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What Do People with Autism Have in Common?

By November 15, 2009

People on the autism spectrum may be verbal or non-verbal, brilliant or mentally challenged, passive or aggressive, physically healthy or physically ill. They may have "savant" skills - or not. In fact, people with autism spectrum diagnoses seem to have very little in common. So what do people on the autism spectrum really have in common?
November 15, 2009 at 10:14 pm
(1) MJ says:

This is what every person with autism as in common -

1. Qualitative impairment in social interaction.
2. Qualitative impairments in communication
3. Restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior.

Or in other words – they have autism.

November 15, 2009 at 10:25 pm
(2) Sandy says:

My first guess is they’re all people.

November 16, 2009 at 12:50 pm
(3) Bill says:

Easy answer; autism was independently and nearly simultaneously coined by both Kanner and Asperger on opposite sides of the Atlantic from the Greek “auto” for “self”. What we have in common is incredible self-absorption or selfishness. Not until we people on the autism spectrum reach a point in each of our lives of maturity and education where we can logically learn and understand that the large motive objects around us are people and that they have emotions and feelings and do not share our perspective can we even begin to truly communicate with these objects. Selfishness is our commonality, how long it takes to realize we are not the center of the universe is our defining difference within the autism community. Some never learn.

November 16, 2009 at 4:03 pm
(4) Dadvocate says:

A love of trains.

November 16, 2009 at 6:17 pm
(5) KnittyTzu says:

Also: autistic people can be BOTH “brilliant” AND “mentally challenged.”

November 17, 2009 at 3:09 pm
(6) Joseph says:

This is what all autistic people have in common:

1. A profound lack of affective contact.
2. Repetitive, ritualistic behaviour, which must be of an elaborate kind.

Oh wait. This is not 1960? Never mind. My bad.

November 23, 2009 at 11:38 am
(7) ANB says:

The word “autistic” first turns up in the medical literature in 1912. From Grinker (Unstrange Minds, 2008):

Coming from the Greek autos, meaning “self,” the term was used as an adjective by Swiss physician Eugen Bleuler in 1912 to describe the behavior of some people, then diagnosed with schizophrenia, who were disengaged from everything except their internal world. Before Kanner, “autistic” referred to a symptom, not a syndrome. Sigmund Freud talked about the word “autistic,” too. He contrasted the “social” with what he called the “narcissistic,” but was quick to point out that by “narcissistic” he meant the same thing as “autistic,” “in which the satisfaction of the instincts is partially or totally withdrawn from the influence of other
people.” Freud didn’t like the word “autistic” at all, but it’s not clear why. He may have objected to the fact that by the early 1920s some physicians had started to use the word “autistic” to refer to daydreams and fantasies; Freud thought the word, if it was used at all, should refer to an
impairment in social functioning.

The citation is:
Freud, Sigmund. 1921. “Introduction to J.Varendonck’s The Psychology of Day-Dreams.” Standard Edition, 18: 271. James Strachey, ed. London: Hogarth.

November 29, 2009 at 9:43 pm
(8) Karen Kaye-Beall says:

Most love the TV show Wheel of Fortune. That is true, but seriously:

Most people with autism can be noticed visually in a crowd because there is likely one form or another of a self-stimulatory behavior happening to a greater or lessor degree. Whether it is full blown rocking, spinning, shaking string in front of face, picking skin, nails, scabs, verbal stimming sounds and so forth or less obvious but noticable traits such as pacing, holding ears, red ears, uncommon facial expressions, to the trained eye, you could not miss those characteristics. They may all be slightly different in how they manifest, but most of the time, they look diffent than other people in diagnostic groups.

Recently I collected photos sent to me by many adults with autism (across the spectrum) and I also went searching through many sites that host photos of people with autism. The majority of the time, you will see a certain quirky look, that I think can be described as some form of self-stimulatory behavior. Of course there are always exceptions, but it is a noticable common denominator.

Karen Kaye-Beall, director
Foundation for Autism Support and Training

November 30, 2009 at 5:27 pm
(9) VictoriaSanFran says:

Autistic persons share hallmark traits, but to get a real good view of what a non verbal severely autistic person has to deal with I would suggest going to YOU TUBE and searching under, “autism and self-injurious behavior” and see just how severe autism can be and just how critical it is we find help for these severe types…..there are families out there dealing with such severe cases that they have no time to make themselves or their children’s needs known…they are just trying to survive the moments that crash down on them daily….truly sad…we don’t see this face of autism very often and these poor parents and children are the most needy of all autistics….we must speak up for them!

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