High Functioning Autism And How To Look Out For It
You may have heard the term “high functioning autism” before, as a way of distinguishing some people experiencing autism from others. It’s worth noting right from the start that this is a strictly informal term that is useful for general conversations about autism, but isn’t a medical diagnosis. Nonetheless, it comes up so often that it is important to understand what high functioning autism is, and how it affects those with it (and those around them).
High functioning autism can be considered a “mild” form of the affliction, in that a person that is experiencing high functioning autism can speak, read, write, and handle life skills such as eating and getting dressed by themselves. Most people who are considered to have high functioning autism can live and survive independently and would be indistinguishable to people who aren’t diagnosed with autism.
However, that blessing can also be something of a curse. A person with high functioning autism, as with anyone on the autism spectrum, has an incredibly hard time with social interactions and deep communication. However,because it’s not immediately obvious that they have autism, they’re often treated as a “normal” person, despite struggling to meet the expectations of a “normal” person in society, and as a result they tend to have uncomfortable, frustrating, and poor first encounters in social settings. They struggle to make and keep friends, can’t maintain eye contact comfortably, and don’t understand how small talk works.
People with high functioning autism also have the preference for routine and order that those with more extreme forms of autism experience. This can further impact on their ability to socialise, as anything outside of their routines will cause them stress and anxiety, and the social world tends to be chaotic and flexible.
Finally, many of those with high functioning autism can do school work or hold a job as a normal person might. However, in many cases they’ll struggle to concentrate to the same degree, and unless they have been diagnoses and the expectations on their work (and type of work that they’re given) is adjusted accordingly, those with high functioning autism can appear to be difficult students or poor employees.
As with all forms of autism, there is no cure for high functioning autism, however, them symptoms can be managed through cognitive behavior therapy. Those with high functioning autism can often be taught a range of self-monitoring and self-regulating behaviours that can provide them with a great deal of independence. However, in other cases self-monitoring will not be an option, and as with all examples of autism, there needs to be a thorough diagnosis and treatment plan created around the individual.
If it is determined that a person with high functioning autism needs greater care, the strain placed on the rest of the family can be significant. This is where Lizard Centre comes in. Our expertise in providing the support to the families of those with a child with autism is invaluable is invaluable in giving that person the full quality of life. For more information or to start the conversation on how we can help, contact us on 1300 752 617.