Making Sense of Autism

  1. Are you confused about autism and what it actually is?
  2. Do you feel suspicious that there is such an increase in the diagnosis of autism?
  3. When someone receives a diagnosis of autism, do you wonder what exactly they have they been diagnosed with?

Autism or Autisms

Autism and autistic-like behaviours are a common developmental deviation of early mental-emotional development that has no clear pathology or treatment and no known genetic aetiology.

Based on a deep understanding of the function and origins of autism, we can develop healing and creative ways of responding that are very different from the behavioural techniques often adopted without achieving fundamental changes.

Diagnosis of Autism or ASD

Autism diagnosis has been with us for over 70 years, since the 1940s. Diagnostic categories have gone through many changes. But the change to the current definition of an ‘autism spectrum’ has not been the result of new scientific knowledge, but of ideological changes.

Autism has become a commodity in the contemporary capitalist consumer society, that is produced and consumed, and that allows a great deal of selling, buying and packaging of products.

Numbers of children diagnosed with autism, or proposed for an autism diagnosis by schools, are increasing at an alarming rate. Where parents have been able to resist this kind of push for diagnosis, but found help to identify and address the specific difficulties their child (or school) was struggling with, I have seen many children able to develop capacities in all areas of their development including loving relationships, the creative use of language, the ability to learn and to catch up with their peers at school.

Since 2013 the diagnosis of an ‘autism spectrum disorder’ or ASD requires only 2 criteria:

  1. Persistent deficits in social communication and interaction
  2. Restricted or repetitive behaviours and interests

No wonder that with such few and general criteria there is a huge increase of diagnosis. But the diagnosis of autism does not shed any new or specific light on what might be contributing to the child’s difficulties or how they might move forward in their development.

In fact, ASD as it is currently defined, does not represent a meaningful natural kind or any unique form of disease of disability. There is no single underlying condition which can be regarded as the defining characteristic of autism. The concept of autism as in an ASD diagnosis has become so broad that it is neither scientifically meaningful nor clinically useful and has therefore no value in terms of description or prognosis.

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