Forget Everything You Think You Know About Autism

The Guesswork of Professionals

Forget everything you think you know about autism unless you have heard it from autists. And the curious fact about autism is that, since it relates to a communication gulf, the more “pure” a case of autism we find, the more difficult it will be to decipher.

If we want to hear about psychedelic plant use or alien abduction, we shouldn’t be satisfied with anything besides the accounts that come from individuals who have undergone direct experience of those things. So why would we give undue attention to descriptions of autism that come from non-autistic people, people who have merely observed the behavior of autists and reached conclusions about it, based on their own perceptions and beliefs?

Like UFOs or ghosts, the nature of autism is elusive. In a way, the more concrete the example we have to study, the less we are likely to learn from it. A genuine alien encounter would be beyond our everyday understanding. It would require a shift in our own perceptual bias—our human-centricity—and a letting go of certain, taken-for-granted beliefs about both reality and ourselves.

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