This article is a companion piece to The New Idealist Issue Six: The Autism Issue which you can download here.
Please note: This article was originally published in The New Idealist section of The Intelligent Review site in August 2014 before being transferred to this new site in July 2015.
Whilst some of the terminology of this article may cause distress to some autistic readers, please be aware this article has been included because the author makes some relevant points about the diagnosis process and has published some research which is covered in the main issue (P10 An analysis of the diagnostic process at the CLASS clinic). We are also publishing it in order to highlight the ‘autism as a disorder and deficit’ approach of the clinical community. As The Autism Issue challenges this view, it is important this article is read in conjunction with the full issue here.
What is Autism? by Dr. Sarah Cassidy
Approximately 1% of the population (around 700 000 individuals in the UK), are living with an autism spectrum condition. Autism spectrum conditions affect development of the brain and behavior. People with autism have marked difficulties in relating to and communicating with others, and may, for example, struggle to maintain peer relationships or hold a conversation. They also show repetitive behaviours, or a narrow range of obsessive interests. This may involve memorizing and discussing details and facts about a particular topic to the exclusion of other activities, having to take a particular route each day to school, or having to follow a set routine.