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Alison Singer learned how to advocate for a child with autism by watching her mother do it for her brother. When Singer had her own child with autism, Jodie, she immediately got involved with the activist community. But Jodie’s condition doesn’t look like the kind seen in television shows like “Atypical” or “Love on the Spectrum.” She needs special support 24 hours a day.

A 2013 update to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the so-called bible of psychiatry, gathered virtually all people with autism under the broad diagnosis of “autism spectrum disorder.” This week on the “First Opinion Podcast,” Singer breaks down why she believes the use of this overarching label fails to take people like Jodie into account, and why she’s pushing for a new, more specific label: “profound autism.”

“The phrase ‘autism spectrum disorder’ is such a big-tent term that the people under that tent have have almost nothing in common with each other,” Singer said.


The conversation stems from a First Opinion by Singer titled, “Labels can harm, but they also can help: See ‘profound autism’

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And if you have any feedback for us — First Opinion authors to feature on the podcast, vocal mannerisms the host needs to jettison, kudos or darts — email us at [email protected] and please put “podcast” in the subject line.

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