First of all, I'd like to inform Jon that even though I've said this blog is pro-neurodiversity, I'm not a leader of neurodiversity proponents or anything of the sort. All my opinions are personal and should in no way be seen as opinions put forth by something called neurodiversity. It's very uncool to try to use what I say (or what other bloggers say for that matter) as a way to attack the neurodiversity philosophy as a whole.
Now, the most outrageous misrepresentation of what I said is the following:
I see that Joseph of the autism natural variation blog has decided based on one published report based on the statuses of only 19 people that adults with autism don't have problems with employment nor with marriage.
I could've predicted this was going to be Jon's response, and it's not the first time he's tried to misrepresent what I've said. I'll leave statistics for the end of the post. I want to discuss the misrepresentations first.
What I said about lack of employment is that (1) figures used in prior estimates appear to be exaggerated; (2) that it would seem adult autistics who live in private households across the UK are largely productive individuals who contribute to the economy in a manner similar to their non-autistic peers.
I never said autistic people don't have problems with employment. All I said is that autistics are largely employed. There's a big difference. The data can't tell me anything about specific problems autistic people have with employment, and I have no doubt there are a variety of problems.
I stated that there appear to be some differences in the employment rates of autistics and non-autistics, but the authors didn't find them statistically significant. This is what the authors said:
No significant variation in rate of ASD by economic activity status was found.
That's a true statement. If you want to lash out at the authors for daring to say that, be my guest.
The misrepresentation of my claims about marriage is even more outrageous, since my post clearly said in bold that autistic people in the UK are apparently about half as likely to get married than non-autistic people.
In the past Joseph presented some statistic saying that 25% of autistics were employed. As far as I can tell he neglects to mention any source or reference or link for this statistic in any post on his blog.
OK, that one is my fault. I failed to cite a reference in the old post, and I don't even remember the exact reference. I'm usually careful about that sort of thing. If you're interested, Howlin et al. (2004) reports that almost one third of the adult autistics in that study had some form of employment. Szatmari et al. (1989), a follow-up of adults without intellectual disability, reports a rate of employment of 50%.
So Joseph seems to imply that autistic persons are making just as much money as an NT.
I never talked about salaries, and if you made inferences from my post in regards to salaries, that's really not my fault. The study does have data on salaries. The summary of the findings was the following.
While the likelihood of having ASD appeared to increase among men as household income decreased, this was not significant (when analysis was run using household income
grouped into tertiles).
In this case, again, there might have been some differences, and if you look at the numbers in Table 2.3 it would be difficult to deny that autistics are making somewhat less money than non-autistics. But in a statistical sense, the numbers cannot tell us for sure that there's a difference.
So again, we have ND trivialization of an autistics inability to get married or make a living.
To Jon Mitchell, any figures and facts that don't agree with his personal views and experiences with autism constitute "trivialization." Reality doesn't exactly matter if it doesn't jive with what he sees as the necessity of continuing to have a grim worldview.
Jon doesn't like the stats of the study because:
The authors of the reports extrapolated this number 19 to the greater population claiming that 1% of adults in the UK in private households have autism. However this was just a guess based on mathematical projections.
For starters, saying that the result is a "guess" is clearly an inaccurate characterization, and I've explained this previously. Many of the 19 autistic people identified must have been assigned a probability of selection that is less than 1.0 in phase 1. For example, if 10 of the 19 autistic people had been assigned a probability of 0.25, then clearly there must have been about 40 autistic people in the original group who were assigned a probability of 0.25. This is a probabilistically sound projection, not a "guess." (It's a bit more complicated than I explained, because there's also some weighing due to participation refusal based on some household variables.)
Now, no study can prove a negative, i.e. that there's absolutely no difference between the characteristics of two groups (this is the "null hypothesis.") All you can say is that you found the null hypothesis cannot be rejected. Of course, some studies are better able to rule out small differences as opposed to big differences, with statistical confidence.
It does matter that only 19 autistic people were found, but what mostly matters is the overall sample size. In Table 3.6 they indicate the confidence interval for ASD prevalence is 0.5% to 2.0%. They list the sample size as 2854 and the "weighed" sample size as 7358.
There are prevalence studies smaller than this, and existing data on the characteristics of autistic adults are usually based on comparable or smaller samples of autistic people.
The confidence interval is actually what you would get if you had found 7 autistic people out of 700 in a standard sampling (and I have some thoughts about implications of this, but I won't go into them here.)
Prevalence of ASD among adults who are employed was 0.9%. The confidence interval would be roughly equivalent to what you'd get if you had found 5 autistics out of 555 people, or 0.4% to 2.1%. (About 75% of all adults are employed in the UK.)
So on the one hand you have a prevalence of [0.5% - 2.0%] and on the other hand you have a prevalence of [0.4% - 2.1%]. Is there a difference? We just can't say there is.