Should Autism Spectrum Conditions Be Characterised in a More Positive Way in Our Modern World?

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationEditorial


In a special issue that focuses on complex presentations related to Autism, we ask the question in this editorial whether an Autism Spectrum Condition without complexity is a disorder, or whether it represents human diversity? Much research into Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASCs) over the years has focused on comparisons between neuro-typical people and people with Autism Spectrum Conditions. These comparisons have tended to draw attention to ‘deficits’ in cognitive abilities and descriptions of behaviours that are characterised as unwanted. Not surprisingly, this is reflected in the classification systems from the World Health Organisation and the American Psychiatric Association. Public opinion about ASC may be influenced by presentations in the media of those with ASC who also have intellectual disability. Given that diagnostic systems are intended to help us better understand conditions in order to seek improved outcomes, we propose a more constructive approach to descriptions that uses more positive language, and balances descriptions of deficits with research finding of strengths and differences. We propose that this will be more helpful to individuals on the Autism Spectrum, both in terms of individual self-view, but also in terms of how society views Autism Spectrum Conditions more positively. Commentary has also been made on guidance that has been adjusted for people with ASC in relation to the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
Specialist publicationMedicina
PublisherMDPI AG
Publication statusPublished - 13 May 2020


  • autism
  • COVID-19
  • autism spectrum condition (ASC)
  • diagnostic criteria
  • positive
  • strengths

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