Asperger's Diary

Life through the lens of Asperger's Syndrome.

Social Justice and the Autism Spectrum

As the debate about the DSM 5 proposed revisions rages on, the focus of the media turns more and more to the upsurge in autism diagnoses. What does the increase in autism numbers mean? Are the standards for diagnosis too lax? Is autism really becoming more common? Or, is it that we are getting better at recognizing it? Read More

I agree completely

I live in an area where affluence is mixed with poverty. I look at the kids around me, the ones who wind up getting into "trouble" as they get older, and I can't help but see qualities that make me wonder about autism spectrum disorders. I think if we had better resources for these families, we might ultimately have less crime. (I live in a high-poverty area.)

Kids whose parents are affluent who have spectrum-like qualities are usually diagnosed. Unfortunately, the system is convoluted and difficult to navigate; I can't imagine anyone without significant resources would follow through on a diagnosis, even if they were certain it was necessary. Another layer is fear: there is a perception that "labeling" is an inherently bad thing to be avoided at all costs. Some parents even believe that the school system is out to blame the parents or take their kids away.

I don't know how we address these situations. One way might be to offer some support to all kids. I think there is a much higher proportion of kids who need support for social skills and communication than meet the current diagnostic criterion: so many that we as a culture might benefit from offering pragmatics and social skills as a k-8 curriculum.

Well written and heart felt

Well written and heart felt article. I believe that social factors play a more important role than most people would like to admit and or believe.


I think it's very sad & very true that autistic kids go undiagnosed in poverty. It takes a tremendous amount of time and money to treat an autistic child, and if you're scrambling to make ends meet, there's a good chance you lack both.

I find that even in affluent areas, the majority of people are not educated on autism and have many false ideas about it.

I haven't seen any data on what the breakdown is for the increase in diagnoses. My family's diagnoses increased because of knowledge. We thought autism was Rain Man until about 2 years ago. I was diagnosed at 36 and a few other members of my family were diagnosed shortly thereafter.

O boy a label what a gift.

This article seems to be based on the laughable premise that a diagnosis of Autism is some special privilege, the greatest birthday present one could ever get that selfish white people are hoarding all for themselves. Of course this article is in Psychology Today which naturally is going to come from a place of shrinks whoops I meant Psychologists are always good and being labeled is somehow liberating and medicines and cures and therapies always help people. Lets remember the field of Psychology is highly susceptible to the prejudices of society. Less than 40 years ago Psychologists were working on the "mental disorder" of homosexuality, hey they were getting paid to do so.

It is assumed that at 18 months what a parent needs to hear is that their child has some terrifying degenerative disease. According to "Autism Speaks" after all Autism kidnaps their child and leaves them a mindless soulless husk. The parents are basically told pity your child and even more so pity yourself, go mortgage everything you own and pay some shrink to spend 40 hours a day hitting your kid for flailing his arms around(ABA therapy) and giving him or her treats like a dog. Join the wing-nut political right because no doubt it was vaccines that caused Autism. Buy medicines that don't work and pump up your child with Ritalin anti depressants etc. It doesn't surprise me that more upper class kids get diagnosed with these things. They grow up in houses with a culture that tends to value rigid thinking, they are also expected to conform and excel in an environment designed to work for upper middle class kids like themselves, school. But their brain works differently and they don't fit in, like the kids born into a lower social class school and wider soceity doesn't quite seem for them. Obviously I think people born Autistic can coem from any background, they just might not be noticed as early or as often in an environment where their difference won't be a cause for such alarm. Basically to be white and privleged and not fit in thats wierd better give that kid a label, a kid is black and not doing good and school, well he already has a label that explains why. Another factor in neighborhoods where there are a lot of adults in the computer and engineering field many of them will be Autistic or at least have Autistic genes which they are likely to pass on to their kids. Autism is not an epidemic, but prejudice is. I believe people with this condition we are calling Autistic have existed for tens of thousands of years, but the labels only around 40 years old. There are countless books and websites guessing that many of histories greatest scientists authors artists and musicians were Autistic. My question is are we putting the future Tesla and Newton into special ed classes hopelessly dumbed down and full of chaos and shipping them off to a life of institutions and jobs as baggers at Safeway. There is a reason the Autistic is over diagnosed among the upper middle class they are their shame, they are not social climbers they tend not to care about money, they are something petty bourgeois society cannot handle, truly different

This needs to be shouted from the rooftops

I am listening to the IACC as we speak and this very issue -- underserved populations -- is being discussed as I was reading this article.

Differences in diagnosis by race and by socio-economic status needs to come to the forefront of the autism diagnosis.

Thank you for this very well-written article.

Thanks, Liz!

I sure do hope that more people come to realize this and we find ways to provide better access, so that people get the resources they need.

More Resources are Needed for Parents of Autistic Children

It took 16 years for a doctor to give my grandson a diagnosis of autism. As a result, he went all those years without the care he needed, even though he had all the signs. He is still in diapers, can not feed himself, and needs 24 hours care. My daughter has been waiting 12+ years to get him a waiver so she can get help. More resources are needed, education on how to care for an autistic child, public awareness of autism, better therapy, and closure of institutions that use so called "treatments" that are deemed torture by the United Nations!

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Lynne Soraya is the nom de plume for a writer with Asperger's Syndrome.


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