Autism: What are the different forms of Autism Spectrum Disorders?

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Autism: What are the different forms of Autism Spectrum Disorders?

Autism affects about 700,000 people in France. It is a "neurodevelopmental" disorder, the origin of which remains unknown and polyfactorial: genetic, but also environmental tracks during pregnancy have been advanced.

Today defined as "Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)", autism is particularly heterogeneous: there are as many forms of autism as people with this disorder.

Thus, each person expresses his autism with more or less severity depending on the severity of the disorders, but also the quality of its environment and educational measures put in place.

Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Common Core

Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) nevertheless have a common core since they are characterized by a triad associating an alteration of social interactions, communication disorders and abnormal behavior.

Communication disorders concern not only language but also nonverbal communication: children with autism tend not to smile, not to point out objects.

Their social communication is also disturbed: they tend to be lonely, not to understand the intentions of others or to have repetitive and restricted activities. They also do not have the same interests as others and may be fascinated by the contemplation of objects, learning dates or train schedules, for example.

People with autism are also very sensitive to change: the unexpected generates a lot of anxiety at home. They also present sensory disturbances, such as hypo or hypersensitivity to light, noise or touch.

The case of Asperger syndrome

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can be divided into two categories: autism with intellectual disability and autism without intellectual disability. The expression of the disorders, the moment of the diagnosis as well as the possibilities of insertion are different.

In fact, while autistic disorders are diagnosed early because of language problems or behavioral problems, this is not the case for autism without intellectual disability.

This form of ASD is not characterized by a delay in the development of language and the intellectual resources of the people who are affected allow them to compensate for certain communication difficulties. The diagnosis is often late.

Asperger's syndrome meets this definition of autistic disorder without intellectual disability. It is characterized mainly by an alteration of social interactions generating isolation and suffering, but also by the development of interests that concern very varied fields (mathematics, economics, literature ...).

Various clinical pictures

Among autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) with intellectual disability, there are various clinical pictures:

  • infantile autism, which appears before three years of age and is characterized by communication disorders, lack of language or language without social function, disorders of social interactions, as well as repetitive and stereotyped behaviors associated with sleep or food;
  • Atypical autism, which starts later and does not meet all the criteria. It is associated with other pervasive developmental disorders;
  • Rett syndrome, which affects girls and is characterized by an early loss of language and a stop psychomotor development without loss of social interest.

Autism: the importance of early diagnosis

For appropriate care, it is essential that the diagnosis be made as early as possible. Interventions, which concern people and their environment, are educational and promote learning as well as social integration. But it's never too late to create a supportive environment around people with autism.

In the case of Asperger syndrome, cognitive and behavioral management techniques have been proven. The goal? Understand the functioning of this disorder through psychoeducation for the person and their loved ones, work around social skills to adopt strategies to better communicate, understand social codes and build self-esteem, or give advice in terms of parenthood or sexuality, for example.

So many possibilities that favor the setting up of a specific accompaniment around the particularities of functioning of the people with disorders of the autistic spectrum.

Thanks to Dr. Elisabeth Giraud Baro, psychiatrist at the Clinique du Dauphiné in Grenoble and president of the French Committee for Psychosocial Rehabilitation.

> Families wishing to be accompanied can call upon Autism Info Service or turn to associations such as On the school benches, dedicated to supporting families of children with autism.

Read also :

⋙ How to detect autism of a child?

⋙ A video shows how an autistic person perceives the world

⋙ Autism in children: 7 sentences that parents would like to tell you

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