Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is an unfortunately common condition that impacts many people today in verifying levels of severity. However, what many people don’t understand is there are different types of autism. Here’s what to know about the differences, similarities and treatment of each type.

What Are the Types of Autism?

Autism diagnosis has become more common and accepted in our world today. While the word “autism” is typically used as a catchall for Autism Spectrum Disorder, there are actually five major types of this condition to know about.

Here are the five primary types of autism that are recognized today.

  • Asperger’s Syndrome
  • Rett Syndrome
  • Childhood Disintegrative Disorder
  • Kanner’s Syndrome
  • Pervasive Developmental Disorder

While all of these disorders have some major similarities and are therefore all under the “autism” umbrella, they also have some key differences as well. Learning about these differences and understanding what each type of autism is and what the characteristics of each of these conditions are.


Asperger’s Syndrome or Level 1 Autism

While many people still use the phrase “Asperger’s Syndrome” this term is actually no longer used by medical professionals, it is now called Level 1 Autism. If you hear someone refer to an individual as having Asperger’s Syndrome, it is safe to assume they are talking about Level 1 Autism.

Symptoms of Level 1 Autism

These are the most common symptoms associated with Level 1 Autism:

  • Lack of flexibility in thought and behavior
  • Struggling to transition or switch between activities
  • Problems with executive functioning
  • Flat or monotone speech
  • Inability to express feelings in speech
  • Struggling to change pitch to fit the immediate environment
  • Difficulty interacting with their peers

Rett Syndrome

Rett Syndrome is actually a rare neurodevelopmental disorder. It’s typically diagnosed in infancy and while it’s referred to as a “type” of autism, it actually has a number of significant differences when compared to other forms of autism, such as Level 1 Autism.

Symptoms of Rett Syndrome

These are the symptoms associated with Rett Syndrome:

  • Challenges with communication and speech
  • Loss of standard movement and coordination
  • Potential breathing issues and difficulties


Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD)

Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD) is also known as Heller’s syndrome or disintegrative psychosis. This condition is a neurodevelopmental disorder that includes the sudden onset of developmental issues when it comes to a social function, language, and motor skills.

With this condition, a child experiences normal development in these areas only to hit an issue between the ages of three and 10 years old

Symptoms of Childhood Disintegrative Disorder

When a child has CDD, they may lose any of the following skills and abilities:

  • Toileting abilities after the child has already learned how to use the bathroom
  • Acquired language or vocabulary after they’ve learned certain words
  • Social skills and adaptive behaviors after they’ve been established
  • Certain motor skills that the child has already mastered

Kanner Syndrome

Kanner syndrome, also known as infantile autism, appears early on in childhood. Children with this condition will appear alert and intelligent to the average individual, but it comes with underlying characteristics. While ASD is most commonly diagnosed in toddlers and older children, this syndrome 


Symptoms of Kanner Syndrome

Kanner syndrome can be difficult to notice at first, but here are some of the symptoms of this disorder upon further inspection:

  • Lack of emotional attachment with others
  • Challenges with communication and interacting with others
  • Uncontrolled speech
  • Obsession with handling objects
  • A high degree of memory and visuospatial skills with major learning difficulties in other areas

Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS)

Pervasive Developmental Disorder or PDD is a mild type of autism. It is sometimes also referred to as Not Otherwise Specified or NOS autism. It is typically considered one of the mildest types of autism.

Symptoms of PDD or NOS

These are the common symptoms of PDD or NOS autism:

  • Challenges in social development
  • Language development issues
  • Delays in certain motor skills
  • Potential delays in walking at a young age

ABA Therapy for the Different Types of Autism

While all of these forms of autism have their unique differences, there is one treatment that can work for all of these disorders. This is known as ABA therapy, which stands for Applied Behavior Analysis. While there isn’t a cure for any of these types of autism, ABA therapy is a treatment that can give individuals with these disorders the tools they need to learn how to manage their autism.


ABA therapy is based on the science of learning and behavior and is known for helping individuals with autism and other developmental disorders. The cornerstone of this type of therapy is that it focuses on teaching individuals the necessary skills they need to prevent harmless self-stimulatory behaviors, also known as stims.


ABA therapy is administered by a trained therapist and is designed to help individuals on the autism spectrum improve their lives in a meaningful way. It is not intended to help someone appear neurotypical.


These therapists work to improve skills such as:

  • Communication strategies
  • Language abilities
  • Social skills and abilities
  • Self-care and hygiene routines
  • Leisure skills
  • Learning to play with peers
  • Fine motor abilities


There are many evidence-based treatments based on ABA principles and several different types of behavioral interventions that fall under ABA therapy and they can vary depending on the age of the individual and what specific challenges they are facing.


With the right support, ABA therapy, and an understanding of the different forms of autism, individuals diagnosed with this disorder can get the tools they need to live their best life possible.


If you are ready to work with the best ABA therapy provider in New York, New Jersey, or Indiana, give us a call at (732) 402-0297. Our dedicated team is ready to help and we will treat you like family.

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