What is Spectrum of Autism: Levels of Required Support
Autism is a difference in the neurodevelopmental functioning of an individual that is identified by social interaction styles, and atypical behaviors. The amount of support an autistic individual requires is essential to understand, and for the same knowledge, the stage or level at which they are can be a difficult task.
The classification of mental health disorders as published by the American Psychiatric Association, i.e., Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Division, expresses that autism is a spectrum of disorders. This highlights that people have separate strengths and needs for support. Several contributors explain autistic individuals in terms of "functioning high" or "functioning low". These words can be misleading as a person can be highly functioning in one aspect but not in others. Moreover, the person who performed highly earlier, because of more stress and burnout might struggle because of it. Generally, autistic people are concerned about the support required by them to focus on how they can live their life at best and not being surrounded by the conversation related to their functioning levels. Even though constrained, the spectrum of autism in the classification system assists the process of comprehending the person's requirement and what can be done to fulfill it. As an autistic individual might be at 1st level in behavioral symptoms but they might be on 2nd level in social communication symptoms. Also, the ones that struggle with burnout may require greater support than they did previously. After the appropriate support is in place the symptoms become less apparent.
Level One Autism:
According to DSM-5, at this level require assistance is needed in both restricted, repetitive behavior symptoms and social communication symptoms. Autistic individuals at this level may engage in saying full sentences and communicating verbally. Symptoms at level one in this domain consist of: trouble in back-and-forth communications, trouble in initiating communication or other social reciprocities, giving atypical responses when others try to start communication or relationship, and maybe lower than average interest in social interactions or relations.
Autistic individuals in behavioral domain at this level might work independently, but face concerns related to their symptoms, which might be shown as: trouble in the organization, problems in transitions or modifications, and showing rigidity in routines or behaviors that surround them.
Level Two Autism:
According to DSM-5, at this level autistic individuals need substantial support. Symptoms in this stage require more assistance as compared to level one but lesser than level three. The social communication domain at this level is portrayed as follows: visible impairments even after getting support, strange nonverbal conversation, decreased or abnormal responses to interactions socially, a noticeable deficit in both nonverbal and verbal conversation skills, and a person having restricted verbal communication skills.
Autistic individuals in the behavioral domain at this level, consist of trouble in dealing with changes (especially in their routine), problems in shifting focus that shows distress, and visible repetitive or limited behaviors that obstruct functioning.
Level Three Autism:
According to DSM-5, at this level autistic individual symptoms need very substantial assistance. Differences in the social communication domain at this level consist of: greater deficits in both nonverbal and verbal communication, very restricted initiation of and responses to social connections, greater disability in functioning due to these impairments, and people in this level have few expressions verbally. Autistic individuals in behavioral domain at this level, consist of extreme troubles in dealing with alterations, interference in areas of daily functioning due to repetitive behaviors and they have great distress when there is a transition or interruptions in their routines
Conclusion: Autism being a neurodevelopmental disorder shows its signs and symptoms in the early years of an individual. Thus, it is essential to be aware of it to be able to address it according to the requirement. It is necessary for parents or caregivers to get a professional diagnosis for the situation that they are witnessing for their children in terms of their mental health, and there are mental health professionals in the field to assist, make you aware, and lay out the path that is beneficial for all.