From Autistic Linear Spectrum to Pie Chart Spectrum

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ASPartOfMe
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16 Aug 2022, 8:41 pm

Psychology Today
Claire Jack, Ph.D., is a therapist and training provider who specialises in working with women with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Claire obtained her Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of the Highlands and Islands, having spent three glorious years in the tiny island of Shetland, Scotland. In addition to one-to-one client work by Skype, Claire provides a range of training and personal development courses covering issues such as narcissistic abuse, inner child therapy and hypnotherapy.

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As a practitioner who works with autistic women, and as an autistic woman myself, understanding what autism spectrum disorder is can be difficult. We tend to think of spectrums in terms of a linear progression—from high to low, moderate to severe, 1 to 10, or good to bad.

However, thinking about autism in this way is little comfort to many level 1 autistic people whose symptoms cause difficulties in almost every aspect of their lives. People with a level 1 autism diagnosis are more at risk than the general population of mental health problems, suicidality, career difficulties, bullying, and abuse.

One tool that practitioners have at their disposal, and that could help explain the autism spectrum in a non-linear way, is a pie chart, similar to the wheel of life used by some life coaches. The "pie chart" or "autism wheel" model is advocated by researchers who regard the linear model as static and limited.

In the pie chart model, individual autism traits are represented by individual sections. It provides a visual representation of those autistic traits that someone might be higher in, compared to those they might experience in a lesser way.

For instance, someone might score 10 out of 10 in terms of anxiety or meltdowns, and 7 out of 10 in terms of sensory processing difficulties. Another person might score 10 out of 10 in terms of sensory processing, and 7 out of 10 in terms of anxiety or meltdowns.

Although the pie chart represents a simplified picture of autism and cannot include every trait, I argue that it shows very clearly that autism comes in all types of shapes and sizes, and that there’s no such thing as “easy” or “good” autism.

The pie chart model, or autism wheel, also acknowledges that autistic people's symptoms may change and develop through time, and allows for a fluid development over the life span.In a clear visual way, it allows us to see each autistic person in all their uniqueness and complexity.

At first glance I like this idea. It is not dissimilar to the naming Autism by dominant sub categories idea I have mentioned.


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timf
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17 Aug 2022, 6:00 am

If "autism" is a miscellaneous category into which disparate conditions have been dumped, then a pie chart might regain some of the individual identity that would be lost attempting to show a single condition.



Pteranomom
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17 Aug 2022, 11:33 am

The term she wants is "star chart," not pie chart. A pie chart shows you percents of a whole. Like, "Your autism is 20% meltdowns and 70% sensory issues." That wouldn't make sense.

A star chart organized data along each point. So if the "sensory issues" point is long, that represents major sensory issues. But if the "meltdowns" point is short, that would mean few meltdowns.

Of course, a standard bar graph with labels could do the same thing. The star just makes it look nice.



ASPartOfMe
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17 Aug 2022, 12:16 pm

Pteranomom wrote:
The term she wants is "star chart," not pie chart. A pie chart shows you percents of a whole. Like, "Your autism is 20% meltdowns and 70% sensory issues." That wouldn't make sense.

A star chart organized data along each point. So if the "sensory issues" point is long, that represents major sensory issues. But if the "meltdowns" point is short, that would mean few meltdowns.

Of course, a standard bar graph with labels could do the same thing. The star just makes it look nice.

Finding out something like my autism is 20 percent shutdowns, 70 percent executive dysfunctions, 10 percent sensory would be useful to me.


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“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


Pteranomom
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17 Aug 2022, 7:14 pm

I don't think "my autism is 20% X" is even a meaningful statement.



kraftiekortie
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17 Aug 2022, 7:19 pm

Venn diagrams might be more illustrative and easier for laypeople to understand.



naturalplastic
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17 Aug 2022, 7:26 pm

kraftiekortie wrote:
Venn diagrams might be more illustrative and easier for laypeople to understand.

How so?

Venn diagrams are just overlapping circles showing how many folks are say...both ADHD and autistic, or "ASD and live in Nebraska", or how much the Hasidic Jewish population overlaps with the population of low rider car drivers.

How would you use that to illustrate your own form of autism?



kraftiekortie
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17 Aug 2022, 7:29 pm

Autistic symptoms frequently overlap.

And it might prove illustrative to one who doesn’t like looking at complex charts.



ToughDiamond
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18 Aug 2022, 8:03 am

It reminds me of the way the RDOS questionnaire results can be expressed:
Image
Obviously that kind of data representation is less reductionist, and therefore closer to reality, than a single number could ever be. Though personally it took me a while to get used to those circular charts, and I suspect there could be a better set of categories than those RDOS uses. I don't see why it has to be circular. A bar chart would be at least as good.

I've always thought that looking at the individual traits is more objective than trying to pool them all together, rather like IQ, which means a lot more when it's broken down into defined aptitudes instead of trying to see a complex matter as one simple parameter.



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18 Aug 2022, 1:43 pm

kraftiekortie wrote:
Autistic symptoms frequently overlap.

And it might prove illustrative to one who doesn’t like looking at complex charts.


"Overlap" is also recorded on the star chart, and it can illustrate any number of them with ease. I only like Venn diagrams for humour.



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18 Aug 2022, 6:42 pm

A pie chart is an interesting idea.
It would be unable to capture how our traits can seem to change over time or due to circumstances.
But it definitely seems an advance on just labelling us all as autistic and having one-size-fits-all therapies.



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18 Aug 2022, 8:36 pm

I'd like to see how a pie chart would work. I think it would be a good thing to try.


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19 Aug 2022, 5:03 am

Sure. And why not both?


Mine is actually 30% Social/Language/Communication Issues, 30% Executive Functioning, 30% Sensory Issues, and the rest goes to "human disinterests" (asociality, asexuality, agender, nonconforming, lack of x, etc.).

Not impulsive enough to have prominent stims or repetitive movements (no impulses to hold back, which is different from masking), lost obsessions/losing special interests (as opposed to denying any), not alexithymic enough (unfortunately for me), no dyspraxia (in a way it's related to autism), no social anxiety or anxiety issues or any disposition of it including but not limited to needing routines and certainty (chronic stress and biological sensitivity is another story)...

No notable developmental issues except at the emotional aspects and also very likely in the language areas of development.
The language bit is very much autism than upbringing, but the emotional aspects has a questionable element that autism cannot simply explain.

Overlaps;
Executive functioning issues is actually 10% Autism and 90% unresolved/untreated/undiagnosed sh*t because this doesn't exists before adulthood and doesn't exists consistently.

Social/Language/Communication issues is 75% Autism (emphasis on language area) and 25% Personal Circumstances (ranging from environmental to social disinterest) Is actually more consistent.

Sensory Issues is 30% Autism, 60% Executive functioning and 10% "states" (hormonal or otherwise).
Changed overtime -- sensory seeking components are mostly autism, intolerance while lessen overtime is mainly caused whatever mental health issue that reacts with autism, yet processing seem to become worse with age mainly due to executive functions and fluctuations are less to do with intensity and more to do with processing.

And my "human disinterests" is 80% influenced by Autism and 20% unresolved something and plain inexperience. Used to be a bigger part of my autism, changes overtime.


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