Autism: Its types and common early signs

Autism and its types - Healthians
Contributed by – Healthians team

Contrary to popular belief, no two people with autism are the same. It presents itself in each individual in a unique way. A general lack of autism awareness can be one of the reasons why there seems to be a misconception regarding signs of autism. Although autism symptoms can be noticed in the early years of life, their severity and type will vary in each individual. For a better understanding of autism, we look at some different types of autism and common early signs that can help in early autism diagnosis.


Autism and its types

Autistic Disorder

Autistic disorder is a classic case of autism. When people hear the word autism, this is what they usually think of. Those with autistic disorder may have significant language delays, social and communication challenges, and unusual interests and behaviors. These individuals might find it difficult to go through everyday life without repetition or routine. If these repetitions or routines are taken away from them, they may have a negative reaction. Besides, individuals with autistic disorder have hyposensitivity to sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste. 


Asperger Syndrome

Asperger Syndrome is a milder form of autistic disorder. People with Asperger Syndrome may have social challenges and unusual behaviors.  They typically don’t have any challenges with language or intellectual disabilities. But they may act ‘inappropriately’ in social settings and can come across rude because they are more comfortable speaking about themselves rather than focusing on others they are interacting with. They can also have trouble expressing themselves non-verbally. 


Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified

It is sometimes known as atypical autism or PDD-NOS. When symptoms of autistic individuals do not completely fit in Autistic Disorder or Asperger Syndrome, they may be diagnosed with Atypical Autism. These people may have milder symptoms but they might still face social and communication challenges. 


Common early signs of autism

Since each individual with autism is unique, it is difficult to spot exact signs of autism. Each autistic child may have a unique mixture of symptoms which makes it difficult to determine the severity. Nevertheless, one can generally spot these signs of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in babies:

  • Reduced eye contact
  • Lack of response to their name
  • Indifference to caregivers
  • Suddenly becoming withdrawn or aggressive
  • Loss of acquired language skills
  • Difficulty learning
  • Trouble communicating
  • Difficulty applying already known knowledge to everyday life
  • Difficulty adjusting to social settings
  • Missing pivotal developmental milestones


Early signs of autism - Healthians


Challenges faced by autistic individuals

Problems with social interaction and communication skills

  • Fails to give a response to their name
  • Appears not to hear you
  • Prefers to play alone
  • Resists cuddling or holding
  • Has poor eye contact
  • Lacks facial expression
  • Doesn’t speak or has delayed speech
  • Loses ability to say words that they previously knew
  • Cannot start a conversation or hold one
  • Speaks with an abnormal tone or rhythm
  • Repeats words and phrases
  • Doesn’t understand simple questions
  • Doesn’t express and understands emotions
  • Passive, aggressive or disruptive behavior in social interactions
  • Doesn’t recognize non-verbal cues


Behavioral problems and patterns

  • Performs repetitive movements like rocking
  • Performs self-harming activities like head-banging
  • Develops specific routine
  • Becomes disturbed when a routine changes
  • Has problems with coordination
  • Unusually sensitive to light, sound, touch
  • Maybe indifferent to pain or temperature
  • Has specific food preferences

With age, some autistic children may develop skills and become more involved with others and their unusual behavior may decrease. Those who had fewer or milder symptoms may even lead ‘normal’ life as they grow. While others may continue to have difficulty with language and social skills. 

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is challenging not just for the individuals who suffer from it, but also their families and close friends as without normal social cues it is difficult to understand each other. Having the right information about types of autism, early signs of autism and challenges faced by autistic individuals might be a good way to equip yourself in interacting with such an individual and can also help you in spreading autism awareness


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