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What is High-Functioning Autism?

Autism is an extremely complex developmental disability and you may be wondering what the term ‘high-functioning autism’ means. One child born out of every 68 may have signs of autism as they develop. Because of this, it’s important to understand what it is and what to look for. You’re in luck though, because Read on to learn more about high-functioning autism as well as autism in general.

What is Autism?

The correct term for autism is actually Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and signs of the developmental disability typically start appearing during early childhood. According to the Autism Society, autism can be defined by “a certain set of behaviors and is a ‘spectrum condition’ that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees.” Those with autism experience social, communication, and behavioral challenges.

There are 3 main types of autism on the spectrum; however signs and symptoms will always present themselves differently in each individual child.

  • Autistic Disorder: This type is usually the one that most people think of when they hear ‘autism’. People under this category have significant social/communication challenges, language delays, and unusual interests. People under this category may also have some sort of intellectual disability.
  • Asperger Syndrome: This type is typically milder than the first type. These people usually have social challenges or unusual interests, but not problems with intellectual disabilities or language.
  • Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD): Those who fall under this category usually meet some of the criteria for Asperger syndrome, but maybe not all of them. These people have overall milder symptoms than those in the other types, but still have social or communication challenges.

What is High-Functioning Autism?

High-functioning autism isn’t necessarily a medical diagnosis. It describes more a level of severity within the autism spectrum. Those considered high-functioning may fall into the Asperger syndrome or PDD categories, but not always; rarely do they fall into the Autistic Disorder category.

High-functioning simply means that the individuals “have average or above average intelligence but may struggle with issues related to social interaction and communication,” as defined by Autism Speaks. The term isn’t clearly defined and can be frustrating to parents and medical staff alike. High-functioning children with autism tend to not show a significant delay in language development, whereas low-functioning children with autism do. Children with high-functioning autism tend to have more behavioral issues than intellectual ones.

People who have high-functioning autism will for the most part be able to lead normal lives and be functioning members of society. They may have difficulty in social situations or unusual behaviors/interests, but will have no intellectual disabilities like those who are categorized into the Autistic Disorder type. To many people on the outside world, they cannot tell the difference between a child that has high-functioning autism and one that does not have autism at all.

Related Resource: 15 Best Applied Behavior Analysis Online Programs

Autism can be a very complex diagnosis and leave many unanswered questions. Nothing is crystal clear in the world of autism, so terms and symptoms can be overwhelming. With the information we’ve given, we hope you will have a better understanding of autism, high-functioning autism, and the many facts associated with it.