A Label to Help Those Who Need it Most
Earlier this year, we addressed the confusion and discord that arise from people using one word — autism — to describe two different things, an identity and a disorder. In her excellent opinion piece in Spectrum News, Alison Singer addresses the same issue and argues for the term profound autism to describe what so many parents and caregivers are trying to express with the word autism. The Lancet Commission on autism issued a report at the end of 2021 recommending the designation profound autism for people with autism who have specific functional needs and impairments. The report is a message of hope, a step towards improving the lives of autistic individuals with the greatest needs and the worst long-term outcomes.
Alison Singer’s piece is well worth reading, and she raises some interesting points. She emphasizes the vast differences that can exist between two people both described as autistic: “Autism can mean genius or an IQ below 30. Autism can mean highly verbal or nonverbal. It can mean graduating from Harvard Law School or ‘exiting’ high school with a certificate of attendance.”
Given this seismic difference, it is all the more interesting to note that the Lancet Commission estimated that profound autism applies to close to 50 percent of the autism population. Read the full article here.