High Functioning Autism Symptoms

  • Emotional Sensitivity
  • Fixation on Particular Subjects or Ideas
  • Linguistic Oddities
  • Social Difficulties
  • Problems Processing Physical Sensations

Diagnosis rates for autism continue to rise, especially as parents and professionals become more familiar with the symptoms for high-functioning autism. Many patients are getting the assistance they need to live full, productive lives because their unusual behaviors are no longer seen as simple social awkwardness or eccentricity. As more caring medical and mental health professionals learn to recognize the most common symptoms of autism, the number of interventions available to people with autism will rise.

Emotional Sensitivity

Although often overlooked, sensitivity to emotions is a common issue for people on the high end of the autism spectrum. These individuals can function in day-to-day life but struggle to control their emotions the same way that neurotypical, or non-autistic people, are able to do. For example, a frustrating morning experience like running out of milk or being cut off while driving can cause irritability and difficulty concentrating for the rest of the day. People with autism may also have unusually intense emotional reactions compared to the rest of the population.

Fixation on Particular Subjects or Ideas

Continually discussing the same topics in conversation, obsessively playing the same song repeatedly or reading every article written about a certain topic are some ways that autistic fixations can manifest. These interests can be negative if they take over the individual’s life or interfere with their relationships with others. Of course, these obsessive tendencies can also be helpful; Dan Aykroyd,writer and star in the hit film Ghostbusters, was inspired by his focus on ghosts and the paranormal. Many other high-functioning autistic individuals have used their focus on mathematics, biology or writing to inspire successful careers.

Linguistic Oddities

Children on the low-functioning end of the autism spectrum usually struggle with learning to speak, building vocabulary and holding conversations with others. Their counterparts on the higher end of the spectrum may start talking much earlier than normal and often display an impressive vocabulary. They may find conversations with others boring or difficult to follow and may avoid speaking with their peers. Many people with mild autism may simply seem eccentric during conversations as their diverse vocabularies, frequent interruptions or focus on particular topics seem like oddities rather than neurological symptoms.

Social Difficulties

Parents and teachers may notice that young autistics have problems interacting with their peers. These symptoms of high-functioning autism in children and teenagers can include a limited social circle, problems sharing toys or materials and difficulty completing group work. Sometimes youth are considered shy, quirky or socially awkward when they are truly dealing with autism and in need of counseling services to help them learn social rules, as the problems with interacting with others usually stem from a lack of understanding appropriate behavior with peers. Early intervention from mental health professionals can help autistic youth learn the best ways to interact with their classmates and potential friends.

Problems Processing Physical Sensations

Many individuals with autism have sensory difficulties. They may find specific noises, tastes, smells or feelings intolerable. Noisy public places can lead to emotional distress, as can uncomfortable clothing or unwanted touches. These issues can be disruptive and stressful, but according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, autism symptoms can improve over time as children with mild autism learn to regulate their own behavior through work with professionals.

Related Resource: Top 20 Best Applied Behavior Analysis Programs 2015

Not all individuals with autism exhibit physical tics or an inability to maintain social ties. People with high-functioning autism usually present symptoms not originally associated with autism, and helping professionals must continue to push for recognition of the range of behaviors associated with the autism spectrum.