Types of Autism

The types of autism are classified on the autism spectrum from low-functioning to high-functioning. In the past, this has been associated with mental capacity. Those who live and associate with autistic people, know mental capacity is not an appropriate association for classification. That would be similar to trying to associate mental capacity to people just because they have red hair.

It would be more appropriate to classify types of autism with the ability to blend in with the ‘rest of the crowd’. Abilities of autistics are underestimated. They behave differently and their thought processes are different than a majority of the general population so they stand out as odd.

In the general population, there are a few brilliant people, a few mentally challenged people, and many average people in between. The same should be expected with the population of autistic people. Most are not going to be savants like Albert Einstein or the character portrayed in the Rainman. Most are going to be average in intelligence similar to the general population.

Assessments used in testing IQ and mental capabilities are based heavily on language, social interaction, and cultural knowledge. These are the areas of difficulty for autistic individuals. They are not damaged, not dysfunctional, just different.

For example, my son who is diagnosed with Aspergers, has good verbal skills but written information is more difficult for him to comprehend. The facts he knows often have little comparison to how he can perform on a written test. When he was younger, I had helped him study long and hard for a science test on the five senses. After school when I asked him how he did, he said, “I couldn’t remember smell and taste but I got the other three.” He knew all five when I dropped him off at school, he knew them a couple hours after the test, but he couldn’t perform during the written test. I’m guessing if someone would have asked him to say them instead of writing them down, he could have scored better on that test.

Other autistic people have difficulty with verbal communication but can communicate via the written word very well. With innovations like voice recognition software and type-to-speech software, these communication barriers are being broken.

Go to the link below for standard definitions of types of autism. For some atypical definitions go to the autistics.org website. This site is written by autistics, for autistics. It is insightful for families to help them see the world through a different perspective and a wealth of resources for people with autism.

Standard definitions of types of autism

Autism Home Page