Understanding the Three Levels of Autism with Alicia Trautwein

When you receive a diagnosis, you may be lost regarding what it means and how it affects or modifies your life. It can become even trickier when a family member receives a diagnosis you had never heard about before. Alicia Trautwein, Life Coach and Blogger, knows a little too much about this as she was diagnosed with Autism along with two of her kids. Since then, she has dedicated her life to bringing awareness to Autism and teaching neurodiversity through her blog, The Mom Kind.

When Trautwein’s son received his diagnosis, they were told he had Level 2 Autism: Requiring Substantial Support. In their experience, it seemed like no one understood what the diagnosis meant. That was when this mom realized people were not aware of the different levels of Autism and what each of them meant.

The Mom Kind works as a resource for neurodiverse families looking for advice, support, or even fun ideas for an afternoon with their kids. For a few years, Alicia Trautwein has been writing several blog posts a week and opening the floor for guest writers who want to share their experiences as well. One of those posts explains the levels of Autism for newly diagnosed individuals or family members to get a better understanding of their diagnosis.

In her article, Trautwein explains to determine the level of Autism there are two things to consider: social communication and restricted, repetitive behavior. Based on these, doctors are able to make a diagnosis.

Level 1: Requiring Support

Individuals diagnosed with Level 1 Autism struggle with communication skills and socializing with others. Trautwein explains, “while they may be able to carry on a conversation, they might struggle with the back-and-forth of the conversation. Along with this, they can have difficulties with starting social interactions. Also, they may have problems with adequately interacting with peers. However, they likely are verbal and have difficulties with these social norms.”

These individuals will show repetitive behavior and routines and may have difficulty with transitions and inflexible behavior.

Level 2: Requiring Substantial Support

Level 2 Autism is determined by a more severe lack of verbal and non-verbal communication. As the mom of someone with this diagnosis, the blogger explains, “these individuals will have difficulty coping with change to routine or surroundings. For example, loud noises and certain smells may cause them distress. When these behaviors are interrupted, the individual will become frustrated. They will have difficulty with being redirected from the item of interest.”

Patients with this diagnosis benefit from a variety of therapies. A great example is occupational therapy to help them with executive functioning, hygiene, social skills, and future careers.

Level 3: Requiring Very Substantial Support

Level 3 Autism is the more severe level, and people with this diagnosis present a noticeable lack of verbal and non-verbal communication skills. The majority of them are non-verbal and have limitations in their social interactions with others.

Trautwein explains, “an individual with this diagnosis will have very restrictive routines or rituals and extreme difficulty with change and transitions. Someone with this level of Autism may also need a caregiver who helps them learn essential skills that will allow them to be successful in school, at home, or at work.”

Receiving a diagnosis or hearing your loved one’s diagnosis can be extremely difficult if you do not know the challenges you face. Alicia Trautwein understood that from the moment she and her children received their diagnoses. Many around them — including healthcare givers — did not know what the different levels of Autism meant and how they would have to adjust their lives. This blogger has become an excellent resource for parents of neurodiverse children and families facing medical challenges.


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