Rethinking Autism Assessment, Diagnosis, and Intervention Within a Neurodevelopmental Pathway Framework
Marion Rutherford and Lorna Johnston
November 28th, 2022
The neurodiversity paradigm is reshaping how we understand, use language, interpret and undertake research, and support autistic people and those with related neurodevelopmental differences across the lifespan. Multi-disciplinary teams are seeking new ways to operationalise deficit focussed diagnostic criteria, to reflect the preferences of autistic people and the wider neurodiversity movement. In this chapter, we explore what the neurodiversity paradigm could mean in practice and how to reconcile the position that autism is a difference not a deficit and therefore individuals do not need to be “fixed” or “cured,” with the continued importance of timely diagnosis and the very real impact on participation, engagement, and wellbeing of autistic individuals and their families, within the environments of home, education, community, employment, and care. We present work underway to move from “single condition” pathways to neurodevelopmental pathways and new approaches which consider co-occurring conditions in a single process, involve autistic people as partners and value differences.
Respecting Neurodiversity by Helping Social Learners Meet Their Personal Goals
Neurodiversity should be acknowledged and celebrated. But there are some who struggle to understand and navigate within the social world, who seek and should also have access to information for developing stronger social competencies in order to meet their self-determined social goals. This article makes a clear, logical case for providing access to social emotional teaching and strategies, not to “fix” or “cure” but to provide a methodical and concrete way of seeing and understanding how the social world works. The point of this article is not to mandate social interventions but rather make the argument that all individuals, neurotypical or Neurodivergent, should have the opportunity to find strategies to meet their social goals if they so choose.