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Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental condition that impacts how individuals experience and interact with their environment. It may cause a wide range of symptoms and occur at varied severity levels.

ASD affects communication, behavior, and cognitive abilities. No two individuals with ASD have the same symptoms, which is why the term "spectrum" is used to define the various characteristics and severity levels seen in those with autism.

At Bristol Health, we recognize the unique challenges faced by individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), a condition related to brain development that impacts perception and behavior.

Our compassionate and skilled team is here to support those with ASD and their families, providing professional guidance and evidence-based treatment options tailored to their unique needs.

Defining the Spectrum

Prior to 2013, separate diagnoses were made for those with varying degrees of autism, including Asperger's Syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD), Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD-NOS), and Autistic Disorder.

In 2013, these subtypes were brought under the umbrella of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) by the American Psychiatric Association to encompass all linked conditions and related symptoms seen in autism.

Levels of Autism

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) categorizes autism into three levels:

  • Level 1: The highest functioning level, individuals diagnosed with Level 1 autism need support but can learn expected social skills, gain independence, and live full lives.
  • Level 2: The midrange level of ASD, individuals diagnosed with Level 2 autism often have more evident verbal, social, and behavioral challenges, requiring continued support.
  • Level 3: The most severe form, individuals with Level 3 autism exhibit more severe symptoms and often have additional health concerns, typically needing substantial lifelong support from a caregiver.

Symptoms of ASD

While the severity of symptoms varies greatly across the spectrum, individuals with ASD share some common traits. These symptoms can include:

  • Communication challenges
  • Inability to understand others
  • Avoiding eye contact during interactions
  • Hypersensitivity to stimuli (smell, light, noise, taste, or touch)

Causes of ASD

Although there is no clear cause-and-effect correlation for ASD, possible causes can include the following:

  • Acquired genetic deficiencies
  • Environmental conditions
  • Immune system or metabolic disorders
  • Mineral or vitamin deficiencies and food allergies

Autism Subtypes

Those with autism may sometimes be characterized as having high- or low-functioning autism. However, most cases of ASD fall somewhere between these two categories, exhibiting varying levels of functioning in different areas.

High-Functioning Autism

High-functioning autism is a term used to describe people with ASD who do not demonstrate cognitive disabilities but face communication deficits. While they may not have cognitive limitations, they do face challenges in many other areas of life that neurotypical people may navigate with ease.

Low-Functioning Autism

Low-functioning autism refers to people who experience severe ASD symptoms that affect their daily functioning and often have some form of intellectual disability. Typically, in these cases, more support is needed from caregivers compared to other forms or levels of autism. Often, the person with ASD may face severe social difficulties, be nonverbal, and exhibit rigid behavior patterns.

Asperger's Syndrome

Asperger's syndrome (AS) was a diagnosis used to describe those with a form of autism characterized by average to above-average cognitive ability and limited social skills. Since 2013, Asperger's has been included under the umbrella of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD)

Childhood disintegrative disorder (CDD) is an extremely rare condition that causes a severe loss of previously learned social, physical, behavioral, and communication skills. CDD shares a similar profile of debilitating developmental effects in children, and it is categorized as an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD-NOS)

Until 2013, the term Pervasive Developmental Disorder – not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) was used to describe one of the forms of autism. PDD is now a recognized subtype of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), used to diagnose those who meet some but not all criteria of ASD.

Related Disorders: Rett Syndrome

Rett Syndrome is a congenital disease that affects the brain and nervous system development. It is a neurodevelopmental disorder that was originally grouped as a type of autism but was later identified as a separate neurodevelopmental disorder in 2011.

Managing Autism Spectrum Disorder in Utah County

If you or a loved one is affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder, we encourage you to reach out to us at Bristol Health in Utah County.

Our dedicated team is committed to providing compassionate care and support. Please call (801) 903-5903 or request an appointment to begin your journey towards improved well-being today. 

1125 W. Center St.
Orem, UT 84057

Fax: (801) 515-0935

If you are struggling and need someone to talk to right now, the resources below provide free and confidential assistance 24/7:
Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: 988

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