High Functioning Autism: Is term worth using?

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High Functioning Autism: Useful or Not?
Poll ended at 22 Feb 2015, 6:35 pm
Useful 83%  83%  [ 20 ]
Not Useful 17%  17%  [ 4 ]
Total votes : 24

SteveBorg
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18 Feb 2015, 6:35 pm

If you type "high functioning autism" into Google, it has a pretty high search volume.

However, may autistics are highly offended by the term.

I'd like to know your opinion, as I'm writing an article on the topic, and I want to specifically get opinions from others on the spectrum.


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18 Feb 2015, 6:54 pm

I think it is a useful term.


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18 Feb 2015, 6:58 pm

I think it's more useful to talk about what a person can and can't do, areas of relative ability and disability, and/or what their needs are.


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18 Feb 2015, 7:32 pm

Voted yes because it opened doors for DD who was diagnosed when she was 9.

I really don't like repeating myself, lots of the details in my other posts I suppose but 2 months after she turned 9 during the 2-month summer holiday break I asked her a question and she replied/reacted in a classical autistic way.
I had an encounter with a classical autist in a college diner once and it always stood me by and that instance with DD I got an instant flashback.

Been difficult up till then, there were lots of social issues at school but cause we had moved countries and she also had some attachment issues we had just plodded on.
I managed to get an intake appointment at a local centre and she was cleared to be tested. She got her diagnosis 3 months after the incident.
She got remedial during school hours, not uncommon here in Belgium but at school things didn't improve. She whitdrew, never smiled anymore and was generally very unhappy.

The next school year she went into special education as they were loosing her in remedial too. She was seeing a kinesiologist, psychologist and a logopedist. The kine had always been her favourite but even that they could not interest her in eventually.
At home it wasn't working either so she went as an intern.

She was told she is HFA because a lot of the children where she is are PDD-NOS and being different had become her comfort zone.
We're 2 years down the line now. She has returned to being the bubble of enthusiasm that she is.
I doubt if we would have managed it without the label as she would not have gotten into special education.

I'm hoping as she gets older the label will fade from the limelight and DD can find her own way through her special interest in the horse world on the strength of her skills. Her private lessons teacher does know but DD has just switched riding centres for her casual lessons and we have agreed I will not tell them.
And ultimatelly it will be up to her if the term is worth using I suppose.
Good thing that horses don't care for labels 8)

ETA: Not sure if I'm on the spectrum but neurotypical I surely ain't :mrgreen:



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18 Feb 2015, 7:47 pm

My viewpoint is kind of neutral to be honest. It's not a term I'm personally a fan of, but there's nothing inherently wrong with it.



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18 Feb 2015, 8:33 pm

That or "mild" is offensive and flawed in some ways but for now I have yet to see a better ones and I like categorization so what to do.


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19 Feb 2015, 3:45 am

The way our brain filters the five senses is different for everybody.

People may have a problem with reading people's faces, or emotions, yet still be "highly functional."

I reject the idea that people who filter their environment differently, makes it a "disorder."

Our modern world is designed with certain standard abilities in mind, but that isn't the case in the natural world.
You either function or you die, and nature weeds out the "less than able," pretty quick.

Perhaps this is why the number of autistic spectrum individuals is growing at a pace faster than expected?

All "highly functional" means, is that you're a survivor. ;)


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The_Walrus
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19 Feb 2015, 11:11 am

I don't think you can reduce different manifestations of autism to something as trite as "functioning levels".

I think "high functioning" does more harm than good, by minimising the difficulties faced by "high functioning" individuals and minimising the abilities of the "low functioning".



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19 Feb 2015, 12:04 pm

I don't like it because the term "functioning" can be too vaguely defined and lead to misunderstanding.
Social functioning?
Physical functioning?
Mental functioning?
And the unfortunate conclusion is that if some people are "high functioning", are others "low functioning"?
Who judges that and by what measure?
I worked with a non-verbal man diagnosed with classic Autism and considered very low functioning, but after he mastered using an iPod to communicate, he clearly showed himself to be just-as-if-not-more intelligent than average folks.
I have Aspergers and am quite poor at making small talk and conversation, but excel at knowledge in my field. According to some standards, such as social functioning, I might not be considered very high functioning then; but mentally, intellectually, I am quite high functioning.
You see, the terminology lacks clear definition, and could too easily be used to misdiagnose people and set up limitations or perceived limitations that may or may not actually exist.



gamerdad
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19 Feb 2015, 1:52 pm

I think it depends on the context. In a lot of instances, I do think that the functioning labels are either too reductive or offensive, especially the way they're often used by those unfamiliar with ASD. And I have a big problem when people use them like that. However, I think it's kind of silly to just outright ban any language that differentiates between the experiences of different people on the spectrum.

The truth is that some of us are less disabled by this, and some of us are more. Sometimes it's necessary to make the distinction between how ASD impacts me and how it impacts others who are more severely disabled, and it's not always worth diving into a short essay's worth of describing exactly how I am or am not disabled by ASD when simply saying "high functioning" or "mildly autistic" gets the point across just fine.

I try to cope somewhat when I'm writing them by putting them in quotes. I think, or hope at least, that helps get the point across that these are somewhat arbitrary labels that I'm using simply for the sake of the discussion.



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19 Feb 2015, 2:38 pm

I would say it's useful. But my school of thought involves my family, who raised me with that term and because of that, I'm not offended by it and I understand what it means.



SteveBorg
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19 Feb 2015, 4:04 pm

Hi, everyone: thanks so much for your input so far-

This is the article that got me thinking:
http://autismwomensnetwork.org/whats-th ... ng-autism/


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19 Feb 2015, 4:16 pm

The term high-functioning autism doesn't imply to me minimizing autistic traits or problems.
It is just general category for autism without intellectual disability, and each individual has their own traits within this category.


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19 Feb 2015, 4:25 pm

There is much overlap between the functioning labels. Some people, for example, have high IQs, but severe problems with communication and self-help skills. Some people are just harder to categorize. I don't think everyone needs to be categorized into high- or low-functioning, but I don't find the term offensive. If others want to use it, that's fine with me.



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04 Mar 2015, 11:54 pm

Its useful , now more than ever now that Aspergers and PDD-NOS are no longer diagnosis. But everyone wants their child to be "high functioning"- so they find the label offensive if they aren't. So many parents will call their child "mild/high functioning" just because they are verbal or not having meltdowns all day, when in reality they are LFA. I think the DSM V has a good severity scale even though its not well defined. It defines "severity" based on how much support a person needs. If a person cannot ever feasibly live independently at all- they are not high functioning.



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05 Mar 2015, 1:33 am

When I first started suspecting autism, I was only aware of the traditional "child doesn't speak, sits in a corner rocking all day, likes to watch record player turntables spin". I could see something in myself that reminded me of autism, but obviously I wasn't autistic. So I wondered "partly autistic?"

I asked a doctor if that was possible, and he said no. I then asked 'What if whatever brain glitch that causes autism is present, but not that degree? Wouldn't that person be partly autistic?' He had to agree.

Ten years later I found out such people WERE being recognized. They could speak, had gone to school, college, had careers...but were nonetheless autistic.

"Oh," I thought to myself, "How unexpected" (heavy on the sarcasm).

It's these people that the term "high functioning" applies to, as I understand it. They can even lead independent lives, but the autism is still there.

Semantics is a hard thing to deal with. You do, tho', need some way of saying "Yes, this person is dealing with autism, but they're not profoundly affected by it."

For now, "high functioning" seems to be the term to use. Likely it's better than my early attempts at "partly autistic" or "borderline autistic" (which I still sometimes use).


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