Wired covers the beginning of a possible revolution in how we understand autism from both a humanistic and a scientific point of view.
The article starts by discussing Amanda Baggs who is a non-speaking but incredibly articulate young woman with autism.
We discussed her video previously on Mind Hacks which remains a remarkably inspiring challenge to how we understand and value people who experience the world differently.
This alternative view of autism as a variation rather than a disorder in human neurology has been taken up by some researchers, and the article also looks at how recent neuropsychology research is starting to reframe the condition.
The first test, known as the Wechsler Intelligence Scale, has helped solidify the notion of peaks of ability amid otherwise pervasive mental retardation among autistics. The other test is Raven’s Progressive Matrices, which requires neither a race against the clock nor a proctor breathing down your neck. The Raven is considered as reliable as the Wechsler, but the Wechsler is far more commonly used…
What the researchers found was that while non-autistic subjects scored just about the same ‚Äî a little above average ‚Äî on both tests, the autistic group scored much better on the Raven. Two individuals’ scores swung from the mentally retarded range to the 94th percentile. More significantly, the subset of autistic children in the study scored roughly 30 percentile points higher on the Raven than they did on the more language-dependent Wechsler, pulling all but a couple of them out of the range for mental retardation.
While the majority of autism research is very much disorder based, the article is a wide-ranging look at the autism spectrum and a great review of some of the new thinking that beginning to challenge the status quo.
Link to article ‘Scientists Reconsider What They Think They Know’.