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Neurodiversity: Autism

What is Autism?

"Just because a computer is not running Windows doesn't mean that it's broken...By autistic standards, the 'normal' brain is easily distractible, is obsessively social, and suffers from a deficit of attention to detail and routine. Thus people on the spectrum experience the neurotypical world as relentlessly unpredictable and chaotic, perpetually turned up too loud, and full of people who have little respect for personal space."

Steve Silberman


Prevalence of Autism in the United States

The CDC estimates a prevalence of 1 in 44 children.

Assuming that the prevalence in adults is comparable, autistic people in the United States number around 7.5 million.

The odds that you know someone who is autistic are high.

Source: "Data and Statistics on Autism Spectrum Disorder." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2 Dec. 2021, Accessed 22 Mar. 2022.

Common Comorbidities

It is rare to have autism alone; most autistic people have one or more of the following comorbidities:



Autism Survey

Language Wars

Although many people consider person first language the correct way to refer to people with disabilities, most (but not all) of the autistic community prefer to be called autistic people instead of people with autism.

Likewise, many people will refer to an autistic person as high functioning or low functioning, but autistic people generally prefer to speak about support needs because autistic people have widely varying abilities and may be highly skilled in one area, but require support in another. To call someone "high functioning" is to minimize their struggles, and to call someone "low functioning" is to deny their talents.

The Double Empathy Problem

Autistic people are generally considered to have social, communication, and empathy deficits. The double empathy problem posits that, in fact, what autistic people have as a group are social, communication, and empathy norms that are different from neurotypical norms. Autistic people are often blamed for difficulties in communication, when it is actually a problem on both sides, a culture clash. Recent research has begun to study this hypothesis.

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