Symptoms and problems of severe autism.


Severe autism is a way of describing a person's level of functioning and needs. This is not an actual diagnosis.

The official diagnosis is level 3 autism. The current Diagnostic Manual (DSM-5) determines the severity of autism based on the amount of support needed.

In this article, we will see what severe autism is, its symptoms and problems, and how to deal with it.

Other names for severe autism

  • Low-functioning autism
  • Classic autism
  • Kanner's autism (the name of the person who first described it)
  • Deep autism
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Symptoms of severe autism

People with severe autism often require 24/7 support and supervision. They face more disabilities and challenges than people with Level 1 or Level 2 symptoms.

Some symptoms are common at all levels. But others are rarely found in highly functional cases. To be diagnosed with autism, symptoms must interfere with daily life. Level 3 symptoms have the greatest impact.

Speech and social symptoms

All people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have difficulty communicating and communicating with people .

People with severe autism are more likely to be nonverbal, that is, unable to use spoken language fully. They can also seem oblivious to those around them.

Sensory dysfunction

Many people on the autism spectrum have sensory dysfunction . This means that they are either too sensitive or not sensitive enough to:

  • Light
  • Sound
  • Play
  • Taste
  • Smell

People with severe autism tend to be extremely sensitive to the point that crowded, bright, or noisy environments can be overwhelming.

Cognitive problems

Many people with autism have a high IQ. But some have an IQ of about 75, the threshold for what used to be called mental retardation.

Generally speaking, people with severe autism have low to very low IQs, even when tested with nonverbal testing tools. However, it is important to know that appearances can be deceiving.

Some people with severe autism can learn to communicate. They can use sign language, spelling boards, or other tools. Some of them are quite clear. They show that at least some people with severe autism are capable of more than one might think.

Repetitive behavior

Most people on the autism spectrum have repetitive behaviors and self -stimulating behaviors.

People with higher levels of functioning may wave their arms, sway, or snap their fingers. They can often control this behavior for a period of time when necessary.

People with severe autism can have many of these behaviors. And this behavior can be extreme and uncontrollable. The usual ones are loud shaking, slamming doors and moaning.

Physical symptoms

People with severe autism may have physical symptoms that are only seen occasionally in those with less severe autism. They may include:

  • Insomnia
  • Epilepsy
  • Problems with the gastrointestinal tract, according to some reports.

Communication difficulties can cause these problems to go undetected or go undiagnosed. An undiagnosed medical condition can cause physical pain, which can make behavior problems worse.


Severe ASD is called level 3 autism. Level 3 symptoms are the most debilitating. These can include speech and language problems, sensory problems, cognitive impairment, and repetitive behavior. Physical symptoms (epilepsy, gastrointestinal problems) can make behavior problems worse.

Problems with severe autism

Extreme behavior in severe autism can be the result of frustration, sensory overload, or physical pain.

Some people with severe autism express fearful behavior. If the behavior cannot be controlled, it can become dangerous.

In many cases, it is not safe for family members to live with a teenager or adult with severe autism.


Self-harm can occur among people with milder forms of autism, but among people with severe autism, behaviors such as head banging and picking (eating non-food items) are much more common.

Aggressive behavior

Aggression in autism is relatively rare. But this is certainly not uncommon, especially among people with more severe symptoms (or people with other problems like severe anxiety).

People with severe autism may be hitting, biting, or kicking. They may also have behaviors such as spreading feces, slamming doors, etc., which require a quick and effective response.

Wandering and running

People with severe autism often go astray. Often, there is no obvious reason to escape or a destination. This is sometimes called "escape."

The situation is compounded by the fact that people with severe autism generally do not have the means to communicate with people providing first aid.

This can put the person with ASD in a dangerous situation. In some cases, special locks, alarms and means of identification are needed to prevent them from escaping.


People with severe autism can traumatize themselves or others with their behavior (head banging, biting, kicking). They can also put themselves in danger by running (moving away).


Severe autism is incurable. However, many medical and non-medical treatment options can resolve symptoms. Some are common sense.


Treatment for severe autism generally includes medications for anxiety and related problems. Antipsychotic medications and antidepressants can also be effective.

It is important to closely monitor the autistic person's response to drugs. Side effects or negative interactions can cause as many problems as they can solve.

Non-medical treatments

Children with severe autism often respond well to applied behavior analysis (ABA), a form of behavior therapy that schools and early intervention programs often provide for free.

Sensory integration therapy can be helpful in addressing serious sensory issues. Other helpful treatments include:

Check for physical problems

Few people with severe autism can describe symptoms or physical problems. Therefore, it is recommended that you regularly check for physical things that may aggravate problem behavior.

For example, it is not uncommon to find that a child's seemingly aggressive behavior is actually a reaction to severe gastrointestinal pain. This pain can go away with the right dietary changes.

Once the pain goes away, it becomes much easier for them to relax, do something, learn something, and behave properly.

Teach communication skills

Many children with severe autism do not speak . Even if they learn to use spoken language, some will find it difficult to ask or answer questions. They can also repeat sounds without giving them importance.

On the other hand, many of the same people who cannot speak are able to communicate .   using sign language, picture cards, digital boards, and keyboards.

Communication is, of course, the key to any interaction and learning.

Highly structured and low-stress environment.

Sensory problems can be minimized by creating a suitable environment. Here's what can help someone with severe autism:

  • Very regular routine
  • Low light
  • Various loud noises
  • Predictable products


Severe autism diagnosed with grade 3 causes debilitating symptoms. A person with level 3 autism may be non-verbal and unable to communicate with people. Sensory input can be overwhelming. Cognitive impairments are common. Repetitive behavior can be extreme and uncontrollable.

These symptoms create serious problems like self-harm, aggressive behavior, and running away.

Treatment includes medicines and complementary therapies (physical therapy, speech therapist). With time and effort, a person with level 3 autism will be able to communicate.

Doctors should look for physical problems that can aggravate behavior problems. It is also important to create an environment with low levels of sensory stimulation.

Get the word of drug information

When someone in your life has severe autism, you create serious problems. It can help you learn more about autism and how to deal with it. Work closely with and learn from healthcare professionals.

Remember, you also need to take care of yourself. Seek support when you need it, whether it's friends and family, social services, a healthcare provider, or a support group.

You may feel lonely at times, but know that there are other people who understand exactly what you are going through.

Frequently asked questions

  • Yes. An autism spectrum diagnosis can be Level 1, Level 2, or Level 3. Level 1 is considered more functional and independent. Level 3 requires significant support and is the most debilitating form of the disorder.

  • No, autism does not get worse with age. In fact, research shows that it can get smaller. Research has focused on how symptoms change from early childhood to school age. In girls, autism is more likely to become less severe as they age.

  • People with level 3 autism exhibit many of the typical behaviors of people with level 1 or 2 autism, but to a greater extent. This includes difficulties with social skills, repetitive behaviors, and communication problems. They are often mentally retarded and may need 24/7 care.

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