Types or degrees of childhood autism

Autism spectrum disorders, also known as pervasive developmental disorders, are a group of disorders with early onset in childhood that are characterized by marked disturbance in several domains.

Within this group, alterations in social interaction, in communication skills and in communication skills are common. sphere of interests, conduct and activity. Of all the disorders, probably the best known is childhood autism, which affects between 2 and 5 cases per 10,000 children. However,the manifestations of autism are not always the same, there are different types or degrees of childhood autism.

In this sense, it is important to point out that there are different classifications on childhood autism beyond the levels of autism spectrum disorder of the American Psychiatric Association (APA). In fact, the first classification and one of the best known in the scientific area was developed by Ángel Riviere, who was based on the studies of Lorna Wing. To carry out this classification, the authors were based on the description clinic of 12 areas of development and identified the different types of childhood autism according to the manifestations of the symptoms and their intensity.

Grades of childhood autism

Grade 1. Autistic disorder

This is the deepest degree of autism spectrum disorders and the best known by most people. It was described in 1941 by Leo Kanner, who gave it the name Early Childhood Autism, becoming the first disorder to include all children with characteristics of the autism spectrum, without distinguishing between symptoms or severity. Today it is known simply as autistic disorder and includes children with the deepest manifestations.

To diagnose a child with a grade 1 autistic disorder it is necessary that he has not developed his language and store to avoid looking and isolate themselves from the world. They must also present stereotyped movements that are strange and do not have a defined objective. In addition, you must manifest a great inability to express emotions and maintain a very small sphere of interests and activities.

Levels or degrees of autism

Grade 2. Regressive autism

Also known as childhood disintegrative disorder, regressive autism is a disorder of the autism spectrum that takes a little longer to appear. This is because at least the first two years of the child pass normally but at a certain point of development, they begin to gradually lose the acquired skills. This disorder must manifest before the age of 10 years of age.

From this regression, the child begins to manifest the same symptoms that are seen in autistic disorder but with less intensity. In this way, the child often loses the acquired language and her ability to communicate adequately with the other children and adults in her environment. In addition, repetitive behaviors usually appear that include motor stereotypes and mannerisms, while they begin to isolate themselves from the world around them.

Grade 3. High-functioning autism

This is the lightest type of autism because it does not usually manifest acute or profound symptoms, at least at the beginning of the disorder. Unlike the other two types of autism, in this case the child develops an apparently normal language, his cognitive processes also remain within the norm and if he has help, he can even enroll in a normal school.

Children diagnosed with high-functioning autism are generally distinguished by having a large memory capacity; however, they alsohave an accentuated mental rigidity with ideas that border on obsessiveness and acute motor clumsiness. These symptoms clearly denote the presence of an autism spectrum disorder. Likewise, they usually manifest a reduced sphere of interests and activities that are characterized by the presence of rituals that are very difficult to eliminate.

In this classification, Ángel Riviere proposes a much lighter fourth category to describe the situation of symptoms that we know today as Asperger’s Syndrome. However, it is worth noting that although currently these categories are no longer used, but rather with the functional classification described in DSM 5, the author’s clinical and descriptive proposal on the different areas of development and dimensions that affect to the disorder and that may be useful in understanding the behavior of children with the disorder.