Levels of Autism, Understanding and Handling the Diagnosis

Getting an autism diagnosis for your child can be a life-changing event for you and your entire family, but you’re not alone in this. No matter the dilemma, in the end, there’s only one thing to do: Get up and keep going. Remember, knowledge is the key to developing a better understanding of autism. So, you need to learn about different levels of autism.

Understanding and Handling the Diagnosis

The levels of Autism Spectrum Disorder allow for more clarity to be placed on a child’s diagnosis of autism in terms of where they fit on the spectrum. Basically, the levels of ASD range from mild to severe symptoms. According to the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5 (DSM-5),” doctors categorize autism by specifying level 1, 2, or 3 according to two domains of symptoms.

  • One severity count is for deficits in social communication.
  • A second severity count is for restrictive and repetitive behaviors.

The lower the level, the less support someone may need. For example, a child with autism level 1 have mild symptoms and may not require much support while other with level 2 or 3 have moderate to severe symptoms and require more substantial care and support.

The current DSM-5 diagnostic manual has separated the disorder into three varying degrees:

  • Level 1: Requiring Support.
  • Level 2: Requiring Considerable Support.
  • Level 3: Requiring Very Considerable Support.

Level 1: Requiring Support

This level is often viewed as mild autism due to its trifling severity. Children in this category have social difficulties that require less support. They will display noticeable impairments in social communication to initiate conversations with others and may respond inappropriately or lose interest quickly. As a result, it can be challenging for them to make friends, especially without the right support.

Getting a Handle on Level 1

Children with autism level 1 often maintain a high quality of life with little support. This support usually comes in the form of behavioral therapy or other types of therapies. Behavioral therapy can aid in developing positive behaviors that might not come naturally while other kinds of therapies can also help improve social and communication skills.

Level 2: Requiring Considerable Support

Children in this category need more support than those with a level 1 diagnosis. They have more severe lack of both verbal and nonverbal communication skills that make holding a conversation very challenging.

Getting a Handle on Level 2

Children with autism level 2 need more support than those with level 1. Even with support, they may have a hard time adjusting to changes in their environment. Both sensory integration therapy and occupational therapy can help children to develop the skills they need to complete their daily tasks.

Level 3: Requiring Very Considerable Support

Autism level 3 is the most severe among the levels of autism. In addition to a more severe lack of communication skills, children with autism level 3 also display repetitive or restrictive behaviors. They will need considerable support throughout their lives.

Getting a Handle on Level 3

These children often need frequent, intensive therapy that focuses on a variety of issues, including communication and behavior. They may also benefit from several drugs for managing specific symptoms such as depression or anxiety.

Final Thoughts

While the levels categorize autistic children by how much support they need, there aren’t any guidelines for what that support should look like. Keep in mind that every child with autism is unique and they all need to get the support and love they deserve.

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