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According to the National Autistic Society, “Autism is a lifelong developmental disability which affects how people communicate and interact with the world.” Around 700,000 people in the U.K, and 1% of people worldwide have autism.
People with autism may experience the following difficulties:
People with autism may also possess the following strengths:
Autism is a spectrum condition, hence the name Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
Up until 2013, the following types of autism were diagnosed separately:
From 2013 onwards, anyone who was diagnosed with any of these types of autism is given the official diagnosis of ASD.
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The term Asperger Syndrome (AS) derives from a 1944 study by the Austrian paediatrician Hans Asperger. The British psychiatrist Lorna Wing introduced the term in the 1980s. Up until 2013, AS was diagnosed as a separate condition from Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Nowadays it is a part of the entire spectrum and people no longer receive an AS diagnosis in the UK.
People with AS experience difficulties with:
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PDD-NOS was a type of autism that was diagnosed before 2013. It was used to describe an individual who had impairment in social skills; the inability to successfully interact with other people; problems with verbal or non-verbal communication; or stereotyped behaviour, interests, and activities.
Symptoms of PDD-NOS include the following:
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According to the NHS, “Rett Syndrome is a rare genetic disorder that affects brain development, resulting in severe mental and physical disability.” It is more common in girls, and it is estimated to affect about 1 in 12,000 girls born each year. Rett Syndrome is only rarely seen in boys. One notable person who had Rett Syndrome was Coleen Rooney’s late adopted sister, Rosie.
Rett Syndrome was previously diagnosed as a subtype of PDD.
The symptoms of Rett Syndrome appear in four different stages:
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Childhood Disgenerative Disorder was previously given as another subtype of PDD.
Children who were diagnosed with CDD developed normally to the approximate age of 3 or 4 and then, over a short period of time, lost previously acquired motor, social and language skills.
CDD symptoms included the following:
Adam, the brother of our content volunteer, April, was diagnosed with Kanner’s Syndrome, while April has ASD. They were both diagnosed with their types of autism in 1991.
Image by Gail Slocombe (April and Adam’s mother).
The alternative name for ‘classic autism’, Kanner’s Syndrome was named after Leo Kanner, another Austrian paediatrician. In 1943, Kanner made observations of a then-5-year-old boy named Donald T, who was happiest when he was alone; was oblivious to everyone around him; spun toys and himself around; shook his head from side to side; and had temper tantrums when his routine was disrupted. Kanner also observed 10 other children and wrote a paper named Autistic Disturbances of Affective Contact.
Before 2013, Kanner’s Syndrome was defined as the most serious form of autism.
People with Kanner’s Syndrome had noticeable problems with speech, behaviour, and social interaction. They were often hypersensitive and avoided interaction with other people on many occasions.
Symptoms of Kanner’s Syndrome included the following:
Many people who were diagnosed with Kanner’s Syndrome are non-verbal. Alternative ways for them to communicate include using gestures and PECS cards. PECS cards are cards that have a picture and a word on each one. A non-verbal person uses one of these cards to tell someone else what they want. For example, if a non-verbal person wants to watch TV, they show the other person a card with a picture of a television and the word “television” underneath the picture.
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If you’re a parent who thinks that your child has autism, speak to your GP. They can refer you to a medical professional such as a psychologist, a paediatric neurologist, a developmental paediatrician, or a psychologist. They may diagnose your child with autism.
Adults who suspect that they have autism can also discuss their symptoms with their GP. The GP will then refer the adult to a psychologist or a psychiatrist who can assess their behaviours and symptoms and help determine if they have autism.
Why not check out our Autism Quiz or start a Spiky Profile?
(Please note these are not diagnostic tools)