I’ve heard quite a lot of people state that they think that Autism is overdiagnosed, and a few stating we are in an Autism Pandemic.
No. This is not true.
Part of the problem lies in comprehending what a diagnosis actually means, because most people don’t understand what Autism actually is. The stigma is that Autism is a disability, an illness, a problem. While it is true that Autism can disable, is often comorbid (existing as well as) illnesses and can creates problems; Autism does not always disable, is not an illness, and doesn’t require problems to happen.
Being Autistic is not a bad thing.
People who assume that Autism is a medical label for a type of disability, illness or problem find it hard to understand why knowing you are Autistic if you don’t experience any of these is important. These people will argue against labelling people because labels are stigmatising, while ironically making the label stigmatising.
Knowing that you are Autistic is empowering. When you know that you are Autistic, it helps you understand traits that you live with, the traits that affect you, and that these traits are normal and okay; just different to people who are not Autistic. It helps you know that you can drop the mask when safe to do so, and it is relieving to doso. It enables you to comprehend why neurotypical people struggle to do some things, and why they do so many odd and illogical things. It helps you compensate for some of your own specific weak areas that you previously thought were failure or some kind of darkness.
You don’t need to have a “medically significant problem” to know your heritage and be empowered by that knowledge.
Chris from “Autistic Not Weird” surveyed many people to accumulate some very interesting statistics. Those who are diagnosed with Autism and the professionals who help diagnose both agree that Autism is not over diagnosed.
In my professional work as a therapist, I think that Autism is woefully underdiagnosed, and that under-diagnoses is blinding people to important information about themselves. That lack of information can be very harmful and lead to complications that just are not necessary.
Don’t let the stigma others carry block you from either getting your own diagnosis, self-diagnosing, or facilitating the diagnosis of a loved one.
[From the Facebook Group “Autistic Not Weird”]
Yes, there may be a striking difference in the level of disagreement, but the results are fairly unambiguous: both autistic respondents AND non-autistic professionals generally believe that autism is NOT over-diagnosed.
And honestly, it’s an idea that’s very damaging to autistic people (especially those who find diagnostic services inaccessible), so it’s encouraging to see the professional recognition of what most of us already acknowledge. -Chris