- Oct 25, 2017
This a thread that shall hopefully serve at least two purposes. The primary purpose is to provide those of us that live on the Autistic Spectrum a place where we can discuss, seek friendly advice, and simply feel a bit less isolated in a world where we might not easily find our place. Secondarily, I hope it will help those not diagnosed - whether for lack of the condition, or lack of its confirmation - better understand what the condition is and how it affects the ways in which we interact with the world, and perhaps use such understanding to better engage with those like us. But just in case anyone needs a primer...
What is Autism?
Autistic Spectrum Disorder, more commonly known as Autism, is defined by the National Autistic Society as such:
If that sounds incredibly broad and vague, that's because it is, and has to be. Rather than one set condition with one set of symptoms, Autism covers a wide array of possible areas of human interaction which may find themselves skewed from an ordinary baseline; the way in which we experience and process the information we receive from the world around us is different from how a neurotypical person might, and that in turn affects our ability to engage.
This presents challenges in diagnosis: Seemingly 'obvious' traits of autism may instead be the result of poor social conditioning on an otherwise neurotypical person, while someone who is genuinely autistic may be mistaken for 'normal', as they have been so well conditioned as to suppress their more visible autistic traits. Furthermore, individual therapists may disagree in their read of someone being autistic or not. However, the general rate and accuracy of diagnoses is increasing, and as such, if after reading this thread you believe you or someone close to you may be on the spectrum, it might be worth seeking a diagnosis. If the diagnosis is negative, then little changes or is lost. If it's positive however, simply knowing can be revelatory, and give someone much more power and comfort over their own identity.
The exact nature of autism as a condition is hotly debated; ranging from the view that it is a mental illness that warrants a 'cure', to others seeing it as simply a less common - but still entirely natural and acceptable - variant of the human psyche. Some view it as a genuine disorder that nevertheless can and should be accommodated for so as to live comfortably in 'normal' society, others still don't care and just wish everyone else would leave them alone and let them live life however they want. Medical understanding is ongoing and evolving, with much uncertainty on to what extent autism is genetic and inherent, versus developing as a result of environmental conditions both prior to and after birth. Many researchers are even coming to believe that it might not have any singular cause at all, and that even within the condition itself, it may be more a series of conditions that commonly correlate together, thus creating the identifiable yet variable nature of what we call Autism.
Regardless, it's not caused by vaccines. The paper that suggested that link has long been debunked and found to be fraudulent - even the journal that published it retracted it, once they had clearance to do so, because it was a load of bollocks.
Putting that all aside... how's everybody doing?