Skip to main content

The Confusing Rainbow

In the autistic community...and by community, I mean the #ActuallyAutistic online community, there are two conflicting dogmas viewpoints that I often encounter.

The first is that Autism is a spectrum.  And it's not a spectrum as in Red is the most and Blue is the least.  It's a spectrum that represents a huge variety of traits and experiences.  So while one autistic person may be hypersensitive to pain; another might be hyposensitive to pain.  Or while one autistic person easily gets motion sickness, another autistic person might seek out dizzying types of experiences.  

The other viewpoint is that you are either autistic or you are not.  There is no little-bit-autistic.  

If there is such huge variety in the autistic experience and yet there is a rigid line between autistic and not-autistic, how do we decide who is autistic and who is not?  

Well...I was sitting here beginning to argue with myself.  Well, Dina. Duh. There are tests.

But the tests aren't full proof.  For one thing.  Let's say there are 25 autistic traits on the test.  One person might come out as super autistic because they could relate to 23/25 traits.  Another person might come out as not-autistic, because they got only 10/25 traits.  But what if the latter person had those 10 traits very strongly while the 23/25 person had the traits to a very minor degree?

Or...okay, I don't fully understand how validity of tests are tested.  But I do think.... they take a test, give it to autistic and non-autistic people; then say Well, look the autistic people scored higher on the test than the neurotypical people.  So that means the test works!"

If in the next few months, let's say I'm asked to participate in an autism study.  I would be put in the autism group *  If I was asked to be in a study a few years ago, I would have probably put myself in the neurotypical group.   

Yet I am the same person then as I am now.  As society defines autism, it's something you have to be born with.  So if I am autistic today, then I was autistic yesterday. I was autistic last week. I was autistic ten years ago.  

It's all very confusing to me.

Sometimes I will get imposter syndrome when I think of a certain autistic relative.  He is very obviously autistic.  When I compare myself to him, I don't feel autistic.  It seems really strange to put myself in the same category as him.  Then I think of my sensory issues, my social issues, my special interests, my stims, etc.  I think of the whole the-spectrum-is-wide idea.  I remind myself that I passed most of the autism tests.  I also remind myself of another relative who is also professionally diagnosed but, like me, has less obvious autistic traits.  Thinking of all this, I can quell those imposter-syndrome feelings.

But then I think of other relatives who don't consider themselves autistic and have not sought out a diagnosis.  They have some autistic traits, though.  I mean all my relatives have at least a few traits of autism.  

Yes, I do seem to have more traits than them...or my traits are stronger.  Whatever.  But what if the difference between myself and my so-called not-autistic relatives is a smaller difference between myself and my diagnosed super-obviously-Autistic relative?

Many weeks ago, I saw a video and read an article about this activity where autistic people could fill out this diagram to explain, via illustration, their experiences of being autistic.  I think part of the purpose of the activity was to show how wide the autistic spectrum is.  It looked fun. But then I read a warning on it.  It asked neurotypical people to be careful when doing the activity.  They didn't want neurotypical people ending up with diagrams that looked like the diagrams of autistics (or other neurodivergent people).  

The article say: Keep the extremes in mind and try to understand yourself relative to experiences that would meet those extremes. Can you recall every word you’ve ever read? Are your motor skills so impaired you can’t grip a pencil or take a few steps? Is your pain tolerance so high that you wouldn’t notice third degree burns?

So...we've seemingly left the world of autism-is-a-spectrum to if-you-don't-have-these-very-extreme-traits, you're allegedly a neurotypical.  

Then the article goes onto say that if you misjudge your traits, this is appropriation.  

Let's see then.

If my neurotypical sister dares to compare her dislike of green peppers with my intolerance to the smell of tuna fish salad....she is appropriating my disability? Yet if she goes and gets diagnosed with autism...or decides to self-diagnose as autistic; then the comparison is kosher? 

I really am not sure what I'm trying to say with all this.

It might be that it would make sense to either:

A) Make autism a much tighter spectrum.  So maybe it would have my certain obviously autistic relative and someone like Temple Grandin.  But people like me, Elon Musk, Greta Thunberg, Anthony Hopkins, etc. would fall off the spectrum.  (putting myself in the same category as these people feels like a major delusion of grandeur.  But...can't think of more mediocre autistic-people off the top of my head.  I mean ones that would be recognized by the general public) 

B) Keep autism a wide and beautiful spectrum.  But get rid of the us-vs them bullshit.  And let people themselves decide if they are autistic or not autistic or a little autistic or maybe-kind-of-autistic or I'm-not-autistic-but-I-can-totally-relate-to-autistic-people....

On the Spectrum!
I got a bunch of very cool rainbow
pictures while babysitting my parent's
candy on Halloween.  I should use them
for all my autistic posts!

*That's if I get my official diagnosis stamp.  I passed the initial screening, the second part of the diagnosis process, and did the diagnostic interview.  Now I'm waiting on the official stamp....which is supposed to happen in the next few weeks.  (this disclaimer is brought to you by my Imposter Syndrome) 





  1.'s my (probably totally uninformed and likely way off base) thoughts. I think for this spectrum...and a couple other spectrums out there... that reality is far more complex than the old fashioned, uniformed "this is good, this is bad" mentality wanted to enforce. However, I feel that there probably aren't as many gradations to the spectrum as there currently appears. However (and this is the key point) until people on the spectrum don't feel worried about being attacked, abused, forced out of mainstream, for being who they are all the gradations have to exist. Only when people feel safe to be who they really are, the true definitions will be obvious.

    1. I don't think your comment is uninformed or off base. It sounds intelligent to me. But I don't fully understand it.

    2. That's what I figured. Let me try again. Old fashioned narrow minded incorrect view- there are autistic people (or gay people or whatever) who are not normal meaning "bad, crazy or other nasty term", and there are normal people. Current view, there is a huge range of autistic people and that is not a bad thing. Theory- the full scale of the range may be less than it currently appears (some types may really be the same as others) but as long as the old fashioned narrow minded incorrect view holders want to attack/ discriminate against those on the spectrum, they will be afraid to be who they truly are, and its not possible to know what the actual scale of the range is.

    3. I think what you are referring to is what the autistic community refers to as masking. And that confuses me even further with my whole feeling of everyone -seems-autistic. Well, sometimes I'll stop myself and think..."No, that person isn't autistic. Because they have been much more socially successful than me". But then I remember masking..... Right now I seem to be perceived as THE autistic adult in our family. But it could actually be we are all autistic, and I'm just the worst at masking. Then there's the question of...if you're good at socializing, does that make you not autistic. Having social difficulties is one of the three REQUIRED traits in the DSM. But I would think having any difference to the norm would cause social difficulties. And I would think having any condition listed in the DSM would lead to some social difficulties.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Anal Sex

Lately I've been looking at the search statistics for my blog. The main reason people drop by? They want to learn more about dropping one's bucket in the dirt, something I first heard about while watching  Offspring . I wonder if everyone who Googles the bucket/dirt thing heard it on  Offspring. Or has it been mentioned elsewhere? Either's quite disheartening. Other things that bring people to my blog: Geoff Paine married, Ben Mortley, Danny Raco's wife. Who is Danny Raco? I don't even know...much less his wife. Okay. I just Googled. He's an actor. My blog is listed on the first page. But just by glancing at the Google entry, I can see that I really didn't talk about his wife. It's just I mentioned both Danny Raco and "wife" in the same post. Basically it seems people come to my blog to learn about anal sex slag and to find out the relationship status of Aussie celebrities. And there are a lot of variations of th

Narcissism and the Ableist Argument

Dear People Who Say It's Ableist to Complain about Narcissists, If you're going to speak out against people, like me, speaking out against narcissism.  If you're going to say that's ableism and not fair to people suffering from their narcissism disorder.... Well, guess what then. I'll just say I suffer from narcissism-intolerance. So you are being ableist by not being sensitive to the fact that I've been hurt by narcissism and want to talk about all that shit. Oh wait? You're saying it's unethical to call someone a narcissist when we don't know their diagnosis? No. It's wrong for a person to diagnose someone with NPD (narcissism personality disorder) without a professional degree that allows them to do such things.  But there is narcissism that exists outside the DSM-5. Narcissism is not just a mental disorder. It's also a noun and an adjective. It's a way that we can describe someone who has certa

Margeret Whitlam

Margaret Whitlam is the wife of Gough Whitlam. She was a Prime Minister's Wife. Is she still alive? I think she is. I could be wrong. I read about Whitlam while researching Janette Howard. Susan Mitchell wrote and published a biography about Whitlam in which Whitlam said some negative things about Howard. It was very weird for me because I'm very much on the left. Whitlam is on the left, or at least her politician husband is. Janette's husband is best buddies with George W. Bush. This should mean I side with Whitlam over Howard. Right? But it didn't happen that way. I found myself disagreeing with Whitlam. I didn't like how she put Janette down for holding her husband's hand. I don't see the big deal in public hand holding. I think it's kind of sweet. I also didn't like how Whitlam criticized Howard for not being socially involved enough. Is a political spouse obligated to be involved with twenty different charit

Livejournal Friends

I've started to read the Livejournals of people who were my Livejournal Friends from around 2005-2008. I've been reading MY journals for the past few years...bonding with my past selves. Then a few months ago, I started reading the comments from my Livejournal friends.  I realized I had forgotten most of what I had learned about their lives.  It made me feel self-centered and also worried that I had been self-centered back in the days when reading their journals.  Some of these people gave me so much support. I worried that I hadn't done the same for them.  I might have, though. Hopefully. Anyway, I think the mix of guilt and curiosity made me want to go back and read their journals...starting from the beginning of their journals.  I've seen a few comments so far from one of the journals which makes me feel better.   The main reason I'm probably not yet seeing comments from me in the other journals is I'm reading entries either written before I joine

Thanks Or No Thanks To Tess McLeod, I Got a Mammogram

A few weeks ago, I watched Tess McLeod have a breast cancer scare on McLeod's Daughters . She felt a lump while taking a shower and completely freaked out because her mother died from breast cancer. She got pretty depressed and anxious about the whole thing but fortunately received decent support from her Drover's Run family. I think the show did a great job of showing the anxiety of medical testing, and it was realistic in showing that the process can be long and difficult. There's a lot of waiting. And there has been a study that shows waiting for a diagnosis is equally stressful to actually getting a cancer diagnosis. Tess ends up being lucky...for a day or two. She gets the cancer-free statement from the doctor. She's super happy. Her Drover's Run family is super happy. They decide to have a party to celebrate. On the way back from going into town to buy supplies, Tess and her sister Claire have a car issue that leads them dangling over a cliff. Tess got p

I Now Have the Official Autism Stamp

I got my diagnosis a few days ago. I'm autistic. And I have ADHD and OCD.   I wasn't surprised.  It's what I thought I had.  My feelings were more like relief that the psychologist agreed with me. I believe that I also have dyspraxia and anxiety.  So I'm kind of...disappointed that I didn't get those labels.  But I'm thinking it could be more like those fall into the experience of being autistic.   I had actually brought up OCD in the diagnostic interview.  I'm not sure what led me to do that. Oh...well, maybe she had mentioned looking into ADHD?  And I was thinking...wait, what about OCD?  She didn't give me a lot of pushback, but she said something like all autistic people have OCD.  It's like part of the package. But she asked/suggested if I perhaps had a bit extra OCD and emailed me another test to take.  She also sent me an additional ADHD test.  Wait. Maybe that's what happened? Maybe she told me she was going to send an ADHD test and then

Abi Tucker

Abi Tucker is a singer and actress. I know she was on McLeod's Daughters . But she wasn't on the episodes we saw. I've seen a video of her on another soap opera type show. She's doing karaoke....singing Paul Kelly's "To Her Door." I don't think the video is available on YouTube anymore. I just looked. While I was there, I saw the TV show Tucker was on. It's Heartbreak High. Was she on anything else? A part of me thinks maybe she was on The Secret Life of Us . But I think I could be wrong about that. Oh! Actually I'm right. Lord Wiki says she was on The Secret Life of Us . Cool. I like being right. I mean I don't need to be right ALL the time; but it's nice if it happens every so often. Baby Abi was born 22 January 1973. She's a few days older than one of my brother-in-laws. Her career began in the early 1990's. She was on a show called New Faces . It was one of those talent search type things

Douglas Reye

This week I read Mira Grant's Parasite . It's a medical horror story and reading it inspired me to want to do another Australian medical researcher post. I looked at Lord Wiki's list, skimmed through the entries, and decided on Douglas Reye. Reye's Syndrome is named after him. I've heard of it. There are dire warnings on pediatric websites. Do not give your child aspirin if they have a fever! This could lead to Reye Syndrome! What is Reye Syndrome? I have no idea. Well, besides the fact that aspirin is involved. And maybe Chicken Pox? Anyway, that's why I chose to write about Douglas Reye. I figured it would lead to me learning about this Reye Syndrome. But first let's learn about Mr. Reye. Lord Wiki says he was born April 5, 1912 in Townsville. He died on Tim's tenth birthday.  He attended the University of Sydney.  He worked at the Royal Alexandra Hospital  Lord Wiki has a whole entry on Reye syndrome. I'm trying to

Billie Proudman and Volcano Ash

Billie Proudman is stuck in New Zealand because of volcano ash. After beginning to watch episode eight of Offspring , I started to wonder about that.  If I was smarter, I would have probably started asking questions earlier. But I just took it as a plot thing. I realized finally that it's likely the actress (Kat Stewart) is busy with other things. We're seeing short glimpses of her on Skype or just hearing her voice on the mobile phone. I went to check IMDb, and saw Stewart is going to be starring in another TV show in 2013; Mr. and Mrs. Murder . Wait... IMDb says the show has been announced.   Does that mean it's not being filmed yet? Okay.  I just found this article.   It says they're not filming until September.    So what is Kat Stewart doing now? Why is Billie still stuck in New Zealand? Maybe it IS just a plot thing? (Spoiler warning)...... I'm guessing it's so Mick and the singing lady can have some romance and cause excessive t

Jesse Spencer

I have no idea who Jesse Spencer is, so this is fun. I love these mysteries. Is he an actor? Writer? Politician? Murderer? Well..... This Jesse Spencer is kind of handsome. He's a bit adorable. Lord Wiki has photographs of him. So while I do my research, I can sit here and stare. In all honesty, though, I only find him appealing in the top photo. The other photos don't excite me much. Spencer is on House . I've watched that a few times, so I may have seen him. He's also known for being Billy Kennedy on Neighbours . Spencer isn't a doctor. He just plays one on TV. But it looks like all his siblings are in the medical field...for real. One brother is an orthopaedic registrar. I've never heard of that. I'm thinking it's an Australian term. Well, I know it must have something to do with bones. I got that. Then the other brother is an oculoplastic surgeon. I had to look that up. It's a plastic surgeon wh