Guide: Assessing the Severity of Your Autism (Levels & More)

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It’s important to be able to assess the severity of autism. This is a guide for assessing your child’s degrees, symptoms and more so that you can get them the help they need as early as possible.

The “autism classification levels” is a guide that helps parents understand the severity of their child’s autism. The levels are broken down into three categories, mild, moderate, and severe.


Search for autism in the fifth version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). You’ll find a description of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), as well as three severity levels.

The majority of us are aware of how to rate symptom severity. We take our temps and examine our aches and symptoms when we have a cold. When we have a sore throat, we pay attention to when it aches the most and how much pain medication is required.

It’s tempting to rate autism severity using the same basic observations. Unfortunately, this isn’t an appropriate means of determining the disorder’s severity.

Parents may be given an evaluation to go home and complete some questions about their kid by a doctor or other expert. Such at-home exams provide data gathering options, and the findings may be quite beneficial to clinicians.

However, keep in mind that only a trained expert can correctly diagnose and grade autism. Before making any choices concerning ASD, consult with a physician. While at-home testing might give you a basic notion, only a doctor can give you a diagnosis.

The Different Levels of Autism

Prior to 2013, experts discussed autism in a very different light. People who have ASD symptoms may fall into one of many illness groups. Some people received assistance, while others did not.

When dealing with persons who exhibited ASD symptoms prior to the advent of the DSM-5, clinicians had to choose between four diagnoses:

Everyone with these diagnoses showed varied degrees of social and communication impairments, and the majority of them had restricting or repetitive habits. Researchers eventually realized that they weren’t correctly detecting four separate issues. Patients with just one condition were included, however some had more severe signs and symptoms than others.

According to the DSM-5, there are three categories of severity for ASD.

  • Requiring assistance: It’s difficult to make or sustain touch with people at this level, and someone like this may have few friends. It’s also difficult to plan ahead or transition from one task to the next.

  • Limited social connections and verbal and nonverbal communication abilities are prevalent, necessitating a lot of help. Others are aware of repetitive gestures. Without these self-soothing behaviors, coping with change is difficult or impossible.

  • Needing a lot of help: Verbal skills are poor, and it’s difficult to have or continue a discussion with people. Repetitive and other difficult habits, as well as an inability to cope with change, obstruct overall functioning.

The labels are descriptive and aid specialists in setting expectations and developing treatment programs. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association claims that the severity levels aren’t set in stone.

In some conditions, such as crowded rooms, someone with autism may experience an increase in severity. In other cases, their symptoms may be more moderate or even imperceptible. The severity of a person’s condition might change over time.

Consider this a snapshot of symptoms seen in one location at one time. They assist an outsider in comprehending the magnitude or severity of the situation at hand. They do not, however, describe what will occur in the future.

Why Is Screening Important?

Is severity a meaningful statistic if it can’t be used to determine a person’s journey to wellness? Experts believe so. Many individuals with autism may not get correct diagnosis, which means they may be missing out on important services.

According to Autism Speaks, ASD affects people of all races and socioeconomic backgrounds. Minority groups, on the other hand, are more likely to be diagnosed later in life, if at all.

People with autism who are diagnosed early on have a better chance of receiving appropriate treatment. Therapy may help you improve your coping abilities, strengthen your distress tolerance, and more. However, such treatments won’t function until they’re offered, which begins with a diagnosis.

Experts claim that the degree of autism does not determine whether or not someone is eligible for therapy. However, severity ratings may aid treatment teams in determining how an individual’s autism symptoms flare up or go away in different contexts. Scores may also aid teams in determining the efficacy of therapy.

What are the Different Ways Clinicians Use Severity Levels?

The testing is finished, and the findings have been received. What will your treatment team do with the information?

The therapy team may be able to better understand how to reach you or your kid if you have severity skills. Consider how therapy is tailored to the severity levels listed below:

  • Level 1: Verbal abilities are hampered but not lost. Pictures and playacting may be used in sessions, but discussion and talking may also be suitable. It’s possible that therapy will concentrate on reducing anxiety while switching from one activity to another.

  • Level 2: Because social skills are weak, therapists may spend extra time establishing a rapport before beginning therapy. More visuals and role-playing may be used in the sessions. Repetitive behaviors are seen as a symptom of suffering by therapists.

  • Level 3: Therapy sessions focusing on touch, images, or sound are required for completely nonverbal persons. Therapists may prioritize reducing the impulse to self-harm above other therapy objectives.

Scores may also be used by teams to figure out what triggers concern. If your kid is a strong Level 1 at home but a Level 3 in the grocery store, for example, sessions may concentrate on making shopping simpler and less stressful for the child.

Experts may benefit greatly from severity ratings. Families and persons with autism, on the other hand, may find it difficult to self-diagnose or evaluate symptoms without assistance. Professional assistance is required.

Is it possible to screen your child at home?

ASD may occasionally be recognized in toddlers as young as 18 months, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Parents play an important part in the diagnosing process, but they cannot complete it on their own.

At-home testing are excellent data collecting tools if you believe your kid has autism. There are no blood tests or invasive screenings needed. Instead, you’ll keep an eye on your youngster and rank symptoms like these:

Researchers claim that at-home testing like the Observable Behaviors of ASD Scale are accurate. Parents assign grades to their children based on actions seen in the previous 24 hours. The things they notice, as well as the intensity of the symptoms they signal, provide professionals with a wealth of information about a child’s home environment.

You’ll be given lots of these tests to complete if you bring your kid to an appointment to discuss autism. Some treatment teams just utilize one, while others need parents to fill out a substantial amount of documentation on the initial appointment.

Questionnaires, however, are just the first stage in the diagnostic procedure, according to the Child-Mind Institute. They are often wide and comprehensive. The objective is to identify as many children who are at danger as possible.

If you do this exam without any advice or confirmation, you could conclude that your kid has severe autism, which isn’t the case. If you utilize these tools at home without the assistance of a doctor, you may get the incorrect impression about your kid and what is required to treat them.

Screening, including at-home testing, cannot be regarded diagnostic tools in and of themselves. Doctors must use their own screening techniques to supplement your findings. Multiple tests over a long period of time are often required to obtain a thorough picture of ASD in a youngster.

You will not be able to diagnose your kid with autism. You may be aware of its existence, but only a doctor can confirm it.

Is It Possible to Screen Yourself at Home?

When we discuss ASD, we often concentrate on children. Autism affects a large number of adults. People with ASD may not realize they have it until later in life. And when they realize the truth, they wish they had known sooner.

Self-diagnosis tests are simple to get by on the internet. Some, such as this one, include a brief sequence of questions. Answer the questions, provide your email address, and the results will be in your inbox shortly.

Research-based assessments are accessible for people with technological talents. These are the same tests that physicians use to evaluate ASD symptoms and severity, and they’re free to use.

Self-tests like these, according to Autism Speaks, may be beneficial. If you’re unsure if your behaviors or ideas fit into the ASD group, a test may be able to help.

Unexpected outcomes, on the other hand, might be frightening or even alienating. You could also have trouble deciphering what some of the tests measure, signify, or suggest.

Your doctor is a valuable ally.

Your treatment regimen may be guided by the severity of your symptoms. It’s crucial information for you and your kid. You may aid in data collection, but you should never utilize it without expert support.

All discussions concerning testing, test findings, and interpretation should include your doctor. Take any or all of the at-home exams that you think are acceptable. Fill up the blanks as honestly and precisely as possible. Make an appointment with a trained expert to discuss the findings.

Following up on your self-tests, you and your doctor could speak about:

  • Context. What occurred in the moments leading up to the test? What occurred after that?

  • Accuracy. How well do you understand autism? Did your reactions change as a result of that knowledge?

  • Emotion. What are your thoughts on the results, whether they pertain to you or your child?

  • Steps to take next. How will the doctor either confirm or refute your answers? What other testing and diagnostic options do you have?

These discussions are crucial. They assist you in making sense of the information you’ve gathered and in charting a course ahead. You won’t be able to perform either of these things on your own. You need the assistance of your physician.

Autism may create anxiety as well as repeated habits in certain individuals. Those symptoms may be triggered by testing.

Talk to your doctor if you find yourself repeating tests or putting your kid to repeated exams. The exams may do you more damage than benefit, so it’s a good idea to take a break. Allow your doctor to make the decisions on how to proceed.


The “is level 2 autism high-functioning” is a guide that outlines the levels of autism and what they mean. This article also includes more information on how to assess the severity of your autism.

Frequently Asked Questions

How is the severity of autism measured?

A: The severity of autism is typically measured by different scales. One such scale is the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, which has a total score that ranges from 0 to 43 with higher scores indicating greater severity of things like social impairment and communication difficulties.

How is autism graded in terms of severity?

A: Autism is not graded based on severity. The diagnosis of autism, or any other disorder for that matter, is a spectrum condition which means its nature varies depending on the person and their needs. Some people with autism have very mild symptoms while others have more severe cases.

Are there severity levels of autism?

A: While the severity of autism varies from person to person, on average it is said that someone with a more severe form would have trouble communicating and socializing.

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