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Classic autism is the form that most of us are

familiar and the type portrayed by Tom Hanks


in Rainman, though this can be further
delineated into 'high', 'mid' and 'low'
functioning autism (where Tom Hanks was the
latter). The other four forms are:

* Asperger's Syndrome

* Childhood Disintegrative Disorder

* Rett Syndrome

* Pervasive Developmental Disorder

Aspergers syndrome is probably the second


best known of the conditions and is essentially
a far milder form of autism wherein the patient
displays on slight communication and language
problems along with some repetitive
behaviours and rituals.
Meanwhile Childhood disintegrative disorder
(or CDD), is a far rarer condition which also
shares many symptoms but to a more severe
degree making it close to low-functioning
autism. Here the skills tend to develop
normally but then regress at a certain point
anywhere between the ages of two to ten years.
This is the main way that CDD is diagnosed,
and raises questions regarding the cause of the
condition (which is thought to be different to
classic autism).

Rett syndrome meanwhile is another


condition that shares some of its symptoms
with autism (though fewer than CDD) and is
also low-functioning resulting in no verbal
skills at all, but which also exhibits various
physical problems such as decelerating head
growth (which is interesting as classic autism is
linked to late head growth). At the same time
they are also likely to exhibit gastrointestinal
disorders, delayed growth elsewhere and
seizures etc. There is controversy currently
over whether it should in fact be included as an
autism spectrum disorder at all as it shares not
a lot more in common with autism than several
other conditions.

Finally Pervasive Development Disorder or


PPD-NOS describes those conditions that do
not fall under one of the other headings but
display many of the same symptoms (the NOS
standing for Not Otherwise Specified).

While it is not a separate type as such, some


classic autistics will develop savant skills. An
autistic savant is somebody who while
impaired in the language and communication
but exhibits better than normal skills in other
areas. This might be in music or in maths or in
art or in several. Autistic savants have been
known to perform such feats as playing piano
concertos by ear after a single listen, drawing
large buildings in detail after a short glance,
naming the day it will be on random dates
years in the future and learn languages and
memorise dictionaries in days. This presents an
interesting contradiction and is currently not
fully understood. It only occurs in roughly 10%
of autistics however.