As an autism consultant I am often asked how I sort out what to do when I see an autistic client who is struggling in school or in life. As an autistic person I know first hand if stabilization needs are not met, regardless of the supports in place an autistic person will struggle. Stabilization consists of three areas that interplay – internal and external regulation in the context of a positive relationship.
Is Autism a Disability or a Difference? in Spectrums Life Magazine: Portland and SW Washington’s Only Magazine for Autism Spectrum Disorder (Summer 2019, pgs 10-11)
Autism, Death and Mental Health Therapy: Utilizing Autistic Thinking to Support Grief in Spectrums Life Magazine: Portland and SW Washington’s Only Magazine for Autism Spectrum Disorder (Summer 2019, pgs 44-45)
I have autism. I am autistic. Both these statements describe me and both are true. However, these two statements are NOT equal.
Having autism means I have been diagnosed, based on deficit criteria used by the medical field, with a medically defined disorder called autism. The diagnosis of autism is housed in the DSM 5 so falls under the domain of psychiatric disorders. When autism was first described, based on behavior deficits, it was thought to be a psychiatric disorder. We now know differently, but the diagnosis of autism remains housed in the DSM 5.