Frequently Asked Questions
Is autism contagious?
NO! Autism is genetic and something you're born with. Though research has yet to isolate a gene(s) for autism, if you're autistic, you're autistic your whole life. Autism is not a medical condition with treatments or a "cure". But some people need support to help them with certain aspects of their life.
What does it mean to be "On the Spectrum?"
At its simplest, autism is a different way of thinking. Your brain being differently wired from the majority of the population. I like to say that we're like Macs in a PC world. We have a different way of processing things, but at the end of the day, both types of brains still get the job done.
As Dr. Stephen Shore famously said, "If you've met one person with autism, you've met one person with autism." That means there are scores of traits a person on the spectrum might have, but you would be hard pressed to find any two autistic people with exactly the same set of traits.
There are many overlapping traits, such as:
difficulties with social interaction.
unusual interest in objects or subjects.
strong need for routine.
great variation in abilities.
under or over reaction to one or more of the five senses: sight, touch, taste, smell, or hearing.
repeated actions or body movements.
How many people are affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?
According to the 2020 statistics from the CDC, approximately 1-54 have autism. ASD is reported across all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups. It's also 4 times more likely to occur in boys, than in girls. Those statistics don't reflect the number of family members, significant others, and close friends of the person on the spectrum.
I've heard words like Neurodiversity, Neurotypical, and Neurodivergent. What do they mean?
To be Neurotypical is to have a typical neurologically formed brain. Many would call it a "normal" brain, but many would be wrong, as normal is to conform to a standard, and I think we can all agree that no one can agree on what normal is.
To be Neurodivergent is to have a brain that diverges from the Neurotypical brain. It doesn't just relate to autism. People who are Neurodivergent can also be Bipolar, Dyslexic, have ADHD, and Dyspraxia.
Neurodiversity refers to the coming together of the Neurotypical and Neurodivergent population as one group. Not "us" and "them," but rather, "we." The Neurodiversity Movement or Neurodiversity Paradigm began in 1998 when Judy Singer wrote about it in her doctoral thesis. Many believe Neurodiversity to be the last great social movement of the 20th century.
There are so many more questions that could be asked, but not enough space here to answer them. If you want to know more about autism and Neurodiversity, I suggest sites such as The Mighty and Different Brains. They are great resources for you and can put you in contact with others who have the same struggles as you, and who can answer your questions.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I do write for The Mighty, and work closely with Different Brains, including a new podcast, Examining Neurodiversity, with my co-host Lyric Holmans, The Neurodivergent Rebel. To get updates on the podcast launch you can subscribe to the Not Weird Just Autistic newsletter at the bottom of this page.
If you still have questions, feel free to use the CONTACT page right here. It's there for a reason, so please use it.