Autistic Spectrum Digest (Autism) Issue 22, September 2015 - Page 30

The word spectrum has a scientific origin which was originally used to discuss the colours of the rainbow. The reason for this being that no colour was any more significant or meaningful to those investigating the rainbow than any other. So they can't be categorised on a scale. Instead they were referred to as a spectrum. The meaning being a series of things that relate to one another, and are grouped together under the same, overall banner. There is reference to word spectrum being used up to four hundred years ago, and of course autism was only discovered in the last century. When more became known about autism people began to recognise that it presented differently in different people. And then it was difficult to actually say `This is autism, ` and then give an example of one person who could be said to represent every autistic individual. So the word spectrum works when used in relation to autism. But over the last few years it could be argued that the definition has become slightly twisted. The whole point of a spectrum is that it is has broad range of content, not that there are extreme ends. A spectrum in the true sense of the word isn’t actually organised. A person couldn’t fall on any particular point on the spectrum, they would just be seen as being a part of the overall spectrum. 30