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What Are the 5 Types of Autism? How Autism Therapy Can Help

Autism Therapy in Arlington Heights

Autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is a complex neurological condition that affects individuals differently, leading to a wide range of challenges and strengths.

While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to autism, understanding the different types of autism and the various therapies available can significantly improve the lives of individuals with ASD.

In this article, we will explore the five types of autism and how multiple treatments can help individuals on the autism spectrum lead fulfilling and meaningful lives.

The Five Types of Autism

While ASD is a spectrum, clinicians and researchers have identified five distinct types of autism that help in better categorizing and understanding the condition:

Autistic Disorder (Classic Autism):

Autistic Disorder, also known as Classic Autism, is perhaps the most well-known type of autism.

Individuals with Classic Autism often display significant challenges in social communication and interaction, along with repetitive behaviors and a strong focus on specific interests.

These individuals may also exhibit intellectual and language difficulties, requiring comprehensive support and therapy.

Asperger's Syndrome:

Asperger's Syndrome is a type of autism characterized by higher cognitive abilities compared to Classic Autism.

Individuals with Asperger's often have good language skills and may excel in specific areas, such as mathematics or science.

However, they still struggle with social interactions, often appearing socially awkward and may have intense interest in particular topics.

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

PDD-NOS is a category of autism used for individuals who display some, but not all, of the characteristics of Classic Autism or Asperger's Syndrome.

This type of autism is often referred to as atypical autism because it does not fit neatly into the other categories.

Individuals with PDD-NOS may have a mix of social, behavioral, and communication challenges, and their symptoms can vary widely.

Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD):

Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, or Heller's Syndrome, is a rare type of autism that children develop typically during the first few years of life, only to lose previously acquired skills, such as language and social abilities.

This regression can be distressing for both the child and their family, as it leads to a sudden and significant decline in functioning.

Rett Syndrome:

Rett Syndrome is a genetic disorder that primarily affects girls.

It is characterized by a period of normal development during the first six months of life, followed by a loss of acquired skills, such as purposeful hand use and spoken language.

Individuals with Rett Syndrome may also exhibit repetitive hand-wringing motions.

While Rett Syndrome is a rare form of autism, it is essential to be aware of its distinct characteristics.

Understanding these different types of autism is crucial, as it helps tailor interventions and therapies better to meet the individual needs of those with ASD.

Autism Therapy Approaches

Autism Therapy in Arlington Heights

Autism therapy is not a one-size-fits-all approach, and the choice of therapy should be based on the specific needs and characteristics of the individual with autism.

Here are some of the most widely used therapies for individuals on the autism spectrum:

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA):

ABA is a structured and data-driven therapy that focuses on modifying behaviors.

It helps individuals with autism acquire new skills and reduce undesirable behaviors by breaking tasks down into smaller steps and providing positive reinforcement for desired behaviors.

ABA is highly customizable and can be adapted to meet the specific needs of each individual.

Speech and Language Therapy:

Many individuals with autism struggle with communication.

Speech and language therapy can help improve their verbal and nonverbal communication skills.

Speech therapists work with individuals to enhance their ability to express their thoughts and needs, understand social cues, and engage in meaningful conversations.

Occupational Therapy (OT):

Occupational therapy focuses on improving an individual's ability to perform daily activities, such as dressing, eating, and grooming.

For individuals with sensory sensitivities and motor coordination challenges, OT can be especially helpful in developing essential life skills.

Sensory Integration Therapy:

Sensory integration therapy is designed for individuals who experience sensory sensitivities or sensory processing issues.

It helps individuals with autism regulate their sensory responses and cope with sensory overload or under-stimulation, thus improving their overall quality of life.

Social Skills Training:

Many individuals with autism struggle with understanding social cues and norms.

Social skills training aims to teach them appropriate social behaviors, such as making eye contact, taking turns, and engaging in reciprocal conversations.

This therapy can significantly enhance an individual's ability to form meaningful relationships.

Developmental Therapies:

Developmental therapies, including DIR/Floortime and Relationship Development Intervention (RDI), focus on building essential developmental foundations in individuals with autism.

These therapies emphasize emotional and social engagement, as well as creating a solid parent-child or therapist-child relationship.


While medication is not a therapy in itself, it can be used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan for individuals with autism.

Medications may help manage co-occurring conditions, such as anxiety, depression, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The Importance of Early Intervention

Early intervention is crucial for individuals with autism.

Research has shown that starting therapy and support as early as possible can lead to better outcomes in terms of communication skills, social interaction, and overall quality of life.

By identifying the signs of autism in children and providing timely intervention, parents and caregivers can help their children make significant progress in their development.

The Role of Family and Caregivers

Family members and caregivers play a vital role in the lives of individuals with autism.

They provide love, support, and advocacy, helping their loved ones access the necessary therapies and resources.

Family members need to educate themselves about autism, connect with support groups, and be proactive in seeking the best possible care for their child or family member with autism.

Preparing for Transition to Adulthood

As individuals with autism grow older, it's essential to plan for their transition to adulthood.

This transition may involve changes in educational settings, living arrangements, and the development of vocational skills.

Autism therapy should adapt to meet the changing needs of the individual, focusing on fostering independence and preparing them for a successful transition into adulthood.

The Future of Autism Therapy

The field of Autism Therapy in Arlington Heights is continually evolving, with ongoing research and innovations.

There is a growing emphasis on personalized, evidence-based approaches that address the unique needs and strengths of each autistic individual.

Autism Therapy in Arlington Heights

With technological advances, such as assistive communication devices and telehealth services, therapy can be more accessible and effective than ever before.


In conclusion, understanding the five types of autism and the various therapies available is a crucial step in improving the lives of individuals on the autism spectrum.

Autism is a diverse condition, and tailored treatment can make a significant difference in the development and well-being of those with ASD.

If you or someone you know is seeking autism therapy and support, consider visiting the website of Child First Behavior Therapy at

They are dedicated to providing personalized, evidence-based treatment and support for autistic individuals, helping them reach their full potential and lead fulfilling lives.

Explore their website to learn more about their services and resources for families and caregivers.

Child First Behavior Therapy is committed to making a positive impact on the lives of those with autism, and its website is a valuable resource for anyone looking to find the right therapy and support for their unique needs.


What is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?

Answer: Autism Spectrum Disorder is a complex developmental disorder that affects an individual's communication, behavior, and social interaction. It is described as a "spectrum" because it encompasses many symptoms and abilities.

What are the five types of autism?

Answer: The five types of autism are Autistic Disorder (Classic Autism), Asperger's Syndrome, Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD), and Rett Syndrome.

What is early intervention, and why is it essential for autistic individuals?

Answer: Early intervention refers to the timely initiation of therapy and support for autistic individuals. It is crucial because it can lead to better outcomes regarding communication skills, social interaction, and overall quality of life.

What types of therapy are available for individuals with autism?

Answer: Various types of therapy include Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), speech and language therapy, occupational therapy (OT), sensory integration therapy, social skills training, developmental therapies, and medication (for co-occurring conditions).

How can I identify signs of autism in my child?

Answer: Signs of autism may include delays in speech and language development, difficulties with social interaction, repetitive behaviors, intense focus on specific interests, and sensory sensitivities. If you have concerns, consult a healthcare professional.

What role do family members and caregivers play in supporting individuals with autism?

Answer: Family members and caregivers provide crucial love, support, and advocacy. They help individuals access therapy and resources, educate them about autism, and connect with support groups.

How can I prepare my child with autism for the transition to adulthood?

Answer: Preparing for adulthood involves focusing on vocational skills, developing independence, and planning changes in educational settings and living arrangements. Consult with professionals and support organizations for guidance.

What is the future of autism therapy?

Answer: The future of autism therapy involves personalized, evidence-based approaches, advances in technology, and a continued emphasis on adapting therapy to meet the evolving needs of individuals with autism.

Can adults with autism benefit from therapy?

Answer: Yes, adults with autism can benefit from therapy. Therapy can help them with various aspects of life, including communication, social skills, and managing co-occurring conditions.

How can I access autism therapy and support services?

Answer: To access autism therapy and support services, you can start by contacting local healthcare providers and autism organizations or visiting websites like Child First Behavior Therapy at, where you can find information about their services.


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