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No more autism types - the new way to describe your child's autism

In the past there was an umbrella term called Pervasisve Developmental Disorders which had 5 different autism types under it. These were, Autistic disorder, Aspergers Syndrome, Retts Disorder, Childhood Disintergrative Disorder, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder not otherwise specified (PDDNOS).

In 2013 the DSM(V) came out and this changed the way autism was diagnosed. The five autism types were removed from the diagnosis and now all children get a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. There are other ways however that the diagnosis is refined to give more information about an individual child's strengths and areas where they need more support.

How severe is your child's autism?

Previously there were 3 areas of difficulty that where considered when diagnosing a child. This has been changed to 2 areas of difficulty with the social and communication difficulties combined into one category called Social Communication. the second area of difficulty is restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviours, interests and activities.Click here for more information on autism symptoms. For each item under each of the categories the assessing Psychologist needs to specify how severe the area of difficulty is. There are three options that they can use:

1. Needs support 2. Needs substantial support 3. Needs very substantial support

An additional diagnosis may be present

Your child’s diagnosis may also include another condition that contributes to their difficulties. The following are some examples of conditions that may exist alongside your child's diagnosis of autism:

Intellectual Disability

This relates to the child's IQ and is especially relevant when you are thinking of school options for your child.

It can be very difficult to do an accurate IQ test for a young child with autism as they will often not comply with the instructions and therefore not perform well on the test.

You may be advised to hold off on doing an IQ test until your child is older and the results are more useful.

Anxiety Disorder

It is quite common for children with autism to experience high levels of anxiety. It is useful to know if this is the case for your child as it allows you to start putting supports in place for them before they start school and allowing you to manage the anxiety better.

Language disorder

Many children with Autism do not develop speech at the time you would expect but some children face additional challenges. They may have difficulty working out how to position their lips, teeth and tongue to form words which makes learning to speak much more challenging.

Again by knowing if they have another condition which is contributing to their difficulties you can get the right help from the right professionals as early as possible.

Medical Condition

Some children have a medical condition such as Epilepsy in addition to their autism diagnosis.

No more autism types - what does it mean for my child?

Although it may seem that the diagnosis of Autism has become more general with the removal of the individual Autism types, the diagnosis of autism now includes the symptoms that are relevant to all the previous autism types and then specifies severity for each symptom. This is useful for professionals working with your child and will not impact on the type of intervention you will need for your child.

At Jumpstart we feel that this is a good change and fits in with our holistic approach to the management of children with Autism. To find out how JumpStart can help your child click here. 


To return from autism types to what is autism click here

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