We All Exist on a Spectrum

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Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD, by definition implies a range of behaviors and expectations, a spectrum. 

The subject can become quite confusing when trying to discuss what to expect or anticipate regarding behavior.

A common expression is, “if you’ve met one person on the spectrum, you’ve met one person on the spectrum,” reinforcing the fact that everybody is different, everybody’s life experience is different, and thus how we respond and react will be unique and special.  However, there are still behaviors that are common and consistent in people with autism. 

Here are a few examples of these common behaviors, as stated on the National Institute of Mental Health Website (https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/autism-spectrum-disorders-asd/index.shtml):

1.      A need for routine

2.     Making little or inconsistent eye contact

3.     Often talking at length about a favorite subject without noticing that others are not interested or without giving others a chance to respond

4.     Using body language that doesn’t match what is being said

5.     Having an unusual tone of voice that may sound sing-song or flat and robot-like

A few other examples, as stated on the same website, are:

1.     Having above-average intelligence – the CDC reports 46% of ASD children have above average intelligence

2.     Being able to learn things in detail and remember information for long periods of time

3.     Excelling in math, science, music, or art.

Our work at Mind Shift has shown other consistent behaviors, including an acute attention to detail, the ability to focus over long periods of time, a strong eye for process optimization, and the ability to work with complex systems and data sets.

There is enough consistency in behaviors to diagnose an individual as being on the spectrum.  At the same time, there can be no doubt that everybody is unique.  Everybody is quirky in our own way, and a product of not only how we’re wired, but also a product of our individual experiences.  This is true of everyone.  We all exist on a spectrum.