Star Ford

Essays on lots of things since 1989.

Severity and measurement of the autism spectrum

What are the dimensions of the landscape of autism? Which dimensions are measurable, have truth value, explanatory power, and relate to disability? Or, more concisely, what is it? Society has advanced its understanding from a zero-dimensional point to a one-dimensional line, or spectrum, and now refers to people “on the spectrum.” However, it is clear that there are many spectra that are somewhat independent of each other: the “spectrum” is really a complex landscape. The more complex it is, the more vague or less defined it is, and the more care needs to be taken in labels and measures.

Autism is a mental pattern that eludes a widespread shared understanding. Some see it as a disability and others do not; some see it as a disorder and others do not. It is not inherently unhealthful, yet it can have many disadvantages, and also advantages.

Some of the common ways to discuss autism is in “severity” or a range from “low functioning” to ‘high functioning”. The diagnostic measures of Asperger Syndrome from Gillberg 1991 (from Attwood’s complete guide) include (abbreviated) difficulty interacting with peers, Read the rest of this entry »

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