Misconceptions People Get
So I did the wrong thing after reading an article I liked… I read the comments. How many times do I tell myself “Don’t read the comments!”? How many times do I tell others “Don’t read the comments!!!!”? Oh well, I did. And as a result, I have a blog post. (lucky you?)
So the article is a pretty simplistic piece on the difficulty in diagnosing autism in girls and women. I still have no idea how the woman who diagnosed me came to her conclusions, but she did. I don’t even disagree with her. So I want to address the misconceptions that the layreaders got.
- Autism is a disability. Shocking, I know. When it comes to disability, I like using the ADA definition, “a person with a disability as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity.” This means that “quirkiness” “social awkwardness” “introvertedness” (not a word) is not enough to consider someone disabled. Those qualities have to substantially LIMIT a life activity.
- There’s a specific set of criteria you have to meet to get an autism diagnosis where not only do you have to have a “functional limitation” in various areas. There are two areas of deficit, social communication/interaction AND restricted/repetitive behavior, and the point of the article was mainly to do with how those representations can be different in girls vs boys and women vs men. Where men may just drone on and on about a topic, women may struggle with initiation. Where boys may line up cars, girls may dress and undress their dolls. It doesn’t change that they have the “deficits”, but it can change what diagnostician’s look for.
- If you grow up and through sheer determination have learned some basic coping skills, yes, you may still be on the spectrum (see DSM 5 re: coping strategies). Let’s face it, there are millions of autistic adults (and that means autistic women too). Just because you’ve learned, often through trial and error (sometimes disastrous), coping skills doesn’t mean you wouldn’t have benefited from directly targeted intervention in a variety of areas. That’s what getting an autism diagnosis early means. Because even if you gained those coping skills, a lot are still working on them and even more will never quite figured it out. Just because you made it out “fine” doesn’t say anything for those that didn’t.
Remember that you are the goal of intervention. Because everyone should be able to enjoy their choice of marriage, or kids, or work, or living in a house/in the country/in the city. That is the whole point. It’s not about special snowflake kids or rich parents or money for psychiatrists (since there’s no known medical treatment for autism). It’s about making sure people grow up to their potential to make their own life choices.