Photo of the Goth in the spectrum design with quote and book icon

This October marks the 100th edition of the Spectrum magazine. The Spectrum (previously named Asperger United) is a quarterly magazine created by and for autistic people. Throughout the years, the Spectrum has published some incredible articles, artwork, poems and letters. Topics discussed range from the everyday (thoughts on family, pets and relationships), to the otherworldly – including theories on a possible connection between autism and aliens.

To celebrate the 100th edition, we interviewed the Spectrum magazine’s editor, the Goth. He spoke to us about his autism diagnosis, what he most enjoys about editing the Spectrum, as well as some of the editorial challenges he has faced along the way.

When were you diagnosed as autistic?

I was diagnosed in 2002.

I’d been seeing a psychiatrist for many years, who had me down as schizophrenic. I knew I wasn’t schizophrenic and was keen to get a more accurate diagnosis. I identified more with being autistic. From the outside, schizophrenia and autism can be notoriously hard to tell apart. There are a lot of overlapping symptoms which can lead to misdiagnosis.

What is being autistic like for you?

Well, what is it like being ‘you’ for anybody? I only know ‘me’ from the inside.

It was only through being diagnosed I began to understand that other people didn’t see all the flashing lights and all the other sensory issues I have.

I think I struggle with socialising because, in order to learn social skills, you often have to put yourself into an intense sensory environment.

What has been your favourite editorial moment or favourite submission so far?

I’m not good with favourites! My big favourite is variety.

A moment that sticks in my mind is when a professional clinical psychologist submitted a 60,000 word manuscript and asked if I could publish it in the magazine that year.

That sounds interesting. It must have been difficult to say no to that! Are there any other particular challenges you face as the Editor?

The Spectrum is, in some ways, a self-help magazine. So I get a lot of letters from people going through tough times. Sometimes that’s hard to read about, and they can take their frustrations out on the person they’re talking to, which in this case is me.

That sounds really hard. How do you cope with that?

I’ve been there myself for many years, so I can empathise. It’s really about lending an ear, listening to them and pointing them in the right direction if they need immediate help.

Would you say that the Spectrum has helped in terms of representing autistic people?

People who benefit from it are the ones that read it. It’s more of a community, which by its nature tends to be a bit insular. So if you like it and subscribe to it, you benefit from it.

Do you think non autistic people could learn something/benefit from reading the Spectrum?

I think if you don’t know anything about autism, it would be hard to learn anything about autism from reading the Spectrum.

It’s very much for the readers who know what the writers are talking about because they’re experiencing it themselves.

Any advice to people submitting to the next issue?

Just submit something! It’s always nice to have plenty of things to choose from. It’s also nice to get submissions from new people. I think people like seeing their name in print as well - something by, say, Nicky usually prompts other Nickys to write in.

What do you do when you're not busy editing?

I like walking and reading. Those are my main passions. I also have a variety of other little jobs I do, aside from editing the Spectrum. I’m selling my house at the moment, which is taking up a lot of my free time. Once it’s sold I plan on learning the clarinet, which I’ve been wanting to do for a while.

Read the Spectrum magazine

You can read the 100th edition of the Spectrum online, visit our archive to discover past editions, or download the latest issue here.

Visit the Spectrum online