Receiving a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder for your child can be overwhelming and a stressful time for the whole family. Often phrases are used that do not accurately describe autism in it’s true form. It is because of this that our own interpretation of autism is often skewed and not quite accurate. We are initially guided by the medical experts, which can often be at odds with the wider autistic community.
Each child is unique and Autism Spectrum Disorder is just that, a spectrum. But what is often not explained is that the spectrum is not linear. Autism is not a case of “mild Autism” or “severe Autism” or even “high functioning and “low functioning”
You see, someone can be autistic or neurodiverse in one part of their brain and they may also be no different to the average person in another part of their brain. The Autism Spectrum is a combination of many different traits, some traits create difficulty in everyday life while others present no barriers at all. The thought that high functioning autism is somewhat easier or that the person is not as “autistic” as someone else is again misleading and not true. No one person is any more autistic than another person based on their skills, it just means everyone has strengths and struggles in different areas of their brains.
Why is removing the labels so important anyway? Well it gives the impression that autism is not so much of a struggle for those perceived as “high functioning’ or that “Severe autism’ means a person is incapable of achieving everyday goals. Both of these are false.
Everyone with autism is unique with their own struggles and barriers, having society label those struggles in a black and white form stops many autistic people achieving goals and accessing support. For example, imagine your child struggles with loud noises, but is great at conversations. The teacher might see your child as being difficult if they don’t seem autistic enough. Or if someone is non verbal, the assumption is that the child cannot understand or learn, which is untrue.
No one is more autistc than anyone else, everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Support and understanding of this is important so we can provide services and make accommodations for the wider autistic community. Be autism accepting and lose the labels.