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Autism Vs. Apraxia

Autism Vs. Apraxia

Autism and apraxia should not be confused with each other, as these are two different conditions. The following write-up will provide information on these two disorders in detail.
Shah Newaz Alam
Last Updated: Apr 23, 2018
Autism spectrum disorders are a group of developmental disorders that are characterized by repetitive behavior, problems in verbal and non-verbal communication, social unresponsiveness, or impaired social interaction. They are classified as autism, atypical autism, Asperger's syndrome, Rett syndrome, and childhood disintegrative disorder. Apraxia is a neurological condition, that is characterized by the inability of the affected individual to plan, execute, and sequence motor movement. It is categorized into developmental and acquired apraxia. The former is present at birth, while the latter develops later in life.
Autism Vs. Apraxia
The differences between these two disorders can be understood with the help of certain distinguishing factors, like their causes, symptoms, etc. As mentioned before, they are different from each other, and occur at different times. However, there have been cases, where children have been diagnosed with both of them, i.e., the symptoms of both the conditions have been found in some. The following table will help you understand better, the symptoms of both, with the help of which you can differentiate which disorder a child/person has.
Category of Differenciation Autism Apraxia
Root Cause Believed to be genes or environmental factors. Believed to be due to damage to that part of the brain, which deals with the movement of certain muscles.
Development Develops in childhood, usually before the age of three. There can be a delayed onset, but it cannot be acquired in the later years of life due to an injury or any other event. Could develop later in life, due to neurological damage that may be associated with development of brain tumor, dementia, traumatic brain injury, or stroke.
Characteristic Signs
  1. Impaired communication and social skills
  2. Repetitive behavior
  3. Display of agitation due to changed routines
  4. Language problems
  5. Delayed development of motor skills
  6. Unusual movements
  7. Poor muscle coordination
  8. Difficulty to start or maintain a conversation
  9. Difficulty to make friends or form relationships
  10. Inability to understand or reciprocate emotions
  11. Lack of understanding of the other person's point of view
  12. Emotional unresponsiveness
Signs depend on the type.
  1. Orofacial: The child may not be able to perform face movements, other than those associated with speech, such as sticking out his tongue or puckering his lips.
  2. Ideational: The child is unable to perform the learned tasks in the order in which they have to be performed.
  3. Limb-kinetic: The child may not be able to move his limbs in a certain way, though he may not have any specific medical problem in that body part.
  4. Ideomotor: The child may not be able to carry out a learned task, such as brushing hair or writing. He may use a different object for these tasks.
  5. Verbal: The child forgets the words that he has learned to speak. He has difficulty in achieving and maintaining the articulatory configurations.
While autism is characterized by impaired social interaction, apraxia is marked by impaired voluntary movements. A person affected by the latter cannot perform a movement when asked to do so, even if he may have the desire to do it and may have done the task before. A lack of empathy and desire to adhere to routines, which are characteristic signs of autistic children, are not seen in children affected by apraxia.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.