What is Level 1 Autism? Understanding This Diagnosis | PX Docs (2024)

Today, 1 in every 36 children receives an autism diagnosis that dramatically impacts the trajectory of their health and quality of life. This is a steep increase from 1 in 110 children in 2006. If you’ve heard the term “mild” or “high functioning” autism used for your child but have been offered minimal clarity about what that means, you’re not alone.

In 2013, updated diagnostic guidelines did away with vague catch-all descriptors, instead adopting three tiers of autism intervention needs. This tier system has become a critical tool for pinpointing your child’s specific needs with autism spectrum disorder.

While level 1 indicates the “highest” presence of abilities, children with level 1 autism still face immense struggles, from sensory and social difficulties to general anxious rigidity that conventional medical approaches fail to address.

Fortunately, greater understanding leads to hope for answers. In this article, we’ll examine autism level 1 symptoms and causes. We’ll also unveil how restoring nervous system regulation through targeted Neurologically Focused Chiropractic Care can improve quality of life, both for those with level 1 autism and for their families.

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) encompasses a range of neurodevelopmental differences that affect social communication and behavior. Core challenges include:

  • Social interaction and relationship struggles
  • Verbal and nonverbal communication delays
  • Restrictive or repetitive behavioral patterns and activities
  • Sensory processing dysfunction—either over or under-responsiveness

Symptoms typically emerge in early childhood during crucial developmental windows. While genetics likely contribute to risk, several possible external causes also exist.

Uncovering “The Perfect Storm” Behind Autism’s Rise

Emerging science reveals a combination of external factors often overlooked by ASD professionals in conventional medical care models. This “Perfect Storm” of external factors, as we refer to it, often includes:

  • Maternal prenatal distress from factors like toxins, stress, and infections. These can prime fragile nervous systems for dysfunction through fight-or-flight signaling that becomes a child’s chronic default mode.
  • Birth trauma from delivery interventions can overwork central networks, leading to neurological dysfunction (subluxation) and communication impairments between the brain, gut, and immune function.
  • Early exposure to antibiotics and other medications within the first 2-3 years of life has been shown to contribute to a whole host of neuroimmune challenges later in life.

Eventually, systemic nervous system dysfunction called dysautonomia emerges along with chronic inflammation and vagus nerve dysfunction—major precursors to ASD severity!

DSM-5 Criteria: What is Level 1 Autism?

The Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM-5) established distinct criteria across three tiers of support needs, with level 1 indicating the mildest degree of impact:

  • Persistent deficits in social communication: Children face challenges navigating interpersonal relationships, back-and-forth conversations, and intuitively interpreting verbal and nonverbal cues. Still, some reciprocal communication occurs.
  • Restricted or repetitive behavior patterns or activities: Kids exhibit at least two types. Common manifestations include inflexible adherence to routines, ritualized patterns of movement like flapping hands, hyper-focus on narrow interests, or persistent sensory hyper/hypo-reactivity.
  • Symptoms present impairment but milder disability: While daily living skills often lag behind peers, semi-independence remains manageable in school, home, and community contexts with existing levels of support.

The distinguishing hallmark rests on the intensity of support required daily rather than just a checklist of traits. Even highly articulate children with advanced intellectual abilities contend with profound difficulties thriving sans accommodation.

Autism Level 1 Symptoms To Watch For

While autism manifests uniquely in each child, specific patterns and social cues repeatedly surface in level 1:

  • Extremely focused interests around niche academic topics, numbers, or mechanical systems
  • Facility memorizing intricate details and facts of topics of passion
  • Articulate expressive speech yet lackluster conversational reciprocity
  • Love of strict routines yet disastrous reactions to abrupt schedule changes
  • Overwhelmed navigating ambiguous social cues and unstated rules
  • Sensory hypersensitivities to textures, sounds, and touch elicit panic
  • Comorbid conditions like ADHD or anxiety disorders often co-occur

Repetitive physical movements provide soothing regulation but draw unwanted negative attention, complicating acceptance. Teasing and exclusion by dismissive peers cut deeply, too.

Catching Level 1 Early Through Comprehensive Evaluation

Family members noting development lags or pediatricians may suspect milestone delays typically around 2 or 3. At this time, a pediatrician will refer the family to a specialist for an assessment.

For this assessment, a team comprising of psychologists, speech and occupational therapists, and other professionals conduct multi-disciplinary evaluations to identify autism spectrum disorder using:

  • Standardized testing gauging communication, cognition, motor, and adaptive skills
  • Language sampling analyzing verbal and nonverbal aptitudes
  • Sensory profiles assessing regulation abilities
  • Parent interviews detailing the comprehensive history

This data then renders a gold-standard diagnosis of the particular ASD level impacting your child, allowing families to seek further care from neurologically-focused approaches.

The Implications of Having a Level 1 Autism Diagnosis

A level 1 autism diagnosis can significantly impact daily functioning despite intellectual competence. Common challenges of a level 1 autism diagnosis include:

  • Educational Struggles: Sensory overload, rigid thinking, intermittent mutism, motor delays, or acting out can hamper learning and social interactions and overwhelm classroom management. Constant accommodation advocacy pushes parent bandwidths thin yet hangs by a thread.
  • Social Isolation: Some people with level 1 autism may struggle to understand social cues, such as sarcasm, banter, and dramatic friendships. They might prefer to connect with others through parallel play, and teasing can hurt them emotionally.
  • Comorbid Conditions: Many children with autism also wrestle with attention deficits, disruptive sleep, chronic constipation, pathological demand avoidance, sound sensitivities, or oral motor skill delays, further magnifying existing trials.
  • Rigidity: Life is conducted by comfortable routines, and tenaciously preferred items generate calm. However, the expectation for flexibility precipitates paralyzing panic.

While these implications can seem daunting, providing the right substantial support can help children with level 1 autism to unlock their potential for academic success, social belonging, self-advocacy, and purpose.

Caring Through Nervous System Focus

While traditional therapies and medication offer glimpses of relief, long-term healing demands addressing the root causes with a focus on the nervous system first. This is where PX Docs can help.

We champion drug-free care protocols specifically tailored to children with autism spectrum challenges, leveraging advanced Neurologically-Focused Chiropractic Care techniques. These techniques include:

  • Identifying subluxation, vagus impairment, and dysautonomia
  • Quantifying nervous system imbalance and function deficits through innovative INSiGHT Scan technology
  • Monitor progress via HRV, Thermal, and EMG metrics reflecting gains
  • Implement specific adjusting protocols and techniques that will be most effective for each patient’s neurological dysfunction and subluxation patterns

Next Steps to Unlock Your Child’s Possibilities

Transforming an autism diagnosis into answers you can work with requires digging beneath the surface. It requires addressing the roots of the neurological dysfunction and developing a whole-body care plan that considers the cause, not just the effect.

This is where a qualified PX Doc can help. By considering a Neurologically-Focused Chiropractic Care plan from a specialized provider, parents can help address the root cause of their child’s nervous system dysregulation and restore healthy communication between the brain and body. While chiropractic care does not seek to treat or cure Level 1 Autism, or any other pediatric condition for that matter, no other care option directly impacts the function and regulation of the nervous system quite like Neurologically-Focused Chiropractic Care can.

At PX Docs, we’re dedicated to helping children with autism achieve their full potential through safe, effective, and drug-free support. Our approach is grounded in compassion and possibility as we strive to provide a refreshed perspective to families and providers alike.
To get started, visit our website today to find a PX Doc near you. Begin your journey towards reaching your child’s highest potential today.

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What is Level 1 Autism? Understanding This Diagnosis | PX Docs (2024)
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