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Author: Dr Dina GazizovaConsultant Adult Psychiatrist

The UK still recognises several types of Autism which are seen across a ‘spectrum’ – characteristics of the types vary in the severity and impact they have on the individual’s life.


Classic Autism

Those with classic autism may display some of the most severe symptoms and are likely to have received a diagnosis in childhood.

Classic Autism symptoms include:

  • Problems talking and conversing
  • Sometimes very little speech or speaking with wooden tone
  • Repetitive body motions such as flapping, rocking and tapping
  • Unable to make eye contact
  • Routines and repetitive tasks are often very comforting
  • Preference for solitude or intense focus on inanimate objects

70% of autistic adults would feel less isolated if they had more support


Asperger’s Syndrome

In America, ‘Asperger’s’ is no longer a separate classification, a decision made both to simplify the classification of Autism and because of the recognition that the symptoms of autism are often not clearly defined across the spectrum and there is much overlap.

The UK still uses the separate classifications, but as the manual used in the UK (ICD-10) is often led by America’s DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) we may see changes to the terminology at some stage.


Asperger’s symptoms

Often people with Asperger’s have milder Autism symptoms and normal or above normal intelligence. People with Asperger’s typically did not have language delays as a child or intellectual disabilities but may have struggled with co-ordination and fine motor skills.

autism-spectrum

The triad of impairments are very commonly experienced by those with Asperger’s. Signs of Autism commonly experienced by those with Asperger’s syndrome include:

  • Difficulties with social norms such as personal space
  • Seeming isolated and disinterested with others
  • Finding change upsetting
  • Finding it hard to control anger
  • Obsessive and profound interest is certain topics or objects
  • Not picking up on social clues
  • Taking things literally

 


High Functioning Autism vs Asperger’s

High Functioning Autism and Asperger’s are very closely linked, in fact some argue they are one and the same thing and the terms can confusingly be used interchangeably. It was often thought that the difference between the two was based on language development but even that is debated. As more research is carried out into Autism spectrum disorders, classifications will hopefully become less debatable and less confusing for those with the condition.

Compassionate, highly professional and considerable expertise – my condition was fully explained to me and finally I feel I have a clear way forward. Getting an assessment for ASD was the best thing I have ever done.

Helen, Bristol


Pervasive Developmental Disorder

People with PDD (NOS) often experience more severe symptoms than those with Asperger’s but less severe than those with classic Autism.

The term PDD (NOS) is often used for those people who have some, but not all, of the symptoms of Autism or Asperger’s, for instance difficulties with social communication and interaction but no obsessive interests.

A diagnosis of Autism can make a huge difference to someone, suddenly they have a way of defining the difficulties they have experienced throughout their life. The diagnosis of Autism can help to explain to others the need for support and the form it should take. As many with Autism also struggle with other mental health conditions, an assessment with a psychiatrist who has experience of working with those with Autism can be really important.
MBBS, MRCPsych

Consultant Adult Psychiatrist
London

Dr Dina Gazizova is a specialist in the Psychiatry of Learning Disability; she currently works as a consultant psychiatrist for Central North West London NHS Foundation Trust in a specialist Learning Disability Service.

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