Autism is a widespread condition and I have clients, friends and family who have been affected by this condition. Researching this subject and how to deal with the individuals affected can assist in coping with difficult relationships.
What is it?
Autism is a disorder in the development of a persons’ social and communication skills. While that is a basic answer, it gives you an idea of the areas of life that ASD can affect. The range of severity will vary and how that manifest in each individual will be drastically different.
High Functioning Autism doesn’t exhibit itself easily to those that aren’t already aware of an individual’s diagnosis. The ticks, fears, social and sensory issues, along with mild communication struggles are often easy to overlook if a child is labeled high functioning. Their delay in speech and language may not be as obvious. Many people only see the current state of a child and have no idea what progress they have made in the past.
Some signs of High Functioning Autism
Delayed initial speech but functional communication as child ages.
Above average intelligence and logic at an early age.
Difficulty in social situations – inability to understand or relate to peer groups.
Lack of social comfort – seeming “mature” for their age. Not being able to understand jokes, sarcasm, humor, or typical roughhousing among peers.
Obsessive actions regarding appearance, cleanliness, fears and social situations.
Sensory issues. This applies to oral, vestibular, proprioceptive, tactile, auditory, and visual.
Shortened attention spans.
Prone to tantrums or meltdowns when overly tired or overly stimulated.
Research: Parenting Chaos
At this point in history, there is disagreement about how many people on the autism spectrum are on the high or low-end of the spectrum (or whether most people with autism are “somewhere in the middle”). It is clear, however, that the lion’s share of media attention goes to folks at the high and the low ends of the spectrum—that is, the profoundly disabled and the very high functioning.
Myth: People High Functioning Autism Are Unusually Intelligent and Successful
If the media is to believed, the high-end of the autism spectrum is peopled largely by eccentric geniuses—Bill Gates and Albert Einstein are often mentioned, along with Dan Aykroyd and Daryl Hannah—who by and large do very well indeed, though they march to the beat of their own drummer. The reality, however, is that “high functioning autistic” and “genius,” “business tycoon,” and “Hollywood star” rarely go together. In fact:
People with high functioning autism, while they may or may not be unusually intelligent, rarely have the kind of intense motivation for public success that sends a Bill Gates to find funders or an Einstein to find a publisher.
They may also have significant challenges which stand in the way of living a comfortable life, succeeding in work or romance, or achieving a sense of self-worth. Those issues are made more challenging, in part, because they surprise and upset others who don’t anticipate odd behaviors or reactions from people who “pass for normal” in many situations.
While people with more severe autism are not generally expected to just suck it up and get through difficult moments, people on the higher end of the spectrum are expected to do just that.
Lastly, people with high functioning autism are, in general, very aware of their own difficulties and extremely sensitive to others’ negative reactions.
Fact: High Functioning Autism Is Very Challenging Every Day
Here are just a few of the issues that get between people on the high-end of the autism spectrum (including those diagnosed with the now-outdated Asperger Syndrome) and personal success and happiness: