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High Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder

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How Are Asd Levels Determined

What is High Functioning Autism? | Kati Morton

It’s challenging to determine a person’s ASD level, but trained psychologists have some tools that can help them. The Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, Second Edition, is a tool, though it is typically paired with the child’s developmental history.

Autism can be diagnosed as early as 18 months of age, but many adults might not be diagnosed until much later. However, being diagnosed later in life can make getting support more challenging. If you feel like your child is autistic, consider making an appointment with a specialist.

Treatment And Intervention Services For Autism Spectrum Disorder

Current treatments for autism spectrum disorder seek to reduce symptoms that interfere with daily functioning and quality of life.1 ASD affects each person differently, meaning that people with ASD have unique strengths and challenges and different treatment needs.1 Therefore, treatment plans usually involve multiple professionals and are catered toward the individual.

Treatments can be given in education, health, community, or home settings, or a combination of settings. It is important that providers communicate with each other and the person with ASD and their family to ensure that treatment goals and progress are meeting expectations.

As individuals with ASD exit from high school and grow into adulthood, additional services can help improve health and daily functioning, and facilitate social and community engagement. For some, supports to continue education, complete job training, find employment, and secure housing and transportation may be needed.

Why Is It Important To Diagnose Autism In Adults And Teenagers

Getting an autism diagnosis is key if you or your loved one will get the development support that they need. However, it is also essential for a persons wellbeing.

Even if you have lived with undiagnosed high functioning autism for years, this can have a serious impact on you. Many people with high functioning autism often feel like something is wrong with them or like they should be able to cope. This is because they are trying to maintain a neurotypical processing pattern.

This can be exhausting for the individual and can have a serious impact on their mental health. People living with high functioning autism experience other conditions such as depression, anxiety disorders, and even suicidal ideation.

On top of this, you may struggle to build and maintain close social connections.

Getting an autism diagnosis even in later life can help you to understand the way that you function better. It also ensures that you get access to the support that you are entitled to.

To do this, you need to spot the symptoms of high functioning autism in adults and teenagers. Lets take a closer look at some of these.

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Autism Is Not An Illness

Being autistic does not mean you have an illness or disease. It means your brain works in a different way from other people.

It’s something you’re born with or first appears when you’re very young.

If you’re autistic, you’re autistic your whole life.

Autism is not a medical condition with treatments or a “cure”. But some people need support to help them with certain things.

What Does High Functioning Mean


So, what does it mean if you are autistic and “high functioning?” It depends. Typically, if someone is diagnosed with ASD: Level 1, they are considered “high functioning.” However, someone’s social skills might be Level 1, and their behavioral issues might be Level 2.

Furthermore, although autism is a lifelong diagnosis that an individual does not “grow out of,” an individual might experience autistic burnout, a condition that causes increased functional deficits.

Factors that contribute to labeling an autistic person as “high-functioning” include how well they are able to hold a job, form and maintain relationships, communicate, and mask their autistic traits. Essentially, the better someone can blend in with a neurotypical society, the higher functioning they are. Because of this, many high functioning autistic people do not get diagnosed until later in life.

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Assessment Of Autistic Symptoms

The ABC is a checklist of non-adaptive behaviors47 that consists of 57 items in 5 areas of categories, including problems related to Sensory , Relating , Body concept , Language and Social self-help .48 ABC items were rated as yes or no for each question during the assessment. ABC was well-established instruments for the screening and diagnosis of childhood autism.49 It has been widely used in clinical and scientific research, now being one of the most mature rating scales for domestic use.50

Signs Of High Functioning Autism In Adults

Estimates show that at least 5 million adults in the United States live with an autism spectrum disorder. This developmental condition can affect a whole range of social skills.

However, not everyone living with autism receives a diagnosis. This can have a serious impact on your quality of life and mental health. Recognizing the signs of high functioning autism ensures that you get the help and support that you need.

So how might high functioning autism be affecting you? Read on to find out some common autism symptoms in adults and teenagers.

Also Check: Signs Of Adhd In Adults

Some People Use Other Names For Autism

There are other names for autism used by some people, such as:

  • autism spectrum disorder the medical name for autism
  • autism spectrum condition used instead of ASD by some people
  • Asperger’s used by some people to describe autistic people with average or above average intelligence

Unlike some people with autism, people with Asperger’s do not have a learning disability.

Some people call this “high-functioning” autism.

Doctors do not diagnose people with Asperger’s anymore.

But if you were diagnosed with it before, this will stay as your diagnosis.

Regional Gmv Abnormalities In Asd Compared With Td Controls

Living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) | High Functioning Autism | Aspergers | Alix Generous

Compared with TD controls, increased GMV values were observed in adolescents with HFASD in the right IFG, right MFG, left superior frontal gyrus , left superior temporal gyrus , right occipital pole, anterior cingulate, right cerebellum anterior lobe , right cerebellum posterior lobe , and right midbrain . In contrast, decreased GMV values were found mainly in the left CPL in the HFASD group relative to TD . Individual age, gender, FSIQ scores and TIV were used as covariates during the group comparisons. Subsequently, the correlation analysis in HFASD group was performed within the regions of GMV abnormalities.

Table 2 Brain Regions with Significant GMV Alterations Between Individuals with ASD and TD Controls

Figure 1 Brain regions with significantly altered GMV in individuals with ASD compared to TD controls. Statistically significant differences in GMV were defined as p < 0.001, corrected by TFCE and FWE after adjusting for age, gender, FSIQ scores and TIV. Warm color indicates that GMV is higher in the ASD group than in the TD control group, and vice versa.

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Is Calling An Autistic Person High

Diagnosing a child with autism as high-functioning is thought of as offensive within the autistic community because of the implication that other people on the spectrum are low-functioning, but it has also been proven time and again to not be a useful diagnosis.

Theres no biomarker for different types of autism , so a label of high or low functioning is not based on any test or scientific evidence. This is why doctors and therapists, for the most part, do not use high-functioning autism as a diagnosis its simply not accurate.

Motor And Sensory Perception

Individuals with Asperger syndrome may have signs or symptoms that are independent of the diagnosis but can affect the individual or the family. These include differences in perception and problems with motor skills, sleep, and emotions.

Individuals with AS often have excellent and . Children with ASD often demonstrate enhanced perception of small changes in patterns such as arrangements of objects or well-known images typically this is domain-specific and involves processing of fine-grained features. Conversely, compared with individuals with , individuals with AS have deficits in some tasks involving visual-spatial perception, auditory perception, or . Many accounts of individuals with AS and ASD report other unusual and perceptual skills and experiences. They may be unusually sensitive or insensitive to sound, light, and other stimuli these sensory responses are found in other developmental disorders and are not specific to AS or to ASD. There is little support for increased or failure of in autism there is more evidence of decreased responsiveness to sensory stimuli, although several studies show no differences.

Also Check: How Many People Worldwide Have Autism

Why Is The Term High

The main reason the term high-functioning is controversial within the autism community is because of its lack of accuracy.

Generally, high-functioning autism is thought to refer to an autistic person who doesnt have an intellectual disability.

However, studies including one from 2019 have revealed that theres a weak correlation between IQ and adaptive behaviors like eating, getting dressed, tying shoelaces, and so forth.

What is considered high-functioning, therefore, is more complicated than mere intelligence quotients.

In other words, there are too many categories for functioning in society to label an autistic person as either high- or low-functioning, such as:

  • communication abilities
  • motor skills
  • and more

These categories affect all autistic people differently. An autistic person with a high IQ, for instance, would generally be categorized as high-functioning yet could still score low in all social and communication categories.

The term completely disregards the difficulties these individuals have on a day-to-day basis, explains Andrew Whitehouse, PhD, professor of autism research at the Telethon Kids Institute and the University of Western Australia in Perth, Australia.

The concern is that those who are labeled as high-functioning will not be able to receive the care and services they need.

Although high-functioning can manifest in many different ways within autistic individuals, there are several common symptoms to look out for.

Tips And Reminders For Autism

Signs and Symptoms of High Functioning Autism

Autism is a spectrum of at least eight dimensions, not a linear dimension from low to high functioning.

Autism on its own is a difference, not a disability.

Most autistic people prefer autism first language, or the term neurodiverse.

Approach an autistic person with respect for who they are and how they are in the World. Different is valid, diversity is needed.

The best two interventions for autism are knowledge and attitude.

Also Check: Do We All Have Autism

Resources For Autistic Children 8

For parents

Teach your autistic child to understand how like and love is expressed in the family and with friends to set them on a course of better relationships through life.

Attwood, T. & Garnett, M.S. . From Like to Love: Teaching Affection to Children on the Autism Spectrum. JKP: London.

For professionals

Within this book is a 6-session programme that can be run with an autistic child or group of children to demystify the social and emotional expressions of liking and love that strengthen human relationships, but cause so much confusion for autistic children. The programme can be run by a psychologist, social worker, speech pathologist, occupational therapist or counsellor.

Attwood, T. & Garnett, M.S. . Learning How to Express Affection: A Cognitive Behaviour Therapy Programme for Teaching Affection to Children on the Autism Spectrum. JKP: London.

For parents and professionals

Our autistic children can experience very strong emotions such as anxiety and anger that can increase their own suffering and the suffering of people around them. Strong expressions of anger and anxiety can lead to exclusion from meaningful activities such as school, family and community activities. These two programmes were developed to assist a parent or health professional teach an autistic child how to understand and manage their strong feelings of anger and anxiety.

Attwood, T. Exploring Feelings: Cognitive Behaviour Therapy to Manage Anger. Arlington, TX. Future Horizons.

For professionals

Get Support Managing Your Signs Of High Functioning Autism Today

If you think that you or a loved one might be displaying signs of high functioning autism, its time to reach out for a diagnosis. This is the first step in getting the right support and will make a world of difference to your quality of life.

If your high-functioning autism affects your mental health, get in touch with our admissions team for support today. Were here to help!

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Treatment Of Mental Disorders

This section needs more for or relies too heavily on . Please review the contents of the section and add the appropriate references if you can. Unsourced or poorly sourced material may be challenged and .Find sources: “Behaviour therapy” news ·newspapers ·books ·scholar ·JSTOR

Two large studies done by the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser Universityindicates that both behaviour therapy and cognitive-behavioural therapy are equally effective for OCD. CBT has been shown to perform slightly better at treating co-occurring depression.

Considerable policy implications have been inspired by behavioural views of various forms of psychopathology. One form of behaviour therapy has been found to be highly effective for treating tics.

There has been a development towards combining techniques to treat psychiatric disorders. Cognitive interventions are used to enhance the effects of more established behavioural interventions based on operant and classical conditioning. An increased effort has also been placed to address the interpersonal context of behaviour.

Modelling has been used in dealing with fears and phobias. Modelling has been used in the treatment of fear of snakes as well as a fear of water.

Aversive therapy techniques have been used to treat sexual deviations as well as alcohol use disorder.

Contingency contracting has been used to deal with behaviour problems in delinquents and when dealing with on task behaviours in students.

What Does It Mean To Have High

Is Asperger’s [high-functioning autism] Really a Disorder?

It isnt true that high-functioning autism is an officially accepted diagnosis.In their everyday lives, they are often very reliant on their mental skills and often need quite a bit of assistance.Learning to interact socially as well as speaking requires being able to develop an unusually wide set of abilities.

Read Also: What Is The Difference Between High And Low Functioning Autism

Hfa And Level 1 Autism

Autism spectrum disorder is a single diagnosis that encompasses many people who are very different from one another. So, to clarify these differences, the DSM-5 also includes functional levels. People who are bright and verbal are generally given the diagnosis of Level 1 ASD.

Still, the distinction doesn’t offer a clear characterization of what Level 1 ASD actually is. For example:

  • People with Level 1 ASD can show affection, complete daily tasks, and use age-appropriate language, reading, and math skills. On the other hand, they may not be able to hold eye contact, maintain a conversation, engage in play, or pick up on social cues.
  • People with Level 1 ASD can have significant speech and language delays but may be able to take part in an inclusive academic program because of their age-appropriate academic skills.
  • People with Level 1 ASD can have relatively mild speech and social delays but may have severe sensory issues which make it impossible for them to take part in an inclusive academic program.
  • People with Level 1 ASD can have severe anxiety, learning disabilities, and sensory challenges but still have age-appropriate speech and exceptional abilities in music, math, and engineering.

With a Level 1 ASD diagnosis, the possible combinations of strengths and challenges are almost endless. This not only makes the characterization of behaviors difficult but also can leave you confused as to what level of skilled support is needed.

Speech And Language Therapy Assessments Suitable For High

Our speech and language therapist can provide detailed assessments on your childs language and communication skills. Formal and informal assessments can be offered by our speech and language therapist for these difficulties:

  • Attention and listening difficulties.
  • Group therapy.
  • Communication groups.

Speech and language therapy can help increase the ability of a child who has high-functioning autism to develop a better understanding of those around them and to create, maintain and develop new relationships with peers, friends and family. Our speech and language therapist can assess your childs abilities at school and home to create a holistic individualised therapy programme that aims to work on their potential goals and concerns.

Also Check: What Can Be Done To Prevent Autism

Is There A Difference Between Autism And Aspergers

One of the biggest differences between autism and what was once called Aspergers is its milder symptoms and inability to delay language.While most children with Aspergers show good language skills and may have been diagnosed previously, those who are more recently diagnosed may also show difficulties in ation in has good language skills but may have difficulty fitting in with their peers.

Autism Symptoms In Adults At Home

Alanna Rose Whitney on Twitter

Other peoples feelings baffle you. You have a collection of figurines on your desk that must be in the same order at all times. These, and other common manifestations of ASD, may be apparent in adults at home:

  • Your family members lovingly refer to you as the eccentric professor of the family, even though you dont work in academia.
  • Youve always wanted a best friend, but never found one.
  • You often invent your own words and expressions to describe things.
  • Even when youre in a quiet place, like the library, you find yourself making involuntary noises like clearing your throat over and over.
  • You follow the same schedule every day of the week, and dont like unexpected events.
  • Expressions like, Curiosity killed the cat or Dont count your chickens before they hatch are confusing to you.
  • You are always bumping into things and tripping over your own feet.
  • In your leisure time, you prefer to play individual games and sports, like golf, where everyone works for themselves instead of working toward a common goal on a team.

Recommended Reading: What Are The Levels Of Autism Spectrum

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