This page is designed to answer the following questions:
- 1.2. Explain how autism can be considered as a spectrum condition (Level 2 Certificate in Understanding Autism, Introduction to Autism)
NOTE: This page has been quality assured for 2023 as per our Quality Assurance policy.
The word “spectrum” in Autism Spectrum Condition refers to the wide range of signs, symptoms and severity that individuals with the disorder can have. That is to say that every person with autism will have a unique set of symptoms and these symptoms will have varying degrees of severity.
As we discussed in the previous section, individuals with high-functioning autism or Asperger’s do not experience the developmental delays relating to speech, language, and cognition that are present in other individuals with autism. However, they do share traits such as having difficulty with social interaction and having repetitive or restrictive habits.
The DSM-V (page 52) classifies autistic spectrum disorders into three levels:
- Level 1: “Requiring support”
- Level 2: “Requiring substantial support”
- Level 3: “Requiring very substantial support”
This means that there is a wide range of difficulties that different individuals with autism can experience. It is also worth noting that some individuals with high-functioning autism may not need any support at all, and be able to lead fully-independent lives.
Because of the wide variety of experiences that autistic individuals can have, it is considered to be a spectrum condition. It is important to understand that this means no two individuals with autism will have the same support needs.