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ASPartOfMe
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09 Jul 2019, 2:29 am

https://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/life/114111549/no-you-cant-be-a-little-bit-autistic
Professor Sandra Jones is pro vice-chancellor, engagement at Australian Catholic University.
Her previous research includes the experience of adolescence for autistic people, the impact of diagnostic labels, and the development and evaluation of social support and peer support programs.

Quote:
A decade ago I was participating in a research seminar at an Australian university and one of the academics responded to a presentation about autism with the comment "all academics are a little bit autistic".

Recently, I was speaking to a colleague about a someone from another university that she found hard to deal with.

My colleague told me of the trouble she was having and finished up with "you know how he is … a bit on the spectrum".

So even if not all academics "a little bit autistic", the ones that are hard to get along with must be "a bit on the spectrum"?

Sadly, those two conversations were not isolated incidents, but rather the earliest and the most recent of dozens of occasions where I have heard people use "autistic' as a gross over-generalisation or as an insult.

As an older woman with a successful career, I finally feel comfortable saying "I am autistic". It is something I never would have admitted when I was starting my career.

My autism does not limit my ability to do my job – in many ways it is why I am good at what I do – but those flippant comments about "being on the spectrum" make it scary for a person to reveal their diagnosis.

As the mother of two autistic sons, and an advocate for autistic students, I am deeply aware of how damaging it is when people use "autism" as a criticism.

It simplifies our challenges and ignores our strengths by limiting the definition of what autism is and what autistic people can achieve.

The message it sends to autistic children (and adults) is that it is fundamentally bad to be autistic.

However, autism is a spectrum not a line.

An autistic person may have significant strengths in one area and significant challenges in another, which is why many in the autistic community are opposed to the use of functioning labels ("high-functioning" and "low-functioning").

No, all academics are not "a little bit autistic" – just as all people who can't dance are not "a little bit paraplegic".

It is entirely possible that many academics are autistic (as are many mechanics, sales assistants, writers, etc).

However, saying "all academics are a little bit autistic" trivialises the many challenges faced by autistic people in navigating the workplace and society more generally.

What you (as a neurotypical looking in) see from the outside is just a part of autism.

What you don't see is the sensory hyperactivity (or hypoactivity) that makes it hard to work in an office with bright lights and air conditioning and people wearing perfume.

What you don't hear is the cacophony of noise that makes it incredibly hard to focus on a task or to isolate a specific voice in a conversation.

What you don't feel is the ever-present anxiety of trying to act and speak like everyone else when it is about as natural to you as walking on your hands.

When neurotypical people use "autistic" or "spectrum" to describe someone who is a bit different or a bit hard to get along with, they are not only disregarding the challenges faced by autistic people they are also disregarding the strengths of autistic people.

If you want to describe someone who is a bit different, the English language offers you many alternatives: quirky, eccentric, unconventional or even just weird.

If you want to describe someone who is stubborn or unfriendly try: obstinate, awkward, perverse or even pig-headed.

Please, don't use our identity as your insult.


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magz
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09 Jul 2019, 2:43 am

Honestly, I don't get how saying "a bit autistic" is translated to "autism as an insult".


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AprilR
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09 Jul 2019, 5:18 am

I don't think it was meant to be an insult either but i i don't think its right to use that Word easily like it's a personality quirk. It's a disorder.



ASPartOfMe
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09 Jul 2019, 8:32 am

It is not always meant as an insult but is often unintentionally insulting for the reasons stated in the article.

Autism is not the only condition diagnosable conditions are casually applied. People often say I feel depressed, anxious, OCD. These casual uses also trivialize what those that have been diagnosed with these conditions have to deal with. Unlike those conditions Autism is something innate, something some on the spectrum feel is part of their identity.


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DSM 5: Autism Spectrum Disorder, DSM IV: Aspergers Moderate Severity

My autism is not a superpower. It also isn’t some kind of god-forsaken, endless fountain of suffering inflicted on my family. It’s just part of who I am as a person. - Sara Luterman


Mona Pereth
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09 Jul 2019, 8:55 am

Quote:
No, all academics are not "a little bit autistic" – just as all people who can't dance are not "a little bit paraplegic".

There is indeed such a thing as "a little bit autistic" -- it's called "Broad Autistic Phenotype" (BAP). It's probably not correct to say that all academics fit the BAP. However:

Quote:
It is entirely possible that many academics are autistic (as are many mechanics, sales assistants, writers, etc).

I would suspect that academics, especially in STEM fields, are probably much more likely than "sales assistants" to fit the BAP. Hans Asperger noted that a "dash of autism" might be essential to success in academics.

Quote:
However, saying "all academics are a little bit autistic" trivialises the many challenges faced by autistic people in navigating the workplace and society more generally.

What you (as a neurotypical looking in) see from the outside is just a part of autism.

What you don't see is the sensory hyperactivity (or hypoactivity) that makes it hard to work in an office with bright lights and air conditioning and people wearing perfume.

1) Not all autistic people have these sensory issues.

2) Some non-autistic people do have them. (According to this page on the website of the STAR Institute for Sensory Processing Disorder, "In a study of children born between July 1995 and September 1997 in the New Haven, CT area 16% of 7 to 11 year olds had symptoms of SPD-SOR.... That is the same as 1 in 6 children.")

Quote:
What you don't hear is the cacophony of noise that makes it incredibly hard to focus on a task or to isolate a specific voice in a conversation.

What you don't feel is the ever-present anxiety of trying to act and speak like everyone else when it is about as natural to you as walking on your hands.

Some people who don't fit the diagnostic criteria for ASD probably do feel the latter anxiety too. Perhaps people with what is now called "Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder" feel this?

Quote:
When neurotypical people use "autistic" or "spectrum" to describe someone who is a bit different or a bit hard to get along with,

That is indeed a wrong thing to do. There are all kinds of reasons, apart from autism, why someone might be "a bit different" of "a bit hard to get along with."


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magz
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09 Jul 2019, 9:42 am

Mona Pereth wrote:
Quote:
No, all academics are not "a little bit autistic" – just as all people who can't dance are not "a little bit paraplegic".

There is indeed such a thing as "a little bit autistic" -- it's called "Broad Autistic Phenotype" (BAP). It's probably not correct to say that all academics fit the BAP. However:

Quote:
It is entirely possible that many academics are autistic (as are many mechanics, sales assistants, writers, etc).

I would suspect that academics, especially in STEM fields, are probably much more likely than "sales assistants" to fit the BAP. Hans Asperger noted that a "dash of autism" might be essential to success in academics.

There are some characteristics of physicists I've noticed. In the circle of physicists, literal understanding of language, not responding to greetings when focused on something other, not recognizing people, wearing whatever one likes regardless of position, not following social rituals or inventing one's own - are the norm.
I wouldn't say all physicists are autistic but I'm quite sure there is enough autistic physicists out there to trigger several adaptations within this group.


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plokijuh
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09 Jul 2019, 9:45 pm

My sister has debilitating OCD. I have experienced subclinical symptoms similar to OCD (over and above autism), but I don't say I'm a bit OCD because I think it's misleading and undermines my sister's experience.

I feel the same about autism. I understand there's no clear line, and I understand the arguments re BAP, but I guess maybe I'd see that as a mild expression of autism which is subclinical, not "a little bit autistic".

I do feel like the point of the label, to me, is to access support. It's not an identity thing for me, so I guess I am coming from a slightly different angle.


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10 Jul 2019, 11:56 am

My mom says she's a "little bit autistic" if she says something socially inappropriate now that she's in her older age ...



Mona Pereth
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10 Jul 2019, 12:35 pm

plokijuh wrote:
My sister has debilitating OCD. I have experienced subclinical symptoms similar to OCD (over and above autism), but I don't say I'm a bit OCD because I think it's misleading and undermines my sister's experience.

I feel the same about autism. I understand there's no clear line, and I understand the arguments re BAP, but I guess maybe I'd see that as a mild expression of autism which is subclinical, not "a little bit autistic".

I do feel like the point of the label, to me, is to access support. It's not an identity thing for me, so I guess I am coming from a slightly different angle.

For the purpose of accessing services, the relevant label is "Autistic Spectrum Disorder" (if you were diagnosed under DSM 5) or "Asperger's syndrome"/"PDD-NOS"/"Autistic disorder" (if you were diagnosed under DSM IV) -- not just the word "autistic" by itself. "Autistic" is sometimes used in a broader sense, to refer also to BAP.

Somewhat similarly, a person can have "obsessive" and/or "compulsive" tendencies without having full-fledged OCD or OCPD.

You can't be "a little bit OCD" but you certainly can be a little bit obsessive and/or compulsive. Similarly, people who fit the BAP can be said to be "a little bit autistic" but not "a little bit ASD."


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