In the recent question "How do you tell a Facebook friend that they might be on the autism spectrum?" the currently most upvoted answer is giving the same instant response I'd have given before reading more than the headline.

The answer says that OP should not tell their friend that they are autistic, but talk to their friend about their symptoms. The latter is something that would provide an actual answer, but the premise of the answer seems to come from a misunderstanding of the original post, I believe.

Given the context in the question and the fact that the goal is not providing the friend with a diagnosis, but merely suggesting the idea they might suffer from the same condition OP does, I feel the answer is not really on-point.
OP did at no point state they want to directly tell their friend that they are autistic, but merely suggest the idea to them. OP also thinks it is likely that the other person is already considering that of themselves.

I am unsure about the answer given as they do provide an answer that I would agree with, but it seems to be coming from a misunderstanding of the original post. I might be wrong though.

It is definitely not blatantly off-question, but misguided, I feel.

I posted this discussion on here so either the answerer or I can learn something, but I believe they made a similar mistake as I did recently in my most upvoted answer.

  • This is exactly what I thought when I read it. And this is another perfect example of what I was talking about in this recent question. Thanks for posting this!
    – scohe001
    Oct 15, 2018 at 14:48
  • @scohe001 yes, but with this answer I feel it comes less from the idea of a frame challenge and more from a misunderstanding of the question. Oct 15, 2018 at 14:52
  • Exactly, it looks like it's not respecting the premise of the question ("how can I tell my friend they may be on the spectrum?") and answering with a "You don't." I think it's the right answer in this situation and deserves the upvotes, so it'll be interesting to see what the rest of the community thinks of it.
    – scohe001
    Oct 15, 2018 at 15:00
  • 2
    Relevant. Also relevant.
    – JAD
    Oct 15, 2018 at 15:25
  • 1
    – avazula
    Oct 15, 2018 at 15:47

1 Answer 1


It seems this answer broadly follows the template pattern for a good frame challenge:

  • The explanation: Why the author disagrees with the decision to tell the friend they may be on the spectrum
  • An alternate frame: address "the person and their symptoms...instead of the diagnosis"
  • Explain how the new frame helps solve the OP's problem: discussing how the labeling of a diagnosis is less useful than addressing specific problems

The last one could have been fleshed out more in this answer to specifically explain suggested ways to do this, such as including examples.

"Merely suggest[ing] the idea" of a clinical diagnosis to someone is about as far as anybody is reasonably going to go outside of a professional in a clinical setting. The answer doesn't misunderstand the original post there; it addresses the topic of the OP suggesting to their friend that they might be on the spectrum, not that a formal diagnosis will be definitively stated. Providing the friend with the suggestion of a possible diagnosis is still discussing a diagnosis with the friend. You might believe that's a good thing to do, and this answer may believe it's not, but you're both talking about the same thing.

It's perfectly valid to read the answer and decide you have a different answer. It sounds like you've zeroed in on some of the details in the question (such as the friend's past questioning about whether they're on the spectrum) that led you to believe that a different approach may work well in this case. JAD focused on other parts of the question to conclude that this approach was best. That doesn't mean the answer is missing the point of the question, just that it's weighed the information differently and come to a different conclusion. Another answer argues that the friend would benefit from being told that they might be on the spectrum and provides suggested language to have that conversation. That's ok too.

You write:

It is definitely not blatantly off-question, but misguided, I feel.

That's fine. You looked at the details in the question differently, which caused you to disagree with an answer. You can up/downvote accordingly or write your own answer, rather than challenging the validity of this one, so the OP can benefit from your insight.

  • 1
    with this answer specifically it was just weird to me, because i totally agree with the plan of action, but all the rest seems (to me) to miss the point of the question. That is why I wanted clarification and other perspectives. Oct 16, 2018 at 6:49

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