The Autistic Child

based on graphic produced by, for or associated with "autism puzzles" and "halcyon", source unknown

Compare the clinical or parental viewpoint on the left, used to diagnose a child with a particular disorder, with the right side which represents the innate characteristics of the child, as seen from the inside. There is great value in early diagnosis. Treatment is an essential element of care and improves the lives of many autistic children, but that doesn’t change who they are.

We can cope and adopt to life in a human world, but we are different, and ever so. I have been autistic since birth and will die autistic. In some ways being autistic is an advantage: there are things we can do that humans can’t. It can also be a hardship to be autistic, especially considering that the social environment around us was not constructed with us in mind.

I appreciate the purpose of the original document. There are many children who will benefit from early identification of their nature. There are many adults—such as me—that have endured great difficulties in life that might have been lessened if such tools had been available during our youth. The graphic is reproduced here under the principle of fair use, to provide commentary and criticism of a singular viewpoint that doesn’t capture the way many autistic people view themselves. I count myself in that group. I live amongst humans. Humans have a lot to learn, as do we all.

69 Responses to The Autistic Child

  1. Avatar
    LizzieT July 31, 2015 at 9:12 pm #

    This poster is wonderful! Everyone needs to see this.

    • Jim
      Jim July 31, 2015 at 9:16 pm #

      I’m glad you think so. Feel free to share it so they can!

      • Avatar
        SVANHILDUR KRISTJANSSON June 21, 2020 at 1:13 pm #

        Hi I love this – may I share it ?

      • Avatar
        Gabriela Estavillo August 18, 2020 at 6:35 am #

        I am a mother of 2 adults with Autism

  2. Avatar
    Beth Freeman August 1, 2015 at 7:56 pm #

    Thank you for putting into words, the reality of our intentions, that our kids go through and how we get ‘re-interpreted’ by those who label us as somehow less than others. I’ve shared this.

    • Jim
      Jim August 1, 2015 at 8:07 pm #

      I’m glad you have shared it. There’s a lot communicated on autism from the outside. The more we can spread the word about what life is like AS an autistic person, the better off everyone will be. It isn’t either-or. It’s both. Both viewpoints are needed.

      • Avatar
        anthony May 9, 2018 at 9:16 am #

        hi i’m anthony i’m autistic i was diagnosed late with autism and everyone needs to look out for the sighs of autism

  3. Avatar
    Del Harries August 2, 2015 at 4:03 pm #

    Great stuff – highlights our arrogance in assuming that we own the concept of appropriate / normal etc

    • Jim
      Jim August 2, 2015 at 4:06 pm #

      I’m not sure if it is arrogance or ignorance. If the latter, then it is susceptible to education, which is what this poster is all about.

      • Avatar
        AspieLogical August 17, 2015 at 5:23 pm #

        Assumption=Ignorance Jim. Thank You for this.

        • Jim
          Jim August 17, 2015 at 5:30 pm #

          It only takes exposure to a new concept to start changing (most) minds.

  4. Avatar
    Ash August 4, 2015 at 8:27 am #

    This is wonderful! I have two kids on the spectrum (so is their dad), and this would have been SUCH a blessing when they were smaller. Sharing everywhere!

    • Jim
      Jim August 4, 2015 at 8:34 am #

      Thank you, Ash. It is people like you spreading the word that I am counting on. Feel free to stay engaged.

  5. Avatar
    Kimberly Kjellberg August 4, 2015 at 6:50 pm #

    It’s wonderful it provides the same information but in a positive way. The first one has always bugged me a bit extra, I mean as long as you don’t harm yourself or others how can you use a toy inappropriately? It’s a toy! Have fun, isn’t neurotypical the ones that think we are inflexible in our thinking, yet they fret over if a toy is used “the right way”?

    • Jim
      Jim August 4, 2015 at 6:54 pm #

      Exactly so, Kimberly. That’s why I say it is all a matter of perspective. We just need more balance, so people see both sides.

  6. Avatar
    Mike Marston August 5, 2015 at 1:49 pm #

    I eagerly look for anything that can help me understand what our grandson might feel or think. Since he does not speak, he cannot tell us directly much more than his ipad apps allow. One can infer some things, but it would be nice if I could put myself inside his head and see what he sees. I’m sure it is frustrating for him when we don’t understand.

    Anything that could help teach him to be more aware of danger would also be useful. He has learned from experience not to do some things, but I’d like him to stay alive!

    • Jim
      Jim August 10, 2015 at 9:29 pm #

      He is lucky to have a grandfather that cares as you do. I hope that this helps you understand at least a little bit. I’m sure there are people out there that can help further. That’s something I am learning, and only recently so: how many people there are who are willing to help.

  7. Avatar
    Anonymous August 11, 2015 at 4:15 am #

    Michelle mc i found this wonderful i have grandson wit autism his only 2 and half and its given me some idea of wot is goin tru his head thank you

    • Jim
      Jim August 11, 2015 at 5:21 am #

      I’m glad it helps, Michelle. That’s exactly what it is for.

  8. Avatar
    Anonymous August 12, 2015 at 4:59 am #

    I prefer to say a Child with Autism rather than an autisc child. If you know the person, then you always say their name first, for example, John who has Autism.

    • Jim
      Jim August 12, 2015 at 6:12 am #

      If you know John personally, I suspect most people would simply call him “John.” If you also want to talk about his autistic nature, the best bet is to ask John what he prefers. I understand that it might not always be easy, or even possible, under some circumstances (e.g. he isn’t there, or doesn’t express a preference).

      This is not just about autism. In general, it is best to use terms for people that match their own choice. I’ll grant you that it is makes communication more complex. Often it is worth considering the best way to discuss any topic, rather than just making assumptions. I happen to like words myself (see, for example, the copyright notice at the bottom of this page).

      You’ll find that many autistic people who express a preference go with “autistic” rather than the person-first approach. You can see more on this topic in my piece Tune That Name, or a very well written discussion in Identity-First Language by Lydia Brown.

      Thanks for raising this important topic, Anonymous.

    • Avatar
      Anonymous August 21, 2015 at 11:52 pm #

      Most autistics I know don’t like” person first” language . I don’t, i am an aspie, not person with aspergers.
      It implies our neural difference is somehow not integral to who we are, like it’s a disease . Plf ispotentially offensiv.

  9. Avatar
    Cody {has Aspergers} August 12, 2015 at 9:33 am #

    i think your opinion is valid, I myself got diagnosed with aspergers at 17, when other medical problems brought it into the light. I cant help but wonder if i would be in a better position if i had gotten diagnosed at a younger age.

    • Jim
      Jim August 12, 2015 at 1:21 pm #

      Cody, I was nearly 50. Life certainly was harder without knowing why.

  10. Avatar
    Camila Leffel August 18, 2015 at 2:25 pm #

    So Instructive and point well made.

    • Jim
      Jim August 18, 2015 at 2:31 pm #

      Thank you, Camila. Please don’t hesitate to share the message that perspective is important.

  11. Avatar
    Jill Finch August 18, 2015 at 8:14 pm #

    Amazing. Says so much in such a simple way. Sharing as widely as I can xx

    • Jim
      Jim August 18, 2015 at 10:00 pm #

      I’m glad you appreciate the message, Jill. Thank you for sharing it.

  12. Avatar
    Anonymous September 5, 2015 at 8:52 am #

    Thank you for giving us the view from the other side.

  13. Avatar
    Lisa Steadman September 8, 2015 at 8:24 pm #

    Interesting… I just posted this on another post, but find it equally applicable for this post as well:

    Lisa Steadman

    Today 7:09 pm

    It’s interesting how strong the debate is on a cause and cure for ASD. I remember kids in my elementary school (in the 70s), and kids that my Dad has described from his elementary class in the 50s, who would have definitely met the ASD criteria today. So yes, it has been around a long time. As far as an epidemic…I have to wonder. While awareness, new testing methods and peoper diagnosis have certainly boosted the number of cases being reported, I wonder whether there are actually more people with this condition. To rule out statistics, I’d have to ask: if I tested 100 kids from the 70s compared to a group of 100 elementary kids today, would there be on average the same number of kids diagnosed with ASD? Hard to tell, since the 70s kids are now middle aged adults, so it will never be apples to apples.

    I do have to wonder if vaccinations havent played some part in any of this, considering the correlation between the introduction of thimersoral (?sp) and the gross increase in the number of vaccines we give children as infants. My 30 year old child received his first vaccine at 3 months old. My 13 yo daughter received her first at 1 week old, with several grouped together. I think we give too many vaccinnes too soon, and that some children are predisposed to an adverse reaction. It doesnt seem like too much of a stretch for the medical community to cut back on the number and timing of vaccines, along with a study to see if theres any correlation. Parents in the meantime should know to monitor and limit when their children are vaccinated (as opposed to no vaccines at all, which also has consequences of its own).

    As far as a cure: some “treatments” being offered (ie special diets to treat leaky gut syndrome, yeast, behavioral therapies, etc) will have positive effects for some individuals regardless of their condition. A healthy diet and a reduction in yeast is a good thing for anybody, with positive results expected. On the other hand, there’s too much variance in the so-called ‘treatments’ being offered. Take the example of two children with the same type of cancer.who will react differently to the same treatment. Adherence to the treatment, consistency, and environmental factors will all affect outcome. Without strict scientific measures to study how ‘treatments’ are administered, there’s no sure way to measure efficacy. And certainly without dispute is the fact that there is no “cure” when it doesn’t work for everyone all the time.

    Besides, how do you “cure” a spectrum disorder? It’s not like this is a disease, with a fix that makes it all go away. So to the Anonymous Guest with the ‘recovered’ daughter – show a little kindness, be grateful for any improvements your daughter has shown (which you so conveniently failed to share), and know that the rest of us are still searching for understanding in all of this.

    My daughter was recently diagnosed ‘high functioning Aspergers’. I do not see her as flawed, or ill or diseased. I see her for who she is. Beautiful, funny, unique, one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, and yes, a bit awkward at times. Her diagnosis is not a testament of who she is. It’s simply a tool to help us along her journey. It will not define or limit her, or the way I see her. If anything, it just adds one more layer to an already interesting and unique individual. I would never want to ‘cure’ that.

    Perhaps the only thing we have to ‘recover’ from is the narrow shortsightedness of others….

    • Jim
      Jim September 8, 2015 at 8:38 pm #

      I won’t repeat my response here, but you can see Lisa’s original comment and my reply underneath the infographic What Causes Autism?

  14. Avatar
    Rina March 19, 2016 at 3:43 pm #

    Thank you for this wonderful article. Especially, this poster is simple, but it tells us the important view. From the view of non-ASD people, ASD’s actions look inappropriate. It’s true, but we should think and understand the meanings of actions. I’m Japanese and I feel Japanese are sensitive… how they’re looked by other people. It throw the abilities and possibilities of ASDs, I think.

    • Jim
      Jim March 20, 2016 at 6:23 pm #

      I’m glad you appreciated it, Rina.

  15. Avatar
    Anonymous March 27, 2016 at 10:56 am #

    I have autuisum

    • Jim
      Jim March 27, 2016 at 10:58 am #


  16. Avatar
    Chase Mishio April 22, 2016 at 10:26 am #

    Thank you for showing the world what it’s like to have autism! I, too, am autistic, and it warms me up to see that other people understand what it’s like. This could completely change the way people look at autism. God bless you.

    • Jim
      Jim April 24, 2016 at 10:08 pm #

      Well, Chase, if what I’ve written results in just one person with a new — and i would hope, improved — view of some aspect of the world around us, this world full of humans of all types, then I consider myself lucky.

  17. Avatar
    Anonymous April 28, 2016 at 8:46 am #


  18. Avatar
    Anonymous August 6, 2016 at 1:28 pm #

    Shared it a year ago! And again this year! People need awareness to different behaviours. My son fits in every aspect .. he’s almost 7 now and was diagnosed when he was 2! He has improved a lot over the years thou!

  19. Avatar
    Anonymous August 6, 2016 at 1:29 pm #

    Sorry for the anonymosity.. l’m Helena from Portugal

    • Jim
      Jim August 6, 2016 at 1:35 pm #

      Thank you for sharing it, Helena. Again. I wish the best for your son and you. I’ve received so much positive feedback about the message in this graphic. Keep spreading the word.

  20. Avatar
    Lisa Hollett November 17, 2016 at 4:32 am #

    Thank you for sharing you! I refer to your site as I teach Kindergarten through grade 3 students with Autism. I simply love how you relate to everyone!

    • Jim
      Jim November 24, 2016 at 11:12 am #

      Hi Lisa.
      I’m glad you appreciate what I have done here. If it helps as you teach, that’s gravy. I say this on Thanksgiving (in the United States), mind you.

  21. Avatar
    Mark Huntsman December 23, 2016 at 8:24 am #

    As a high functioning spectrum dweller for whom only some of these applied as a child, this is awesome. I roll my eyes and mutter snarky comments at 75% of the autism memes out there, but this is one of the best I have seen.

    • Jim
      Jim December 23, 2016 at 8:31 am #

      Thanks for the unsnarky response, Mark. I hope your eyes remained relatively stable (saccades aside).

  22. Avatar
    Anonymous February 2, 2017 at 2:35 pm #

    I love this. I think it really explains the world from the perspective of an autistic child.

    • Jim
      Jim February 3, 2017 at 7:00 pm #

      Thank you. That’s exactly the intent.

  23. Avatar
    Tess March 12, 2017 at 2:33 pm #

    Awesome graphic. Thank you. Will be sharing this 🙂

    • Jim
      Jim March 12, 2017 at 3:38 pm #

      Thank you, Tess. Please do share it. That’s what makes it all worthwhile for me.

  24. Avatar
    Matthew March 27, 2017 at 12:18 pm #

    My son is autistic and I can say the one on the right is denial ridden thing I’ve ever seen. It’s a shining example of refusing acceptance

    • Jim
      Jim March 27, 2017 at 12:24 pm #

      Thanks for your comment, Matthew. All I have offered is another viewpoint. I understand that it might not be easy for you to see, given your experience. I’m not denying either viewpoint. It depends upon, well, one’s point of view. But what I’m suggesting is that you may not have the complete picture.

      I wish the best possible future for your son and for you.

  25. Avatar
    Jessica April 4, 2017 at 12:03 am #

    I appreciate the change in perspective from the left side to the right. As my daughter was being evaluated for autism, these clinical questions on the left drove me crazy. I found myself rephrasing them to emphasize the positive aspects of these traits. However, it’s hard to know for sure what my toddler is thinking. Your first hand experience is reassuring. I will be sharing this graphic for autism awareness month. Thank you!!!!

    • Jim
      Jim April 4, 2017 at 5:54 am #

      Jessica, I’m glad to have offered a perspective that you felt was helpful. Thank you for sharing this. Both of those responses are exactly what I hope for most when people read this page/infographic.

  26. Avatar
    Anonymous April 24, 2017 at 6:15 pm #

    I was diagnosed with ASD when I was only six years old. Too young to know what I had, and to understand myself. Probably when I was around the age of eleven or twelve was when my autism hit me the most. The classroom made me uncomfortable. The teachers noticed I was behaving “unusual and strange” I knew the teachers started looking at me different. They did not do or say anything. But I knew it was going to affect my grades and well being. My mother noticed my anxiety and got me a counsellor. My parents finally decided to tell me what I needed to know. I understood myself and who I am. I knew I was going to get through school. But what bothered me the most was that nobody knew or understood. My classmates would just gossip about my “strange” behaviour! I knew because my friends would tell me. I felt alone, misunderstood. I just wish they knew, understood, accepted. Before you say anything about anyone, think, what could be going on in that person’s life? If I say this, will this person feel worse? And this poster means a lot. To me this poster is something to live by. I know if I was put to it, I will get through it. Don’t think of autism as a disease! Don’t worry about curing it, worry about accepting it. This is my story. I hope you take it to heart in everything you say and do.

    • Jim
      Jim April 26, 2017 at 6:50 pm #

      I take your story to heart. There are as many stories as there are autistic people (for starters). I try to learn from each I come across. As for my story, I’m happy to make people think. If I can create — as you say — “something to live by” then that’s pure gravy.

  27. Avatar
    Anonymous May 3, 2017 at 5:48 pm #

    Amazing. Thank you for helping us understand so easily

    • Jim
      Jim May 4, 2017 at 7:09 am #

      You are welcome.

  28. Avatar
    Leah November 14, 2017 at 9:40 pm #

    May I download this picture? And I want to add Chinese translations, then share to Chinese readers. Do you agree?

    • Jim
      Jim November 26, 2017 at 7:09 pm #

      Leah, I’m sorry to have taken such a long time to reply. I’m always happy to share. If you don’t mind, I will contact you by email about your proposal.

  29. Avatar
    Anonymous December 2, 2017 at 3:05 pm #

    Hi autism

  30. Avatar
    Anonymous February 14, 2018 at 12:26 pm #

    this is great at giving perspective

  31. Avatar
    Anonymous February 23, 2018 at 11:10 am #

    i have all the symptoms severely but havent been diagnosed why do u think that

  32. Avatar
    Anonymous February 26, 2018 at 2:00 pm #


  33. Avatar
    anthony May 9, 2018 at 9:16 am #

    hi i’m anthony i’m autistic i was diagnosed late with autism and everyone needs to look out for the sighs of autism

  34. Avatar
    Anonymous May 22, 2018 at 10:29 am #

    Autism is a mental illness

  35. Avatar
    DOUGLAS j WALKER November 20, 2018 at 7:33 pm #

    I need to site this for MLA Style 8th edition Research paper please Reply where the original source came from

  36. Avatar
    Anonymous May 9, 2019 at 7:33 pm #

    Hey, I’m autistic, and I really don’t like the autistic child illustration. It’s kind of offensive. I’m not trying to be rude, but that’s what I feel. Have a good day!

    • Jim
      Jim March 22, 2020 at 4:23 pm #

      Anonymous, I agree it is offensive. That is why I created this critique of it. The original illustration assumes that all of the identified characteristics of the autistic child are defects rather than differences.

  37. Avatar
    Andy July 29, 2020 at 7:49 am #

    This is brilliant! I’d just been image searching and found the first image. I was already starting to growl through gritted teeth, when I saw your critique of it. You absolutely nailed it.

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