APH researcher Sander Begeer (professor diversity and autism at VU Amsterdam), reflects on research findings in the NRC. A common idea of people with autism is that they are shy, that they lack empathy and that they are extremely talented in one specific field. This idea is objected by seven new insights.

The stereotypical image of someone with autism is a little boy that has a low IQ but is very talented in a specific thing, like mental arithmetic and technical drawing. This does correlate with the characteristics that are describe in the psychiatric handbook DSM-5 (2013). However, according to researchers, specialists and people with autism, these characteristics can be expressed in many different ways.

For instance, people with autism can be empathetic and do not necessarily have to be a mentally disabled boy. Autism is also diagnosed in people with a normal IQ, girls, adults, and elderly. Through research and stories of people with autism, the view on autism has changed drastically over the past twenty years. It is even considered that autism is not a disability. The seven new insights about autism are:

  1. People with autism often do not feel too little, but too much
  2. People with autism can be empathetic
  3. The diagnosis is more often made in people with normal IQs
  4. It is more commonly diagnosed in adults and the elderly
  5. It is now also commonly diagnosed in women
  6. There is debate about whether autism is a disorder
  7. People with autism should not adapt

    Read more (in Dutch) about these insights the news article in the NRC