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What Are The 5 Different Types of Autism?


What are the 5 different types of Autism? Acknowledging these main types of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) will make it easier to diagnose the possibilities of its existence in children. 

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder in children, including severe impairments in social interaction, communication, and limited interests and activities. A typical autistic child may have disturbances in many developmental skills such as self-care, language, communication, social relations, behavior, emotions, intelligence, etc.

Five Types of ASD

According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), there are five types of ASD, including:

  • Asperger’s Syndrome
  • Rett Syndrome
  • Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS)
  • Kanner’s Syndrome
  • Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD)
girl with autism painting her hand

#1 Asperger’s Syndrome

In 1944, an Austrian pediatrician named Hans Asperger described this syndrome for the first time. In terms of frequency, one in every 250 children would be affected by Asperger’s syndrome. Adults and children with this syndrome typically have normal intellectual abilities but exhibit some of the following characteristics:

Defects in social relations:

  • Poor in making friends compared to other children of the same age
  • Poor nonverbal skills, such as eye contact, facial expression, body language, etc.
  • Lack of social, emotional, and empathetic communication.
  • Loss of ability to recognize social cues and conventions.

Defects in subtle communication skills:

  • The child’s speech is fluent but has conversational difficulties such as rigid content, unusual intonation, and tends to take the literal meaning of the communication message.
  • Has special, unusual concerns about intensity and concentration.
  • Tends to have fixed movements.

Besides those typical signs, there are some other common symptoms such as clumsy limbs, left-handedness, sensitivity to sound and touch. Adolescents or adults with this condition are often poor at timing and expressing thoughts and words. They also have difficulty controlling and expressing their emotions.

#2 Rett Syndrome

This occurs almost exclusively in girls and tends to appear around six months of age and progress for the rest of the child’s life.

The severity varies from child to child, but often follows a mental and physical degeneration.

The symptoms often begin with seemingly autistic behavior but then progress to sleep problems, breathing problems, strange movements, teeth grinding, slow growth, contractions jerking, and bad cognitive ability.

Rett’s early-onset usually occurs before 18 months of age, and there is a delay in motor skill development or loss of learned skills.

Between the ages of one and four, the child begins to lose certain abilities, such as speaking skills and hand gestures. From then to the age of ten, the child begins to decline physically. In the final stages, the physical deterioration can become severe.

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

This type includes a wide range of developmental delays, such as social development, communication, and the use of imagination. It appears after the age of 30 months.

Children with this type of autism experience delays in developmental stages, especially communication and social development. They may be confused about the world around them and have trouble understanding how it works. The well-known signs of this disorder are loss of language control and psychosis.

This form is more severe than Asperger’s syndrome but milder than Kanner’s syndrome.

#4 Kanner’s Syndrome

This syndrome is described as a classic autism disorder. Children with this type of autism have significant difficulty communicating and relating to others. This group starts showing signs at a very young age and continues to show other signs as they get older. 

Also, some have below-average intelligence, while many have average or above-average intelligence. And they are considered “highly active”. Kanner’s syndrome may present with other problems, such as Fragile X syndrome or epilepsy.

The symptoms involve some inabilities to communicate, such as not making eye contact, ignoring people calling for them, speaking at a steady pace, and repeating specific behaviors. Moreover, they tend to glance sideways instead of straight ahead of something or someone. However, they have good feelings in terms of visual textures and sounds.

This syndrome includes symptoms similar to Asperger’s syndrome and PDD-NOS, but more intense.

#5 Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD)

Most children with this syndrome tend to develop normally by the age of two. But gradually, they begin to lose all they have learned after this period. The loss of skill can be gradual but usually develops within a few months. The transition can begin with sudden changes in behavior, such as agitation or anger, followed by loss of bowel or bladder control.

Children may repeat certain behaviors over and over, and it can be very difficult to move from one activity to another. Worse, they lose almost all social skills and most self-help skills, such as feeding themselves. This is, therefore, the rarest and most severe form of autism spectrum disorder.

how to explain autism to kids

How To Explain Autism To Kids

Although understanding those different types of ASD is beneficial, it is hard for children to comprehend them. So, you may need some simple methods to teach your kids what Autism is. Before reading on, please remember that only your love and patience can make things work. Here are the ways: 

Make Sure Your Kid is Ready To Talk About Autism

Whenever you and your child sit down for a conversation about something complicated in the kids’ world, make sure they are “grown-up enough” to understand what you say.

If your child is autistic, it would be better to let them know about ASD as soon as possible. That way, at least we help them avoid making themselves feel broken or alone in the first place.

If your child is curious about an autistic friend, (first) tell them about Autism and let them know for sure that Autism is not a disease. “Because how that friend act is quite rare among us, he or she can have some difficulties fitting in”. Finally, do not forget to tell your kid to support that friend and others alike. 

Discuss How Your Kid Should Feel About Autism

As I have said, let children know that autism is a disability, not a disease or burden. And it’s okay to be autistic. For older children, you can introduce the concept of neurodiversity and the disability rights movement. This will be beneficial for their lives in the future and make them feel involved. 

Also, help your child understand that being different makes them unique and special. Talk about the strengths of autism: strong logic and principles, compassion, passion, focus, loyalty, and a desire to help (social responsibility).

Encourage Kids to Do Things

Whenever your autistic kids feel sad because they cannot do things as others do, talk to them. Let them know everyone is different from each other, and they have their own values. It’s important to put this belief into their minds— “You matter so much in this life”.

Put Love & Patience First

Always tell your children how much you love and care for them. It is important that children receive the right support, especially when faced with a disorder. Let them know they can live a happy and productive life with everyone’s support.


In fact, Autism is a popular concept nowadays; and therefore, most people have heard of it. Even there is a day for the Autistic themselves, which is called The World Autism Awareness Day (April 2). However, minor of them know what types of ASD are.

In the spirit of the upcoming April 2, let’s raise people’s awareness about Autism. There are many ways to do it, and one of them can be telling others about five different types of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Otherwise, fly an Autism flag publicly on your house. We believe such a small act can make a huge impact! 

If you enjoy this post, please share it with your friends or on social media to let others know what you have found helpful! Thank you for reading!

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