Feet on the Autism Spectrum

An observation in body language and social norms

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Cary Terra, Aspie Strategy

Psychotherapist Cary Terra works with adults with autism spectrum disorder -- the soon-to-be-official all-encompassing diagnostic term for that we currently distinguish as autism, Asperger's, and childhood disintegrative disorder. Over many years, she's noticed what she calls an "unmistakable trend": that her patients have a tendency to sit with their feet stacked. "Not all of them, mind you, just many more than I had ever seen when working with varied populations." Lately when she notices a patient sitting this way, she'll ask if she can take a photo. She has almost 50, a few of which she kindly let us publish here.

Terra is clear to note that this should be taken for what it is, one clinician's observations, not to be used as a diagnostic tool. But it's an interesting reminder that our awareness and understanding of the subtler behavioral associations and manifestations of autism spectrum disorder are continually growing. Cut everybody as much slack as you possibly can.

Presented by

James Hamblin, MD, is a senior editor at The Atlantic. He writes the health column for the monthly magazine and hosts the video series If Our Bodies Could Talk.

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