Philip Wylie: The Nine Degrees of Autism

Philip Wylie, co-author of The Nine Degrees of Autism, has developed a much-needed positive tool for understanding the developmental process of autism, and to facilitate the improved mental health and well-being of individuals on the spectrum. Read our exclusive author interview, reviews and learn more about his fantastic new book!

Philip WylieWritten by a team of well-known specialists, The Nine Degrees of Autism, presents a much-needed positive tool for understanding the developmental process of autism. It offers a new perspective on the developmental course of ASD (Autism spectrum disorder) by outlining a first-person account of the challenges and possible outcomes at different stages.”

The Nine Degrees of Autism presents a positive developmental model, which charts nine distinct stages of development - from pre-identification, to learning to live with changes in self-image following a late diagnosis, through to self-acceptance and wellbeing.

It aims to facilitate the improved mental health and well-being of individuals on the spectrum. With contributions from individuals with ASD, many of whom have experienced and overcome the challenges outlined in the book, The Nine Degrees of Autism dispels misconceptions and allows those on the spectrum to reach self-realisation.

I had no choice about whether to write the book or not because, without the necessary self-knowledge about my family’s neurological profile, I was lost and desperately looking for clues. Actually, I began work on The Nine Degrees of Autism before the turn of the millennium after studying numerology and metaphysics.

I am a ‘Systemiser,’ which means that I have a unique ability to make sense and order of highly complex data sets. People on the autism spectrum tend to have high Systemisation Quotients (SQs) but low Emotional Quotients.

The Nine Degrees of Autism is a developmental model which charts the journey experienced by many people on the autism spectrum. This model consists of nine clearly-defined stages. I needed to systemize my life in order to create The Nine Degrees of Autism.

There are essentially nine processes that need to be completed before we can systemize our life but, by the age of 51, I was still lacking knowledge of two vital processes: understanding my ancestry and my family’s neurology. These insights provoked many sinister revelations causing disillusionment and identity alignment which is commonly referred to as a mental breakdown.

The term, ‘Mental Breakdown’ is a deceptive term because it is 50% correct. During identity alignment, it is necessary to tear down a false self-identity; but we also need to construct a revised self-image based on reality. Therefore Identity Alignment is really simultaneous ‘mental breakdown’ and ‘mental reconstruction’ or ‘identity demolition and reconstruction’.

My experience of identity alignment (a term introduced to me by Luke Beardon) was traumatic and I was alone without any face-to-face support. However, I learnt a lot about Aspergers from Rod Morris, Luke Beardon, Sara Heath, Tony Attwood, Sarah Hendrickx and Maxine Aston among others. The idiom, ‘no pain, no gain’ comes to mind. The paradox is that we need this self-knowledge, without which we are lost and confused, but such self-realisation came with a hefty price tag.

I truly believe that this project is what I was born to do, so now I have fulfilled my purpose in life. In other words, this is my legacy. It was a tumultuous journey but I had a great team and together we achieved our goal. The underlying objective of this project is to improve the mental wellbeing of millions of people who are on the autism spectrum because currently most health systems follow the medical model of autism which is deficit-based and does not recognize our unique gifts. Also the current medical system treats autism as a degenerative disease which requires a cure.

I am very grateful to Dr Luke Beardon for recognizing the validity of this developmental model because Luke is one of a handful of people who really understands autism. Luke also assisted in the development of the model since 2012.

Currently The Nine Degrees of Autism is a hypothesis with supporting evidence by some of the world’s leading autism experts. Perhaps one day this model will be fully validated via academic research.

I want readers to gain a realistic understanding about the life journeys of people who are on the autism spectrum because currently there is so much misinformation and confusion about this emerging neurological condition. I would like society to perceive autism as a ‘self-focused culture’ instead of a disease. Also, there is evidence that autism is an evolutionary developmental condition.

The Nine Degrees of Autism debunks many myths relating to hidden neurological conditions. The medical model of autism is ‘deficit-based’ and does not recognize the gifts and special abilities of many people who are on the autism spectrum. This model has the power to improve the mental wellbeing of millions of autistic people by encouraging acceptance of autism and acknowledging that may autistic people attain mastery in their fields of interest.

The authors and co-editors of The Nine Degrees of Autism believe that we are born as autistic individuals because this condition is primarily inherited genetically. Usually, it is easy to identify the genetic pathway of autism by researching our ancestry. Therefore, we don’t believe in funding research into cures for autism because people who are born autistic die with the same neurology whether they pretend to be neurotypical or not. 

Ultimately the authors of this book want to give hope to the autism community and we in turn hope to share our knowledge with society to allay the misunderstandings which cause so much suffering.

I would like to emphasise that people on the autism spectrum don’t usually fit into our standard highly structured workplaces. We are often driven by passion to pursue our personal interests which add meaning to our lives. 

I would like to encourage all people who are on the autism spectrum to pursue their interests and to create something magnificent. Also, I urge ‘unemployed’ autistic people not to feel ashamed for not being employed. Modern workplaces can be extremely stressful for people who are on the autism spectrum so let’s focus on legacies instead!

Below I have short-listed five key myths about autism which I would like debunking. The book provides much-needed evidence to correct these misunderstandings.

Myth # 1: Autism is a disease which can be cured
Autism is not a disease; it is a developmental condition we are born with because it is primarily inherited genetically. Autistic peoples’ brains are wired differently causing us to think and behave differently from the norm. Unfortunately the medical community believes that autism is a disease – thus giving rise to impairments without any special abilities – which requires curing. Many medical ‘cures’ are extremely damaging for autistic people. Instead society and autistic people would benefit by perceiving neurodiversity as healthy.

Myth # 2: Autism is a mental illness
Autism is not a mental illness like depression or anxiety, and there are autistic people who live in favorable environments who have never experience mental health issues. 

Myth # 3: Autistic people are insane
Autistic people are not insane.. A person who thinks and behaves differently from the norm can be an asset to society if their external conditions are favourable. Many autistic people are highly intelligent and able to manage their lives on their own.

Myth # 4: People can develop autism after birth
Autism is primarily inherited genetically so ancestral research often reveals the genetic pathway of autism. Sadly many parents of autistic children are in denial of their own neurology causing divisions in the family. Autism Speaks is essentially funded by parents (of autistic children) who want to fund research into cures for autism.

Myth # 5: Autistic people offer no value to society
People who are on the autism spectrum probably have a higher chance of attaining mastery in their field of interest than neurotypical people. Unfortunately, society is currently obsessed with economic output and many autistic people have difficulty accessing the economy because we are not competitive. Some of the most famous geniuses are believed to have been on the autism spectrum including Sir Isaac Newton, George Orwell, Amadeus Mozart and Charles Darwin.

NOTE: Philip Wylie is the conceptualizer, project manager and promoter of this project; additionally he wrote the Preface, co-wrote Chapter 3 and ‘scaffolded’ (as Wenn Lawson puts it) several other chapters. Although Philip is officially referred to as a Co-Editor of The Nine Degrees of Autism, Wenn Lawson is the Primary Editor and author of Chapter 9 and a Foreword, and Luke Beardon is the Senior Editor, consultant who also provided a Foreword.


Philip is a British Chartered Accountant, holistic facilitator, researcher and writer. During his tenure as Finance Director and Company Secretary of an offshore private bank he reported money laundering activity to the Serious Fraud Squad. After his resignation, Philip was unable to get any work so he moved to live in Southeast Asia in 2003. Philip discovered his family’s genetic disposition to autism a decade after his relocation. The full story is available in Psychobiography of a Systemiser. Since moving to Asia, Philip has written numerous nonfiction books and survey reports. Here is Philip’s Author page with Amazon.

WENN B. LAWSON PhD CPsychol. BSs (UK) MAPS (AUS): Autism Researcher & lecturer, Psychologist and Writer
Dr. Wenn B. Lawson CPsychol MAPS, researcher, psychologist, writer & poet has operated his own private practice for more than twenty years. Wenn was awarded fourth place as ‘Victorian Australian of the Year’ in 2008. Originally diagnosed as being intellectually disabled, then in his teens as being schizophrenic, and finally in 1994, Wenn was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. The parent of four children, two of his sons are also on the autistic spectrum. Wenn is passionate about the rights of those who so often cannot speak for themselves and aims to promote justice and equality for all. Wenn has written the following books: Older Adults and Autism Spectrum Conditions (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2015)..

LUKE BEARDON EdD (UK): Senior Lecturer in Autism at Sheffield Hallam University
Luke Beardon BA (Hons), PG Cert (Autism), EdD is a senior lecturer in autism at Sheffield Hallam University. He has worked with the National Autistic Society as a trainer and consultant, as well as a service coordinator in residential services, helping young autistic adults to access suitable residential services. Luke works in various capacities, from consultant to researcher and trainer. He has also written, edited, and provided forewords for several publications about autism and Asperger’s syndrome. He is also a registered expert witness. His doctor of education thesis was on Asperger Syndrome and Perceived Offending Conduct.

The editors would like to acknowledge and thank the following autism specialists (listed in alphabetical order) for their contributions in this publication: Maxine Aston, Simon Baron-Cohen, Michael John Carley, Irene Jenks, Leo Gregory, Rod Morris, Christa Wilson and Rod Wintour.

Featured Book

  • The Nine Degrees of Autism

    A Developmental Model for the Alignment and Reconciliation of Hidden Neurological Conditions

    Edited by Philip Wylie, Wenn Lawson, Luke Beardon

    The Nine Degrees of Autism presents a much-needed positive tool for understanding the developmental process of autism, and to facilitate the improved mental health and well-being of individuals on the spectrum. The ground-breaking model charts nine distinct stages of development - from…

    Paperback – 2015-10-13

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The author will be in Singapore from 25-28 February and I will be available for workshops, talks, seminars and consultancy about The Nine Degrees of Autism model

Reviews for 'The Nine Degrees of Autism'.

"The book should be read by anyone who wants to understand the real nature and experience of autism and is essential reading for Play Therapists seeking to work more effectively within individuals on the spectrum. It will help you to identify and assess children who are on the spectrum and the stage they are at." – Jeff Thomas Registrar PTUK, Play for Life

"The Nine Degrees of Autism is an asset to the field of autistic spectrum disorders (ASD). The current literature on ASD provides medical and psychopathological models. However they do not provide a comprehensive guide on how to help individuals understand and facilitate wellbeing on the autism spectrum…To sum, this is a timely book of 2016 which will aid readers to shift their attitude and lack of understanding about ASD. A great tool for the clinicians toolkit and an inspirational bookshelf aid for individuals with ASD." – Dr Bijal Chheda-Varma, The Psychologist

"This book gives an honest account of how personal understandings of one’s differences can help reshape self-identity. I found this novel approach, focusing on the ‘developmental journey’, rather than symptoms of disability, refreshingly positive, encouraging progression towards self-acceptance and self-fulfilment....Overall a really worthy book."   Abbie Turner, Devon Autism and ADHD Service, The Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health

"What I like the best about it is that there are so many people on the spectrum who contributed to it, and that it provides a progressive, lifelong, lifespan approach." – Steve Borgman, Thrive with Aspergers Podcast

Talks with the Authors

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