Friday, September 5, 2008


Life is a tale told by an idiot
Full of sound and fury
Signifying nothing.

I used that quote to start this post-- not because I believe it (because I do not), but to segue into what I believe to be the meaning of the term “Autism Spectrum Disorders,” often abbreviated (ASD): full of sound and fury-- signifying nothing. I have read books, surfed the Internet ad nauseam, and talked to many people to try to get the best understanding as to what that term means-- and depending on who you read, an academic, a parent, a doctor, a journalist, the answer can be quite evasive.

The best definition I found for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) was in the book More Than Words, by Fern Sussman, which stated the following:

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a term that is currently being used by many professionals to describe children who have difficulties in social interaction, play and communication. ...ASD isn't a medical term. But it is a convenient way of describing a large a diverse group of children who have similarities in the way they process information and understand the world.

Go back and read that again. ASD in not a medical term, but is a convenient way of describing a large and diverse group of children.

The purpose of this post is not to minimalize a diagnosis of ASD, nor is it meant to provide insight into the any of the many diverse diagnoses which fall under that large umbrella. Rather, it is posted as a reminder to me and to you that this “ASD” we are trying to get our arms around is not susceptible to a “one size fits all” definition. Symptoms of one child are not shared by all. Remedies which benefit one child, will not benefit all.

The diversity of the affected children make it clear that while one thought, idea, treatment or strategy may work for one child or family, it may not work for another. The importance is getting the most information out there to ensure that each family is aware of the all of the different options and can evaluate the ones that may work best in each individual situation.

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