Mini-blog: Why we are not ‘all on the spectrum somewhere…’

The statement ‘Oh but we are all on the spectrum somewhere’ is a big problem. I was giving a presentation yesterday and one of the organisers said this to me. I gently advised them that this is in fact was not true and that many autistic people find that attitude dismissive, unhelpful and offensive. The person apologised and told me how happy she was that I was presenting at the event and thanked me for my insight. Hopefully she won’t say it again but as micro-aggressions around Autism go it is a pretty prevalent one.

‘We are all on the spectrum somewhere’ simply isn’t true. Autism is a specific condition. You either are or are not Autistic. If everyone was on the spectrum somewhere there wouldn’t be a spectrum because we would all be Autistic. We would just call it “being human”. 

The sentiment ‘oh but we are all on the spectrum somewhere’ minimises the experience of Autistic people by essentially saying “Oh but everyone’s a bit like that…” It is a really unhelpful attitude. Would you tell a Deaf person “Oh everyone’s a little bit Deaf”? Or a trans person “Everybody is a little bit trans”? Of course you wouldn’t so stop saying it about Autism! I will always challenge people when they come out with this one. It usually stems from ignorance more than intentional ableism but still needs to be challenged. 

2 thoughts on “Mini-blog: Why we are not ‘all on the spectrum somewhere…’

  1. Yes thank you Yenn for saying this. Honestly i find myself getting very angry when people say “well everyone is a bit autistic 🤬. My whole body has a physical response. I feel it is minimising the experiences of autistic people.. rant over

    Liked by 1 person

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