Level of Severity of Autism

severity of autism

Level of Severity of Autism is determined by the level of support a child requires to participate in their day to day activities. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnosis is based on the presence of both social communication difficulties AND restrictive & repetitive behaviours. Level of severity for each of these areas can vary greatly for different children with Autism. When a child receives a formal diagnosis of autism with the DMS-V  severity levels of Autism are assigned.

Autism

There are 3 levels of severity and they are given for both the social communication criteria and the restrictive, repetitive behaviours criteria.

Level of Severity of Autism:

Level 3 Autism Symptoms Require Very Substantial Support

Social Communication Criteria

  • No or extremely limited ability to use verbal or non-verbal communication (e.g., no clear speech)
  • Does not seek out or initiate interactions with others.
  • If they do, it tends to be so that immediate needs are met. Interactions are frequently atypical.
  • Do not or hardly responds if others try to socially interact with them

Repetitive & Restricted Behaviours

  • Extremely inflexible to the point that all areas of their life are impacted on.
  • Extreme reactions if routines / preferences are changed
  • Restrictive /repetitive behaviours are so strong they interfere with all day to day tasks in all environments.
  • Great distress/difficulty transitioning from one interest or activity to another.

Level of Severity of Autism:

Level 2 Autism Symptoms Require Substantial Support

Social Communication Criteria

  • Deficits in verbal and nonverbal social communication skills are marked (e.g., may say words and basic sentences but social impairments are apparent even when supports are put in place;
  • May initiate social interactions but they are limited.
  • Responses to people attempting to socially interact with them by others are reduced or abnormal.
  • Interactions may be limited to their narrow special interests, and how has markedly odd nonverbal communication.

Repetitive & Restricted Behaviours

  • Inflexibility of behaviour,
  • May be able to cope with some change however they have this causes stress
  • Restricted/repetitive behaviours occur often so that they become obvious to the unfamiliar people watching them.
  • Behaviours reduce their ability to functionally participate in daily activities.
  • Distress and/or difficulty transitioning from one interest or activity to another.

Level of Severity of Autism:

Level 1 Autism Symptoms Require Support

Social Communication Criteria

  • Social communication cause noticeable impairments unless supports are put in place. They may be able to “talk even in sentences” however interactions are impaired.
  • Difficulty initiating social interactions,
  • Atypical or unsuccessful responses when others attempt to socially interact with them e.g., do not get the backwards-forwards of conversational flow between people
  • Frequently unsuccessful at making and keeping friends or social relationships would be considered “odd”.

Repetitive & Restricted Behaviours

  • Inflexibility of behaviour results in them notably not functioning in one or more environments.
  • Transitioning between tasks is difficult
  • Deficits in their ability to plan and organise themselves 

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