It’s literally a reflex, as you walk into a dark room, you reach for the switch on the wall, with more or less zero thought about what you’re doing.
If things go as expected, the space in front of you is suddenly—almost magically—bathed in radiance from a bulb somewhere.
When what’s expected doesn’t occur, you work to try to rectify the situation. Most of the time, that involves the simple changing of a faulty light producer.
For most people this, and the moments in high school or college science class, in which light is discussed briefly, are quite close to the sum total, of their exposure, to any kind of real understanding of that seemingly magical thing, that makes it possible for them to see the world around them.
For some of us, there’s been a need to better understand light.
It’s true that my family has always been more highly invested in the sciences than many. The result is, I came to understand the visible “spectrum” of illumination, a good deal better than I suspect many do.
As a part of my time in the world of work, I spent about a year, in a digital and confocal microscopy lab, at one of my the local universities. This made it pretty important, to have an even fuller understanding, of the subject in question.
I know, you were expecting a discussion of the Autism spectrum, and you’re going to get just that.
Before we get there though, I wanted to explain something many Autistic and non-Autistic folks don’t seem to understand.
Most people look at the colors of the spectrum of visible light, and assume they’re different—that each is unique, and that they bear no relationship, one to the other.
This is, of course, untrue in a number of ways. One of the most important, is that those who spend a lot of time looking at light, talk about it in terms of wavelength and frequency.
You see, as you go from one end to the other, of the visible spectrum, if you start at the red side of things, frequency increases, and wavelength decreases.
The point here, is that the colors you know, were not randomly dropped into the places they occupy. They’re in those positions, because of their wavelength, and corresponding frequency.
In short, the closer you get to violet, the higher the frequency, and the shorter the descriptive waveform.
Like almost any other measurement system, the spectral one come to light, is graduated—a standard, as it were.
It’s with this in mind, that I take on the consideration of the Autism spectrum.
There are folks out there, who like to say that the spectrum of visible light is arbitrary; this is obviously an incorrect assertion. In my view, the same is true, for the Autism spectrum.
That measurement device is not (or at least should not be), a smattering of symptoms on a line.
Having such a setup, is basically useful to next to nobody.
Rather, the spectral nature where related to Autism, is or should be, a measure of severity of symptoms.
Whether you’re a fan of the concept of the numbered levels, or the named ones, is largely beside the point.
A person dealing with Mild (level 1) Autism, will almost certainly not match in symptomology, another at the same level. Both such people though, will likely become able to navigate the world, with relatively good success.
When speaking about differences in symptoms, the same applies as you move toward and into Severe (level 3) Autism. That is to say, those hallmarks that apply to one individual, will relatively certainly not be the same, as those experienced by another at that level.
To make this even more interesting, a Mildly Autistic person, may end up with many of the same traits, as a person at Level 2 (Moderate) on the spectrum. The difference, is that the person with what’s counted Mild Autism, will be more readily able to adapt, to the world around them.
In saying this, you need to be fully aware, I’m not indicating a person with level 1 autism, won’t have to work quite hard, to fit into his or her circumstances.
That said, a person who’s considered level 2, will almost certainly, have much more to deal with. It’s not some sort of contest. Rather, it’s a pragmatic understanding of what will be necessary, to bring a person to a place where they’re able to interact with society at large.
I’ve said before, it’s entirely possible I’m Mildly Autistic. That having been put out there, allow me to toss the concept out the window. For the sake of argument, assume I’m “normal.”
Yet and still, those considered to be in the level 1 range of the Autism spectrum, generally sit in normal classrooms in normal schools, not too long after their diagnosis is confirmed.
I’m not saying that’s always the case. Though that’s true, I would generally argue, this is where the spectral nature of Autism is made plain. A person may be considered Mildly Autistic, but could well be closer on the spectrum, to Moderate Autism, than another also counted so.
In explaining my child’s Autism, I’ve been prone to say he’s, “Moderately Autistic, but closer to Severe, than to Mild Autism.”
This is what’s meant, by the spectral nature of Autism, in my view.
Nobody’s arguing that every Autistic person is alike in the differences they possess, when compared to the population at large.
That point, doesn’t change where on the spectrum they reside.
If I’m confused in my understanding, that’s fine and good.
It must still be recognized that, some people will have a greatly more difficult time, interacting with the world, than do others.
This revelation is in no way, intended to belittle the struggles of anyone on the spectrum.
The intent, rather, is to point out, that certain people may never reach what’s counted normalcy, while some almost certainly won’t ever come close to that mark.
So you’re Mildly (level 1) Autistic? The possibility is, you have a good deal of work ahead of you. Remember though, those counted Moderately (level 2) or Severely (level 3) so, likely have even more; and many of them, may never achieve anything like, what most other human beings are expected to attain.
Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.