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Understanding autism
Understanding autism

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2.1 ‘When you’ve met one autistic person, you’ve met one autistic person’

The above phrase is used by some autistic people and those who know them to emphasise that each autistic person is uniquely different and needs to be understood individually – within the broad framework of the social, communication and non-social differences that are implied by an autism diagnosis.

As you have seen throughout this course, first-hand accounts from autistic people provide important insights into the ways autistic individuals see the world, although inevitably these are limited to those who are able to articulate their self-awareness and describe their experiences. These accounts enable autistic people to voice their feelings and ideas, highlighting the diversity of autism from an inside perspective and qualifying insights from research and clinical practice. However, the individuality of these accounts means that no single personal account can represent everyone on the spectrum. For instance, Temple Grandin describes that she ‘thinks in pictures’ (Grandin, 1996); this may be true for others on the spectrum, but it is not universal. Wenn Lawson has described his thought processes as more verbally based (Lawson and Roth, 2011).