Isn’t that a great picture? Although it’s literally a photograph of some mountains in Turkey, I have chosen it to represent what I like to think of as the Autism Landscape, or what many would call the Autism Spectrum. I prefer landscape over spectrum because whenever I think of the word spectrum, I think of a linear one-dimensional spectrum which suggest that it’s possible to line autistic people up like a row of colored pencils from least to most autistic, which strikes me as implausible.
Although I think the three-dimensions of a landscape are also implausible, they are at least more plausible to me than a one-dimensional spectrum. In any case, the use of terms like spectrum and landscape are purely figurative, and are merely useful for helping us to conceptualize intuitively what it means to be autistic. I think as long as we understand that being autistic can mean something different for every autistic person, then whether we call it a spectrum or a landscape is more a matter of taste than scientific rigor.