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“It’s a Spectrum” Doesn’t Mean What You Think9 min read

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Everyone knows that autism is a spec­trum. People bring it up all the time.

“My son is on the severe end of the autism spec­trum.”

“We’re all a little autistic– it’s a spec­trum.”

“I’m not autistic but I’m def­i­nitely ‘on the spec­trum.’ ”

If only people knew what a spec­trum is… because they are talking about autism all wrong.

Let’s use the vis­ible spec­trum as an example.

The spectrum of light. From left to right: Violet from 380 to 450 nanometer wavelength, blue from 450 to 495 nanometer wavelength, green from 495 to 570 nanometers, yellow from 570 to 590 nanometers, orange from 590 to 620 nanometers, and red from 620 to 750 nanometer wavelength of light.

As you can see, the var­ious parts of the spec­trum are notice­ably dif­ferent from each other. Blue looks very dif­ferent from red, but they are both on the vis­ible light spec­trum.

Red is not “more blue” than blue is. Red is not “more spec­trum” than blue is.

When people dis­cuss colours, they don’t talk about how “far along” the spec­trum a colour is. They don’t say “my walls are on the high end of the spec­trum” or “I look best in colours that are on the low end of the spec­trum.”

But when people talk about autism they talk as if it were a gra­dient, not a spec­trum at all.

People think you can be “a little autistic” or “extremely autistic,” the way a paint colour could be a little red or extremely red.

A line going from white to slightly more red to bright red. On the left near the white/pink it says "a little quirky." To the right of that says "definitely autistic." On the right side in bright red it says "tragic autistic."
How people think the spec­trum looks

But autism isn’t that simple.

Autism isn’t a set of defined symp­toms that col­lec­tively worsen as you move “up” the spec­trum.

In fact, one of the dis­tin­guishing fea­tures of autism is what the DSM‑V calls an “uneven pro­file of abil­i­ties.” There’s a reason people like to say that “if you have met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.” Every autistic person presents slightly dif­fer­ently.

That’s because autism isn’t one con­di­tion. It is a col­lec­tion of related neu­ro­log­ical con­di­tions that are so inter­twined and so impos­sible to pick apart that pro­fes­sionals have stopped trying.

The autism spectrum looks more like this:

The spectrum of light with descriptions at the bottom from left to right with different categories. From left to right: Pragmatic language (social communication including body language, eye contact, small talk, and turn-taking conversation), social awareness (ability to pick up on social etiquette, social norms, taboos. Ability to form and maintain relationships), monotropic mindset (Narrow but intense ability to focus, resulting in "obsessive" interests and difficulty task-switching), information processing (ability to assimilate and apply new information quickly or to adapt to new environments or situations), sensory processing (challenges interpreting sensory information, hypersensitivity or hyposensitivity to stimuli), repetitive behaviors (tendency to "stim" in response to varying emotions. Can be beneficial or harmful in nature), neuro-motor differences (Ability to control body movements. Ranges from clumsiness to complete loss of ability to move with intention).

All autistic people are affected in one way or another in most or all of these boxes — a rainbow of traits.

If you only check one or two boxes, then they don’t call it autism– they call it some­thing else.

For example, if you ONLY struggle with com­mu­ni­ca­tion, then they call that social com­mu­ni­ca­tion dis­order.

If you ONLY have prob­lems with body movement/control then that is called dys­praxia or devel­op­mental coor­di­na­tion dis­order.

If you ONLY have sen­sory pro­cessing issues then that is sen­sory pro­cessing dis­order.

But if you have all of the above and more, they call it autism.

You can see how ridicu­lous it seems, there­fore, when someone says “we’re all a little autistic” because they also hate flu­o­res­cent lights or because they also feel awk­ward in social sit­u­a­tions. That’s like saying that you are dressed “a little rain­bowy” when you are only wearing red.

Having sen­sory pro­cessing issues doesn’t make you “a little autistic.” It makes you someone with sen­sory pro­cessing prob­lems. Autistic people will under­stand your strug­gles and wel­come you as a fellow neu­ro­di­ver­gent cousin, but that’s it.

But in order for a person to be con­sid­ered autistic, they must have dif­fi­culty in mul­tiple cat­e­gories span­ning the spec­trum. Diagnosis depends on evi­dence that you do span the spec­trum in observ­able ways.

Some com­mon­al­i­ties are less obvious and are not required for diag­nosis but are almost universally-reported by autistic people.

Each autistic person is affected strongly enough in one or more cat­e­gories for it to be dis­abling in some way. But each per­son’s dom­i­nant colour palette may look dif­ferent.

Here are some exam­ples of how autism could man­i­fest in three dif­ferent people.

Person One

Same image as above with darkened or lightened colors and specific descriptions of each area. This person absorbs written word easily, dislikes certain sounds, tends to tap fingers on desk, is somewatch clumsy, forgets to say hello or goodbye, and tends to miss subtle social cues.

Person Two

Same image as above with darkened or lightened colors and specific descriptions of each area. This person is different from person one. For example, they are unable to speak due to motor problems but picks up social cues very well, is very interested in people, tends to get fixated when stressed, finds it difficult to adjust to new locations, feels like mild touches burn like fire, and certain sounds completely incapacitate the person, flaps arms and hums or grunts, and their body seems to have a mind of its own, and are often mistaken for having intellectual disability.

Person Three

Same image as above with darkened or lightened colors and specific descriptions of each area. This person is different from Person 1 and 2 because they don't notice others when they are upset, doesn't pick up on social etiquette, dislikes being redirected from a task, learns best when moving, has low sensitivity to sensory input, likes loud noises, may hit themselves when stressed or understimulated, like to bounce and jump, and are somewhat hyperactive but strong and fit and can perform challenging physical tasks with ease.

As you can see, all three of these hypo­thet­ical autis­tics show classic signs of autism, and yet they all seem very dif­ferent from one another.

Which one is the “most” autistic?

Person One would prob­ably be described as “aspie” or “high-functioning,” even though their monotropic mindset might cause exec­u­tive func­tion prob­lems and make it hard to live and work inde­pen­dently.

Person Two is the type of person who is often described as “severely autistic” since they cannot speak and do not appear to under­stand what goes on around them. However, people like Carly Fleischmann and Ido Kedar have taught us that in fact they are very socially aware and under­stand prag­matic speech quite well.

Carly’s inter­view style in her Youtube show Speechless, for example, is extremely witty and flir­ta­tious in a way that many an “aspie” would be unable to imi­tate.

If the only thing stop­ping this person from being witty, social, and viva­cious is a motor-control problem, then are they truly “more” autistic than Person One?

Person Three might be able to be inde­pen­dent in adult­hood if given the stim­u­la­tion and accom­mo­da­tions they require in order to feel com­fort­able and be able to learn. But they might be held back through child­hood as par­ents and teachers try to force them to sit still and be quiet and learn in con­ven­tional ways, which might result in increas­ingly worse episodes of self-harm.

All three of these people are dis­abled in some way.

People who can speak aloud and have rea­son­able con­trol over their motor pro­cessing are often called “high-functioning,” and yet these autis­tics often struggle with employ­ment, rela­tion­ships, and exec­u­tive func­tion.

My doctor recently referred to my autism is “mild.” I gently pointed to my psy­chol­o­gist’s report which stated that my exec­u­tive dys­func­tion as being greater than 99th per­centile.

“That means I am less func­tional than 99% of people. Does that seem mild to you?” I asked her.

But, you see, I can speak, and I can look people in the eyes, so they see my autism as “mild.” My autism affects those around me mildly but my autism does affect me severely.

There is no ques­tion that those who suffer from severe neu­ro­motor dif­fi­cul­ties are extremely dis­abled, and I am not in any way com­paring myself to them.

In fact, I am specif­i­cally asking people to stop com­paring me to them. It does them a dis­ser­vice to assume that they have what I have, only worse.

It is this assump­tion that dehu­man­izes people like Ido Kedar and Carly Fleischmann. It is this assump­tion that leads to them and many like them being treated as unthinking, unfeeling, and unhearing. It is this assump­tion that drives them to beat their heads against the wall in frus­tra­tion.

If they have what I have, but worse, then they must be so very autistic that they can’t func­tion at all. They must have worse inter­per­sonal skills, worse infor­ma­tion pro­cessing, worse social aware­ness.

But that isn’t true at all.

Not only was my mind fully present and under­standing every­thing, but I read flu­ently. I thought of retorts, jokes and com­ments all day long in my head. Only no one else knew.

So, I was talked to like a tod­dler, not given a real edu­ca­tion, and kept bored and sad.

‑Ido Kedar, Vista del Mar Autism Conference

Don’t do it.

Don’t assume that an autistic person is so very autistic that they can’t even hear or under­stand you. Don’t assume that they cannot read just because they cannot use the toilet. Don’t assume that I am not dis­abled just because I can look you in the eyes and chat with you about the weather.

We have uneven skill sets.

Temple Grandin is unable to read people, thinks visu­ally, speaks, and needs no 1:1 sup­port to get on with her life. I am her oppo­site. I have great insight into people, think in words, can’t speak to save my life, and need 1:1 help.

-Ido Kedar, “Spectrum or Different?” May 2016

Ido Kedar does not have a more severe ver­sion of Temple Grandin’s autism or my own. His skill set is totally dif­ferent.

My neu­ro­motor dif­fi­cul­ties are lim­ited to burning myself while cooking dinner, or stum­bling and falling on a walk. Ido Kedar’s neu­ro­motor dif­fi­cul­ties, on the other hand, mean that his body often walks itself right out of the room without his per­mis­sion.

Yet Ido Kedar could prob­ably blow my prag­matic lan­guage skills out of the water.

Does that mean we have nothing in common?

No, based on what he has written, I can see that we actu­ally have many things in common.

As autistic people, we both know how it feels to lose one­self in a good stim, how it feels to forget to look at some­one’s eyes, and how it feels to need prompting to start a task. We both struggle with anx­iety and wonder how it feels to be the kind of person who moves through life effort­lessly.

We both span the spec­trum in one way or another.

But beyond those things, our sit­u­a­tions are dif­ferent and our needs are dif­ferent.

What people like Ido Kedar need is an occu­pa­tional ther­a­pist and maybe phys­io­ther­a­pist to help them get con­trol of their body move­ments. They need someone to help them develop skill with a letter board and an iPad so they can finally express their thoughts and feel­ings.

Instead, they are often infan­tilized, insti­tu­tion­al­ized, or spend years being forced to work on their ABC’s when they would love to get their hands on a sci­ence text­book.

I, on the other hand, have always been rec­og­nized as being intel­li­gent. Instead, I struggle to have my dif­fi­cul­ties be rec­og­nized. What I need is someone to sup­port me– to cook, to clean, to orga­nize– to help me recover when tasks have gotten larger and more com­pli­cated than I can process.  Ido Kedar longs for inde­pen­dence while I long for someone to depend on.

The system fails both of us, but in very dif­ferent ways.

So please stop assuming that one kind of autism is “more autistic” than other kinds of autism.

Red isn’t “more spec­trum” than green or blue. Apples aren’t “more fruit” than oranges. That’s not how it works.

The vis­i­bility of an autism trait doesn’t nec­es­sarily pre­dict what that person can and cannot do or what sup­ports they need most.

I shouldn’t be pro­cessing human speech, according to some. I shouldn’t be writing my thoughts. I shouldn’t even have thoughts. Well, I say, go listen to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and imagine writing it deaf and try to be a little humble about the brain’s unknown capac­i­ties.

Ido Kedar — March 2019, http://www.idoinautismland.com

Don’t assume that a non-speaking autistic who doesn’t react to your pres­ence in the room is unaware of the con­ver­sa­tion.

Don’t assume that someone is not really autistic just because they make eye con­tact with you and can chat about the weather.

Don’t assume that a fluently-talkative autistic person is capable of pro­cessing what you have just said to them.

Don’t assume any­thing about an autistic person.

For sev­enty years (at least), people have been making assump­tions about autistic people based on out­ward behav­iour.  Even the diag­nostic cri­teria for autism is based on what is easily observ­able by an onlooker. They think that the stranger we act, the “more autistic” we are.

We are asking you to stop.

Ask us what we can and cannot do.

Even if it doesn’t look as though we can under­stand.

197 Comments

    1. Thank you for breaking down the spec­trum and pre­senting the 3 dif­ferent exam­ples. I actu­ally have a much better under­standing now.

  1. Thank you thank you thank you for this. Saving it to use as a resource with my col­leagues (I’m a school-based SLP) and for myself. It elu­ci­dates a lot of the con­fu­sion I’ve expe­ri­enced about my autistic stu­dents and their highly vari­able lan­guage skills.

  2. I am a mum to an autie. This has given me so much more insight. Thank you.

  3. Wow! Outstanding entry. I believe autism is get­ting over diag­nosed as well.

    1. How? It took SIX YEARS for me to get my son’s diag­nosis, even when he was so obvi­ously in need of 1:1 assis­tance that the school wanted to put him in a special-education class, where he would be the only verbal child. I attended that class and saw that they were all being treated like infants, in spite of what I observed to be bril­liant com­pre­hen­sion in some. My son could draw an exploded dia­gram of all the organs of the body when he was 4, but he was now sup­posed to finger-paint in school, because they couldn’t jus­tify get­ting him a teacher’s aide without a diag­nosis. I beg your pardon, but I think every parent of a diag­nosed child would dis­agree with your state­ment.

        1. The person was dis­agreeing with the com­ment a few above theirs that sug­gested autism was being over-diagnosed when in reality it’s often a struggle to get diag­nosed, espe­cially for women, older people, and those who aren’t stereo­typ­i­cally “autistic” or who are mis­tak­enly labelled as “mild” or “high func­tioning.

    2. It’s not get­ting over diag­nosed, its get­ting recog­nised. Theres people out there that are still undi­ag­nosed, as there is more aware­ness & accep­tance, people are starting to unmask a little bit and asking ques­tions.

    3. Which part of this article said that? I missed it.

      1. I think you’ve mis­un­der­stood the article. It’s not over diag­nosed. Diagnosis is not some­thing that’s just chucked at people, in fact it’s often a battle and long process you have to fight for

        1. I think the com­ments were in reply to a com­ment, not the article.

        2. I totally agree that it is not over diag­nosed. However, many doc­tors and psy­chi­a­trists tried to diag­nose my brother as autistic, which he was not. Had they suc­ceeded, the course of his life would be com­pletely dif­ferent, for the worse. He was still com­pletely non­verbal at age 4, a classic sign of autism, and he had superb visual skills, while his verbal skills were com­pletely nonex­is­tent, another sign of autism. However, he exhib­ited no other signs of it. Our mom had to go to over 5 dif­ferent doc­tors before she would finally find one who would listen to her. It turned out that he had audi­tory pro­cessing issues, and while the doctor couldn’t prove it, she said that some­thing was wrong with the part of his brain in which you learn your first lan­guage, and instead had to learn English as a second lan­guage, which nat­u­rally took much longer. Now, my brother is com­pletely verbal, and people are hon­estly sur­prised when they hear he used to have devel­op­mental delays. Again, his case was extremely rare, and autism is gen­er­ally not over­diag­nosed.

    4. That is highly unlikely. Not being diag­nosed is one of the most sig­nif­i­cant prob­lems.

  4. This is by far the best explaina­tion of “The Spectrum” I have read.. thankyou for putting into words what I have been trying to tell people about in regards to my son for the last year.
    It is people like you that will make people aware just how much dif­fer­ence there is to neuro-diversity… I dont see it as Autism being ocer diag­nosed, I see it as a greater aware­ness of just how much spanse there is to thr spec­trum and that the people who do not fit the Autism mold are finally being recog­nised and seen as neuro-diverse as they deserve to receive the help they need just as much as anyone.

  5. my son is on the spec­trum, as aspie. It’s really dif­fi­cult for people to truly under­stand what that means. Actually dif­fi­cult for us to under­stand too at times. I found this article so helpful and really insightful. Thank you

    1. My son is also aspie, do you find there is no help or sup­port groups?

  6. My son was very obvi­ously person number one. He was smart, gentle and kind. He was preparing to do the trial HSC exam last year when he instead ended his own life. He did not have a proper diag­noses but I know without a doubt he was “ASPIE” and it ter­ri­fied him. I am a broken mother. He had just turned 18.

    1. That is tragic, and far too common a story for autis­tics, one of the rea­sons this blog exists: to fight for real under­standing and accep­tance. May you find peace.

    2. Donna Jones, I am so sorry for the loss of your beau­tiful son ❤️

    3. Ok Donna, how sad, I feel for you, my son is aspie he has trou­bles too, I find there is no sup­port at all, I struggle to under­stand Harry as well due to lack of knowl­edge x

    4. I am so sorry. No words are even close to ade­quate. I can tell how much you cared about your son and still do. I am so sorry that he felt a need to do this anyway. 🙁

    5. I’m so sorry for your loss.

    6. Donna. I can relate to so being “ter­ri­fied”, to being “broken”, indeed all you say about your son and your­self. I was born in 1949, so way before autistic and autism were brought into the public domain. What we now call the autistic or ASD was rather seen as “infan­tile Schizophrenia” As that was the only frame of ref­er­ence on offer to me, I just pre­sumed I was schiz­o­phrenic, and that was ter­ri­fying. Being smart, gentle and kind describes a good human being; one I’m sure you keep alive in your heart. Take care of you.

  7. Thank-you for this clear article, my amazing son is going through diag­nosis now and your clear dis­crip­tions really helps me appre­ciate the dimentl­sions to his per­sonal spiky pro­file.

  8. Thank you. One of my daugh­ter’s first diag­noses was ASD… and we were *con­stantly* get­ting people going “but she’s so *social* and *out­going*… and now that they know that her par­tic­ular set of symp­toms is caused by a spe­cific genetic muta­tion, and she has a genetic diag­nosis, we have people going “So it wasn’t really autism?” That’s… not how that works. She still has all the same chal­lenges and strengths- when they didn’t know what caused them, it was “autism”, now it has a dif­ferent name. Sort of how “Rett Syndrome” was a DMS “Pervasive Developmental Disorder” diag­nosis until they dis­cov­ered the under­lying genetics, now it’s a med­ical diag­nosis.

  9. So what does it mean when a psy­chi­a­trist says my son has autistic traits but isn’t strong enough to be diag­nosed.

    1. It means the Psychiatrist doesn’t think his traits cause him enough prob­lems to be worth the diag­nosis proces and costs. If you can see that your son is strug­gling but the psy­chi­a­trist can’t then they’re prob­ably not the person you need.

    2. It means you need to find another psy­chol­o­gist and get a second opinion. You cant have traits and not be autistic. You either aren’t or you are, theres no inbe­tween.
      That’s like saying your showing all the signs of preg­nancy but theres no baby there so your a little bit preg­nant.

  10. This is such a clear explina­tion that it’s some­thing I’ll be recomending to all my friends. As someone who’d usu­ally be con­sid­ered high func­tioning and some­times has dif­fi­cult feeling asso­ci­ated with people who more obvious or dis­abeling needs I’m glad I gave this a read as it help clairfy a lot of what I was feeling. Thanks for writing it.

  11. This is a great expla­na­tion. I’m seri­ously con­sid­ering for­warding the link to my local adult autism ser­vice lead psy­chol­o­gist and my sup­port worker, and everyone else!

    1. Author

      I would be hon­oured if you did!

  12. Thank you, that was a won­der­fully written article and being a parent of an aspie this has even def helped me see it all more clearly.

  13. Great article! Thank you for this!

  14. This is great, many thanks. I do notice, how­ever, that on some “colors” the descrip­tion is cen­tered on dif­fi­cul­ties, and on others there are dif­fi­cul­ties as well as abil­i­ties above the norm. I find this unlikely. I would have expected all the “colors” to be some­times more and some­times less advanced than in the neu­rotyp­ical. Is there data on this?

    1. Author

      It rep­re­sents dif­fer­ences. For example, in many autistic people infor­ma­tion pro­cessing can some­times be ahead in some ways and behind in others com­pared to neu­rotyp­i­cals. A monotropic mindset can also be a ben­efit as many autistic people turn their inter­ests into careers, but can come with side effects such as dif­fi­culty with time man­age­ment or work life bal­ance.

      The DSM actu­ally addresses this:

      “Understanding the (often uneven) intel­lec­tual pro­file of a child or adult with autism spec­trum dis­order is nec­es­sary for inter­preting diag­nostic fea­tures. Separate esti­mates of verbal and non­verbal skill are nec­es­sary (e.g., using untimed non­verbal tests to assess poten­tial strengths in indi­vid­uals with lim­ited lan­guage).

      .…Since recep­tive lan­guage may lag behind expres­sive lan­guage devel­op­ment in autism spec­trum dis­order, recep­tive and expres­sive lan­guage skills should be con­sid­ered sep­a­rately.

      .… Even those with average or high intel­li­gence have an uneven pro­file of abil­i­ties. The gap between intel­lec­tual and adap­tive func­tional skills is often large. Motor deficits are often present, including odd gait, clum­si­ness, and other abnormal motor signs (e.g., walking on tip­toes).”

      That uneven pro­file abil­i­ties means that we can be better than NTs at some things and worse at others. The spec­trum rep­re­sents those dif­fer­ences overall, and each cat­e­gory might have pos­i­tives, neg­a­tives, or both.

      Thanks for your ques­tion — it was a great one!

      1. My son’s recep­tive lan­guage is higher than his expres­sive, both oral and written. He has always read with under­standing much higher than age/grade level, but his ability to respond has always been a struggle.

  15. I love this article!! You are so right on so many levels~ THANK YOU!
    I have a 23 year old (as of yet undi­ag­nosed) son who falls in the level 1 cat­e­gory. It’s been a night­mare trying to get help for him, espe­cially now that he’s an adult with a col­lege degree and cur­rently in grad school. I try and count my bless­ings but I’m so wor­ried about him ever being inde­pen­dent with a “real” job, friends, a social life, true hap­pi­ness.
    My heart bleeds for Donna. Such a tragedy. So sorry.
    PS Anyone live in St Louis?

  16. This piece is excel­lent in its con­sid­er­a­tion of the metaphor of “spec­trum”; be that spec­trum as asso­ci­ated with the con­cept of ‘autism’, or (some­what alter­na­tively) with the con­cept of ‘autistic’.
    I under­stand why these two con­cepts are phrased in terms of dif­fi­cul­ties in par­tic­ular areas, but (as a person viewing and under­standing myself in terms of the autistic) I get con­cerned about a mod­el­ling of our grouping in terms of neg­a­tives and deficits.
    People wisely say, “when you have met one autistic person, you have met one autistic person”; making it clear how fraught with lim­i­ta­tions are all ‘gen­er­al­i­sa­tions’ about the autistic/autism. At a late stage of my life, and after some years working pro­fes­sion­ally in the edu­ca­tional area with young autistic adults, I now feel that we have to take this wari­ness of gen­er­al­i­sa­tions even fur­ther. By that I mean that we have to con­sider that the­o­rising about autism and the autistic is really the pre­serve of indi­vid­uals who see them­selves in terms of these ways of being human; which means that one gen­er­al­i­sa­tion and the­o­rising about what the autistic and autism are, is had from one autistic (or nom­i­nally not-autistic) person. Understanding of what the autistic and autism are, then emerging from the net­work of human beings who con­sider them­selves autistic. So a rol­liing under­standing open to devel­op­ment and evo­lu­tion and change.
    Consider a par­allel. What is it to be Indian or Chinese. Once we would have con­sulted colo­nial mas­ters (doc­tors and other dis­ci­pli­nary ‘experts’ with the autistic/autism). Then these nations became inde­pen­dent (autistic indi­vid­uals get­ting affirming trac­tion and agency within the col­lec­tive) in the modern age. Now any under­standing of these things would have to emerge from the com­plex social/societal process of these nations cur­rently (the emerging global net­work of autistic activism). It isn’t going to be any dif­ferent with those who are autistic; over the long-haul we are going to get the autistic and autism defined (some favouring emphasis of deficits, others favouring affir­ma­tion of autistic char­ac­ter­is­tics and qual­i­ties) diversely by those who con­sider them­selves autistic, and that rolling defining is going to develop and evolve and change.
    Spectrum could then be applied in many useful ways. One I would choose would be in terms of the extent to which, and the ways by which, autistic indi­vid­uals could counter and tran­scend the com­plex manner in which social/societal dynamics often work to obstruct, under­mine, and mis­di­rect autistic agency (with all that stems from that across a devel­op­ment tra­jec­tory).
    All that being said. I’m only able to express these thoughts by piggy-backing on the excel­lence of this piece on how the metaphor of ‘spec­trum’ applies to the autistic and autism.
    Personally I find useful under­standing stems from the idea and rhetoric that “we are all a bit autistic”. Proceeding so might mean laying aside the metaphor and con­cept of ‘spec­trum’ all together. I favour this gambit to counter the med­ical approach to autism/autistic. Medicine always works to make any ‘diag­nosis’ as spe­cific and narrow as pos­sible. Medicine also has dis-ease at the heart of its approach. So the autistic gets thereby cut out of the nexus of col­lec­tive process, and really set aside as a dis­ease. I instead favour a social approach, where iden­ti­fying broad com­mon­al­i­ties in the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion and the autistic is used to bring the autistic back into the col­lec­tive process nexus; where I (for what are always going to be personal/biographical rea­sons) sense and judge it should be. Resourcing of the autistic that is not pos­sible or con­sid­ered across med­ical mod­el­ling of the autistic/autism, can then be had.

  17. Thank you for this bril­liant post. After my son’s diag­nosis (with what would have been called Aspergers but is now labelled ASD), I was referred for assess­ment. However, I wasn’t pre­pared for the open-ended nature of the ini­tial inter­view, after which I was dis­charged without a clear diag­nosis. I was told, though, by the clin­i­cian that ‘everyone is on the spec­trum’. This just seemed so wrong to me at the time. Thank you for clar­i­fying what you under­stand the spec­trum to mean; I hadn’t thought of it in these terms before. (I cur­rently self-dx as ‘prob­ably autistic’ and this article does nothing to change that.)

    1. Anna. Stepping off from your self-defining as (‘prob­ably’) autistic and the asso­ci­ated matter of not being readily offered a diag­nosis as ‘on the spec­trum’. I would want to, if involved with your son, reflect on any deep char­ac­ter­is­tics of person that you (as parent) might share with your son. If a char­ac­ter­istic had in common was impli­cated in your son receiving a diag­nosis of ASD, I would want to know what it was in and about you that saw you not offered that same diag­nosis. The thinking being that what saw you work through and not be so obstructed as to see that char­ac­ter­istic taken as an indi­cator of ASD, might hold clues and keys as to what might better resource your son to stronger agency.
      Why do you object to the idea that everyone is on the spec­trum? In the school in which I worked it was a common pre­sump­tion that pretty much everyone asso­ci­ated with the school was autistic in one way or another. A deeper pre­sump­tion was that the more one strove to rep­re­sent and advo­cate for the autistic young adults in the School’s charge, the ever deeper one was drawn into being per­son­ally autistic.
      For me the autistic begins wher­ever an indi­vidual is depending on sense and per­cep­tion and cog­ni­tion that a con­tex­tual col­lec­tive is unable or unwilling to engage with (I think that many par­ents then encounter this when con­tex­tual author­i­ties refuse to engage with them across their parental under­standing of their ‘autistic’ child). The work of autistic activists and autistic advo­cates and autistic allies, is then to work to so change the con­texual col­lec­tive that it can pro­gres­sively do better in engaging with the autistic (in all its diverse and changing forms).

      1. Because by saying “Everyone is a little bit autistic” it dimin­ishes what it actu­ally means to have that diag­nosis. You wouldn’t say everyone is a little bit deaf just because not everyone can hear a par­tic­ular high fre­quency but oth­er­wise has normal hearing. You wouldn’t say every­one’s a little bit depressed just because they feel a bit blue once in a while. You can’t say every­one’s a little bit autistic because they aren’t and per­pet­u­ating that myth is dis­mis­sive of what it’s actu­ally like to be autistic.

  18. I thought I under­stood my “aspie” daughter until I read this. Reading this was like a light bulb moment for me. Thank you so much! P.S. Can you fix the face­book share link so we can share it on Facebook? Thanks!

  19. Thank you for your article. I have a brother-in-law who seems to fit in the one cat­e­gory. He’s never been diag­nosed, yet at 31 he lives at home with his par­ents but hasn’t been able to keep a job or Finish a semester of school. He acts and talks like there’s nothing wrong with him but I’m sure he rec­og­nizes that he’s dif­ferent. At this point do you think it would be valu­able to have him diag­nosed and actu­ally have him con­front it, or would it be better to just keep going on the way he is? Your opinion would be most valued.

    1. Author

      Unfortunately I don’t know your brother well enough. Those of us who were diag­nosed late found it incred­ibly affirming. But many people get defen­sive when you sug­gest it to them.

    2. @Martha — do not under­es­ti­mate the ability of people to self-deceive, espe­cially if they lack the under­standing of what is “dif­ferent” about them from neu­rotyp­ical people. A friend of mine who has an autistic wife and two autistic chil­dren has denied his own autism for nearly forty years despite quite pro­found strug­gles with almost every area of his life and the fact that these same dif­fi­cul­ties that he had/has are now being mir­rored in his chil­dren. He accepts that they’re autistic, he accepts that he has some of these issues but he STILL denies he’s autistic and says “it’s because of some­thing else” — and if you ask him to take a self-assessment he will score “neu­rotyp­i­cally” because he has no con­cept of how non-typical his behav­iours and thought processes are.

  20. That you were able to put this into words is amazing. I hope so many people will read it and open their minds. Thank you. You have done a great ser­vice for all of us on the spec­trum by writing this.I admire you and am ever so grateful.

  21. This was great to read. It really helped me to under­stand a few things about myself and my child. I can visu­alize how we fit on the spec­trum now. Its great to be able to share this.

  22. Thank you for sharing your very insightful frus­tra­tions. I must admit I am one of those une­d­u­cated people who have been mis­in­formed about the use of the word “spec­trum”.

  23. “If you ONLY have prob­lems with body movement/ con­trol then that is called dys­praxia” As a dys­praxic and on behalf of other dys­praxics I would like to point out that this far over sim­pli­fies Dyspraxia, it’s not purely a movement/ body con­trol problem it is SOOOOOO much more. I will be sharing this with a few Facebook con­tacts who will prob­ably have some­thing more to say.

    1. Author

      I know and I apol­o­gize for the over-simplification but I didn’t want to go too off topic. I mostly wanted to make the point that many con­di­tions share autism fea­tures but are not called autism because they don’t check as many boxes. I’d be happy if you wanted to add your com­ments clar­i­fying dys­praxia for those inter­ested. I think there are many undi­ag­nosed dys­praxic people, just as there are many undi­ag­nosed autistic people.

      1. “many con­di­tions share autism fea­tures but are not called autism because they don’t check as many boxes.”
        Reasonably recently some diag­noses of ADD and ADHD have been aug­mented by recog­ni­tion that the autistic is in play in indi­vid­uals to whom those former diag­noses are being applied; which makes sense to me regards my under­standing of those three devel­op­mental forms.

        1. Author

          Autism and ADHD are very closely related and def­i­nitely overlap quite often.

          1. “You should read Terra Vance’s article on autistic emo­tions. Autistic people prefer intrinsic reward over external moti­va­tions like fear of pun­ish­ment or hope of reward.”

            Years back when I was strug­gling to forge a per­sonal frame of ref­er­ence on the autistic. I used a com­puter metaphor.
            Back in the day the 486 chip was a vast improve­ment on the 386 chip. Something of the order of change of Henry Ford’s Model T dis­placing horses in early 20th cen­tury America.
            I came to see the 386 as rep­re­senting the clunky cog­ni­tive pro­cessing of the col­lec­tive: so the sensing I could share with non-autistic others; the kind of brain pro­cessing you would be called upon to use if studying a dis­ci­pline. The 486 then rep­re­sented the far far larger body of sensing that was dealt with across far more pow­erful emo­tional pro­cessing; so all the sensing that could not be much shared with the col­lec­tive across cog­ni­tive exchange. Emotion then richer and faster than cog­ni­tion by a huge order of dif­fer­ence.
            So emo­tion becomes the pri­mary plane in autistic devel­op­ment and occur­rence. What you then say of emo­tion makes every sense.

  24. What an empow­ering string of helpful ideas and con­tri­bu­tions. This really helps me as a SEN teacher. 1 query. I find the orthodox ideas of offering stu­dents with ASD (I wish the D was erased!) Which are struc­ture, order, con­sis­tent, tight rules don’t work for some Aspie kids who kick against con­se­quences. I find they (per­haps with patho­log­ical demand avoid­ance PDA) do better with some choice, own­er­ship and autonomy. It’s a lonely struggle to win them this in a system that says tighter. Anyone agree and even any ideas how to advance my view? Thanks

    1. Author

      You should read Terra Vance’s article on autistic emo­tions. Autistic people prefer intrinsic reward over external moti­va­tions like fear of pun­ish­ment or hope of reward.

      1. This has been my expe­ri­ence. A task or direc­tive has to have meaning in my internal world. It has to fit into a larger con­cept of What I’m Doing, oth­er­wise it feels arbi­trary and there­fore optional.

  25. very inter­esting per­spec­tive. I am an edu­ca­tional psy­chol­o­gist and if you were told your exec­u­tive func­tioning was at the 99th per­centile rank, it means your skills are better than 99 per­cent of the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion. If you had a per­centile rank of 1, then your skills would be con­sid­ered better than 1 per­cent of the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion.

    1. Hillary- the article men­tioned exec­u­tive “dys­func­tion”

      1. inter­esting, I am guessing then it was a rating scale where you respond to ques­tions, then you were rated your­self as having exec­u­tive dys­func­tion at the 99th per­centile rank. A direct assess­ment, using an assess­ment tool like the D‑KEFS, would have given you the inverse results, if you did well you would have a 99th per­centile rank. I won­dered if maybe you were mis­un­der­stood about one of your strengths! Great article!!!

        1. Author

          It was the BRIEF‑A. I was in 99th per­centile in 3 cat­e­gories, 97 in another, 98 in another, >99 in one… High scores on the BRIEF‑A are not good and my asses­sor’s com­ments reflect this.

  26. The article is excel­lent but func­tioning labels are ableist and the web­site name as “asper­gian” is a func­tioning label and based on an out dated diag­nosis gen­er­ated from the name of a Nazi Sympathizer who used those func­tioning labels to deter­mine who was worthy of living versus which of us were “too autistic”.

    I won’t share or sub­scribe to a blog that uses such a name even if the con­tent is good.

    1. Damien, while we won’t try to coax you to stay and encourage you to go else­where, we have strong views about the name and the site was coined as an homage to our com­mu­nity and not the man, and as a rebel­lion against mis­in­for­ma­tion, against patholo­gies, against group­think, and against the blind com­pla­cency and accep­tance of an autism mom’s purposefully-misleading book of pro­pa­ganda.

      You can edu­cate your­self by reading our about page and by reading this recent and more accu­rate por­trayal of Hans Asperger.

      Your right­eous indig­na­tion isn’t doing any good for our com­mu­nity. I hope that the hurting and broken autistic people out there full of inter­nal­ized ableism and shame from being born to be abused and mis­un­der­stood land in the safety and warmth of our doorstep where they will be folded into the com­mu­nity under our pro­tec­tive awning before reaching the exclu­sionary, haughty, and unfor­giving hos­tility of yours.

      As they say in the ver­nac­ular, “Bye, Felicia.”

      1. right read it and inter­nal­ized ablism is ugly so won’t sup­port say by Felicia all you like but ignoring the voice of someone who is Autistic and talking down to them like you did shows your true face. tone policing me is no better than the autism moms you speak of. I am not being hos­tile I am being honest.

        1. Ignoring the voices of autistic people because they use the word aspie is ableism. I’m not ignoring you. I’m dis­missing your con­cern as some­thing unfounded and a reflec­tion of thought policing and anti-acceptance rhetoric

          1. Now I’m being accused of ablism because I reject an ablism including terms like aspie. The good thing is I don’t need you to val­i­date me, your intent on remaining cor­rect and pro­jecting your­self back at me while shut­ting me and Autistic people put doesn’t bother me any­more. Have a nice day,

          2. You do realize we’re all autistic here, right? You’re the one who came to an autistic oper­ated site existing for the express pur­pose of com­bating ableism and said you can’t sup­port it. Okay. No one is asking you to. We’ll keep fighting the good fight.

          3. Of course I know this is an Autistic ran site I came from a face­book group for Autistic Adults where we were sharing your arti­cles and dis­cussing them. Just as I said myself that I am Autistic. Aspie Supremacy is a thing and this entire time your responses to me have been insulting and filled with Aspie supremacy. The funny thing is I spoke to another Autistic Artist over their name and they weren’t defen­sive or Angry, They explained calmly and ratio­nally and I went and shared their work and Liked their page. So yes fight that fight its already obvious that losing Autistic readers isn’t a con­cern You have. After all your “Bye Felicia” said as much.

          4. Now you’re per­son­ally saying that I am filled with aspie supremacy? You came here not asking ques­tions but declaring defin­i­tively you would not be willing to show sup­port and making accu­sa­tions.

            There’s no supremacy here. You want to talk down to people and for them to show you humility before you can see eye to eye with them? That’s not going to happen. You’re not willing to judge us by our fruits. That’s fine. You don’t have to.

      2. also I’m not part of your “com­mu­nity” as I am Autistic. Your doorstep isn’t warm or wel­coming because of your name it was why I wouldn’t read the article ini­tially and why many others I know voiced mis­giv­ings of this page. You are hos­tile toward me an autistic person don’t lie about being wel­coming.

        1. Author

          You under­stand that you are addressing autistic people, right? 100% of the con­trib­u­tors at the Aspergian are autistic. There are zero NTs involved at any level here. So you are being hos­tile at us as autistic people too.

          Whatever you feel about the name, if you gave us a chance or read our about page you would see that we are pas­sion­ately anti-ableist, anti-functioning labels, anti-aspie supremacy etc etc etc.

          None of us are paid here. Don’t want to sup­port us? That’s fine. Don’t read or donate. But we are autistic too and our feel­ings matter too.

          I’m glad you approve of my article. Thank you for giving it a chance.

          1. funny that’s not how the reply felt
            It was dis­mis­sive, it tone policed, and clings to a label that places this supe­rior to autistic people. I don’t have the spoons to con­tinue this con­ver­sa­tion. I read the page, and I dis­agreed with the “about” it choose to cling to a loaded name and the reply talked down to someone who voiced con­cern. This isn’t just your feel­ings but the feel­ings of other Autistic people reading here. But I’m done here after all the reply made clear that I wasn’t wel­come so again I’m not “your com­mu­nity” I’m autistic not aspie not any other label and I don’t feel up fur­ther for this debate.

          2. DamienSkyetheshadeofwriting C.L. Lynch and others. The ten­sion and dis­agree­ment embedded and expressing-themselves in this par­tic­ular strand of con­ver­sa­tion, seem to me gener­i­cally and inevitably involved in pro­gressing autistic under­standing and inclu­sion and lib­er­a­tion.
            It seems to me that these ten­sions and what stems from them in terms of activity and inter­ac­tion, are sui generis part and parcel of the autistic that has to be grap­pled with.
            What all con­trib­u­tors to this par­tic­ular strand of con­ver­sa­tion did heart­felt say and express and reveal, stands valid and legit­i­mate, and needing to be heard and under­stood affir­ma­tively.
            What we need to do as an autistic affirming com­mu­nity, it seems to me (so just one indi­vid­u­al’s view), is invest in what enables us to more and more affirm what is expressing the autistic. That is all of the autistic.
            My devel­op­ment, from as far back as I can remember, and again for rea­sons just to do with me, have seen me giving up endeav­ours of self, in order to allow and under­stand the other. What saw me doing that was intrin­si­cally autistic, in the sense that I was naively and fer­ally making use of frames of ref­er­ence that an imme­di­ately con­tex­tual col­lec­tive would reflex­ively reject as invalid and ille­git­i­mate. Even when working pro­fes­sion­ally this autistic affirming approach saw my frames of ref­er­ence rejected by more socially-grounded col­leagues. I was tol­er­ated because I was effec­tive, but was really seen as the fool on the hill.
            I can see some­thing of the indi­vidual cir­cum­stance out of which each of the con­trib­u­tors of this strand of con­ver­sa­tion are coming from, and each to me appears to validly and legit­i­mately rep­re­sent the autistic as I under­stand that matter at the heart of our exis­tence.
            Forgive me if my intru­sion offends.

      3. Thanks for sharing that paper, Terra, I’ve added it to my ‘to read’ list.

  27. I just want to say that I love this piece as a dead on descrip­tion of the spec­trum and why “func­tioning labels” are such non­sense! I shared this to my page and truly hope it goes viral!!

    1. That’s fan­tastic!

  28. Thank you so much for your insight! It has been so hard trying to explain the behav­iours of my son and hus­band (diag­nosed on the same day!) to family and friends and edu­ca­tors. I find most people (even par­ents and grand­par­ents) can’t com­pre­hend their con­trasting strengths and weak­nesses. I will share this article with anyone who cares to read it. Thanks again!

  29. i am from England .i take part in a lot lot research.people never see the every day effects .i have aspergers
    and m.e .long list health issues . migraines BOTH Bladder /Bowel prob­lems
    i do a blog .http;//mark-kent.webs.com
    twitter,supersnooper
    Linkedin,AutismDad

  30. Most health care pro­fes­sionals we’ve encoun­tered have always put for­ward the ‘gra­dient’ theory — so, if they’ve grasped it wrong, they’re the ones ‘mis-educating the par­ents, carers etc. I myself like the idea of each colour/trait having ITS OWN gra­dient, as that seems to fit with the var­ious neu­ro­di­ver­gent people I know or I am.

  31. I would just add that def­i­n­i­tions like this do not create reality. They just attempt to explain it.

    1. Coby. You make an impor­tant point. It’s also the case that def­i­n­i­tions create or mediate what people take to be reality. Perhaps some def­i­n­i­tions attempt to explain what yet other def­i­n­i­tions have pre­vi­ously brought about.
      For example a cir­cum­stance has been brought about by the def­i­n­i­tions that our col­lec­tive has applied to those we cur­rently view as ASD (or autistic). From out of the expe­ri­encing of an autistic grouping has emerged the concept.definition of neu­ro­di­ver­sity; or at least we are choosing to apply it. That appli­ca­tion then has two broad inten­tions: firstly, the inten­tion to better under­stand and explain the autistic; sec­ondly, the inten­tion to change the def­i­n­i­tions a con­tex­tual col­lec­tive takes recourse to.

      1. Author

        I agree. I really have very little patience for lat­eral vio­lence within the autistic com­mu­nity. Lateral vio­lence has been used to divide groups by the forces in power since time immemo­rial and I hate that the alt right is suc­ceeding in dividing us.

        To me, the truly autistic atti­tude is to unite in our dif­fer­ences, rather than do what allis­tics do and cling to those who are iden­tical to our­selves.

        1. “To me, the truly autistic atti­tude is to unite in our dif­fer­ences, rather than do what allis­tics do and cling to those who are iden­tical to our­selves.”

          That is a ful­crum for a com­pass we could use in pro­ceeding. The con­tri­bu­tions stem­ming from the autistic and the social/societal (allistic) loci then able to be seen as being in poten­tially fruitful ten­sion.

  32. Absolutely the best expla­na­tion of the spec­trum I have read to date. Well played.

  33. Thank you! I wish my mother and my occu­pa­tional ther­a­pist under­stood English so that I could edu­cate them with the help of your article. STOP ASSUMING! In my opinion, thin-slice judg­ment is the worst symptom of Neurotypicality.

  34. Thank you so much for this! Your expe­ri­ence as described in the article matches mine so closely, par­tic­u­larly this: “I, on the other hand, have always been rec­og­nized as being intel­li­gent. Instead, I struggle to have my dif­fi­cul­ties be rec­og­nized. What I need is someone to sup­port me– to cook, to clean, to orga­nize– to help me recover when tasks have gotten larger and more com­pli­cated than I can process.”

    I called out that quote when I sent the article to my mom 😉

  35. This is one of the clearest expla­na­tions I have seen of how the spec­trum works. As a mother of a person on the spec­trum I am really grateful for your work and hope this reaches a lot of people.

  36. This is SUCH a great piece. Thank you for writing it. I’m the mother of someone I’m fairly sure is on the spec­trum (we’re in the diag­nosis process now) and a psy­chol­o­gist, and this piece gave me a whole new angle on under­standing autism.

  37. Amazing article and a real eye opener. This has really chal­lenged the way I think about autism.


  38. Darn.….this article needs to be read, and reread !!! but with COLORS ! I only have black ink !! Is it pos­sible that you could pro­duce this article and MAIL it to me? But I will print out what I can and keep to share widely !
    Thank you so, so much

  39. I have read this article 3 times in the last 15 hours and have sent it to four people so far. One of the most pow­erful take­aways is how “normies” view people with autism as rel­a­tive to how it makes them feel: “My autism affects those around me mildly but my autism does affect me severely.”

    This is an amazing article. Helped me so much! Thanks!


  40. Love this article — thank you for helping me under­stand that my son (age 9) really is on the spec­trum, even though he doesn’t fit with what I thought autism looked like. For 3 years, I doubted the diag­nosis (despite the diag­nosing doctor being an expert in the field). It all makes sense to me now.

    1. I think the value of C.L’s piece lies in what it has stim­u­lated and pro­voked. Two narrow threads of that are rep­re­sented by: those who have praised it uncon­di­tion­ally on the one hand; and DamienSkyetheshadeofwriting who has offered cri­tique of its thesis and nar­ra­tive. These two in-tension threads are con­sis­tent with my sense of, expe­ri­ence of, thinking about, and talking about the autistic.
      I see the autistic as emerging in and having force across the inter­ac­tion between people. I see what people en masse do as being the col­lec­tive. Across the process of that col­lec­tive the social and soci­etal is the dom­i­nant human reality. The autistic then occur­ring in rela­tion to what is social and soci­etal.
      Basically, the autistic is had (has its ori­gins, its epi­ge­n­esis) when the sensing and per­cep­tion and cog­ni­tion and terms-of-occurring of an indi­vidual is not sup­ported by the col­lec­tive. There is then a spec­trum across the degree of this.
      I’m dyslexic. That can be con­ven­tion­ally seen as a “spe­cific learning dif­fi­culty” (SLI); indi­cating that across what a con­tex­tual social requires as to learning, I might be seen as having a per­for­mance (func­tional) idio­syn­crasy (a kind view) or deficit (the cruel demeaning view). Measures might be taken to reme­diate my learning process to make it more like social and soci­etal sup­porting learning process. I see my being dyslexic dif­fer­ently: as a whole-person different-mode-of-being matter; every­thing about my pro­cessing taking me out­side the box of any con­tex­tual social.
      I then see a rela­tion between the exi­gen­cies of being dyslexic, and being treated by a con­tex­tual social and society as tends to happen; and the autistic. It goes like this. If I don’t make too much exis­ten­tial fuss about my intrinsic sensing, per­cep­tion, cog­ni­tion, et al; I fall into the cat­e­gory of the on-the-spectrum grouping who are best treated by any con­tex­tual social and society. Across the func­tional cri­teria embedded in that social and soci­ety’s pro­cessing, I’m so little a problem that it might even be argued that the autistic does not figure in my occur­rence. If I instead insist on acting out my dyslexic sensing. per­cep­tion, cog­ni­tion and talking (as I do, and have done always), the sit­u­a­tion changes fun­da­men­tally and com­pre­hen­sively. The con­di­tions of my occur­rence and devel­oping (so cru­cial when I was younger) move to where I pose a much greater chal­lenge to any con­tex­tual social and society, and in their view of and reac­tion to me, the epi­ge­net­ical con­di­tions for the autistic become much greater. I’m then still on the benign part of the spec­trum, because I can exer­cise a degree of con­trol (even as a child) over the nexus of all this (I can with­draw, hide, to lessen the inten­si­ties).
      So in a sense the autistic does not begin as existing. Rather the autistic takes ori­gins in how we humans play out our occur­rence. Basically, the emer­gence of the social and soci­etal also pro­vides the con­di­tions for the emer­gence of the autistic.
      If we take all the life-challenges which C.L. cites in her mod­el­ling of the spec­trum. My sense is that none of them are intrin­si­cally asso­ci­ated with the autistic (or autism). Rather the autistic and autism (two very dif­ferent occur­rence out­comes) arise exi­gently across the inter­ac­tion between being in which that life-challenge is embedded, and the col­lec­tive’s engaging with that being across the ground of their socials and society. Applying C.L.‘s metaphor, vis­ible light attaches to what human’s have evolved to be. The var­ious colours of that vis­ible spec­trum refer­ring to com­po­nents of func­tion­ality asso­ci­ated with that evolved col­lec­tive being. Functional mod­el­ling thereby having a validity and legit­i­macy that cannot be reduc­tively dis­missed; even as its pre­vailing hege­mony has to be chal­lenged.
      That neces­sity of chal­lenging has the autistic as its engine and as its cut­ting edge. Prevailing in that chal­lenging paves the pathway of pro­gres­sion for those who are autistic. That being said this pro­gressing involves human expe­ri­encing as hor­ren­dous as in any civil war. The exis­ten­tiality of being human is fought over; both sides to ten­sion expe­ri­encing any vic­tory of the other as the death of them­selves.
      DamienSkyetheshadeofwriting’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in the activity of this com­mu­nity then speaks to what is involved in working through this moment of things. Both she and the com­mu­nity are working legit­i­mately across the truth of the autistic. The com­mu­nity has its evolved social (some­thing very com­plex), and DamienSkyetheshadeofwriting’s frame of ref­er­ence offends the frame of ref­er­ence of that social. Where, from my point of view, the autistic is man­i­fest in that nexus; the grounding con­di­tions for the epi­ge­n­esis of the autistic is actively present.
      Now every­thing I have to say stems from my her­metic lim­i­ta­tions (what limits what I can sense and per­ceive and think and speak to), which come from my biog­raphy and the devel­op­ment it allowed. My neu­ro­di­ver­sity has a gov­erning and lim­iting force. That deter­mines what I can say about the autistic. That holding for all others who wish to speak about the autistic. The word then becoming a place-holder for myriad indi­vid­uals offering talk about what the autistic is for them.

  41. As someone with Asperger’s, I wish to sin­cerely thank you for the insight­ful­ness, sen­si­tivity and help­ful­ness of this article. I hope it will help to debunk many myths and mis­con­cep­tions about us. I shared the article with my work col­leagues and friends!

  42. Just to clarify…99th per­centile means you are in the top 1% of all the par­tic­i­pants. … To score 99 per­centile means that there are about 99 per­cent of people( who appeared for the test )who have scored less than you,that means you are in the top one per­cent of stu­dents who have scored great .

    So your exec­u­tive func­tioning is in the supe­rior range…and that is awe­some!

    Great article

    1. Mt — she clar­i­fied that in the testing SHE had it was looking at DYSFUNCTION not FUNCTION. And so a high score is BAD not good.

  43. Just THANK YOU and BLESS YOU, CL! I now have a truly useful tool to share with my 29 year-old son with Asperger, as well as those who work with and love him.

  44. Oh My Goodness! This is so helpful. I work at a school with an autistic stu­dent, and prob­ably sev­eral that would be con­sid­ered on the spec­trum. I’ve been really hin­dered in trying to under­stand them by exactly the kind of view­point you out­lined. Even though I had some notion that it was com­plex set of brain wiring, I was looking for one size fits all rec­om­men­da­tions. In one article you gave me a whole new way to under­stand these kids. I feel like I just got a huge leap in my under­standing in one article. I now at least know how to ask the right ques­tions to make my inter­ac­tions helpful and appro­priate.

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