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Jackie Schuld Art Therapy Blog

Autistic Statistics are Not Accurate for Late-Identified Autistics

Autistic statistics are pretty grim. They offer a litany of depressing figures for autistics, such as higher suicide rates, earlier death rates, and more.

Art Therapist Jackie Schuld shares an illustration of a cat caught in yarn.
"Don't Get Ensnared" Illustration by Jackie Schuld

If you’re a self-identified autistic adult, don’t be alarmed.


These statistics are not accurate for you.


How can I say that so boldly?


  1. As we all know, autism is a WIDE spectrum. This means that autism statistics include everyone on the spectrum. It includes those with co-occurring conditions, and those with none. It includes those with learning disabilities and those with extremely high intelligence. It includes those who are nonverbal and those who are hyper verbal. It includes those who need an hourly aide, and those who live independently. So when you see an autism statistic that warns you won’t live as long as neurotypical people, that statistic may not apply to your unique set of circumstances.

  2. You are a late-identified autistic. If you made it to adulthood without someone catching that you are autistic, it most likely means that you do not exhibit the traditional external behaviors and characteristics of autism. It means that you learned how to mask and hold many of your autistic experiences internally. It also likely means you had a certain level of intelligence to go undetected (you can read more about that in my essay the Correlation Between Intelligence and Undiagnosed Autism). Given that you present far differently than the average autistic and possess far different skills, it means you will have different experiences in the work place, home, and world. Autism statistics typically do not incorporate late-identified autistics. It therefor follows that these “statistics” may also not be accurate to your lived experiences.

  3. We are in the autistic awakening. As more and more people understand the interior experience of autism, we are rapidly expanding our understanding of autism (You can read more about this in my essay I'm Here for the Autistic Awakening). More and more autistics are choosing to self-identify. These self-identified people are usually NOT included in autism statistics. Therefor, statistics do not incorporate a key set of people and most likely do not reflect the experiences of late-identified or self-identified autistics.


So what does this mean for you?


It means you don’t need to apply these statistics to yourself, unnecessarily worry that you’re going to die younger, or fret about other negative applications of these statistics.


New, accurate statistics for late-identified autistics will come with time.


That said, just because current statistics are not the lived reality of late-identified autistics, does not mean they are not true for other autistics. We still can advocate and push for change so that all autistics experience better quality of life.

 

Thank you for reading. If you’d like to read more, sign up for my FUNletter. If you would like to explore your autistic identity with an autistic therapist, you can learn more about my therapy services here.

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