Takeaways for this Piece:
- All “facts” expressed in this piece are my opinions. Where I’d love to have data that support what I say, they’re very hard to come by.
- In my experience, most folks couched as Autistic (probably more than 85%) are Level 1 or “Mild”
- It’s my contention that Autism is a “handy label” and not much more.
- As a rule, Autism is not something to be “cured,” but how folks are.
- A large part of the reason the rates of Autism diagnosis have “skyrocketed,” is folks who previously would not have been diagnosed Autistic, now are (and again, most are Level 1).
There’s a fact that’s not a fact I like to put out there when dealing with the subject of Autism.
It’s not by any means confirmed.
That said, I’m going to put it out there again, in the hope that some brave soul can find a meaningful statistic or set thereof, that will either confirm or debunk what I’m about to say.
You can believe it or not, but if you’re able to tell me I’m mistaken, I want to hear it.
That “fact,” is that most people who even deal with Autistic folks, deal with people who are at “worst” “edging” Level 2.
That is to say, most folks who don’t deal with them on a daily and ongoing basis, actually even really know a person who is Level 2 or 3 Autistic.
If I had to estimate the number, I would say charitably, it’s greater than 85 percent (and frankly, probably much higher).
Putting it plainly, I would imagine 85 percent or better of all folks diagnosed with Autism, are Level 1 Autistic.
Taking a second to explain what that means from my perspective:
Level 3 Autistic folks will likely require someone acting in their behalf most if not all of the time in perpetuity.
Level 2 Autistic people will mostly never really “fit into” a standard life. They’re likely to have a hard time reconciling society, and may well never hold what most would call a “real job.”
Level 1 Autistic individuals, will likely at least largely (if not completely) integrate with society in the course of time (mostly after sometimes very awkward childhoods, to be fair).
Another thing I’m unable to “prove” where Autism is concerned, is that it’s not a disease (at least not generally). There’s not likely to be a “medical breakthrough” of any meaningful kind where Autism is concerned.
Put another way, those blessed or cursed—depending on your viewpoint—with Autism will never have any “treatment” that “cures them” of their “condition.”
To some degree or extent, they will always deal with signs and symptoms of who they are as Autistic individuals.
Another little gem. I don’t believe (and haven’t for some time now) that Autism is “one thing.”
Put another way, I believe it’s different from person to person.
To be sure, there are threads that mostly run the entire community of those counted Autistic. That said, two people considered to be at roughly the “same place” on the spectrum, will often “present” in radically different ways.
I say all of this to “answer” a really well intentioned idea posited by an old (and dear) friend.
He, as many do, had it in mind that there would be some sort of “medical breakthrough,” that would make my life, and more importantly my son’s life easier where Autism is concerned.
Believe me when I tell you, I’m not trying to be rude or negative when I make plain I have no delusion that’s forthcoming.
My son will ever be who he is.
I’m not saying he’ll never change in any way; after all, we all do.
What I’m indicating is, he’ll never not be Autistic, any more than I’ll never not have the color of eye I have (a story for another day).
How he handles being who he is, changes each and every day. That’s to be expected, and when you think about it, is the same for all of us. It’s even true for someone like me bordering on my sixties.
Perhaps you’re wondering, “Then why is it that Autism diagnoses have exploded in recent years? If there’s not some underlying cause, what on Earth is going on?”
I have a similar question for you. Looking at the U. S. population as a whole, do you really see that much of a difference in the rate of obesity?
There’s certainly some difference, but I contend it’s not as great as many would have you believe.
Rather, the scale has changed.
What do I mean by that?
Simply that people who would have been counted mildly obese, are now counted morbidly so.
The same sort of thing applies to Autism in my view.
Understand, I’m not saying there has or hasn’t been any increase in the number of Autistic folks out there (my suspicion is, on a percentage basis, there may be a comparatively mild increase).
Even if there’s a fair increase, I’d like to make something plain.
If my earlier supposition is correct (with regard to the percentage of Autistic people in the Mild or Level 1 camp), most currently diagnosed will not have a serious issue fitting in, or learning to manage.
For my part, I deal with Autism on a daily basis because my youngest child is Level 2 or Moderately Autistic.
Having been more or less his sole caregiver other than teachers, daycare workers, and various therapists and professionals for the last almost eleven years, I see daily what it means to deal with Autism when one is not on the non-severe end of the spectrum.
Obviously, I’m on the outside looking in. I think it possible I’m Mildly Autistic, but I’ve never gone through the diagnostic process, so I have no way to be sure that’s the case.
That really doesn’t give me much of a picture of what my son deals with “from the inside.”
The point of all of this though, is that a lot of folks seem to think Autism is going to be “cured” at some point. From my perspective, not only is that not the case, but frankly, I have no desire to see it be so. My son is different, he may never live alone, but he’s a great young man who I love dearly.
For me, that’s enough.