Why do some people insist that autism is not a disease?


Because it’s not.

Autism is classified as

or as

It is not contagious, you do not catch it like the flu, it does not come off with surgery or pills, it is not by external or internal entities, and

is not an undisputed source of suffering.

Does it have its difficulties? Everyone knows that. it also brings advantages that neurologists have recently been investigating, such as greater capacity for analysis, identification of patterns, understanding of systems, honesty, etc. So it doesn’t seem to fit with the term

but with

which means a deviation from the standard or an atypical operation.

And that’s exactly what autism is.

Looking for the difference between disorder and disease, one finds the following facts:

The disease

The concept of disease, like that of syndrome, is a clinical entity, and therefore has to do with health problems. However, if a syndrome is nothing more than a set of symptoms already studied and identified as that has its own entity by having a typical way of manifesting itself,

a disease must present, in addition to one or more symptoms, or recognizable changes in the body

or a known biological cause (or both).

In other words, a syndrome, being essentially a set of symptoms, does not necessarily have to have a known cause or develop at the same time as anatomical alterations.

Thus, syndromes may be the manifestation of a disease, but others may not, since their causes may be as biological as, for example, social.

And here it seems that autism does not fit into either requirement of the disease:

Autism has no recognisable alterations in the body (the body has always been like this)

There is no known biological cause for autism.
What is a disorder?

In generic terms,

The disorder can be understood as simply an alteration of the of health

normal due to illness or not. The area in which disorders are most often discussed is that of mental health. A mental disorder is usually understood as a maladaptive (and therefore problematic) change that affects mental processes.

Often the term disorder is used as a looser way of referring to illness in those cases where the causes are not very clear and the possible anatomical alterations with which it is associated may be both a cause and a consequence of it. In the case of mental disorders this is done a lot, since it is often not very clear whether the biochemical imbalances associated with some disorders are what produce the symptoms or are a product of a dynamic interaction between the person and his environment.

In this way,

the concept of disorder serves simply to describe the signs of the state of abnormality and health impairment

in which a person is found, while that of illness indicates a causal relationship, because it includes the specific causes (etiology) of the lack of health.

In the context of autism,

seems to fit better, as it only describes that there is a health disturbance considered “normal”, and it may be due to a disease

And in this case, it doesn’t seem to be.

One is born autistic. There is no typical person within autism, trapped and suffering. There is no person understands the social rules hidden away somewhere and will only come out when we defeat the evil autism that stole our perfect child.

One is already like that.

It’s intrinsic, like the neurology of

brain. Are you having difficulties? Of course you are. But you also have your strengths, and those help you move forward. Autism is similar, except that difficulties are things you didn’t even know you were doing right because it’s natural.

Let’s keep looking:


When we refer to a syndrome, we are referring to a set of symptoms that help the specialist recognize that it is a disorder. In the case of a disorder that concerns us at this point, the concept includes the idea that 【sic】 the set of symptoms that cannot be explained by a generalized .

In short,

a disorder may be a description of symptoms, actions, or behaviors that are specific to a person and often associated with pathologies or disorders
. It may be related to mental pathologies or cognitive or developmental disorders.

Again, autism has been generally described as a set of symptoms: language abnormalities, social difficulty, repetitive and restricted interests and movements, differences in perception or processing of sensory stimuli, etc. And it is related to alterations in cognitive development. On the other hand, with illness:


When we refer to a disease, we are dealing with an underlying etiology. Disease is a of affection in a living being that is characterized by an alteration in a healthy state of its health. To be a disease, it must meet at least two of the following factors:

having identifiable signs and symptoms, having anatomical alterations and/or having an etiological agent recognisable (causes) by the specialist.

I want to emphasize something about the appointment:

it is characterized by an alteration in a healthy state of health.

That is, it is a sudden change in a functional system that causes irregularities and damage. And as I said before, there is no typical person trapped within autism. One is born that way. So it is not a sudden change in a functional system: the system is different from before birth.

That’s why it’s classified as

the name tells us that autism is an alteration in a person’s neural development. Much more accurate in opinion.



is a process of affection of a living being characterized by poor health. It must have a known origin, medical treatment, common guidelines, a prognosis and a diagnosis .

There is no known cause of autism, no medical treatment, no prognosis and the diagnosis varies (autism is diverse) so it is not very reliable to say …

And again it is emphasized that the disease is characterized by poor health.

Lack of health.

In autism there is no lack of health. One can be healthy

to be autistic. There are no sudden disorders and autism is not the only cause of suffering.

To also know what “poor health” means, let’s look at the concept of health:
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), health is “.

”. In 1992, the following was added to the WHO definition: ”

“thus broadening the concept.

It is described as complete well-being, not only the absence of affection and/or illness, but also as

the level of functional efficiency

. And here we go again: autism does not or completely hinder functional effectiveness. It can be acquired or have autism as a whole. The only difference is that this effectiveness is not the same as most: you must pay attention to your particular needs. Taking care of them, however, causes well-being (physical/mental/social) and you are still autistic. Verdict? It does not cause poor health.


can be considered as a description of a range of symptoms, actions or behaviours. It is usually associated with disorders related to mental pathologies, although it is also associated with alterations in the cognitive and affective processes of development, considering that there is a significant difference with respect to the majority social group where the person is included, with no known aetiology. In most cases development is abnormal from early childhood and only in a few exceptions do the abnormalities first appear after the age of five.

Autism is a description of a range of behaviours.

It is related to developmental disorders.

It is considered that there is a significant difference from the majority social group (neurotypes – typical ) where the person is included.

There is no known etiology.

Development is abnormal from childhood (as in most cases).

And finally, a quote from the definition of the second source syndrome:

In the syndrome one can have a set of recognizable symptoms but of unknown origin. At the same time,

a syndrome can determine a specific disorder

. In psychiatry it can also refer to a psychic reaction to a situation. For example, in the case of

If you are a woman, the origin of the syndrome is known, but the causes are not.

Besides, Down syndrome cannot be cured. Whoever is born with Down syndrome will always have it, so it is absurd to think that they are sick.
Autism is not cured, it is treated.

Strategies are sought to mitigate difficulties and use present strengths. It is not one area of the brain that is affected or abnormal but

It’s been like that since we’ve been in the womb. It’s most likely genetic, and there’s no way you can change it. There’s no way to turn an autistic person into a non-autistic person. What you can do is

to give them tools to live their lives as best as possible taking into account their particular needs.

I hope this has answered your .