Classic Autism

Classic autism is defined as the most serious form of autistic spectrum disorder. It is also known as ’severe autism’, ’Kanner’s Syndrome’ and ’autism disorder’.

Someone with classic autism has noticeable problems with speech, behaviour and social interaction. They are often hypersensitive and avoid contact with other people on many occasions.

This type of autism like many others is no respecter of age, authenticity, religion or socio-economic background.

Children with classic autism

A child with this type of autism is at the severe end of the spectrum which can be upsetting for their parents. This child will start showing symptoms of classic autism from the age of three onwards which include the following:

  • Rigid, dogmatic behaviour
  • Repetitive actions and speech
  • Self harm, e.g. hitting themselves
  • Withdrawn and avoids social situations
  • Obsessive, e.g. focuses on a single interest

The child is extremely sensitive to any form of sensory input such as touch, sounds, smell and sight. Basically, this means that they react violently to sound, light, colour, texture and physical contact. The autistic child dislikes being cuddled, held or touched in any way.

They will often be of normal or below normal intelligence. The classic autistic child will have the most difficulties with verbal language. Their speech will be severely impaired to the extent that they cannot articulate words and sentences and have to rely upon sign language and similar forms of communication.

Adults with classic autism

Adults will display similar symptoms to those exhibited by children. This means problems with talking and conversing with others and an inability to interpret body language and react appropriately. If they are able to talk then their speech is wooden and uttered in a monotone.

Many adults are unable to make eye contact with others and prefer to remain aloof and away from social gatherings. They prefer to interact with inanimate objects or a particular subject, e.g. a TV programme and feel safe whilst doing so.

Classic autistic adults will not leave their comfort zone or try something new. They crave routine and a pre-ordered way of doings so repetitive tasks are likely to suit them best.

This is something to consider when thinking about types of employment. Jobs that require repetition or working with machines such as computers are a good choice.

There is a percentage of autistic adults who are said to be ’savants’: by this we mean that they have a particular skill or area of expertise. This includes a fascination with numbers, artistic ability or an exceptional memory which appears to be in direct contrast to the rest of their abilities.

One example of this is the character of Raymond Babbitt, played by Dustin Hoffman in the film ’Rain Man’. He is an autistic savant with an exceptional recall system which enables him to memorise dates and numbers.

Classic autism cannot be cured but there are a variety of support services which when combined with help and advice such as that provided on this website, can make things that bit easier.

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