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Comment & Response
February 4, 2019

Inappropriate Use of the Term Autism as Analogy

Author Affiliations
  • 1AJ Drexel Autism Institute, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
JAMA Pediatr. 2019;173(4):395. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2018.5427

To the Editor Although it is true that physicians and other health professionals may often struggle to offer compassionate care while meeting the demands of the strict regulations of modern medical practice, we profoundly disagree with the analogy presented in Loper’s opinion piece.1 By choosing to focus exclusively on the challenges frequently associated with autism, Loper has overlooked any possible advantage or talent that might come with an autistic brain. Such talents and strengths, which are unique to each person, whether neurotypical or neurodivergent, are precisely what allow individuals on the autism spectrum to overcome difficulties, make valuable contributions to society, and ultimately achieve their goals and dreams. As researchers conducting diagnostic assessments for young children on a regular basis, we strive to convey this same message to the families of newly diagnosed children we work with. Regrettably, the decision to use a rigid and almost cartoonish stereotype of autism obfuscated Loper’s timely and critical message on barriers to patient-centered care.

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