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Dr Dina Gazizova

Author: Dr Dina GazizovaConsultant Adult Psychiatrist

The UK still recognises several subtypes 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.

Autism spectrum disorder

Autistic people who may display some of the most severe symptoms and are likely to have received a diagnosis in childhood.

Symptoms may 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

Asperger's syndrome

You may hear autism referred to as Asperger’s syndrome, which used to be a common subtype of autism and autism spectrum disorder. In 2013 Asperger’s was removed from the DSM-5, which is the most trusted diagnostic manual. Today, many people who fit the typical profile for Asperger's syndrome are now being diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder.

People with an Asperger’s diagnosis often have milder or different autism symptoms, as well as normal or above normal intelligence. They often will not have language delays as a child or intellectual disabilities, but may have struggled with coordination and fine motor skills.

We recognise, understand and appreciate how problematic the term is. However, many people who received a diagnosis for Asperger's still see it as an important part of their identity and might continue using the term. Other people, meanwhile, may choose to simply refer to themselves as autistic.

Everyone is different and we respect an individual's right to choose how they identify. All we can recommend is to take care when using the phrase, as we will strive to do in all of our communications.

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. The term PDD (NOS) is often used for those people who have some, but not all, of the symptoms of autism spectrum disorder, such as 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.
Dr Dina Gazizova

Consultant Adult Psychiatrist

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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