It happened again this week, this time it was phrased, “we are all a little on the spectrum,” if felt wrong, but I could not define why it was wrong. Here’s someone else’s take on it.
Alongside that picture on Facebook the author wrote. “Ah, the “we’re all a little autistic” argument, sometimes well-intended, sometimes deliberately dismissive, but always trivialising of our experiences and struggles. (With the disclaimer, of course, that plenty of people who ask this question later discover that they are in fact autistic themselves). – Chris.
Kathryn Pierce replied: It was my understanding that the autistic spectrum is supposed to encompass all the different autistic profiles, not suggest a “strength” of autism from “mild” to “severe.”
But I am not going to base my argument on a Facebook status.
A lot of autistic people have heard the term “Everybody is a little autistic, even from people in authority and I believe that these people mostly are trying to be kind, trying to tell u that they sympathise with us. But they are also wrong. People may have some of the things that are common in autistics, such as sensory issues. But that does not mean you have a bit of autism or that you are on the spectrum. What it does mean is that you do not know what the autistic spectrum is.
The spectrum essentially refers to the fact that every autistic person is different, with different strengths and challenges. It is not linear with less autistic people at one end who are high functioning and more autistic at the other who are high functioning, and I am glad that the functioning labels have gone.
High functioning was a bad label as it makes it difficult to get the support you need and low functioning was bad as a label as it put a person in a box with little chance of getting out, low functioning often was based solely on the person’s verbal communication skills and not on their intellect. The ability to function can vary on a day-to-day basis. It takes me time to function after a meltdown or shutdown, and my executive function varies so much that I often do nothing without a deadline.
Autism is more like a pie chart where everyone has a spiky profile to show we are good at some things and bad at others. Every autistic person will have a different profile.
You either have autism or you do not. Everyone is not a little autistic.