Of all the Autism Spectrum Disorders, Borderline Autism is one of the most complex developmental disorders to diagnose.

borderline autism

Borderline Autism Symptoms

This article would cover most of the widely known symptoms of High Functioning or Borderline Autism. However, the quickest way to find out whether you (or your child) have borderline autism is to take one of our online Autism tests for your age group. You can use our Autism Test wizard below to automatically get redirected to one of our tests. Else, scroll down to continue reading.

Challenges around Borderline Autism Diagnosis

Autism diagnosis, in itself, is quite complex due to the lack on clear medical tests (like blood sampling, MRI, etc) and practitioners need to heavily rely on strong behavioral symptoms across the various types of autism spectrum in order to confirm a positive diagnosis. Additionally, certain symptoms of Autism overlap with psychological disorders – thereby adding a new layer of complexity.

Blend these complexities with that of borderline autism, and there you have it – a perfect recipe for a highly complex set of diagnostic requirements which in most cases would be only 50% accurate the first time!

Why??

The reason being, that in order to be diagnosed with borderline autism, the person must display many of the symptoms of autism, but NOT to a level severe enough to be diagnosed autistic. With borderline autism, symptoms are transient in nature without any predictable patterns; they may appear, fade away and suddenly re-appear – all in matter of months.

Therapy Options for Borderline Autism

 

Characteristics of Classical Autism
Characteristics of Classical Autism
Borderline Autism Symptoms
Borderline Autism Symptoms
As you can see from the above two comparisons, the borderline autism symptoms are less severe and infrequent than classical autism. Also, unlike normal autism symptoms, the signs of borderline autism do not necessarily deteriorate as the kid moves from childhood to adulthood. The symptoms that are generally exhibited in borderline autism are:

  • Language and sensory development issues
  • Social and Communication skill problems
  • Ability to adapt and make transitions
  • Minor motor impairments (mind-body coordination)

Diagnosis of Borderline Autism in Children and Toddlers

The only way to diagnose Borderline or High Functioning Autism is via:

  • Direct observation of the child over a prolonged period
  • Behavioral information and feedback provided by parents/teachers and close family members
  • Developmental Screening for Autistic trends

Although the following symptoms are looked at in diagnosing borderline autism, the severity of each issue is also looked at while determining whether the child is borderline or classical autistic.

Social Interaction

autism social interaction

Children with borderline autism often show a desire to communicate and engage in play. However, they lack some of the intricate skills to do so. Autistic children will, in general, be uninterested. Children that are borderline autistic may engage in social conversation however they have difficulty moving from subject to subject which some people may take as being rude.

Language and Learning Impairments

Borderline autistic children have delayed language development but not to the same extent as of autistic children. They may also exhibit minor learning disabilities. However, for kids with borderline autism, learnability could be significantly improved by the use of behavior and concentration therapies.

Behavior Anomalies

autism behavior problems

Borderline autistic children often become obsessive with patterns and repetitive behavior and play. Even though they engage in repetitive behavior, it is less extreme than children with autism. Toddlers that are borderline autistic may have a specific attachment to an odd item such as liking door knobs, keys, lamps…

Adaptability to Transition & Change

Children with Borderline Autism may have difficulty changing their focus to a new task. While a borderline child may exhibit extreme annoyance to interruptions, autistic children, on the other hand, may not care or pay attention to such interruptions.

Sensory Processing Issues

Problems with Sensory Integration - How Boys and Girls Differ
Problems with Sensory Integration – How Boys and Girls Differ

Borderline autistic children may also have difficulty in physical coordination thus limiting their participation in sports and other extracurricular activities. Smells and sounds may trigger a reaction but not as severe as someone with autism or sensory integration disorder. Please read the following articles on sensory issues:

Every child is a unique personality! It is not being “overprotective” to keep an eye for early signs of borderline autism. Many parents are hesitant to pursue a diagnosis of bordering autism with their physician or school, fearing their child will be labeled for life.

Resources to Help with HFA and Borderline Autism

Many parents with children having borderline, High Functioning Autism or Asperger’s have found Suzane’s ULTIMATE Guide eBook extremely handy. Click on the image below to learn more.

Parenting guide on High Functioning and borderline autism
The ULTIMATE Parenting Guide on High Functioning and Borderline Autism

Borderline Autism Treatment Options

MUST READ: How PECS Communication System for Autism can Help!

Children diagnosed with borderline autism can benefit from occupational, speech and behavior therapy. Under the diagnosis of borderline autism, your child is entitled to all the treatments and therapies that are available. Under the listings in the DSM5, borderline autism is considered appropriate to bill Insurance carriers for therapy.

borderline Autism Treatment Options
Borderline Autism Treatment Options

There is one good note to keep in mind. A borderline autism diagnosis gives your child the freedom to know how they feel and that they are not failures. The best news is, that once your child is confirmed with borderline autism, they receive best available therapy covered by insurances, enjoys the benefits of special coaching through the school system at no cost to you and the diagnosis is removed from your child’s record upon entering Kindergarten or first grade (depending on the state or country you live in).

Don’t fight the diagnosis! Get the assistance your child needs and is entitled to. Their school record will not contain any traces of Autism Spectrum Disorder as borderline autism is usually treatable as the child mainstreams into his age appropriate classes.

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Ash
Ash

I am Ashish, the admin for this website. Having grown up with an Autistic brother, I understand the hurdles families face dealing with Autism. I have also realized that lots could be achieved by harnessing the strengths of Autistic children to integrate them into the society. Here, we share the objective to make that information freely available! Read more

    31 replies to "Borderline Autism"

    • Debby

      Twenty-five years ago I was diagnosed with Bipolar 2 Disorder. I’m 65 years of age now and beginning to think I was misdiagnosed. I took the Autism Test for Adults and results revealed I have a 50% chance of being Borderline Autistic. For the past twenty five years I’ve been taking the antidepressant Prozac for depression and a small amount of Clonazepam for anxiety. The medications have been working well and continue to provide effective treatment.

      Reading about high functioning autism has made me realize I fit the diagnosis much better than I do for Bipolar 2 Disorder. Before being medicated, I avoided eye contact. I continue to avoid crowds and noisy situations.

    • Gullaila

      Hello! I hope you’ll read it till the end.
      Recently I’ve heard about the symptoms of autism from the experienced teacher, who had a lot of students with autism. Listening to her, for a while, it seemed to me like she was describing me. And I started to look for further information about it. I’m 23, female. I’ve never been diagnosed as autist, because I haven’t been even tested. My country lcks the autistic diagnostic centers, and for people of my country this theme is not interesting. Parents usually consider children as eccentric, as they have unoque features or just introvert. I always thought that I’m intovert, however I always knew that I really had problems in understanding people.
      In my childhood, I could spend hours staring at the ceiling or a carpet, because I could see a lot of images and figures there. Even I had a copybook, in which I used to draw them. This activity was really interesting for me and I enjoyed it. Currently, I’m busy with studying, working, going for a sport, reading books,etc. So, I really do not have time for observing patterns, but quite often I see them.
      When I was a teenager, I really had problems with understanding people’s intentions. For example, I could not understand why my classmates smile when our eyes cross, and I used to ask them the reason of smiling. I used to think that there must be a reason for smiling at someone. Later, by having experiences in communication with people, I understood that it was just a gesture/sign of friendliness and politeness. Moreover, touches really disturb me. I’m 23 and I do not know how the action of kissing (on cheek) could be done. I have never kissed my parents, even on their birthdays. And even kids. This action does not mean anything for me. And when my siblings expect me to kiss their children meeting them after 4-5 months, I feel struggle and disturbance inside me, because I do not want to do it. And I don’t do it.
      Communicating with people is very hard for me. I can have chats with strangers sometimes, if they don’t last for a long time. I feel embarassed among many people: my eyes start to water and turn red, can’t look at them and behave properly. I may say wrong things and behave as a helpless shy kid with low self-esteem. Actually, I’m trying to overcome it, and I guess I’m doing well. I feel absolutely comfortable only with my family and few of my friends, with others I try to look so.
      Furthermore, it’s hard for me to deal with cases when my expectation and reality (plans and reality) do not match. Fortunately, I’m not aggressive, I can control negative emotions, but I can’t help crying in such cases. I feel trouble inside me and I start to eat a lot, listen to a loud music or stay alone with my thoughts.
      Dear doctor, what can you say about the features listed above? Can it be an autism or am I just an introvert? I’ll be waiting for your answer.
      P.S. I’m quite active in self-development: I learn foreign languages, read books about body language, public speaking skills, listen to audiobooks, work hard (had a promotion at work, got A diploma), go in for boxing, learning to paint, etc. I’m happy about my life. I just want to understand the reason of misunderstandings with people I still have. Thanks in advance

    • Bettye

      I thank God and thank all of you wonderful people for sharing your stories and testamonies about borderline autism. As we discovered, my grandson had it when he was about 6 or 7 and he is now 25. He had some of the symptoms that some of you or your children had. We had to put him in a private school after public school could no longer supply special Ed classes for him. He graduated on time and is now taking college computer classes. It took a lot of patience, self discipline for him as well as the family to get where he’s gotten today. We let him know that we love him and are very proud of Him. He used to love sweets like cupcakes with high piled icing now he is loves eating healthy food and brags about it. I think a lot of the “borderline” is removed with determination from the individual, an understanding family, good teachers, good counselors and good doctors. He always had a good disposition was kind and gentle and is very proud that he can help his Mom and Grand mom be a caregiver for his great Grandmom. He was one of those children who cold build a large city with legoes and put together dozens of recognizable objects with the leftovers. He is very organized and can’t stand clutter. I’m so glad because even I, as a grandma have a hard time getting rid of things, yet I can’t stand a room over crowded with furniture. I have a very good friend who is a minister and declares that we all have something “special” going on with us that keeps us not walking to the beat of the same drum,(what we need to do is listen and respect each other’s drum beat, whether we walk to it or not.) What a wonderful world this would be if we could just learn to do that. Would love to have a copy of that Autism Handbook and get subscribed to the monthly news letter. Thank you all.

    • Angie Williams

      My son has borderline autism and he is 15. When he was in 7th/8th grade he was straight As. Now that he is in 9th grade I can’t get him togo to school. He has missed 22 day and now the attendance officer called me and said they are going to call child services on me. My son shut completely off and he wont tell me why he don’t want to go to school. What can I do? Will I goto jail because 1 him missing so much school.

      • Gerhard Hausler

        my son is 15, he’l be 16 in february, i’ve had the same problem, i have to go to court his attendance was lower than 50%, but i put him in a new school that specialises working with teens with borderline autism and adhd, he’s been there a week and loves it, now he wants to go to school, children services refused for a year to let me put him in that school, so much trouble would have been avoided, bless you Angie

        • Angie Williams

          If I may ask what did they say in court and what school does he goto now. I had a conference at my son’s school the other day and they had a officer call my son and the officer told my son he would be coming to my house to get him if he didn’t goto school. My son got up and went to school but I can tell he doesn’t want to go. He is very distance and quite . The officer told my son on the phone if he didn’t goto school they would put me in jail for neglect to a miner. I just don’t understand why they treat kids this way when it’s completely obvious that there must be a issue why he don’t want to go. My son has never had a friend over and his teachers say that my son is very quiet and shy ,never talks in school but he gets straight As.

    • Chu

      after watching a tv programme about a guy with aspergers, it was kinda scary how i related to some of the things experiences he had.

      done the test and will get a proper diagnosis.

      looking back, I find it extremely difficult to engage in relationships with the opposite sex.

      how i know why!

    • Rob Wilkens

      Hi .. I’m 42 .. I was diagnosed in 2010 with some kind of Autism, but never treated specifically for that (but for 20 years i took and take risperidone, which my therapist tells me is treatment of choice for autism, plus i’m working on social skills and cognitive behavioral therapy already, so no difference from what i’m already doing).. I took an adult autism online assessment, possibly from this or a related site, and it led me here, and it said i was ‘borderline or high functioning autism’ and this article can relate to a lot of my earlier life (and today!). I’m not going to bore you with the details, though. I have a mix of what this site calls high functioning autism symptoms and even a few of the ‘classic’ symptoms as well (not all, and not all the time!).

    • Shai

      Hi there my son is 3 in oct his assessment would b in oct I completed the test n it says it’s borderline autism I don’t get it like is it very bad one on mild one ?? How much is treatable and how many chances are there for my 8 months old to have it thanks

    • Anne

      I could never get boarderline support through insurance and now scjools. It really seems all or nothing. Very frustrating.

    • Jennifer

      My daughter is 11, and was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder, Developmental Coordination Disorder (Dyspraxia), and Auditory Processing Disorder when she was about four years old. We were told that she didn’t have autism because she was very social with adults. Her focused interests are specific friends (who she gets obsessed with) and Ariel, The Little Mermaid. She now is beginning to get obsessed with boys. Because her focused interests are people, I am afraid the doctors overlooked this. I am starting to think that she went undiagnosed with High Functioning Autism or Borderline Autism because of her gender… Has there been a change in how girls are diagnosed?

    • RANJAN KUMAR MOHANTY

      My son who is 11 years old has developed some behavioral and mood disorder since last 8 month i.e. after his seizure disorder in June 2015. Last treatment done at NIMHANS, Bangalore in September 2016 and they have diagnosed him as Mild Autism and in borderline. They have prescribed Risperidone 1 mg. bed time daily. But no substantial improvement seen after 2 months. Please guide me for better treatment.

      • Ash

        Hi Ranjan,
        NIMHANS is one of the better institutions but practitioners tend to prescribe medication as the first line of intervention. I suggest, with mild autism symptoms, you should explore Applied behavioral therapy options.

    • Jen

      My teenage son does not pick up on social cues and sometimes has a hard time understanding directions or feedback. He even misjudges character emotions on television which are obvious to everyone else. The thing is this doesn’t happen all the time- or at least I don’t pick up on it all the time. I can’t decide if his spatial ability is advanced or impaired. He has been doing 1000+ piece lego sets since he was 6 but still becomes paralyzed when we tell him to “look in the pantry”. When he was younger he always failed the “over/under/next to” tests in preschool. We just moved so it is effecting him socially again. . .normally it takes a couple of years to establish a social circle. He is a nice kid- but middle schoolers can be mean about little quirks people have.

      • Ash

        Thanks for your comment. My elder brother was exactly the same when he was a kid. He could solve the 1000+ puzzles in no time but would fail as simple tasks. He was diagnosed with Autism when he was 7 years old – I guess such people have a gifted photographic memory and visual representation.

    • Kimberly

      Love that you tackled this topic. I think this is my daughter. Unfortunately she is almost 7, and this seems to be difficult to get a Dx for at this age. Instead she has Dx of ADHD, Anxiety, OCD, and SPD- all symptoms explained by ASD, yet they refused to give her a Dx due to it being intermittent. When it’s good, it’s almost NT good, when it’s bad it’s time to change schools bad. I’m not as worried academically she is smart, but I worry in the way adults interact and their expectations for her to comprehend and conform due to their lack of understanding. We also can’t get the correct therapies covered at the frequency needed (if faught for intensive OT, which helped but she no longer has). Any guidance on how to find a professional who gets It and can help us get her the Dx & correct therapies she needs?

    • Caleb Neo

      Despite observing that the last time anyone inquired with you on the matter was last year, I still however am compelled to provide my own view on the matter.

      You see, I was lately diagnosed with “borderline autism”. I was not as surprised as one might expect, for I was quite convinced that I had, or at least had some variant, of the aforementioned condition from a young age. I was always known for speaking at an obnoxiously loud volume, fighting with schoolmates, having the compulsion to spin and many other oddities that I would rather not list.

      I am coping well. However, my obsession with using the internet may have hampered by natural gift in learning and instead conditioned me to needing this digital drug at many times of the day, however inconvenient. Therefore, I find that it is of a high priority that I place this issue under control.

      What would you suggest, and furthermore, does this actually have any link to my borderline autism.

      (I don’t expect you to reply though, but, If you do, I would like to express some thanks)

    • Julieta

      My close to 3 year old is “borderline” un-diagnosed yet. He has very mild expressive language delay, if any and no receptive delays. He is cognitively advanced. His main issues would be fear from large social groups, and not very interested to engage other kids. Otherwise, he exhibits completely normal joint attention, and ability to read social cues at home. He was evaluated by very famous reputable clinic, where they gave him only mild social delay, but could not guarantee he is not on the spectrum yet. So he probably will get diagnosed if he doesn’t make friends at school soon.

      Please tell me more about true borderline/mild autism? How extensive is the therapy, and what are the outcomes?

      • ashishb01

        Hi Julieta,

        Thanks for your comment,sounds like borderline autism could be a possibility but clearly your child seems high functional and, as the clinic suggested, it might be quite early to tell. May be you could post your question on our Autism Forum for someone to pick it up and respond.

    • DPS CHAUHAN

      Dear sir
      Thanks a lot for providing such a valuable information on the subject.
      I’m also a worried father. My son is now 4 years old. Still there is no significant progress as far as his communication is concerned. He doesn’t understand any verbal instructions. His vocabulary and knowledge of language is limited to his very needs.
      I’ve visited many hospitals including GIPS Ahemdabad but he is yet to be diagnosed properly. Though I suspect that its a case of borderline autism. Because he exhibits some of the autistic features. But not as severe as in case of classical autism.
      So I beg to ask if there is any full proof treatment. Should he be sent to some special institute? What best can be done in the case to help him?
      Your suggestions based on your experience will be of great value for me. Please add anything which may be deemed necessary.
      With regards.

      • ashishb01

        Hi DPS,

        Unfortunately, there is no full proof treatment for borderline or any other form of Autism. But, foremost, you will need a diagnosis. Did you try our online Autism Test for Toddlers? Give it a go and see how the scores are. A support network is crucial for parents in such cases. You can register to our free Autism Forum and post your questions to other parents and professionals there.

      • Sapna

        Hi,

        My sister’s son is also diagnosed with ASD. There are few step you should take immediately (response is based on my nephew’s treatment).
        1. See a doctor who is “pediatric neurologist”. One is Anita Hedge (Jaslok Hospital, Mumbai) and Pooja Grover Kapoor (Artemis, Gurgaon). Seek some doctor with that specialty in your vicinity
        2. If you are getting late in getting appointment, you can start with enrolling for sensory therapies and speech therapy. It is provided in many centers. One of the center i know of is Sneh Center (www.sneh.org.in), which have centers in multiple cities. You can find such one in your area. Such centers provide hourly intervention on weekly basis (3 hours per week), which one need to repeat again at home.
        3. There ‘early intervention centers’, which perform like a school routine. Two such centers are “Comm Deal” and Ummeed in Mumbai (www.communicationdeall.org)/ (ummeed.org). These centers will provide intensive therapy of 2-3 hours five days a week.
        4. Even still your son need special attention at schools, there are integrated schools (e.g. aditya birla integrated school, mumbai). They take kids with ASD with mild and moderate cases. If your kid is able to join regular school, then schools do provide shadow teachers for specific kids to help them better.

        What I know of, starting early is the key as doctors say that a child’s brain development is maximum upto the age of 5 Yrs. Since your kid is young, try to take advantage of it.

        These all examples are relate to mumbai and gurgaon. However, u can visit mumbai to understand what these centers are and they can also suggest your something for your city. All the best!!

        I hope I am of being help.

    • Rupali

      Dear ashish,
      can you please share a best diet for the child to develop his brain so that understanding to things can be improved. My son is 2 and half years only.

      • ashishb01

        Hi Rupali,
        Not sure about brain development but if your child is on Autism Spectrum, you might check out the GFCF Autism Diet page. For any specific question, post it on our Autism community and a member will pick it up.

    • angie

      My son just turned 4, and has been diagnosed with border line autism. If anyone has any advice please email me (soranyeflorian@mail.com). I am trying to get as much information as I can so that I can help my son.because right now am really stuck. Thank you in advance 🙂

      • Ashish

        Hi Angie,
        What sort of information/advice are you after? Borderline autism could be significantly improved with the right treatment and therapy. Refer to this free Autism handbook that we are currently giving away, its a great starting point . Also, this will ensure that you get subscribed to our monthly newsletter where we offer free Autism tips for parents.

    • Mrs Ibrar

      To add to my above query, my Son who is 9+ has achieved in school what 11 year olds are still attempting especially in mathematics.once he sets his mind on something he does it(even if we say you’ve gone too far with this certain task there’s no stopping him)
      He really wants to please and impress people (especially his peers) and even smallest of negative remarks from a peer upset him.he wouldn’t express his worry about it straight away but after he let it fester inside for days he would let out a tantrum.then after lot of probing we would get to the source of the problem.
      He is not too expressive of emotions so at times we can’t tell what he’s thinking.he has his blank phases of thinking which are now being picked at by his peers.
      Any advice would be most welcome and helpful
      Thanks

    • Mrs Ibrar

      Hi,
      My son who is a high achiever in school is suspected by his councillor to be borderline autistic.its due to his lack of focus and inability to show emotion in speech and observations like failure to make eye contact.
      Could you please elaborate I will provide more details too

    • Ida Quesada

      I believe I was borderline autistic but grew out of certain symptoms. I am now 75 years old and it took all these years for these symptoms to leave . I remember I could not look people in the eyes’ I felt like everyone was so much smarter than me. My social life was terrible as I had no socialskills. I felt different from others all my life. How I managed to get married and have children I don’t know. I believe borderline autistic people need patience . I also think they should have a good diet. Someone to constantly teach them where they are lacking in skills. My family explained my illness as shyness and yes I did feel an overwhelming shyness when dealing with strangers, but I felt it was more than shyness. I wish I could express myself better so I could let people know how it feels but I cannot find the proper words. I still feel these symptoms but try to overcome them. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I don’t.

      • Ashish

        Thanks for sharing your story Ida. Through determination, hard work and a bit of medical help, high functioning and borderline autism could be easily overcome.
        Given your age, I am sure not much medical help was available at that time, so you made the other factors count. Good on you!

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