Atypical Autism

Autism is a behavioural and neurotypical disorder that affects an individual's development, behaviour, and social communication skills. From one person to another, the symptoms and their severity differ. As per the DSM-4, which is the diagnosis and statistical manual that came into existence in the year 1994, Autism is divided into 5 specific categories that are classified based on the diagnosis.

Among these categories, there was PDD-NOS, Asperger’s syndrome, and Autistic Disorder. PDD-NOS, or Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified, is also called Atypical Autism. Per the diagnosis and statistical manual 4, PDD-NOS are the "presentations that do not meet the criteria for the Autistic Disorder because of late age of onset, atypical symptomatology, sub-threshold symptomatology, or all of these." In this, there exist diagnostic criteria of the 2 main types. This includes-

Pervasive and severe impairment in an individual’s development of nonverbal or verbal communication skills or reciprocal social interaction

Other than this, the second type is when the stereotyped activities, interests, or behaviour is present in the said person. However, the criteria aren’t met for the specific PDD (pervasive developmental disorder), schizotypal personality disorder, avoidant personality disorder, or schizophrenia.

In other words, PDD-NOS consists of Atypical Autism, autistic traits, and autistic tendencies. PDD-NOS is a state wherein autism spectrum traits are present, but they still don’t meet the specs that are considered for diagnosing Aspergers movies or other Autism spectrum disorders. This may also signify that an individual has specific attributes or features of the Autism spectrum; however, the symptoms are mild.

Or another scenario can be wherein he/she exhibits high-intensity symptoms in a particular area but shows no signs in the other area. For example, a person may show no signs of repetitive behaviour, but their social skills might be severely impacted. It is important to note that the categorization of Autism, of which Atypical Autism is a part, is present in the DSM-IV-TR. However, the latest manual is the DSM-5 (published in May 2013) criteria that do not contain any different criteria for diagnosing PDD NOS. Per the latest criteria mentioned in DSM-5, separate categories are consolidated and formed as 1 umbrella diagnosis for Autism Spectrum disorder.

Symptoms of Atypical Autism

As per the established signs and symptoms, which vary from one person to another in PDD-NOS, however, research results show that persons, majorly children fall under one of the 3 groups specified below-
  • 52% couldn’t get diagnosed with Autism disorder since stereotypical behaviours and traits were absent
  • Of the rest, 24% showed close similarity to the classic Autism cases. However, they couldn’t meet the entire diagnosis criteria.
  • The rest 24% could get placed in the specified high-functioning group with cognitive impairment and temporary language delays.
Although there exist several significant variations in those with a PDD-NOS diagnosis, a few traits can cue people to take their loved ones for a clinical diagnosis. Some of the common traits of symptoms include-

Repetitive movements and behaviours

  • Challenges in accommodating to new environments and routines
  • Difficulty or inability to connect to others
  • Delay in language usage, Communication skills, and social skills
As a parent or a caregiver of a child, looking for symptoms can be heart-wrenching. There is always the fear of getting a positive result for the child. However, if you see even the slightest hint of such symptoms, get a diagnosis. On the positive part, there is a probability that it might just end up as a fake alarm and the reports would come as negative. This will result in satisfaction and a stress-free life for you and your child. However, if otherwise, finding the disorder at the earliest would give an advantage and help deal with the symptoms better. In fact, experts suggest that early intervention can bring a significant improvement in terms of symptoms and their severity and can help improve the child’s life.

Treatment of Autism

With the advancement of medical science, several autism treatment therapies and techniques are practised for treating those diagnosed with Autism. There exist several Autism treatment centres that provide therapies such as Speech and language therapy, Social skills therapy, Occupational Therapy, Play Therapy, Hydrotherapy, and others. Depending upon the child’s developmental, behavioural and other needs, customized programs are made up that have specific therapies and strategies that focus on decreasing the symptoms and their severity. Click here to discover if your child needs speech therapy or any other form of professional help.

For autism that is associated with Fragile X Syndrome, treatment therapies to address developmental delays are currently being practised. Though Fragile X Syndrome still has no cure, experts in the field are already in the third phase of the Fragile X Syndrome clinical trial.

An Autism treatment centre generally has a team of clinicians and therapists who can suggest many important things a child may need. For instance, when you visit an autism centre to treat a loved one, you can ask them about some good special or inclusive schools near your locality, or you can ask them about the best diet chart that caters to your child’s nutritional needs. Together, the treatment will help encourage holistic development in the child, helping them live their life to the fullest.