The autism spectrum includes people who speak and people who don’t. People who use the toilet and people who need diapers. People who struggle to understand social expectations and people who figure them out. People who are great conversationalists and people who would rather not converse. People who memorize stuff and people who don’t. People who hug and people who would rather not.It’s all sorts of people. Here are a few resources that exemplify the variety, the labels that are sometimes used to describe that variety, and the shortcomings of those labels.
It’s all sorts of people. Here are a few resources that exemplify the variety, the labels that are sometimes used to describe that variety, and the shortcomings of those labels.
“Ask an autistic” – Video series made by a woman on the autism spectrum. In this segment, she explains what autism is from her perspective.
This American Life, episode 317, Unconditional Love, act 2 – A father of a severely autistic child faces decisions about his son’s future, including whether or not he can continue taking care of his child at home. (Listener note: have tissues handy)
“Where the Vocabulary of Autism is Failing” – An Atlantic article about how labels such as high-functioning and low-functioning obscure as much as they illumine.
It’s hard to say where Martin is in relation to the cases presented in these examples. He’s not like the woman in the first video, Amethyst, who clearly has no trouble speaking. Martin could not put sentences together, even at age 3 and 4. Learning to speak and have conversations took years of speech and ABA therapy. Martin is not like Ben in the second story. Martin is verbal. Martin sleeps. But like Ben, he has had meltdowns that have taken us to the emergency room. The final article speaks to the strange set of characteristics that Martin has. He is “high-functioning” in many ways and “low-functioning” in others. The power of that article comes in its acknowledgment that every story involving autism is different, which means becoming friends with every particular person with autism requires patience and diligence and openness.