Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Types of autism

Autistic disorders occur in a spectrum, ranging from mild and moderate to severe and with a variety of different symptoms. Mental health professionals classify autism into several types. This helps to assess the severity of a child's impairment and determines the best treatment to help the child develop the necessary skills for good functioning throughout life.

Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is an umbrella term that includes all the different types of disorder. However, often ASD is simply referred to as 'autism'.

The three main types of autism are:

  • Classic autism: A child is given this diagnosis if he or she has a lack of interest in other people, displays little or no emotions, has difficulty communicating, and exhibits repetitive behaviours that are evident before the age of three.
  • Asperger's syndrome: Also known as 'high-functioning autism', children with Asperger's syndrome have normal to exceptional intelligence and language skills. However, children with this disorder also have difficulties with social interaction and communication, and may show repetitive behaviours. For that reason, the disorder is often picked up later than classic autism.
  • Pervasive developmental disorder or atypical autism: This diagnosis is given to children who do not meet the full criteria for classic autism or Asperger's syndrome. But they may have difficulties with social interaction and communication, and/or display repetitive behaviours.

All types of autism impact on a child's behavior and ability to communicate. It's important to seek help if you are concerned your child has autism. Early intervention offers the best outcomes, no matter what type of autism a child has.

Last reviewed: October 2014

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Found 33 results

Autism signs & diagnosis in children | Raising Children Network

Read all the essentials on autism spectrum disorder (ASD), covering causes, characteristics, abilities, different types of the disorder and diagnosis.

Read more on Raising Children Network website

Brain Foundation | Autism

Autism Autism Description Autism is classified as one of the pervasive developmental disorders of the brain

Read more on Brain Foundation website

Autism | myVMC

Autism or autism spectrum disorders is a developmental disorder affecting the brain and impairing communication, social interaction and creative play.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Autism spectrum disorders (including Aspergers syndrome)

Mothers share their experiences raising sons with high functioning autism spectrum disorders, and discuss the signs of autism in their children.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Transition to adulthood: teens with ASD | Raising Children Network

Planning can help teens with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) make the transition to adulthood. Read about making plans, setting goals and getting support.

Read more on Raising Children Network website

Autistic Spectrum Disorder | The Sydney Children's Hospitals Network

Read more on Sydney Children's Hospitals Network website

Atrial Septal Defect (ASD, Ostium Secundum Defect) | myVMC

Atrial septal defect (ASD) is a congenital heart defect

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Types of assisted reproductive treatment | VARTA

Assisted reproductive treatment (ART), also known as assisted reproductive technology,refers to treatmentsused to assist people in achieving a pregnancy.ART covers a wide spectrum of treatments.Depending on the cause of infertility, the following types of treatment may be suggested. [collapse collapsed]

Read more on VARTA - Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority website

What is a childhood disability?

Learn more about childhood disabilities such as congenital disorders, disabilities developed after birth, disabilities caused by injury or development delays.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Sensory processing interventions | Cerebral Palsy Alliance

Cerebral Palsy Alliance is a non-profit that provides services to thousands of people with a disability and their families. Cerebral palsy (CP) is a physical disability that affects the way that a person moves.

Read more on Cerebral Palsy Alliance website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice and information you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo
Feedback