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ASAN article on Austism

EmmeLaw's picture

In preparation for the unit on autism in my clinical psychology class, we were assigned this URL to read the ASAN’s (Autistic Self Advocacy Network) definition of autism.

This description of autism is highly valuable as it emphasizes the universal presence of autistic individuals.  Autistic individuals are indeed present in all social and economic groups and always have been.  I especially liked the fact that the author addresses many of the misunderstandings non-autistic individuals have about autistic individuals such as stimming which we talked about in this class and difficulty with reading emotions.  The emphasis the author puts on the variability among autistic individuals was also very important.  The article touches on the fact that some autistic individuals can speak while others utilize other means of communication.  The fact that the definition is written by an autistic individual themselves is also critical as it is important for us to see autistic individuals as they view themselves. This is very reminiscent of the disability mantra “Nothing about us, without us” which is stated in the final line of the text. Overall, I feel that this is a useful introduction to the autistic community and helps illuminate misunderstandings, educates people on autism, and gives a humanistic approach to the explanation of signs and symptoms of autism.



cdonado's picture

This is a great article, thanks for sharing! I think the article does a great job at pushing back against stereotypes about autism, explaining how autism is experienced in different ways by each individual. The author states “autistic people are born autistic and we will be autistic our whole lives,” refusing to view autism as a medical problem to be solved. Instead of searching for ways for autistic individuals to be “fixed” or “cured,” the author emphasizes how there is nothing wrong with being different or not following “social rules that non-autistic people made up” (ASAN). I’m also glad it’s written in plain language so it is accessible to a wider audience. Plain language is especially important to use in informational articles like this one, which is something that wasn’t really present in Nick Walker’s piece about Neurodiversity, for example.

Celia Levy's picture

Hi Emme! 

I wanted to first apologize for my delayed response to this post. I am really grateful that you shared this article with us. I always really enjoy when members of our class share these kinds of resources. 

I have a few points I want to make in support and in response to this article:

First, I just wanted to express my appreciation for this article. I find that there is a lot of misinformation about autism and more generally neurodivergence. This post on Autistic Self Advocacy Network is a really lovely resource that aims to combat these misconceptions and educate people in an accessible way. The latter part of my comment goes into my second point. I love how the author incorporates plain language. Earlier in the semester, our class discussed the importance of clear and concise language, especially for explaining complex and unfamiliar concepts. Plain language does not imply that the covered topic is simple or stupid, in fact I would argue that it is often harder to write about technical topics in plain language. Hopefully, the wording of the post will disperse the information to a wider audience. 

My final point, touches on aspects of Emme and Caroline posts’ about this article.  I love when authors write about their own life experiences. I believe that individuals who identify with certain groups are the best sources for knowledge about their experiences. There is a comfort that comes with writing about lived experience that outsiders do not understand and cannot properly articulate.  

 Overall, this is something I intend to share with others if they have questions about autism and are looking for resources to further their understanding. Thank you for sharing!