Autism spectrum disorders can affect the communication process, social interactions, and present behavioral challenges. The symptoms can be recognized during the children’s early years, for that reason, parents must be very attentive to their behavior. However, several of these disorders appear for genetic causes, hence why doctors recommend that every kid should be genetically tested for any condition.
Since 2013, with the new edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (fifth version), “autism spectrum disorders” is the terminology used to refer children with this diagnosis. The four previous denominations within the spectrum; autistic disorder, Asperger’s disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, or pervasive developmental disorder, are now all considered different manifestations of autism. Doctors use DSM-5 to unify their criteria and tests for a correct diagnosis of ASD, and thus have a better understatement of the various symptoms that present themselves in the children.
DSM-5 has three functional levels according to the support that children will need while growing up. These levels reflect how people within the spectrum can communicate, have social interactions, react to new situations, and manage daily life. But, even while the classification system is perfectly defined, it’s not always easy for doctors to fully evaluate a patient with symptoms of ASD and assign them to a specific level, especially because they can change levels while growing up and learning new skills.
Levels of ASD
The autism spectrum disorder can be so broad, that in it, there are individuals with severe intellectual and motor disabilities and others that have above average IQ; and while some people struggle with communication, others are public figures. That is the main reason behind the creation of the DSM-5’s three levels of ASD, which are:
“Require support”: children and adults within this level have problems with communication and social interactions; usually people previously diagnosed with Asperger’s are here. This kind of people find it difficult to maintain conversations for long periods, and sometimes it’s hard for them to make friends. Routines are essential for them; even a small change can produce an adverse reaction. Therapy is a great way to help them develop social skills and control their anxiety.
“Substantial support”: children and adults classified within this level of ASD have even more trouble with social interactions; some of them are non-verbal, don’t fully comprehend social cues, and their understanding of body language is practically non-existent. Casual observers can notice the difference between them and the neurotypical people. Both children and adults alike will need more specific types of therapy, such as sensory and occupational therapies, to engage in their surroundings.
“Very substantial support”: children and adults placed in this level will require more attention by doctors and family because they have a severe lack of social skills and present repetitive and restrictive conducts that affect their lives and people around them. They really can’t tolerate any changes in their environments and have very few interests. Treatment can be challenging: therapy has to be more regular and cover a wide range of requirements, and they will also need a permanent caregiver to be in charge of them. Sometimes medication can help them to be calm and focused, but it must be administered at a doctor’s discretion.
This is a condition that can affect people in different ways, but that doesn’t mean they’re destined to have an unpleasant or dull life; on the contrary, most people within the spectrum try to enjoy their lives to the fullest while struggling with their daily challenges. These conditions don’t distinguish between races, gender, nationalities, and social status, anyone can be diagnosed with ASD.
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