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The lightness of water

Although my headache was mild, I took a pill! said Julia (fictitious name). But why? asked her almost instantly Rui (fictitious name). Because my head hurts. Because it happens often. Because it bothers me more and more. And because my quality of life goes down when it happens!

Even today we often use the word "mild" when referring to various health issues. A mild headache, but we have also heard of mild autism. Probably, many of you are not recognising the term, because you usually read it in English - mild.

But are we weighing autism? some will think. Certainly not, at least not in the way some might think. But what is certain is that autism, as it is thought, is seen as mild or heavy, in the sense of having more or less impact in the life of the diagnosed person.

But who defines light or heavy? And with what criteria? And what do autistic people say about it?

For example, some refer that since three levels were defined in the Autism Spectrum Disorder, we may be talking about lighter and heavier situations, although other adjectives can be used as well.

And when we think about autistic people who are going to request a multi-purpose certificate, this process is carried out on the basis of the International Classification of Functioning (ICF). This instrument was created from scratch to respond to situations of injuries occurring in the work context. And which determines that if the person has a value of 60% or more, they are entitled to a set of benefits typified in the law for people with disabilities. And as such, there are those who say that 60% determines the frontier that separates the light from the heavy.

But many of us know that this is not true. Because the determination of being light or heavy is not watertight and is something very specific to the person. A bit like determining the level of pain, which still today continues to give many "headaches" to those who suffer from it, as well as to health professionals who need to assess and intervene in these situations. Of course, there are tools to try to assess it. But in the case of autism, the situation seems to be much more complex than that. Moreover, the use of the designation - 'that person has mild or heavy autism' - has a wider impact on the person and on all of us than we can imagine.

Even because associated to the word light there is a set of other ideas, namely the ease of doing things, for example. And so, if the person has a diagnosis of mild autism, then it is because he can do things. And, as such, he does not need adaptations, either at school or at work, among other things. And if he has a heavy autism, then it is because the situation is so serious that it may mean that nothing can be done about the person or his life and so it is better to give up.

It may seem like a precious or minor thing, but believe me it is not!

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