The autistic spectrum is a huge spectrum in terms of the width and depth of skills and challenges encompassed. From completely non-oral to world-class orators, savants and gifted individuals to those with severe cognitive impairments or intellectual disabilities, from those with no other difficulties, to those with additional physical and/or learning and/or mental health difficulties. A person can be anywhere within that spectrum and may move around within it as they grow up and then grow older. Someone autistic may be able bodied for many years and then due to an accident or illness become a wheelchair user, just as with non-autistic people.
Each of us has different challenges, at different stages in our life. Knowing a list of difficulties or impairments present to describe the autistic spectrum for diagnostic purposes really does not enable anyone to actually understand the autistic experience of life. Understanding this experience is the key to understanding the actions and reactions of anyone on the autistic spectrum, no matter where we are on that spectrum.
Then when an understanding of our experience is gained, an awareness can develop of the individual challenges and achievements of individual children and adults. The combination of these can lead to a real understanding of the types of supports that will enable us to achieve our potential. Over the next week I will create a video from a workshop that I run on understanding the autistic brain and post that to this blog. I hope that this will enable people to start to gain an understanding of autistic experiences and therefore a solid understanding of our differences and similarities.
Every autistic child grows into an autistic adult, how obvious that may or may not be depends on the supports in place to overcome challenges and build on achievements. This is not always obvious when faced with behaviour that is unexpected or different to siblings or peers, but autistic children grow and change and develop just as their non-autistic peers do, it just tends to take longer for them to mature emotionally and socially.