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What is classic autism ?

Kitcat's picture

What is classic autism ?

Sun 7 Apr 2013 12:14am
Hi I see some forum members say they have kids with classic autism, is this different from a asd diagnosis? My son is diagnosed as having autism spectrum disorder, we live in scotland. Just interested

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  • Whirling Mind's picture

    ASD = autism spectrum disorder, that includes classic autism, PDD-NOS, Asperger's etc., so classic autism is just one of the spectrum conditions.  PDD-NOS is pervasive development disorder not otherwise specified, which they use when someone doesn't have the typical autism diagnostic features, or they cannot confirm childhood history for evidence of autism etc.

    Here is some info: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/autistic-spectrum-disorder/Pages/Introduction.aspx

  • Mullybum's picture

    Hi Kitcat

    My son has diagnosis of 'typical autism' which is classic autism. As far as I know it's at the more severe end of the spectrum and usually goes along with speech delay (in our case non-verbal) and developmental delays. Developmentally he's around 12 months although he's nearly 3.  In some areas he's less than 12 months and in others more, it's very patchy though xx

  • Whirling Mind's picture

    Classic autism has a spectrum of severity, you can be high-functioning with classic autism.  Usually the difference between AS and HFA is that there was a speech delay/regression in HFA and there is none in AS.

  • Donna Mac's picture

    Hi Kitcat,

    I have 2 sons with classic autism,the oldest was diagnosed a week after his 2nd birthday with infantile autism because he regressed at about 18 months old and now at nearly 20 he is very severe and still completely non verbal so by the time he was about 3 and a half his diagnosis changed to severe classic autism.

    My other son never regressed but at about 2 he was showing signs of having autism and the doctor refused to diagnose him until he was about 3 as autistic but when he was still non verbal at 4 they said it looked like the same diagnosis as my older son he remained non verbal until he was 6/7 and now at 15 he has moderate classic autism.

    My daughters who are both on the spectrum the oldest never had and speech delay but at 6 was diagnosed with semantic pragmatic language disorder then when she went on to college she had loads of problems with being bullied and fitting in, the college said they thought she was on the spectrum and she was eventually re diagnosed as aspergers last year at age 20.My other daughter who had a signifcant speech delay, at nearly 4 could only say 10 words was diagnosed autistic but now at 14 everytime we see the doctor she sometimes says HF asd then another time she will say aspergers

    So what Im trying to say is that where we live now children dont get diagnosed before the age of 3 and certainly would not be given a diagnosis of classic autism at only 2 because not being able to speak at 2 is only speech delay not classed as non verbal I know several people who didnt utter a word until they were 3 and there is nothing wrong with them now as older children so how any doctor can diagnose classic autism before the age of about 5 is beyond me because even children with autism can progress so much before the age of 5 because what looks like severe autism at 2 can be very HF when they are older and thats why most children now are diagnosed with ASD as somewhere on the spectrum i have always been told by professionals that classic autism is more on the moderate to severe autism.

    Anyway hope this helps


  • Mullybum's picture

    These links may help. My son started talking at 9 months and at 12 months he lost all his baby speech and it's never come back. Well actually he did say 'Mum' twice 9 days ago but hasn't said it since! I'm sure that no paediatrician or other health professional would diagnose autism based purely on speech delay, they have to tick all the boxes for the 'triad of impairments'. We were told that if he ticked all the boxes, regardless of his age, that he would get diagnosis. Without it we wouldn't be able to get him into our local special school, and our village primary was not suitable. So we were pleased that we got early diagnosis as now we are able to get things in place for his education, and have also been able to get OT's involvement. Moving slightly away from the topic the second OT we saw confirmed that he has Sensory Processing Disorder but she said it usually goes along with ASD and they don't diagnose it separately, whereas I know that in other areas you would get a separate diagnosis. It all varies so much depending on where you live! xx





  • Whirling Mind's picture

    ...wasn't sure if what you said here:

    "I'm sure that no paediatrician or other health professional would diagnose autism based purely on speech delay, they have to tick all the boxes for the 'triad of impairments'."

    ...was in answer to where I said: "Usually the difference between AS and HFA is that there was a speech delay/regression in HFA and there is none in AS."

    If so, of course I wasn't saying that a speech delay alone would mean a diagnosis of autism.  This is what I was referring to:


    Speech delays could be caused by all sorts of unrelated conditions.  Classic autism includes all the severities, low, medium and high functioning.  Some people get confused as to the differences between HFA and AS, and the main difference is that there is no speech delay in AS, because if there was they would get the HFA diagnosis.

    All autistic spectrum disorders have to meet the diagnostic criteria for the named condition.  If professionals are stating classic autism is only low functioning they are incorrect.  But then there are lots of professionals out there with out-of-date and incorrect assumptions about autism that I have encountered and read about.

    Also, don't forget that AS means normal or above normal level of intelligence, but this doesn't mean that someone with AS can't be severely affected in other ways.  You could see someone with AS rocking, hand-flapping, melting down, with very severe sensory issues etc., but someone with those behaviours can also have a reasonable ability to function adequately in other ways.

    Hope this helps.

  • Mullybum's picture

    Hi Whirling Mind

    No it wasn't in response to your post. Donna mentioned that in her area not being able to speak at 2 would not be classed as non-verbal (whereas my son is classed as non-verbal) and that she didn't think doctors should diagnose classic autism before the age of 5 because so much can change in 3 years. But the diagnosis process varies so much depending on where you live, they really need to standardise it Smile x

  • Whirling Mind's picture

    Ah I see.  You are so right about there not being a standard assessment pathway in the UK, and it's even worse for adults.  Despite the NHS NICE Guidelines, health authorities are lagging way behind in implementing things correctly.  I won't even mention how ignorant a lot of GPs are! Yell (oops - just did!)

  • Mullybum's picture

    It's really confusing, I know other parents from different areas who have children with similar problems to my son and are also non-verbal, who have a general diagnosis of ASD and not 'typical autism'. Which is what we were expecting. Not that it matters what is written on a piece of paper because it doesn't change anything, just enables us to access more support. But I wonder if they would actually amend the diagnosis at a later stage if they felt things had changed? The paed mentioned that this can happen, but rarely does. I had also heard that Aspergers would no longer be diagnosed as such but would go under the ASD diagnosis?

  • Tea's picture

    This is an interesting debate. As far as I am aware, a diagnosis of Aspergers means that the individual had no significant language delay as a child. However, language delay is open to interpretation. Because many 'neuro-typicals' can also have language delay (my own mother did not speak until she was 3, for example, but has no ASD), language delay in and of itself does not always mean much. I also know a guy with very high functioning Aspergers who did not speak until he was five. He is now very articulate, and you would not guess he had Aspergers on first glance. So the language delay issue can not decide how high-functioning a person is, in my opinion.



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