Categories
Definitions & Characteristics

Atmosphere – Breeze

[R]ight from the start, from the time someone came up with the word ‘autism’, the condition has been judged from the outside, by its appearances, and not from the inside according to how it is experienced.

Donna Williams

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On how autistic people have to waste so much time trying to explain that our actions and behaviors don’t necessarily mean what other people assume they mean. And how people will actually argue with us about what our behaviors mean, because they erroneously believe body language and psychology are universal and are arrogantly intent on projecting the meaning of their own typical behaviors onto everyone else.

Twilah Hiari

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We say a child has autism if he displays a combination of traits and behaviours that are deemed to be problematic […] Professionals observe these ‘autistic behaviours’ and then assess the people who display them by using a sort of circular reasoning: Why does Rachel flap her hands? Because she has autism. Why has she been diagnosed with autism? Because she flaps.

Barry M. Prizant

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But it’s the research with typically developing babies that truly suggests we should take social attention theories of autism with a large dose of salt.

Too often, researchers assume a specific trait, such as social disability in autism, and then reach backwards looking for something to explain it. Or, they might see two traits – social disability and avoidance of eye contact – and link them together, because intuitively, eye contact seems related to social functioning. This is not good science, and the flaws of this approach become especially obvious when it is done without reference to how the trait [for instance, social (dis)ability] typically develops, as happened here.

Emily Morson

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For seventy years (at least), people have been making assumptions about autistic people based on outward behaviour.  Even the diagnostic criteria for autism is based on what is easily observable by an onlooker. They think that the stranger we act, the ‘more autistic’ we are.

C.L. Lynch

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Autistic being is predicated on un-being. In order to claim an emotion, we need to have it empirically validated.

[…]

An autistic person cannot experience abuse, cannot feel her body being shoved against the cold wall of a hospital psych ward – an autistic person cannot experience systemic violence unless a non-autistic person validates those claims.

Melanie Yergeau

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In my experience, the autism spectrum diagnostic criteria are frustratingly incomplete.  They paint a picture of that which can only be seen on the outside, by an observer who knows nothing about the firsthand experience – I.e., “what it’s like” to actually be on the spectrum.

Laina

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Categories
Definitions & Characteristics

Atmosphere – Silhouette (Part 3)

In her 2005 book Constructing Autism, Majia Nadesan provides a useful but woefully under-recognized definition of autism.

She writes that autism is “a nominal category useful for grouping heterogenous people all sharing communication practices deviating significantly from the expectations of normalcy.”

In simpler terms: autism is a label for people whose social behavior is very different from what their culture expects. […]

Autism does not reside a priori within my body.

Autism is an idea, a social category. Autism is the meaning that we project onto certain modes of behavior. It is made up of society’s collective anxieties around what it means to be ‘normal,’ to be fully human.

There is still a stubborn essentialism that pervades the entire discourse around autism […]

Caroline Narby

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Autism is not a thing. It’s an abstraction.

The only concrete reality is the existence of the people who get called autistic.

So when I say what autism is, I mean how my particular brain, that is called autistic, works.

Amanda Baggs

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I think that my ‘story,’ though intensely personal, is not at all singular.

Beneath its idiosyncrasies lie vast strata of commonality, communality

Out of context, N. Mairs

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For many years, ‘autism’ and ‘autistic’ were also used descriptively: […] autistic disorder is a disorder characterised by autistic features, ‘autistic’ being an adjective that describes behaviour

Since 1979, a different use of the word ‘autism’ has crept into general use, and even into specialized use.

It’s now used to refer to an underlying medical condition that is assumed to cause autistic behaviour.

Why does that matter? It matters because what has also crept in is the assumption that if people meet the diagnostic criteria for [autism], that means they have the underlying medical condition that causes autistic behaviour – that everybody’s autistic characteristics must have the same cause.

Sue Gerrard

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A lot of autism research begins with the premise that even though there are [over a thousand] different ways of getting an autism diagnosis, being in the autism ‘gang’ makes you (a) fundamentally similar to all the other gang members and (b) fundamentally different to everyone that doesn’t make the grade. That’s a big, big assumption.

Jon Brock

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We acknowledge the heterogeneity within autism, but our intuitions still drive us to seek a common essence of autism.

The essentialist view of autism goes hand in hand with the way autism research is conducted and reported. […]

By always beginning with autism and working backwards, we have invested too much significance in the label itself.

Jon Brock

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Critics […] pointed out the circularity in Spearman’s argument.

Intelligence tests were assumed to measure intelligence, but because no one knew what intelligence actually was, the tests also defined intelligence – even if they varied considerably.

logicalincrementalism

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No true Scotsman / Appeal to purity

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[T]here is no consistent underlying ‘essence’ to those ways of being we now classify as autistic; rather, in each case, the underlying difference is idiosyncratic and unique. […] Of course, this is not to deny that autistic cognitive and behavioral profiles tend to overlap in specific and interesting ways.

Robert Chapman

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The problem with calling {something} ‘biological’ is that biology is complicated.

Hardly anything in biology fits into […] neat categories

Partial quote, Luz Delfondo

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Just because something’s a social construction doesn’t mean it’s not real […] Now, is it based in biology? Influenced by? Completely unmoored from?

That’s a different argument, and one we can’t get to until we stop conflating it with this one.

Sam Killermann

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Categories
Definitions & Characteristics

Scientific Ponderings on ‘How?’

Extra section related to:

1
  • central coherence theory
  • connectivity theory
  • modularity of mind theory
2
  • diametric mind theory
  • extreme male brain theory
  • social motivation hypothesis
3
  • double empathy problem
  • mirror neuron dysfunction theory
  • theory of mind
4
  • executive dysfunction theory
5
  • gut-brain connection theory
  • immune system dysregulation theory
6
  • intense world theory
  • magical world theory
  • polyvagal theory
  • predictive coding theory
  • signaling imbalance theory
7
  • monotropism theory
  • théorie du fonctionnement interne de la structure de pensée autistique
8
  • multifactorial inheritance model
9
  • object relations theory
  • psychodynamic theory
  • refrigerator mother theory
10
  • etc.

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Categories
Definitions & Characteristics

Compass Sailing

What does it mean to be on the spectrum?

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Pivotal words generally used in defining and presenting autism:

A

ability to
affinity with
difficulty with
disconnection of
easier to
find challenging to
hard to
have control of
have trouble to
need to
take longer to
unable to

.

B

abnormal
alternative
atypical
different
distinct
exceptional
noticeable
special
unusual
variation

.

C

absence
additional
decreased
excessive
extra
extreme
heightened
high
hyper
hypo
increased
intense
lack
less
more
reduced

.

D

affected by
comfortable with
content with
dislike
distressed when
enjoy
overstimulated when
overwhelmed by
stressed by
tired by
uncomfortable with

.

E

deficient
failure to
impaired
poor

.

F

fixated
inflexible
insistence
obsessive
perseverative
repetitive
restricted
rigid
specialized
stereotyped

.

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Usually paired up with things falling in those categories:

behaviour
body language
changes
cognition
communication
daily living
development
emotions
focus
information processing
interests
language
learning
movement
sensory experiences
speech
socialization
thinking

etc.

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Extras: