I feel some statements regarding social delays signal a fundamental misunderstanding of autistic spectrum and is one that is perhaps at the heart of the miscommunication and misdiagnosis by professionals and in a wider sense maltreatment by a large proportion of society.
I appreciate that the concept of “social delay” is becoming central to current thinking moving away from the “triad of impairments” but as with previous exclusive classifications it too has wide ranging exceptions therefore cannot be used as a specific differential indicator.
I beleive that we should all be very careful of making the same historic mistakes of attempting to classify such a diffuse group of developmental conditions and attaching stigma to a wide range of individuals due to a few examples of tragic impairments of neurological development.
I’m sure there are those here who are themselves or care for children who quite rightly have an ASD diagnosis but never exhibited ANY social delay.
I appreciate the attempts that have been/are being made to classify ASD conditions. The seemingly endless discussions and arguments surrounding DSM V indicates that there are many difficulties with such clasifications.
I don’t mean to antagonize simplly illustrate; your second word gives this process away “critria” – this indicates a collection of generally agreed subjective assesments based on a series of observations. They are not measured diagnostic parameters and until there are such parameters medicine will be dancing around lists of “criteria” wasting time, effort and money.
Sadly, most, if not all neurological differences considered to be “abnormal” are based on some agreed concept of normality. In the case of ASD conditions, I feel that for the most part, and in the vast majority of individuals, “autistic traits” give us (as a species) more positives than negatives. As with many neurological conditions there will, tragically, be some individuals where these traits become so debilitating that it affects them as a whole and the “differences” are seen as “abnormal”.
I always try to remember that these traits are core parts in an individuals’ personality and make-up. Different individuals will perceive the world differently and have a wide range of sensory awareness and processing ability – resulting in differing experiences and strategies to interact with that world. Creating some rule set which dictate what these individuals should be called and how they should be “treated” is, I believe, a simple matter of culture, understanding, education and empathy; nothing to do a ever-changing transcript of some medical dogma. But that’s just me!
For the most part,for individuals obvously on the autistic spectrum there is a struggle, sometimes worse than wading through syrup and of course occasionally it is only those that love them that actually suffer. If one is “lucky” enough to not suffer from any associated medical problem, full blown autism (in the Kanner sense and that awful stereotype of the autistic child) must be a peaceful place where you (subconsciously) choose what you want to make of the world and shut out the rest, sadly those around you have to mop up reality.
I feel the main tragedy is those similar to that of what I surmise your granddaughter to experience. Speaking very steteotypically, the higher function the individual, the greater their problem (to themselves) for two reasons; firstly due to their own confusion and frustration and secondly because of the less obvious, outwardly demonstrable reason to others for that confusion and frustration. However, I believe there comes a point in their own development (or in the scope of the effect of the autism) where an individual can learn coping stategies, building on the strengths and stepping around their own perceptual problems. It is up to us to provide them with as many tools, as much support and boundless understanding to enable them to do that.
Sadly of course, those nearest and dearest to them have some measure of the very same traits and developmental idiosyncrasies – and so the cycle continues…..
For those that ARE able to overcome the negative aspects and “go undetected” their autistic trait may, at least on the on the surface, prove to be the defining feature of their personality and perhaps benefactor of their success.