A neurotypical asked me, “Why is Autism more diverse than any other disability?”
Well, in the first place, I don’t call my Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) a disability. It is more like a two-edged sword I live with. It is both an asset and a liability. Such as I can see details that others miss, but I usually can’t follow verbal instructions without hearing them again at least once, if not twice
I do understand the diversity of Autism being confusing to those who don’t have ASD. It is confusing even to those of us who live on the Autism Spectrum. I totally agree with the popular statement that if you’ve met one with Autism, you’ve met just one.
Autism, or ASD, is a range of conditions such as social awkwardness, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as unique strengths and differences. There is not one Autism but many types, caused by different combinations of genetic and environmental influences.
The reason “spectrum” is part of the title is there is a multitude of challenges and strengths in variation possessed by each person with autism.
I am often assigned to autism units when subbing for a teacher’s assistant. I see this diversity in every unit. There are those who have no language capability and some of those who do but seldom use their words. Such as a sixth-grade girl who can speak but seldom does. She’d prefer to answer a question with a nod of yes or no instead of words. There is probably not a school day that goes by that she doesn’t hear her classroom or speech teacher say, “Use your words.” On the other hand, I’ve worked with a 5th-grade boy who is a chatterbox. I don’t know what keeps him from having laryngitis. Thanks to him, his teacher and two aides are all “in the know” about Spiderman.
The students with ASD are my fellow spectrum travelers. Although they have some challenges I don’t have and vice versa, I see commonality too. I’m more like them than not.