What is the Autistic Spectrum?

I’m recommending this brilliant comic strip. For a printable spectrum illustration click here.  You can find Rebecca Burgess at tumblr where her comic strip was originally posted here theoraah.tumblr.com

language can be confusing for me. It takes me longer than the average person to process conversations. And although I a m good at making conversation, it can take me longer than normal to respond. But, neurotypical find language confusing too. And it can lead to some people misperceiving who I am. That is why I wouold like to explain what meant by spectrum. When we talk about the autism spectrum. Sometimes when people think of this word, they think of the autism spectrum as being like a very linear looking spectrum which gives the impression that people range from being a little autistic to very autistic. Hm. How can you be a little autistic. Its that vague language that I always find confusing
The problem with thinking of the spectrum in this way, is that a perception of an autistic person also becomes linear. You're only a little autistic, Archie. Hm. I still don't understand, can you be less vague? You're able to have a normal conversation with me and act pretty normal! You're not severely autistic...And so you see, if someone thinks you're on a low end of this spectrum, this often happens: Archie you can handle all of this just fine, you're not that autistic.
How can you be tired? eveeryone does this every day, you're just being lazy. Wow you're being so over dramatic get over it! Woah, you're more autistic than I thought. I'm gonna re-label you on this spectrum... since you're very autistic I don't think you should have a job, just to be safe y'know? And if you're seen as being on the high end of this spectrum - It can lead to some people labeling you as being incapable of doing anything at all
The truth is though, someone who is neurodiverse in some areas of their brain, will also be no different to your average person in other areas of their brain. You see the autistic spectrum looks something like this (circle with lots of attributes)
The spectrum consists of many different traits, or ways in which the brain processes information. Some traits create difficulties in every day life. (hence being diagnosed). But also many traits anre useful in every day life. Each person with autism will have a set of traits all in different areas of the spectrum. The areas where they don't have a trait will function no differently to a neurotypical brain, but may be affected by circumstances. In example, I am good at making conversation (language). Bit I get sensory overload in loud and crowded spaces which makes conversation very hard for me.
And so another autisticc person might be very happy in loud crowds but find conversation hard in general. You could say I'm just a real party animal! You can see with this spectrum than, that not every autistic kperson has savant skills. Or that someone who can't communicate verbally might still understand what you're saying, but just need a different way to communicate, such as sign language. It shows how not every autistic person acts the same way, and we are all capable of varying strengths and weaknesses.

Sometimes, if someone is diagnosed as being on the spectrum, and informs another person of this, it's so that they can get some understanding and respect for the things they are unable to do. But, it is also so that they can cooperate with the world around them - so that they can be the best in the things they can do. I hope that in the future, people will better understand the term spectrum, and continue to respect the differences and similarities we all share in how we experience the world.







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