This is really interesting, as part of the work I have done recently has been to help set up an Autistic free school and being low on the spectrum (we are all to a small extent somewhat autistic), I found out more than I could possibly ever need to know about autism.
I have wanted to ask this question on a rail forum I frequent, but I fear that the stigma is so great, that either the questionnaire would be banned, or no-one would answer. Going by some of the frequent flyers on that forum, there are quite a few contributors on the spectrum there as well ( I dare say that goes for some railways and indeed financial services staff as well).
I was also going to say that there are a number of occupations and activities where some aspects of autism are a positive boon, The hoops you have to jump through to get an ASD diagnosis are such that those who are diagnosed (medically) are but a fraction of the prevalent population. In the 60s and 70s, autistic children were just thought of at schools as “difficult” - we know so much more these days and all the better for it.
This oft-repeated phrase really grates with me. It feels rather dismissive of the challenges that people on the spectrum face from day to day and I have personally had it used against me by a couple of GPs as a reason not to get an official diagnosis.
I think it’s more accurate to say that many people have certain traits that are similar to those that autistic people exhibit, e.g. being very introverted or having problems with judging social situations.
I stand by my statement and the view of many, many autism professionals (including the Head and Deputy Head of the school I worked with, both of whom are autistic) that we are all somewhere on the spectrum. I don’t think it underestimates the challenges in any way that many autistic people face in their life, both from their own situation and the prejudices that many people face from “normal” people as to the syndrome.
I’m a mental health clinician of many years standing - and you’re right. @riceuten’s quote is often used but in essence it has no real meaning.
The positive aspect is how autism has come out of the shadows to the extent that people with autistic features, which affect day-to-day living, are able to discuss them with the wider community. Good examples are to be had here and elsewhere, of course.
It’s a really interesting problem. Autism is a neurotype, so you either are autistic or you’re not - it’s binary. But diagnosis involves in effect inferring the neurotype from life history, and from behaviours, much of which is also to be seen in other neurotypes. I think that’s why it gets blurred and character traits get conflated with a point on the spectrum.
It’s no longer really a barrier to employment than it once was, partially because of a greater awareness of the issue.
One of the really interesting debates I recently heard was about the male/female prevalence of autism - generally thought to be around 10:1 (and that’s probably the proportion you will find in schools with an ASD specialism). A mental health services specialist I recently met said she thought the ratio was actually 2:1 but that girls were better able to cope with and/or “mask” than boys.
Imagine what it’s like with schools as well. To be fair, there are mainstream schools who do amazing things with children on the spectrum, and I have seen fantastic examples where their classmates show a degree of awareness and sympathy that would shame many an adult.
I’ve worked with colleagues who were diagnosed and non-diagnosed.
It was like night and day - the one who was diagnosed was fairly straightforward to work with as she was upfront on how she worked/communicated. The one who was obviously undiagnosed was very challenging to work and pushed back at any attempts of help or mitigation.
Another great feature of the UK. No sign of change in the national autism strategy
It’s ironic/depressing that all the economic, neoliberal-esque arguments support the overall benefit to society of good diagnosis, yet it’s still treated as a burden. Like immigration, which has massively contributed to prosperity… Hey ho, times we live in, I suppose