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To not like the phrase 'on the spectrum'?

(179 Posts)
CarriesBucketOfBlood Thu 02-Jul-15 08:02:53

DISLAIMER: As far as I know I do not come into frequent/ repeated contact with anyone with ASD, sensory issues or anything else that may be described as being 'on the spectrum'.

I have just read a long thread where the phrase has been used a lot, by people on both sides of the debate. As I read I got more and more uncomfortable hearing this phrase.

I think it is because I see that if it is a 'spectrum', we are all by definition on the spectrum. We are just at different ends. From neurotypical to atypical. However I think that this phrase misrepresents atypical people because it is now used as a way to exclude people from 'the normal', which is different to the phrase's actual meaning.

Furthermore, I am sure that there must be more than one spectrum, and to lump all these people together is lazy at best, and insulting at worst, because it doesn't seem like we are taking these issues seriously.

I may not be explaining my reasons for being uncomfortable with this phrase clearly. In which case I do apologise. I am also very aware that people/ parents of people who are atypical may come along and say that they are very happy using this phrase, in which case my mind may be put at rest.

So AIBU to dislike this phrase?

LashesandLipstick Thu 02-Jul-15 08:08:47

YANBU to dislike it, but as someone who has an ASD I don't find the term offensive or insulting.

Lumping people together is a problem but that happens regardless of terminology and with other conditions too

hibbledibble Thu 02-Jul-15 08:14:00

I think it is for people effected/their families to decide what terminology they are happy with, so in that sense I think yabu.

I'm curious as to what their opinions are on this.

Sleepybunny Thu 02-Jul-15 08:14:16

YANBU, although it doesn't bother me personally. The phrase helps remind me of the diversity of these sort of difficulties some people face.

Alfieisnoisy Thu 02-Jul-15 08:14:58

It's a personal thing <sits on fence> but I don't mind it.

The spectrum is vast and we could indeed all be on the same one with those who experience lots of challenges needing extra help. Or there could be a neurotypical spectrum and a parallel autistic one.

Point is that wherever you are there will be a certain point where disability arises due to additional challenges.

My son has ASD and ADHD and has lots of challenges so whatever spectrum he is on doesn't matter, he has significant difficulties.

But YANBU to ask the question because it's one I have thought about a great deal over the past few years

diploddycus Thu 02-Jul-15 08:15:49

The autism spectrum isn't a spectrum of all people it's a spectrum of autistic people. It does not go from atypical to neurotypical. We are not all on the spectrum.

Pagwatch Thu 02-Jul-15 08:16:52

At least the use of spectrum alerts some to the fact that every presentation of ASD/sensory issues etc is likely to vary significantly.
One day I might even stop getting the rainman question.

FenellaFellorick Thu 02-Jul-15 08:17:56

If you are neurotypical, you are not on the autistic spectrum.

diploddycus Thu 02-Jul-15 08:18:51

I don't mind the phrase. I only dislike it when people misuse it.

"we're all on the spectrum somewhere" has been used many times to dismiss my son's autism. NO WE ARE NOT. I'm not on the spectrum because I don't have autism.

FenellaFellorick Thu 02-Jul-15 08:20:37

Oh god, paggy, rainman. I swear to god one day I'm going to end up on the 10 oclock news.

pudgy old woman goes mad in street. inserts rainman dvd into rectum of acquaintance. Police baffled.

NobodyLivesHere Thu 02-Jul-15 08:20:53

diploddycus says it for me. its a term used to cover a spectrum of disorders (austism, aspergers, pdd-nos etc) rather than a spectrum of all people.

Sirzy Thu 02-Jul-15 08:22:30

It is used to highlight the fact that ASD differs so much from one person to the next, it is indeed a spectrum.

Stillwishihadabs Thu 02-Jul-15 08:22:32

I am a HCP professional and deal with lots of young people with ASD. I usually try to ask them which terminology they prefer. As IME many high functioning individuals do not identify with the "austism" label but may prefer to describe themselves as " on the autism spectrum" to explain their specific difficulties, others prefer the term "asperger's syndrome" or "aspir". At the end of the day it's about how people feel comfortable describing their own thinking patterns.

CarriesBucketOfBlood Thu 02-Jul-15 08:22:41

dipplodycus I'm sorry, I didn't mean to say that in a way that erased your son's autism. My thinking was that because we all handle and process information differently, then there must be a cut off mark beyond which you are judged as autistic. If this isn't true then my first point isn't very useful.

tabulahrasa Thu 02-Jul-15 08:22:44

The autistic spectrum has a specific meaning and as other people have mentioned it is not neurotypical to atypical not are we all on it.

CrystalHaze Thu 02-Jul-15 08:23:32

Sort of related (I asked this on another thread a while back but got no response): I've seen posters mention themselves or others having 'autistic traits'. What does this mean? Is it an 'official' diagnosis (though surely if you've been diagnosed as having 'autistic traits' then you've been diagnosed as being autistic? confused) or a self-diagnosis?

Stillwishihadabs Thu 02-Jul-15 08:24:02

Aspie not aspir frigging auto correct

flora717 Thu 02-Jul-15 08:24:35

I dislike it for it's vagueness. Yes, "on the spectrum" appears to have been appropriated solely for discussions of Autism symptoms and/or behaviours. But the term 'spectrum' was frequently used in other contexts and these were used. Now by saying "the spectrum" the speakers makes a massive assumption that only autistic attributes are being discussed. "On the spectrum" is also unhelpful as it implies a 'scale' where reality is (as ever) more complicated. Someone with extreme experiences may share a behaviour with someone with a less dramatic expression of autism.

fanjoforthemammaries7850 Thu 02-Jul-15 08:24:42

We are not 'all on the spectrum" it is a spectrum of autism..I.e. All people with autism are on it.

diploddycus Thu 02-Jul-15 08:25:13

Carries no need to apologise, it wasn't really directed at you. More my lovely aunt who in real life I just want to shake!

fanjoforthemammaries7850 Thu 02-Jul-15 08:26:20

And it isn't ' a way of excluding people from the normal' hmm unless you believe people with autism are 'abnormal', surely.

Pagwatch Thu 02-Jul-15 08:27:18

grin at Fenella.

I nicked this off someone but used it half a dozen times.

Pag : yes, he has Autism
Twit : ooh what, like Rainman
Pag yes
Twit : so don't they all have a special skill thing? Can he do anything amazing?
Pag : yes <whispers> he can fly!

fanjoforthemammaries7850 Thu 02-Jul-15 08:27:47

I don't love the term 'high functioning autism'. I do believe some people use it as they believe it represents a superior form of autism. Not everyone who uses it means this, before I offend anyone, but some people do.

FenellaFellorick Thu 02-Jul-15 08:28:25

grin yes, I say that too.

Tanaqui Thu 02-Jul-15 08:31:11

I think it needs the qualifier, on the autistic spectrum, to make sense- I believe people do also refer to a dyslexic spectrum, and no doubt others, and with the qualifier it is clear it does not include NT people.

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