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 as the author makes some relevant points about autism in the workplace and the importance of non-autistic people taking the time to understand autistic people. 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 Kim Painter, Ph.D.
Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by deficits in social communication and interaction. The hallmark symptom of an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a lack of reciprocity in interactions with others. The vast majority of individuals with ASDs want to interact with others but lack the skills to effectively navigate social situations.
Each person on the spectrum has specific strengths and weaknesses. Some may be very verbal while others may have little understandable speech. Much of our communication with one another is non-verbal, and those with ASDs often misinterpret social situations and may over-attend to content, missing the social nuances occurring.