Autism 'levels'

I recently overheard a colleague, whose child has been diagnosed with autism, explaining to our team that there are 'three levels of autism'. He was describing the difficulties that his child was experiencing. 

I know that these broad levels are used to refer to the amount of support that an autistic person will need. But I was concerned that this simplistic reference to 'levels of autism' risked leading those who don't know much about the subject to conclude that other 'levels' are somehow 'milder' - in other words, relating the extent of support to the subjective experience of the individual. 

I know that the debates around such language aren't new. But for me, they had an immediate relevance because I am new to this team and have been trying to explain my needs to my colleagues. These are difficult for them to understand, partly because I probably don't appear autistic to the casual observer. The task is made harder by simplistic language. I tried to explain this, but with limited success! What suggestions do others have for this kind of situation?

Comments

  • HylianHylian Citizen, Mentor
    I noticed it's very hard to get people to not view "support levels" as "levels of severity", even in ASD groups. I usually just explain that the "levels" are for support purposes only and don't entirely denote how severe/mild someone's overall symptoms are, and they can either choose to take in that information or not. Some people don't want to think of them not as "levels of severity", for some reason, and you often can't really waver their opinion.
  • AmityAmity Administrator, Citizen
    I find that there is little understanding of Autism generally in the Rep of Ireland or in the UK and people tend to have preconcieved ideas almost regardless of the persons disability.

    Levels viewed through the lens of severity, reminds me of language associated with the medical model of disability.
    I suppose it will take a few more generations before the social model of disability takes a firmer hold within the norms in this corner of the world.

    The approach I take is to describe how the environment can make full participation difficult for me, often using the term invisible and drawing parallels between the physical expectations we would have for a person with a physical disability or a wheelchair user and the social challenges experienced with Autism.

    Also the reliable statement
    'If you've met one individual with autism, you've met one individual with autism."

  • Statest16Statest16 Citizen, Mentor
    But it's still likely better than the old system
  • AmityAmity Administrator, Citizen
    Statest16 said:
    But it's still likely better than the old system

    Aye, agreed entirely, the global civil rights movements from the 60s/70s done alot for marginslised groups, with the social model of disability being born per se in the 70s, the last 50 years has seen tremendous change.

    It will take longer for the relatively recent ideas to spread and take hold within society, to replace the victorian notions that shaped the medical model.

    Hopefully these norms wont be as resilient as the sewage system from the same era 😜
  • HylianHylian Citizen, Mentor
    Amity said:
    Statest16 said:
    But it's still likely better than the old system

    Aye, agreed entirely, the global civil rights movements from the 60s/70s done alot for marginslised groups, with the social model of disability being born per se in the 70s, the last 50 years has seen tremendous change.

    It will take longer for the relatively recent ideas to spread and take hold within society, to replace the victorian notions that shaped the medical model.

    Hopefully these norms wont be as resilient as the sewage system from the same era 😜
    I've heard that the "support level" system has helped a lot of "higher functioning" people get better support, which I think was the purpose of it. Some Aspies find out that if they get retested they have a support level of 2, which gives them access to better services. I don't have a diagnosis and a "support level" so I can't personally comment on the helpfulness of it though.
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