A communal definition of autism8 min read

Autism is a genetically-based human neu­ro­log­ical variant that can not be under­stood without the social model of dis­ability.

Members of the autism civil rights move­ment adopt a posi­tion of neu­ro­di­ver­sity that encom­passes a kalei­do­scope of iden­ti­ties that inter­sects with the LGBTQIA+ kalei­do­scope by recog­nising autistic traits as nat­ural vari­a­tions of cog­ni­tion, moti­va­tions, and pat­terns of behav­iour within the human species.

Autistic people must take own­er­ship of the label in the same way that other minori­ties describe their expe­ri­ence and define their iden­tity. Pathologisation of autism is a social power game that removes agency from autistic people. Our sui­cide and mental health sta­tis­tics are the result of dis­crim­i­na­tion and not a “fea­ture” of autism.

Major goals of the autism rights move­ment include the fol­lowing:

  1. Liberation from the socially-constructed pathology par­a­digm
  2. Acceptance of autistic pat­terns of behav­iours
  3. Education that teaches neu­rotyp­ical indi­vid­uals about autistic cog­ni­tion and moti­va­tions, including com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills for inter­acting with autistic peers; as well as edu­ca­tion that teaches autistic indi­vid­uals about typ­ical cog­ni­tion and moti­va­tions, including com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills for inter­acting with neu­rotyp­ical peers
  4. Creation of social net­works, events, and organ­i­sa­tions that allow autistic people to col­lab­o­rate and socialise on their own terms
  5. Recognition of the autistic com­mu­nity as a minority group

In the absence of a com­pre­hen­sive neu­ro­log­ical and genetic descrip­tion – which may for­ever remain elu­sive, the best way to describe autism is in terms of first hand expe­ri­ence of autistic cog­ni­tion and autistic moti­va­tions. 

The fol­lowing def­i­n­i­tion of autism reflects a col­lec­tive effort of the autistic com­mu­nity. Focusing on common first hand expe­ri­ences leads to a rel­a­tively com­pact descrip­tion that can easily be val­i­dated by autistic readers, and it also avoids get­ting lost in end­less lists of exter­nally observ­able behav­iours. Lists of external diag­nostic cri­teria offer very little insight into under­lying autistic sen­sory expe­ri­ences and autistic moti­va­tions.

The pur­pose of jointly devel­oping a com­munal def­i­n­i­tion:

  1. Full acknowl­edge­ment of the rel­e­vance of first-hand per­spec­tives and of the internal states and needs of autistic people, offering useful expla­na­tions to people who are won­dering whether they are autistic
  2. Allowing people to dis­cover their autistic iden­tity in a safe envi­ron­ment that intro­duces them to autistic peers, rather than to the neg­a­tive pro­jec­tions of non-autistic people
  3. Enabling the autistic com­mu­nity to push back on behav­iourist pseudo-science that is full of invalid assump­tions about the internal states and life goals of autistic people, and edu­cating the public about the myths that stand in the way of gen­uine appre­ci­a­tion of neu­ro­di­ver­sity

The cur­rent ver­sion of the def­i­n­i­tion has been extracted from this call for action, which in turn reflects obser­va­tions made by a range autistic people from all cor­ners of the planet in online con­ver­sa­tions about the core of autistic expe­ri­ence.

What is autism?

autistic

Version 1.01 (15 October 2019)

All autistic people expe­ri­ence the human social world sig­nif­i­cantly dif­ferent from typ­ical indi­vid­uals. The dif­fer­ence in autistic social cog­ni­tion is best described in terms of a height­ened level of con­scious pro­cessing of raw infor­ma­tion sig­nals from the envi­ron­ment, and an absence or a sig­nif­i­cantly reduced level of sub­con­scious fil­tering of social infor­ma­tion.

Autistic chil­dren tend to take longer to learn how to decode non-verbal sig­nals from the social world, in par­tic­ular sig­nals related to abstract cul­tural con­cepts related to the nego­ti­a­tion of social status.

Many autistic people are also hyper- and/or hypo-sensitive to cer­tain sen­sory inputs from the phys­ical envi­ron­ment. This fur­ther com­pli­cates social com­mu­ni­ca­tion in noisy and dis­tracting envi­ron­ments. With respect to autistic sen­sory sen­si­tivity there are huge dif­fer­ences between autists. Some autists may be both­ered or impaired by a broad range of dif­ferent stimuli, whereas others are only impacted by very spe­cific stimuli.

Individually unique cog­ni­tive autistic lenses result in indi­vid­u­ally unique usage pat­terns of the human brain, and often in unique levels of exper­tise and cre­ativity within spe­cific domains of interest and in related autistic inertia and per­se­ver­ance.

Autistic inertia is sim­ilar to Newton’s inertia, in that not only do autistic people have dif­fi­culty starting things, but they also have dif­fi­culty in stop­ping things. Inertia can allow autists to hyper­focus for long periods of time, but it also man­i­fests as a feeling of paral­ysis and a severe loss of energy when needing to switch from one task to the next.

Autistic cog­ni­tion shapes the human expe­ri­ence of the world across mul­tiple social dimen­sions, including social moti­va­tions, social inter­ac­tions, the way of devel­oping trust, and the way of making friends.

The autistic experience involves the following set of cultural artefacts

  • Language(s), including var­ious idio­syn­cratic forms of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, but largely excluding an under­standing and appre­ci­a­tion of abstract cul­tural status sym­bols
  • Written rules for inter­ac­tion, in par­tic­ular in rela­tion to inter­acting with the phys­ical and bio­log­ical world, but largely ignoring rules in rela­tion to status sym­bols
  • Tools of all kinds, espe­cially tools relating to per­sonal areas of deep exper­tise
  • Knowledge related to the making and use of tools, often to an unusu­ally deep level

Autistic social motivations

  • Acceptance – acknowl­edge­ment as a living human with basic human needs, in par­tic­ular love, access to food and shelter, and autonomy over own mind and body, as well as unique needs
  • Truth – as it appears through the lens of our cur­rent level of human sci­en­tific under­standing
  • Recognition – attri­bu­tion of cre­ative agency

Autistic social moti­va­tions are intrinsic and nav­i­gate the ten­sion between mutual assis­tance and the acqui­si­tion of new levels of knowl­edge and under­standing, including access to spe­cific objects of study and any required tools.

In sum­mary, autistic people are unable to main­tain hidden agendas, which makes them vul­ner­able to exploita­tion in com­pet­i­tive social envi­ron­ments.

Autistic social interactions

Autistic col­lab­o­ra­tion involves sharing of knowl­edge and working towards a shared goal of gen­er­ating new levels of knowl­edge and under­standing. Those who iden­tify as autistic operate on an internal moral com­pass that does not place much if any value on social status and related cul­tural rules. The moral com­pass medi­ates the ten­sion between the desire to assist others vs the desire learn about the world.

  • These incli­na­tions are reflected in the cul­tural trans­mis­sion of new dis­cov­eries from chil­dren to par­ents
  • Education of par­ents by the chil­dren focuses on teaching about the focus and bound­aries of indi­vidual areas of interest
  • Sharing of knowl­edge and asking probing ques­tions is seen as a nat­ural human behav­iour
  • Adolescence is a period of inten­sive knowl­edge acqui­si­tion, where indi­vidual areas of inter­ests are explored in great depth, and where in the absence of autistic peers with com­pat­ible inter­ests new knowl­edge is often shared with par­ents

The autistic way of developing trust

Is based on expe­ri­enced domain-specific com­pe­tence. Autistic people:

  • (when young) assume everyone is telling the truth;
  • (when older) can become very cyn­ical;
  • can be fooled by people who appear to be log­ical but who have no scru­ples fab­ri­cating evi­dence;
  • are slow in learning the cul­tural sig­nif­i­cance of social cues, and can’t reli­ably read social cues in an envi­ron­ment of sen­sory over­load.

This article on autistic col­lab­o­ra­tion and the NeurodiVenture oper­ating model pro­vide fur­ther details on the ways in which autistic people develop trusted rela­tion­ships.

The autistic way of making friends

To con­struct trusted rela­tion­ships and friend­ships, autistic people apply an explicit goal ori­ented approach:

  1. Search for people with shared inter­ests, usu­ally online
  2. Confirm a shared area of interest
  3. Start having fun by openly sharing knowl­edge, per­sonal expe­ri­ences, and related gaps of knowl­edge and ques­tions
  4. Explore what can be achieved with joint capa­bil­i­ties and capac­i­ties
  5. Embark on sig­nif­i­cant joint projects (exam­ples) to have more fun

Social energy management

In all social con­texts that relate to one or more of the group iden­ti­ties of neu­rotyp­ical people, autistic people will be iden­ti­fi­able by their atyp­ical behav­ioural pat­terns, and by the level of exhaus­tion they suffer by attempting to blend in to the local social con­text.

When autistic people attempt to blend in (by masking) it is to avoid suf­fering the con­se­quences of non-conformance – and not to gain or main­tain social status.

Autistic people are the most pro­duc­tive if allowed to self-organise in teams with a clear autistic / neu­ro­di­ver­gent majority, such that inter­ac­tions with typ­ical teams are lim­ited to the mutual exchange of knowl­edge and tools in accor­dance with the agreed pur­pose of the team, and such that autistic people are not expected to con­tin­u­ously con­form to the social expec­ta­tions of the sur­rounding cul­ture.

This definition is an autistic community project

Autistic readers are encour­aged to val­i­date this def­i­n­i­tion against their own expe­ri­ence and to point out any aspects that

  • don’t seem familiar, and which there­fore should per­haps not be con­sid­ered part of the core of autism,
  • or that seem to be missing from the def­i­n­i­tion, but refer to expe­ri­ences made by the majority of autistic people, and there­fore should be added to the def­i­n­i­tion.

You are invited to submit feed­back and spe­cific sug­ges­tions for improve­ment below. This def­i­n­i­tion can also be val­i­dated against the growing number of indi­vidual expe­ri­ences that are col­lected and pub­lished as part of the Mosaic of Autistic Lenses project.  Please con­sider con­tributing to this impor­tant project. 

It would be fan­tastic if the Mosaic of Autistic Lenses project could over time develop into a repos­i­tory of sev­eral hun­dred (and pos­sibly many more) autistic lenses. The Mosaic of Autistic Lenses project has the poten­tial to develop into a rich source of valu­able infor­ma­tion for the autistic com­mu­nity, in par­tic­ular for young people who are in the process of finding their way into the adult autistic com­mu­nity, and for researchers inter­ested in devel­oping a deeper under­standing.

An autism test by autistic people for autistic people

Mandel_spiral_800

Instead of a diag­nosis, the fol­lowing test tends to deliver very reli­able results. It does not cost any money, it only takes some time. For anyone who relates to the above descrip­tion of autism, this invest­ment of time may be the most valu­able invest­ment imag­in­able:

If you are won­dering whether you iden­tify as autistic, spend time amongst autistic people, online and offline. If you notice you relate to these people much better than to others, if they make you feel safe, and if they under­stand you, you have arrived.

Suggestions for improvement

Please use the fol­lowing form to submit spe­cific sug­ges­tions for replace­ment, addi­tion, or dele­tion of text seg­ments within this com­munal def­i­n­i­tion of autism. If you would like to dis­cuss ideas for improve­ment, but don’t yet have spe­cific words in mind, please pro­vide an email address to enable a dia­logue, to allow us to jointly arrive at a con­crete sug­ges­tion for improve­ment.

On a monthly basis, all sug­ges­tions received will be posted for review and endorse­ment by the Autistic Community Loomio group – which you are invited to join, using a trans­parent and demo­c­ratic voting process.

19 Comments

  1. a giant everything-in-the-pot approach that is cum­ber­some in this form and has zero explana­tory power — replacing a con­cise and faulty descrip­tion with an over­sized but much less faulty descrip­tion… is still just descrip­tion. there are better, more con­cise, more encom­passing, and more explana­tory “def­i­n­i­tions” out there and have been for a while.

    1. Author

      The com­munal def­i­n­i­tion dis­tils common aspects of the autistic expe­ri­ence of the world from a mul­ti­tude of autistic per­spec­tives, at a level of abstrac­tion that many autistic people can relate to. A more com­pact def­i­n­i­tion can easily become too abstract to be relat­able or runs the risk of leaving out very common expe­ri­ences. A more com­pre­hen­sive def­i­n­i­tion runs the risk of becoming a long list of con­crete indi­vidual expe­ri­ences that only few (if any) people can relate to, poten­tially leaving people won­dering if they are actu­ally autistic if their per­sonal expe­ri­ence does not “tick all the boxes”.

      The pur­pose of jointly devel­oping a com­munal def­i­n­i­tion:

      1. Full acknowl­edge­ment of the rel­e­vance of first-hand per­spec­tives and of the internal states and needs of autistic people, offering useful expla­na­tions to people who are won­dering whether they are autistic
      2. Allowing people to dis­cover their autistic iden­tity in a safe and sup­portive envi­ron­ment that intro­duces them to autistic peers, rather than to the neg­a­tive pro­jec­tions of non-autistic people
      3. Enabling the autistic com­mu­nity to push back on behav­iourist pseudo-science that is full of invalid assump­tions about the internal states and life goals of autistic people, and edu­cating the public about the myths that stand in the way of gen­uine appre­ci­a­tion of neu­ro­di­ver­sity

      Websites like The Aspergian, the Mosaic of Autistic Lenses project ref­er­enced above, and many other sources of per­sonal autistic expe­ri­ences com­ple­ment and underpin the com­munal def­i­n­i­tion. The def­i­n­i­tion is an ongoing com­mu­nity project, an example of autistic col­lab­o­ra­tion. I would encourage the use of online con­sensus building tools like Loomio to incor­po­rate pro­posals to add or remove spe­cific ele­ments from the com­munal def­i­n­i­tion, based on a trans­parent and iter­a­tive con­sensus building process.

  2. FFS yes.
    Thank you for this.
    We all have dif­fi­culty in var­ious places so expect a few com­ments.

  3. This is fan­tastic. Thank you so much. It’s great to see a descrip­tion of autism from an autistic person’s point of view — our pref­er­ences, our expe­ri­ences etc. I hope this is used as a basis for research on how to improve mental health for the autistic com­mu­nity.

  4. I’m con­cerned about the phrasing of this def­i­n­i­tion’s rela­tion­ship to the LGBTQIA+ com­mu­nity. As a queer autistic, I rec­og­nize par­allel expe­ri­ences between those, and an overlap of some social traits, but I don’t rec­og­nize autism as inher­ently queer. That is to say, queer­ness is an iden­tity spec­trum, and many autis­tics embrace queer­ness, but being autistic and being queer are not mutu­ally inclu­sive. People can be autistic and queer; they can also be autistic and not queer. Autistics tend to be less invested in social struc­tures that uphold het­ero­nor­ma­tivity and there­fore more willing to express a queer iden­tity, but you aren’t auto­mat­i­cally queer because you are autistic. Your def­i­n­i­tion seems to be claiming a space in the queer com­mu­nity that does not belong to autis­tics or to the neu­ro­di­ver­sity move­ment.

    Your list of “autistic cul­tural arti­facts,” is a list of cul­tural arti­facts common across neu­rotypes and cul­tures; it’s not spe­cific to autism or autistic people. There needs to be either more expla­na­tion of how these traits are expressed dif­fer­ently for autis­tics than for allistic people and cul­tures, or there needs to be an expan­sion of the list to include mate­rial that is actu­ally unique to autistic cul­ture.

    Your list of steps for “how autis­tics develop trust” doesn’t dis­cuss how trust is devel­oped at all; it dis­cusses ways in which autis­tics struggle with devel­oping trusting rela­tion­ships but doesn’t offer any insight into con­crete solu­tions to the issues listed. Transitioning from that list into “How autis­tics make friends” is con­fusing, because again, I feel like your list doesn’t really describe the process of forming a rela­tion­ship based on trust. It describes the early stages of seeking and locating indi­vid­uals who might be friends based on a shared interest. In my expe­ri­ence, this process is often a loop between steps one and two, because it’s dif­fi­cult to con­nect past a super­fi­cial level of “shared interest,” which is not what I want in a friend­ship. Friendships I value are based on the ability of both par­ties to share their per­spec­tives and expe­ri­ences, hold space for one another, and listen when the other party needs sup­port or a sounding board. Relationships based on “having fun with shared projects” would be in a cat­e­gory of “acquain­tance” or “col­lab­o­ra­tive partner” rather than “friend.” One may become the other over time, but they’re sep­a­rate processes that aren’t addressed ade­quately here.

    1. Author

      Thanks for your feed­back.

      The phrasing of the rela­tion­ship to the LGBTQIA+ com­mu­nity has been devel­oped in col­lab­o­ra­tion with input from a few queer people. There are queer people in my imme­diate family. If you have a better way of phrasing the rela­tion­ship please let me know. All con­struc­tive feed­back is appre­ci­ated.

      Yes, the listed cat­e­gories cul­tural arte­facts are common across neu­rotypes and cul­tures. The dif­fer­ence is subtle and made explicit in the orig­inal call for action https://autcollab.org/2018/06/30/taking-ownership-of-the-label/.

      “The autistic expe­ri­ence involves the fol­lowing set of cul­tural arte­facts:

      1. Language(s), including var­ious idio­syn­cratic forms of com­mu­ni­ca­tion
      2. Written rules for inter­ac­tion, in par­tic­ular in rela­tion to inter­acting with the phys­ical and bio­log­ical world
      3. Tools of all kinds
      4. Knowledge related to the making and use of tools

      In con­trast, the neu­rotyp­ical expe­ri­ence involves the fol­lowing set of cul­tural arte­facts:

      1. Language(s), including an under­standing and appre­ci­a­tion of abstract cul­tural status sym­bols
      2. Written and unwritten rules for social inter­ac­tion, in par­tic­ular in rela­tion to status sym­bols
      3. Tools of all kinds
      4. Knowledge related to the making and use of tools”

      For more details on the ways in which autistic people develop trusted rela­tion­ships and friend­ships, and the dif­fer­ences to typ­ical ways of devel­oping trusted rela­tion­ships, see this article https://theaspergian.com/2019/10/08/autistic-collaboration-for-life/ and the NeurodiVenture oper­ating model https://autcollab.files.wordpress.com/2019/09/neurodiventures.pdf, which includes ref­er­ences to longer arti­cles with fur­ther back­ground.

      1. As far as a dif­ferent way of phrasing the queer­ness con­nec­tion, I don’t under­stand why you’re asserting that autism is queer at all. Autism doesn’t need to be queer in order to be a valid neu­rotype. You have a clear and helpful def­i­n­i­tion of neu­ro­di­ver­sity without trying to claim autism is queer. Proximity to queer people in your per­sonal life is irrel­e­vant to the claim autism is queer. Queerness is a posi­tion of rejecting social norms based on gender, sexual, romantic iden­tity or rela­tion­ship struc­tures built on het­ero­nor­ma­tivity. Autism has, at best, a corol­lary con­nec­tion to those. If you’re asserting a direct rela­tion­ship between autism and the rejec­tion of het­ero­nor­ma­tivity, you need to explain it, not just state that exists. The involve­ment of a handful of queer indi­vid­uals in shaping your def­i­n­i­tion is good, but it’s not ade­quate unless you can explain how autism relates to a rejec­tion of het­ero­nor­ma­tive social and polit­ical struc­tures.

        For the rest, I don’t think it’s real­istic to exp
        ect your audi­ence to read three entire sup­porting arti­cles in order to under­stand the def­i­n­i­tion. A def­i­n­i­tion should stand on its own, or at least give the links to the sup­porting mate­rials in the text.

        1. Sorry, there’s a weird line break in my last com­ment and I’m not able to edit.

        2. Author

          What would you think of “Members of the autism civil rights move­ment adopt a posi­tion of neu­ro­di­ver­sity that encom­passes a kalei­do­scope of iden­ti­ties that inter­sects with the LGBTQIA+ kalei­do­scope by recog­nising autistic traits as nat­ural vari­a­tions of cog­ni­tion, moti­va­tions, and pat­terns of behav­iour within the human species.” Feel free to pro­pose spe­cific improve­ments or an alter­na­tive.

          The def­i­n­i­tion already con­tains sev­eral links to sup­porting mate­rial, including one link I reit­er­ated in the ear­lier com­ment and another one pointing to the source of the NeurodiVenture con­cept from where you’ll find all rel­e­vant ref­er­ences.

  5. Author

    I have updated the work-in-progress ver­sion of this def­i­n­i­tion at https://autcollab.org/projects/a‑communal-definition-of-autism/ with a number of small changes based on the feed­back received so far. Take a look, and let me know what you think. The work-in-progress ver­sion of the def­i­n­i­tion now includes a struc­tured form for sub­mit­ting sug­ges­tions of improve­ments as well as a link to the Autistic Community Loomio group (https://www.loomio.org/g/jMTYZrgp/autistic-community, which you are invited to join). The Loomio group will be used to pub­lish all sug­ges­tions received for review and endorse­ment by the autistic com­mu­nity, using a trans­parent and demo­c­ratic voting process.

  6. I can’t find the link to the test men­tioned at the end of the article.

    1. Author

      There is no need to “pass” a test. If you relate to the above descrip­tion of autism, the test con­sists of investing some time engaging with the autistic com­mu­nity. As sug­gested above:

      If you are won­dering whether you iden­tify as autistic, spend time amongst autistic people, online and offline. If you notice you relate to these people much better than to others, if they make you feel safe, and if they under­stand you, you have arrived.

  7. Author

    The def­i­n­i­tion has been updated based on the feed­back received to date. Many thanks for your con­struc­tive input! The updated def­i­n­i­tion is now pub­lished with a ver­sion number (cur­rently v 1.01 – 15 October 2019) to alert people to updates. Please use the struc­tured “Suggestions for improve­ments” form above to submit spe­cific sug­ges­tions for fur­ther improve­ment. All future sug­ges­tions for improve­ment will be sub­ject to a demo­c­ratic con­sensus building process via the autistic com­mu­nity.

  8. “If you are won­dering whether you iden­tify as autistic, spend time amongst autistic people, online and offline. If you notice you relate to these people much better than to others, if they make you feel safe, and if they under­stand you, you have arrived.”

    While I think I under­stand the gen­eral gist here, wouldn’t this also unin­ten­tion­ally mean that socially awk­ward people who would oth­er­wise be neu­rotyp­ical in every way might come to see them­selves as autistic despite the absence of the other ele­ments of the autistic mind? I would prefer that we not have to deal with people who seek to steal from our cul­ture rather than simply opposing it out­right, and it would make me more secure knowing that there would be a way for our com­mu­nity to weed out such fakers.

    1. Author

      By the time readers get to the part you are refer­ring to, they have read the def­i­n­i­tion, and they have just been reminded of the def­i­n­i­tion in the pre­ceding sen­tence: “For anyone who relates to the above descrip­tion of autism, …”.

      Given the level of dis­crim­i­na­tion that autistic people usu­ally face, and given the large number of autistic people who don’t feel safe to openly iden­tify as autistic, the very least we can do is to be wel­coming to people who relate to our expe­ri­ence of the world and who would like to learn more about autistic people.

      Formation of autistic iden­tity is the result of many inter­ac­tions between a person who is poten­tially autistic and the autistic com­mu­nity. Within this con­text the curious new­comer will undoubt­edly receive plenty of feed­back from the autistic com­mu­nity that will either draw the person into the com­mu­nity or will ulti­mately leave the person with the under­standing that their expe­ri­ences are not com­pat­ible with the expe­ri­ences fre­quently made by autistic people.

      1. Reasonable, but I still feel it leaves the com­mu­nity ripe for exploita­tion. I’m all for people learning more about our com­mu­nity, but not for simply let­ting them in without knowing if they’re not just neu­rotyp­i­cals who think they’re worse off than they really are. Or worse, people merely pre­tending so they can infil­trate the com­mu­nity for their own rea­sons.

        1. Author

          I under­stand your con­cerns, since there are so few places that are safe for autistic people. However think about where exploita­tion of autistic people takes place sys­tem­at­i­cally and at scale:

          1. The autism industry : https://autcollab.org/2019/03/15/guidelines-for-future-autism-research/
          2. Co-opting of neu­ro­di­ver­sity by large organ­i­sa­tions : https://autcollab.org/2018/09/03/genuine-appreciation-of-neurodiversity/
          3. Most tra­di­tional employ­ment con­texts : https://autcollab.org/2019/08/05/people-management-and-bullying/

          The public internet is never entirely safe. I encourage autistic people to reach out to each other, to incre­men­tally build up mutual trust, and to jointly estab­lish small neu­ro­di­ver­sity friendly teams and peer-to-peer sup­port organ­i­sa­tions that I refer to as “NeurodiVentures” (https://autcollab.org/community/neurodiventures/). The path is not nec­es­sarily easy, it can take many years, but I have found it to be a worth­while journey (https://autcollab.org/2019/10/15/pathways-to-good-company/).

          1. I’ve read those too, which is in part why I worry about one of our few safe spaces being invaded as well. There has to be some kind of way to ensure that does not come to pass.

            Maybe I’m just wor­rying too much, but I can’t quite con­vince myself not to be afraid of that sort of betrayal.

          2. Different health ser­vices exist in dif­ferent places. If a person is unavail­able to obtain a diag­nosis, for what­ever reason, except not being autistic, should we throw them to the wolves as an out­cast?
            I agree we need to safe­guard our places but if we do it only on a diag­nosis only we have let down people.

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