It’s not a real diagnosis, high functioning autism. Even though I have a piece of paper from a clinical psychologist with those words on the page. It doesn’t make it a real diagnosis.
Neither does the use of those words on reports by researchers phd candidates, post doc researchers or genuine accredited scientists. Using a set of words consistently, and forcefully to explain a thing doesn’t make it so that those words suddenly become a correct thing. It doesn’t matter how many people say them, it really doesn’t.
So many time I’ve had conversations, comments and exchanges of messages with people about it. And it doesn’t make a squat of difference to the reality that high functioning autism is not a thing, and of course neither is low functioning. There is autism, and then there is the way a person functions in the world. The latter is influenced greatly by environment, culture, expectations, comorbid conditions amongst a giant fruit salad of things.
An autistic friend of mine, a very intelligent man who holds a phd would likely be described by those functioning labels, and yet at times has trouble working out what he was intending to do just moments after setting out to do it.
I couldn’t count the number of times I’ve been described as high functioning, and in life, in many ways I do manage to function well. I have a good job. I hold multiple bachelor degrees. And yet, getting day to day tasks done are some of the most difficult things in the world to accomplish. Things like ensuring I maintain good hygiene, wear clean clothing and those simple things of life that it seem the so called typical people just seem to do, prove to be almost impossible.
I’m not high functioning in so many ways. This is so important for people to understand about autistic people labelled as such. Because of this labelling it is incredibly difficult to gain support to negotiate life and be successful in achieving the life outcomes that most people take for granted.
Of course all of this doesn’t even begin to take into account the impact of sensory input on how well a person manages to function in their day to day life. Neither in this is the fact that the increased effort required to look as though we function largely like the majority takes on our energy levels and rest and recuperation requirements.
Add into the equation time of social misreading, communication differences and again functioning is impacted greatly.
I would imagine that non autistic neurotypical people would argue that these same things impact their own ability to function in the world. And of course in large part they are most likely, to a point, somewhat correct. Which of course adds weight to the argument that high functioning and low functioning labels are totally incorrect and inappropriate explainers to add to the autistic way of being.
I’m not a high functioning autistic person. I am an autitic person, my functioning varies and fluctuates just like everyone’s does.
In the end, when it all comes down to it. When we drill down to the actual reality of it. I’m not a high functioning autistic, because, such a thing does not exist. Not as a diagnosis not in the DSM5 not in any official diagnostic material. Period.
No, in the end I am just an autistic person, doing my best to negotiate and make my way in the world as best I can. Some of those things I will do well and some I’ll make an absolute mess of.
I’m just a human, just like everyone else.