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What is High Functioning Autism?
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What is High Functioning Autism?

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    What is high functioning autism? This question comes to the mind of a person who has someone in the family or in the loved ones affected with an autism spectrum disorder.

    Autism spectrum disorder is prevalent around the globe with ever-increasing numbers of diagnoses. At present, there are some 75M autism cases reported worldwide, which accounts for almost 1% of the world population.

    What is Autism?

    What is Autism? Autism spectrum disorder is a complex, neurodevelopmental disorder that starts appearing in early childhood before the age of 3 years.

    It affects the navigation of social interaction, communication skills, self-regulation, and relationship building of an individual. It also causes restrictive habits and repetitive behaviors that affect the lives of autistic children and adults altogether.

    What is High Functioning Autism?

    What is High Functioning Autism? High functioning autism is a form of autism that is characterized by relatively normal cognitive and language abilities, in contrast to other forms of autism that can involve significant delays in these areas. Individuals with high functioning autism may still have challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, and sensory processing.

    Although some researchers and professionals categorize autism as a mental health condition, mostly bring it under the general category of mental disorders by the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

    In 2013, American Psychiatric Association grouped the disorders related to autism, e.g. Classic Autism, Asperger’s syndrome, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) under a single term, i.e. Autism Spectrum Disorders or ASD.

    How to diagnosis high functioning autism?

    High functioning autism is a fairly new term in the area of autism-related disorders and is not an official medical diagnosis, but it is characterized based on the observation of another individual of the behavioral analysis and developmental history of the autistic person.

    Professional medical advice as per the diagnostic criteria can help to diagnose autism, but the degree of severity of symptoms can the different and as per the observation by behavior and development of the autistic individuals can help differentiate between high functioning and low functioning labels.

    Where comes the difference?

    What is high functioning autism? The difference comes in the area of the range of degree of severity of the symptoms in autistic people. The degree of severity broads categorizes autism in two types:

    1. Low functioning autism

    2. High functioning autism

    What are the levels of autism?

    Autism spectrum disorder is broadly divided into three levels:

    Level 1:

    This level is mostly referred to as the high functioning type of autism or Asperger’s syndrome. Autistic people at this level may have some autistic symptoms that do not interfere a lot with their personal and professional relationships.

    Level 2:

    The autistic person at this level requires some outside assistance in their daily tasks. Speech therapy and social skills training are required to help these individuals.

    Level 3:

    The autistic person at this level requires substantial outside assistance in their daily lives. Full-time aides and intensive therapy may be required.

    Diagnosis:

    High functioning autism is a fairly new term in the area of autism-related disorders and is not an official medical diagnosis, but it is characterized based on the observation of another individual of the behavioral analysis and developmental history of the autistic person.

    Professional medical advice as per the diagnostic criteria can help to diagnose autism, but the degree of severity of symptoms can the different and as per the observation by behavior and development of the autistic individuals can help differentiate between high functioning and low functioning labels.

    What is the difference between high-functioning autism and mild autism?

    High functioning autism is the same as mild autism. American Psychiatric Association has termed high functioning autism as ‘Level 1’ autism or ‘Mild’ autism. Sometimes, this type is also termed Asperger syndrome.

    What is considered high functioning autism?

    People with high functioning or mild autism show the same symptoms as Level 2 and Level 3 autism, but the severity of the symptoms is generally low. This way high functioning autistic individuals can live a life and perform their tasks with minimal support and can sometimes live independently.

    What are some signs of high-functioning autism?

    What is high functioning autism and what are its signs? In this section, we are going to look into some of the symptoms associated with the high-functioning type of autism.

    The high functioning autistic individuals show some signs that differentiate them from the typical autistic person. The specific symptoms of the people with high functioning labels based on the latest evidence-based research are described below.

    1. Social interaction signs:

    According to a study, the troubles in interacting with peers is one of the signs that differentiates a neurotypical person from a high functioning autistic individual.

    High functioning type of autism creates challenges for the individuals to interact with the people in their social circle. Social challenges are typical to these individuals.

    2. Making friends:

    Many autistic children and teenagers have trouble making friends, and that leads to getting a person labeled as a socially awkward person. These individuals will find it challenging to maintain relationships.

    3. Sharing:

    Sharing is caring. Right? But, for an autistic person, this is not the case. An autistic person will find it challenging to work on group assignments. Their focus of attention is mostly on themselves and not on other people, which is a common observation for these people.

    4. Concentration:

    The autistic person also has a hard time concentrating on a conversation. This person will continuously interrupt a conversation and would prefer to talk more about himself/herself.

    5. Emotional responsiveness:

    These people have also emotional sensitivity issues, which is a more subtle sign of high functioning autistic individuals.

    6. Intense reactions:

    For these individuals, a small frustrating normal life experience may result in extreme emotional distress and that experience will affect their mood for the rest of the day.

    There are some examples to understand it better. For instance, not getting their way in the traffic, a spilled glass of water, getting hit by a person accidentally can cause severe emotional distress for them.

    7. Sensitivity in physical sensations:

    Other than emotional sensitivity, high functioning autistic individuals also tend to be sensitive to physical sensations.

    These physical sensations cause emotional distress for autistic people. These individuals are sometimes hypersensitive to emotions that other people don’t even notice. These sensations include:

    • Loud noises and persistent sounds of washing machines, lawnmowers, traffic noise, and even dripping tap water

    • Some typical textures, including slippery foods

    • Wearing uncomfortable clothes, including typical textures

    • Smells and tastes that are unpleasant for them

    • A physical touch by another person

    8. Dislike of change:

    High-functioning autistic people dislike the change even to the tiniest bit. They like to stick to the same routine and even eat the same meal every day.

    Whenever a change happens in their lives, it results in sensory overload and they start feeling uncomfortable and have less adaptive behaviors.

    One of the common symptoms of autism is the dislike of change, and sticking to a routine helps this cause.

    9. Repetitive and restrictive behaviors:

    High-functioning autistic people tend to be fixed to a routine and show repetition and restriction in their habits.

    These habits include:

    • Washing hands for exact 2 minutes

    • Wearing the same set of clothes with the same outfit

    • Getting the same meal every day

    • Getting the exact amount of sleep each day

    Treatment Options:

    There are some treatment options available for people with high functioning autism symptoms. Medical professionals and peer-reviewed studies have devised certain medically reviewed treatment and therapy options that can help autistic people under high functioning areas.

    • Speech therapy

    • Occupational therapy

    • Physical therapy

    • Sensory training (using sensory input)

    • Applied behavioral analysis

    • Medications

    Medical reviewers confirm the application of these treatment options which can help in social skills, language skills, intellectual disabilities, nonverbal communication, and other life skills of the individual with the high functioning type of autism.

    What is Autism?

    What is Autism? Autism spectrum disorder is a complex, neurodevelopmental disorder that starts appearing in early childhood before the age of 3 years.

    It affects the navigation of social interaction, communication skills, self-regulation, and relationship building of an individual. It also causes restrictive habits and repetitive behaviors that affect the lives of autistic children and adults altogether.

    Resources for more information:

    What is high functioning autism? Do you want more information? Only high-quality sources are used in our discussion. There are numerous resources available for more information regarding the high-functioning type of autism. These resources can be helpful for readers to collect more information regarding autism and its subtypes. These resources are listed below:

    • Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule

    • Diagnostic and statistical manual

    • Autism Speaks

    • National Institute of Mental Health

    Wrapping Up What is High Functioning Autism?

    Concluding our discussion, this read is meant to give you a brief idea of what is high functioning autism. There are certain symptoms that can be spotted in a person for the diagnosis of this level of autism in an individual.

    High functioning type of autism is not an official diagnosis, but it is based on observations. Autistic people regardless of their type must be looked upon properly and treatment options must be considered to live a better life. So that you know what is high functioning autism and how you can live well with it having successful careers.

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