While autism includes significant and sometimes profound learning and communication difficulties, there are some specific syndromes and disorders which also may be part of autism or share characteristics with autistic spectrum disorders. Sometimes identification of a specific syndrome will help determine appropriate remediation and accomodation more precisely than the overall diagnosis of an autistic spectrum disorder.
Common name "word blindness", causes significant delay in the development of literacy, difficulty with spelling, sequencing, handwriting ("dysgraphia") etc. Its connection with ASDs is uncertain, but it seems more common than in the NT population.
2. Semantic-Pragmatic Disorder
Semantic-Pragmatic Disorder involves deficits in social and nonverbal communication such as the give and take of communication as well as interpreting cues from body language and expression. The term has two rather different uses:
Hyperlexia is an exceptional ability to read, not necessarily with any understanding of what you are reading. As with Semantic-Pragmatic Disorder, hyperlexia is used for both a specific trait and a distinct syndrome. According to the American Hyperlexia Association, hyperlexia is defined by 3 characteristics:
Hyperlexia's place on or outside of the autistic spectrum is a matter of much debate. Be that as it may, hyperlexia is a trait commonly seen in autistic spectrum disorders. Autistics with hyperlexia have a unique learning style and a better prognosis than those without this reading skill. Hyperlexia is often written off as a "meaningless splinter skill" but it is much more than that even if comprehension lags because reading can be a very useful tool for learning other skills and can be the doorway to language in general.
4. Verbal Dyspraxia/Apraxia
Dyspraxia, also called apraxia, is a general term for unusual difficulty planning and carrying out motor movements. Apraxics have no detectable problems with muscles or other physical abnormalities and the difficulties producing speech in verbal apraxics are not explained simply by a language delay.
5. Nonverbal Learning Disabilities (NLD)
Nonverbal Learning Disabilities affect organization, motor skills, visual-spatial perception, nonverbal communication, and often mathematics. Collectively, these are known as "Non-verbal Learning Disabilities" (NLD). Nonverbal Learning Disabilities are very closely related to Asperger Syndrome, Hyperlexia, Dyspraxia, and Semantic-Pragmatic Disorder.
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