What is Autistic Disorder

What is Autistic Disorder

Autistic disorder is defined as the most severe type of autistic spectrum disorder (ASD). It is also called classic autism or Kanner’s Syndrome. This developmental disorder is characterized by challenges with communication, social interaction, and behavior. Autistic people often avoid interaction with others. They are mostly hypersensitive with restricted and repetitive modes of behavior. Autistic disorder has been categorized under neurodevelopment disorders. Leo kanner, an Austrian-American physician and psychiatrist, was the first to clearly explain autism. Hence, this disorder is also known as Kanner’s syndrome or Kanner syndrome. April 2nd is recognized as world autism awareness day by the United Nations

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Symptoms of Autistic Disorder

If you suspect that you or your children might have an autistic disorder, it can be helpful to read up on some of the signs and symptoms associated with classic autism. Here are some symptoms that can indicate autistic disorder.

Performing Repetitive and Restrictive Movements or Behaviors

There are a variety of behaviors and movements that are associated with the signs of classic autism. Some are routine-based and restrictive movements and others are self-stimulatory or attention-seeking behaviors. These signs and symptoms are:

  • Hand flapping, body rocking, or spinning
  • Strict to specific routines and disturbed at slightest change in routine
  • Walking on toes or shifting foot-to-foot
  • Unusually sensitive to certain sounds, odors, bright lights, darkness, and textures.
  • Resistant to feel cold or pain
  • Uncooperative or unable to change
  • Aggressive toward self like self-harming by head-banging or may also be aggressive toward others

Communication Challenges

Individuals with autistic disorder may be completely non-verbal, or they face difficulties in using language in order to communicate in spite of having exceptional vocabulary. People with autistic disorder may show some or all of these signs:

  • Lack of speech, delayed speech, or loss of the ability to say certain words or sentences
  • Repeating words or phrases, also called Echolalia
  • Lack of eye contact and facial expression when speaking
  • Doesn't want to express feelings or emotions
  • Difficulty in starting a conversation or back-and-forth conversation
  • Confusion of words, such as using "I" instead of "you" or vice-versa
  • Inability to understand simple directions or questions

Social Interaction and Skills Challenges

Here are some of the signs that display the difficulty faced by individuals with regular social interaction.

  • Doesn't respond to his or her name, or acts as though they didn’t hear you
  • Prefers to play alone
  • Does not respond to pointing
  • Failure or difficulty in making friends
  • Lack of sharing personal interests or achievements
  • Difficulty in understanding the feelings of other people
  • Resists touching and cuddling
  • Imitation

Treatments for Classic Autism

Early intervention is effective for improving symptoms of autistic disorder. If parents are concerned about their child, then taking the right steps as soon as possible can improve their child's life dramatically. The functioning level of adults with autism can also be improved by proper treatment. Proper treatment can help those with autism disorder lead a happy and successful life by improving their skills. There are a number of treatments to deal with the challenges associated with classic autism.

Physical Therapy

The following are treatments that a physical therapist may use to help your loved one with classic autism:

  • Improving fitness and stamina
  • Increasing participation in daily routines
  • Improving reciprocal play skills like riding a bike, throwing or catching a ball
  • Developing coordination ability
  • Developing postural strength and control
  • Achieving new motor skills

The challenges for each person are different. The physical therapist will form an individual program to achieve the goal associated with the person undergoing treatment. The therapist will monitor the progress of the person and collect all data. This data will help to determine if treatment is delivering positive results or not.

Occupational Therapy (OT)

Occupational therapy promotes the development and maintenance of skills needed for people to be functional in their lives. Occupational therapy works to promote:

  • Learning 
  • Self-respect
  • Self-confidence 
  • Social interaction
  • Independence

In the case of people with autistic disorder, an occupational therapist helps to develop fine motor skills (i.e. handwriting, tying shoes etc.) and daily living skills, especially the sensory issues. The most important goal is to target and improve the sensory processing disorders of the person. It also helps to remove learning barriers, and can calm the person.

Play therapy is a significant part of treatment for children with autism. This Therapy involves getting down on the floor to play with the child in order to engage the child through play. This may involve the child’s favorite toy or subject, turn-taking, or other type of age-appropriate social interaction. Play therapy is a way for children to express their feelings and discover coping mechanisms.

Speech-Language Therapy (SLT)

Speech and language therapists deliver therapy to people with communication difficulties. The therapy can help people improve their language skills and social communication. Speech and language therapists can provide help with:

  • Language disorders
  • Articulation disorders
  • voice disorders
  • Fluency disorders

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

Applied behavior analysis is the use of principles and techniques to produce positive and meaningful change in behavior. ABA can foster basic skills like listening, looking, and imitating, as well as complex skills like reading and conversing.


Medications are often used as a treatment for behavioral problems such as:

  • Obsessions
  • Aggression
  • Frustration
  • Severe tantrums
  • Self-injurious behavior

Some Facts on Autism

Autism Society of America describes autism as a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life.

It is difficult to diagnose autism disorder until the child reaches the age of one to one and a half years old.

Treatment should be given immediately before age three as it is a crucial period for the child's brain development.

Acceptance of the child affected by autism in the society is a matter of concern. They should be treated equally like normal humans with all the rights of a normal citizen. The stigma that surrounds people suffering from autism needs to be removed. Now, with the use of social media, movies, etc. the air that surrounded the atmosphere years ago is also changing, but there is a long way to go before we can create an equal society for autistic people.