In a YouTube video Isaac Butterfield challenges why there are so many adult autism diagnoses these days.
“Is it just me or is everybody autistic now?” he asks.
The YouTube personality then says, “That’s weird, because I don’t think everyone is. I think everyone’s just chasing a diagnosis. Maybe you’re just a little weird. And it’s fine; you’re allowed to be weird. Why do you need a diagnosis?”
Isaac Butterfield’s statement is wrong on multiple levels, and they are explained below.
#1 There’s so much more to ASD than being “weird.”
If people were getting diagnosed with autism simply because they were weird, then half the entire planet would qualify for an autism diagnosis.
Though autistic people are often regarded as weird, odd and strange, there are plenty of non-autistic people who definitely don’t have both oars in the water.
We’ve ALL known a neurotypical person who’s … weird, quirky or eccentric.
Though weirdness may be far more prevalent in autistic people, it’s not exclusive to them!
In addition to seeming “off” to other people, Autistics experience:
• Sensory issues, which can mean a ton of things such as intolerance of long sleeves, gloves, store lighting, crowds, faint hums of electrical devices, some food textures, the feeling of water on the skin, subtle changes in room temperature, the feeling of hair on one’s neck, the sight of tumbleweeds under a car, and the sight of loose carrots splayed in different directions in a plastic bag.
• Difficulty reading nonverbal communication such as facial expressions and body language.
• Literal or black-and-white thinking; trouble telling when someone’s joking with them.
• An intense need to perform repetitive behaviors (stimming) such as rocking, hand flapping, chewing on shirt collars or “chewelry,” pulling at one’s skin or hair, grunting, spinning and like a million other forms of repetitive action.
• Sensory overload, which for some (not all) can lead to meltdowns or shutdowns.
• Propensity to become obsessive about topics of interest.
• Amazing ability to notice details that others miss.
• Superb pattern recognition.
• Highly skilled at prolonged deep concentration on complex tasks.
• Built-in high resistance to peer pressure or following the crowd.
• Sees situations through the lens of logic rather than emotion.
#2 You’re NOT “allowed to be weird.”
Many autistic people, particularly females and beginning as early as grade school, develop a fake persona to avoid being regarded as weird.
Otherwise, they will be ridiculed and/or excluded. It could mean being passed over for a job promotion – or failing to get hired in the first place.
What world does Isaac Butterfield live in where weirdness is allowed?
Though some autistic people are not capable of concealing their oddness and, no matter how hard they try, will never pass as neurotypical or at least, out of autism range, there are others who have mastered the art of masking.
But this doesn’t mean their autism has vanished. It’s still in there!
It’s just that the outward expression of it is suppressed, replaced with make-believe neurotypical behavior.
Isaac Butterfield needs to learn that we live in a world where an excessively high premium is placed on “being normal” and fitting in.
Though over the past several decades, social norms have loosened up a bit, they still overwhelmingly rule!
Kids at school still don’t want to invite the oddball to join them for lunch!
The weird adult will not get invited to a coworker’s summer BBQ.
Weirdness is NOT accepted.
#3 Chasing the Autism Diagnosis
Yes, we Autistics ARE chasing the diagnosis.
When we begin realizing that Autism Spectrum Disorder is the ONLY condition that connects all the wayward dots and explains all of our challenges, struggles and quirks – yes, you’d better believe most of us will chase down a formal diagnosis!
Sure, there are many adults who have only a self-diagnosis of ASD, and for them, that’s all they need.
But for other men and women, myself included, the self-diagnosis was only the beginning. We needed the official, clinical diagnosis.
#4 Why We Need the Autism Diagnosis
• A clinical diagnosis can mean free support services or smaller payments for them, plus accommodations at school or the workplace such as dim lighting, earplugs or being seated away from windows.
• For some Autistics, the diagnosis has allowed them to gain deep insight into their struggles, leading to an improvement in managing them. It’s strange how this works, but it happens.
An autistic woman in a Facebook group I’m a member of posted that after she got her ASD diagnosis, she practically stopped having meltdowns.
• A valid explanation for certain thought processes or behaviors is crucial and … so very validating.
We no longer think we’re broken, defective or messed up in the head.
The clinical diagnosis means we have a different operating system rather than a processing error!
• A diagnosis can also relieve some guilt for past transgressions or past lack of showing empathy, as we now know that they were driven by autistic brain wiring.
• A diagnosis gives a previously maligned community a place to belong and fit in – for the first time in their life!
I think it’s so cool and rad to be around other Autistics! I feel more welcome than when I’m with a bunch of NTs.
And Isaac Butterfield doesn’t get any of this.
Practitioners Don’t Make Money off of ASD Diagnoses
The psychologist or neuropsychologist gets paid BEFORE they even begin the assessment.
And nobody pays them a bonus if they give an autism diagnosis.
Autism is not a mental health issue such as depression or anxiety; it does not respond to therapy.
Most Autistics have ADHD, but the diagnosing clinician will not make any money off of any prescription drugs that the client may eventually take for the ADHD.
Those drugs cannot be prescribed by a psychologist or neuropsychologist; only by an MD.
The Rise in Autism Diagnoses Is NOT a Money Making Scheme
Isaac Butterfield doesn’t understand that there are very logical explanations, unrelated to monetary gain, for the seeming spike in autism diagnoses over the past 10 years.
Below is the video by Mr. Butterfield; skip to 6:40, as that’s when he begins talking about autism.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical and fitness topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer. In 2022 she received a diagnosis of Level 1 Autism Spectrum Disorder.