Is Autism One Thing?- Autism

I would be the very first to acknowledge that the medical community in the United States has done a great deal towards prolonging the life and improving the health of U.S. Residents. That’s not to say that worldwide medical community cannot be lauded to degrees more or less substantial than that of the United States, depending on about where (in the World) we’re talking. The point I’m trying to get to here, is that the medical community (both that of the United States, and that of the World as a whole), can be given direct credit as one of a very few entities responsible for the increase of both longevity and quality of life among those of us walking the Planet in the modern day.

You might imagine that my saying this is precursor to statements that are not nearly so flattering where that same community is concerned. If you came to that conclusion, I give you full marks!

I grant that I’m prone to make what amount to disclaimers at the beginning of that which I write. The preceding statements are, you should be aware, no exception. Keep in mind, the point of the statements at the beginning of this article, are truly to applaud the medical community for what can only be viewed as exemplary services to mankind.

That being said, you should understand that—like any entity—those practicing the “healing arts” have their problems.

One that I have noted, and about which I have spoken often where those who care for the health of others, is the tendency to account symptoms as ailments in their own right. This would not be problematic, were it not for the fact that often, the underlying condition—the one that resulted in the noted hallmarks—is all but ignored, while those charged with caring for the health of others, concentrate almost exclusively on those signs, where their treatments are concerned.

About now, if you took the time to read the title of this blog post, you’re probably wondering what on Earth I’m talking about—how does this relate to Autism. Let me now “tie things together.”

Firstly, I should say that, not only have the health care professions been prone to treat symptoms rather than root causes, but they have also been wont to “lump symptoms together,” and give their aggregation  names strictly based on that symptomology.

One problem with this, is that it’s possible that multiple conditions may have the same symptoms. Further, it’s entirely possible that the same root cause might have manifest in unique ways in different individuals.

To put a finer point on this idea, allow me to offer up an example.

Certainly for as long as I have been dealing relatively closely with Autism (about seven years now), and really a great deal longer, I have had the nagging suspicion that Autism is not one single thing.

Let me be clear, what I’m not saying is, “People deemed or diagnosed Autistic are the same as everyone else, and therefor not worthy of some sort of special treatment.” What I am saying is, “In my brief stint dealing with Autism, I have become solid in the belief that it’s not really reasonable to lump all the people being diagnosed, under the same banner.”

I recognize that, for the majority of society, being more distinct would be more harmful than helpful. I further understand that those who insist on diagnoses of Autism, also insist on counting Autism spectral in nature (I.e., that they count those diagnosed as “being on a spectrum”).

It’s true that doing things as they’re currently being done means that Autistic folks will often obtain much needed help of various kinds. The question then is, “Why do I care that they lump people into the same condition despite marked differences in symptomology and behavior?”

By way of elucidation, the problem is that people—particularly those not pretty directly affected by Autism—tend to want to lump all Autistic children into boxes based on their experiences with Autistic folks and information obtained various manners and sources.

In the best of cases, this means that it takes longer for them to come to an understanding of with whom they’re dealing when they deal with “new” (to them) Autistic folks. In the worst of cases, it means many folks form in their heads, a picture of what it means to be Autistic that is based on their personal experiences  with others so labelled, or think they can go about “studying,” and be equipped to deal with people carrying the label “Autistic.” And to be sure, you can assume Autism is not by far the only tag that works in this way.

I can tell you, from the perspective of someone who deals with an Autistic child each and every day, that what I had heard and seen in very few ways prepared me from what was to come (and almost certainly, that which is yet to come). Were it not for my father drumming into me the concept that one ought to “question everything,” I certainly would not be nearly as successful in dealing with my son as I currently am. I should state clearly that my success is limited, but that it would be far more so had I not started the process as a skeptic.

This approach also helps me to abandon the idea that I can “help or deal with” other Autistic folks in the same way I do my son. Please don’t hear me to be saying, “There’s no similarity between my son and others counted as being on the Autism spectrum.” The thing is though, there are substantial differences between Garrett (my boy), and others I have met or known, considered to be Autistic (even those considered to be moderately Autistic, as is Garrett).

So answering my own question, “No, I do not believe Autism is one thing, but a series of things lumped together for convenience.”

That’s an important and powerful realization both for me and others. Where on the one hand, you can make some reasonable assumptions about Autism in general I beg you not to assume each person should be dealt with in exactly the same way. The “simple answer?” Get to know the Autistic person with whom you will be dealing (as much as you’re able). Don’t assume you know how to deal with them based on “study” or “previous experience,” rather work to learn how to do so.

Okay, here I am at the end of yet another article. Allow me to thank you for reading, and wish you the best of times.Is Autism One Thing?- AutismOkay, here I am at the end of yet another article. Allow me to thank you for reading, and wish you the best of times.

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