Profound concerns about “profound autism”: dangers of severity scales and functioning labels for support needs

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Recently the Lancet published a Commission on the future of care and clinical research of autism, which included a side panel arguing for the adoption of “profound autism”, a term in- tended to describe autistic people who require constant supervision or care, thought to usually have significant intellectual disability, limited or no language, and an inability to advocate for themselves. This state-of-the-art review deconstructs problems with autism sublabels such as “profound autism” and low- and high-functioning labels. It then examines the communicative and cognitive capacities of minimally speaking autistic people, finding that such individuals can communicate (especially with responsive partners) and need nonverbal testing that allows them to demonstrate their potential strengths. It concludes with the ability of minimally speaking autistic people to self-advocate, and the influences of other people to both support and frustrate their communication.
Original languageEnglish
Article number106
Number of pages20
JournalEducation Sciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jan 2023


  • support needs
  • neurodiversity
  • profound autism
  • inclusion
  • education

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