping, etc.

Kanner's Syndrome 

Kanner syndrome is a type of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This syndrome is usually characterized by a lack of communication and social skills in children.

It sometimes occurs in the early years, but sometimes it occurs after the child has developed only to regress into withdrawals.

Symptoms of Kanner's Syndrome 

  • Avoiding eye contact.
  • Fail to speak.
  • Fail to respond to communication.
  • Unable to read facial expressions of others.
  • Expressionless.
  • Difficulty making sentences.
  • Repetitive behaviors.


Autism is a complex developmental disorder that belongs to a group of conditions known as autism spectrum disorders. This condition is characterized by problems in communication, social interaction, and repetitive behaviors. There are different types of autism that affect children in different ways.

Understanding the different types of autism can help you decide which type your child may have so that you can get the correct treatment for the same.

Learning about these types of autism will also help you understand your child better and make it easier for you to tackle difficult situations.


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July 14th, 2024

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