The effect of autism on social skills varies depending on the severity of this disorder, as well as the autism support received early in life. Different types of autism also play a role in the effect of autism on social skills. For instance, individuals who do not possess language deficits will still experience social difficulties, but to a far lesser degree than a person completely lacking in language skills. Also, the effect of autism on social skills depends on the presence of other disorders that are sometimes paired with this condition, as is sometimes found with ADHD and autism.
There are several different types of autism, which are identified on what is called the autism spectrum. The three main types of autism are classic autism, Asperger’s syndrome and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOD). The effect of autism on social skills varies within these three subtypes, as autistic behavior symptoms present differently in each one.
In classic autism, symptoms include a lack of eye contact, repetitive behaviors, repetitive motions, poor or a total lack of communication, speech impairment or a lack of speech development, intellectual deficits and social withdrawal. These signs are found in young children within the first few months of life and the effects of this form of autism on social skills become more apparent as a child matures. Individuals with childhood autism may show some social improvement with autistic behavior therapy, but many with classic autism do not.
Individuals with Asperger’s syndrome will exhibit most of the same symptoms as classic autism, with the exception of possessing normal speech skills and normal intellectual capacity. These individuals also tend to display a remarkable talent or ability in one area and are often labeled as autistic savants. With autism support and behavioral therapy, individuals with this type of autism are often able to function at some level of society and the effect of autism on social skills, though still apparent, tend to be to a lesser degree than that of classic autism.
In PDD-NOS, the effect of autism on social skills may also differ. In this type, an individual may also possess fewer symptoms of classic autism and, thus, social skills may not be nearly as impaired. Individuals with PDD-NOS are considered to have mild autism and may also have fewer intellectual deficits. It is not uncommon to find individuals with adult autism classified as Asperger’s syndrome or PDD-NOS living on their own and laboring in the job market.