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What are some different types of autism?

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As of 2015, the autism spectrum disorders include autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder, Asperger's syndrome, Rett syndrome and childhood disintegrative disorder, states WebMD. Asperger's syndrome is the mildest variant and typically affects the development of social skills and physical coordination. People with Asperger's syndrome generally function at normal intelligence levels, but they may develop an obsessive interest in specific topics. Adults may be susceptible to anxiety or depression.

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Common signs of autism include irregular reactions to sensory experiences, emotional and social detachment, sudden loss of cognitive skills and resistance to change, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children may avoid eye contact or may repeat words and phrases they hear. When other people speak or point at objects, autistic children may not visibly acknowledge them.

Children with autistic disorder and pervasive developmental disorder have more pronounced cognitive and social impairments than seen in Asperger's syndrome, but the latter condition is considered less severe than autistic disorder, according to WebMD. In both conditions, children exhibit a diverse pattern of symptoms, such as impaired language development and a tendency to engage in unusual or repetitive behaviors.

Rett syndrome is a rare form of autism that mainly affects girls, explains WebMD. Symptoms such as reduced head growth, hand wringing and language impairment start to manifest between six and 18 months of age. Childhood disintegrative disorder is most severe and rare. A child typically shows normal development until ages 2 to 4, before experiencing rapid social, linguistic and cognitive decline.

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