This book was written to educate healthcare providers and others about autism so that autistic people can more easily access diagnosis and support. The introductory chapter begins by describing the medical model, which views autistic differences as pathological, versus the neurodiversity paradigm, in which autism is considered to reflect human neurodiversity. The authors hold the view that autistic people experience, process, and respond to the world differently from non-autistics, and because of those differences, they are often overwhelmed and misunderstood. Their behaviors are, therefore, a result of the mismatch between the autistic person’s abilities and the expectations of non-autistics.

The authors note the higher prevalence of misdiagnoses and co-occurring conditions that come with having a hidden disability, then explain some of the factors that complicate diagnosis, including camouflaging and compensation. These strategies often help autistic people achieve functional goals, but they also make autism harder to recognize, and they require significant physical, cognitive, emotional, and sensory resources.