The Descriptive Triangle

Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorders

What are the three major forms of autism spectrum disorders?

The three major forms of autism —autism, or Autistic Disorder, Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified ( PDD-NOS), and Asperger’s Syndrome —are now referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorder. In May 2013 the American Psychiatric Association published the DSM-5, changing the definition for the three forms of autism to fall under one category. To distinguish between types of autism on the spectrum, three Levels are used: Level 1 Requiring Support, Level 2 Requiring Substantial Support, and Level 3 Requiring Very Substantial Support.

What do they have in common?

All children with autism spectrum disorders show a distinctive pattern of differences in their development in the three key areas of Language and Communication, Social Relationships and Emotions, and Sensory Use and Interests.

The Descriptive Triangle can help increase your understanding of autism spectrum disorders.

Click on the key areas of the triangle for samples of the non-technical language that describes children on the autism spectrum. You will also see examples of behaviors seen in “neuro-typical” children.

Where can I find descriptive triangles that contain the non-technical but specific descriptions for each of the three major forms of autism spectrum disorders?

Descriptive triangles that are specific to each form of autism spectrum disorder are included in my book, Autism Conversations. The behavior profiles for each of the three forms of autism are contrasted with a descriptive triangle showing the behavior patterns found in “neuro-typical” children.