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How Does High Functioning Autism Look Like

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Symptoms Of Autism Spectrum Disorder In Adults

What is High Functioning Autism? | Kati Morton

Common symptoms of autism in adults include:

  • Difficulty interpreting what others are thinking or feeling
  • Trouble interpreting facial expressions, body language, or social cues
  • Difficulty regulating emotion
  • Trouble keeping up a conversation
  • Inflection that does not reflect feelings
  • Difficulty maintaining the natural give-and-take of a conversation prone to monologues on a favorite subject
  • Tendency to engage in repetitive or routine behaviors
  • Only participates in a restricted range of activities
  • Strict consistency to daily routines outbursts when changes occur
  • Exhibiting strong, special interests

Autism spectrum disorder is typically a life-long condition, though early diagnosis and treatment can make a tremendous difference.

What Does Level 2 Autism Look Like

Level 2: Requiring Substantial Support: Marked difficulties in verbal and nonverbal social communication skills. Markedly odd, restricted repetitive behaviors, noticeable difficulties changing activities or focus. Level 3: Requiring Very Substantial Support: Severe difficulties in verbal and nonverbal communication.

Determining The Level Of Autism

There is no specific test to ascertain an individuals unique level of ASD. Rather, a doctor or psychologist needs to spend time with the individual to observe their behavior. This enables the medical professional to gauge the persons social and emotional development and capabilities, as well as their communication skills. They will also look at the persons ability to form and maintain relationships with those around them.

Autism spectrum disorder is diagnosable as early as eighteen months of age. However, many individuals do not get diagnosed until later in life, making treatment more challenging. If you suspect your child has ASD, you should go see a specialist at the first opportunity. Various treatment options exist in Little Rock for those with developmental or intellectual disabilities.

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Over The Top Reactions To Smells

This is a moment I remember very clearly from when my son was young. One day we were taking a cab to his daycare. It was cold and snowy as we waited outside. The cab pulled into the driveway and I opened the door to help my son into the cab.

This is when it happened.

He screamed, Im not going in there, that man STINKS!. Oh. my. god.

This moment was not only memorable but incredibly embarrassing.

Although I agreed he didnt exactly smell nice, to me the smell was mild and tolerable and I just couldnt believe my child would say something so rude.

Now, I am more familiar with my sons sensitivities to smells and I let people know that if a smell bothers him it needs to be taken seriously. He cant stand being around peanut butter, for example.

Also, there are times when he doesnt like the smell of supper and will literally not leave his bedroom for the rest of the night, to avoid the odor.

A Lack Of Interest In Interacting With The World Is One Of The Primary Signs Of Autism In Children

High functioning autism

For the neurotypical child, the world is full of bizarre and wonderful things that they have never seen or encountered before things that naturally pique their curiosity and draw them in. The normal response to a new experience or discovery is typically wide-eyed wonderment, dismay, amusement and inquisitiveness.

Children with ASD respond to the world very differently. You might notice that your child doesnt really respond with eye contact or normal outward signs of curiosity when you try to get their attention. Perhaps they dont even turn their head in your direction when you say their name. They might not point at objects, show a normal level of curiosity, or attempt to engage you by showing you their toys and drawings in an effort to share their interests and elicit a positive response.

A lack of responsiveness to stimuli and a lack of interest in trying to seek parental attention is a pretty common sign that a child may fall somewhere on the spectrum.

Children typically learn through imitation. Even at an early age, the neurotypical child will begin copying adult behaviorsyou might catch them pretending to cook, holding an object up to their ear as if they are talking on the phone, or pretending to feed and care for a doll.

Children on the spectrum may also have adverse reactions to normal physical contact, such as a hug, holding hands, or being picked up off the floor and held.

Also Check: Levels Of Asd

Has The Definition Of High Functioning Autism Changed

Yes, absolutely. There is a lot of confusion about the definition of High Functioning Autism and you may get a variety of definitions depending on who you ask.

Lets take the internet for example.

Type high functioning autism definition into the Google search engine and the first page of results is a mixed bag of definitions.

Here are four examples* I have chosen to illustrate the many differences you can find.

High-functioning autism is autism without an intellectual disability .

people with autism spectrum disorder who read, write, speak, and manage life skills without much assistance.

Although diagnosed formally with ASD, people with HFA often lead remarkably normal lives and have less difficulty assimilating into society than other ASD patients.

High-Functioning Autism specifically applies to children with autism who have an IQ of 70 or higher and exhibit milder symptoms. For example, these children exhibit fewer language delays, few to no cognitive deficits, and better spatial skills.

Alarmingly, some of these definitions include statements that I have included above in the What High-Functioning Autism Does Not Mean section.

It seems the term, High Functioning Autism, has had a range of additional qualifying statements attached to it that has skewed its original meaning and purpose.

Signs Of Autism In Young Children

Symptoms of autism spectrum disorder are usually clear by two or three years old. The range of behaviors and skills covered here may become apparent between two years old and five years old.

Some signs that a child has autism spectrum disorder may include:

  • Not expressing emotion or only a limited range of emotions
  • Difficulty interpreting different emotions in others
  • Not seeming attached to parents
  • Lacking interest in playing social games or the company of other children
  • Interest in playing with one particular toy or object
  • Echolalia, repeating other peopleââ¬â¢s words or phrases
  • Repeating own words over and over
  • Using formal language and expressions, rather than the slang of their peers
  • Not developing language skills at all
  • Difficulty toilet training
  • Challenging behaviour, such as banging head on wall or picking at skin
  • Engages in behavior such as flapping hands, rocking or twirling

Children with autism spectrum disorder have difficulty interpreting what other people are thinking and feeling, and often miss social cues. A child with autism may not be able to tell the difference between an adult who says ââ¬Åcome hereââ¬ï¿½ while happy and smiling, and an adult who says ââ¬Åcome hereââ¬ï¿½ while angry and frowning. This can be confusing and creates the impression the child is not connecting with people.

Also Check: How Autism Affects Cognitive Development

Executive Function And Motivation

The symptoms of ADHD arise from a deficiency in certain . Executive functions are a set of that are required to successfully select and monitor behaviors that facilitate the attainment of one’s chosen goals. The executive function impairments that occur in ADHD individuals result in problems with staying organized, time keeping, excessive , maintaining concentration, paying attention, ignoring distractions, regulating emotions, and remembering details. People with ADHD appear to have unimpaired long-term memory, and deficits in long-term recall appear to be attributed to impairments in working memory. Due to the rates of brain maturation and the increasing demands for executive control as a person gets older, ADHD impairments may not fully manifest themselves until adolescence or even early adulthood.

ADHD has also been associated with motivational deficits in children. Children with ADHD often find it difficult to focus on long-term over short-term rewards, and exhibit impulsive behavior for short-term rewards.

Limited Yet Focused Interests

Perry compilation. What higher functioning autism can look like in a toddler

Persons with high-functioning autism can handle various daily tasks on their own. Nonetheless, they display signs like excessive preoccupation within specific areas of interest. This sign is one of the markers of a person with high-functioning autism.

For instance, they may have the habit of constantly talking about one topic. Or, they might read articles or collect many items related to the topic. Others might also listen to a song or part of a movie over and over again without tiring.

When unbalanced, this fixation can be quite disruptive to an individuals life. But at the same time, this intense focused interest can lead to creative ideas and innovation. This is why many excel in areas such as art, science, and technology.

Read Also: Does Lining Up Toys Always Mean Autism

This Graphic Shows What The Autism Spectrum Really Looks Like

Autism is a type of neurodiversity associated with characteristics like passionate interest in specific topics, difficulty with typical communication methods, sensory sensitivities, and using repetitive motions to regulate their experience.

There has been so much discussion in the disability community, especially in the autistic community, about functioning labels. Thats why created a set of five images to explain what we mean when we say autism is on a spectrum. Below, Ive included the images, as well as an explanation of what each means to me as an autistic person.

Autism has always been perceived as a spectrum. When most people think of a spectrum, they think of the graphic below a horizontal line that runs from low-functioning to high-functioning. Everybody is supposed to fit neatly in their own dot on the spectrum. But, thats not how it works at all.

I love this set of graphics. I have been labeled high-functioning. Ive been stuck on the far right end of the linear spectrum by professionals and government agencies my whole life. I present very neurotypically at appointments and interviews, so much so that I have been denied services I desperately need.

Its worth mentioning that autism is sometimes listed as a disorder with symptoms in medical definitions, but it is not something that needs fixing. People on the spectrum simply experience the world differently than typical people.

Intense Craving Or Dislike For Certain Sensory Experiences

People on the autism spectrum often have difficulties processing sensory experiences. Some desire more of a certain type of sensory experience. Conversely, others have a strong aversion to certain types of sensory experiences.

So each either avoids and pursues experiences that soothe their senses. Theyll find different tastes, smells, sounds, colors, and sights exciting.

It only makes sense that they also will have an aversion to certain physical sensations. This includes specific smells, tastes, or textures, which are intolerable to them.

Examples here include are noisy and crowded places, certain fabrics, or certain scents. These seemingly insignificant details can cause a person lots of emotional distress. While some internalize their feelings, others are more outwardly disruptive.

Individuals displaying signs of high-functioning autism can regulate their own behavior. But others require professional help and activities to redirect their emotions.

Read Also: Is Freddie Highmore Actually Autistic

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 individuals 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.

Aversion To Certain Tactile Sensory Experiences

High functioning autism

Do you know how everybody does those adorable smash the cake photo shoots for their babys first birthday? Not us.

The second my son touched icing, he disliked the experience so much that he cried inconsolably. Even with trying to get him to taste it and play there was no way to calm him down.

Looking back now, I remember he also avoided the feeling of certain textures on his feet. At the beach, or in the yard, he would lift his legs up and yell to avoid having grass or sand touch his toes.

It was such an unusual reaction for a child, but at the time he was still a baby, it didnt raise any alarm bells.

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Autism Symptoms In Children Can Include Being Easily Startled By Sounds Or Agitated By Background Noise

Although all children may exhibit adverse reactions to loud sounds, children with ASD have a particularly strong aversion to loud noises that may cause them to react by grimacing or wincing, rather than showing surprise or a normal wide-eyed curiosity.

It may be symptomatic of autism if you see your child convey their strongest emotions in the form of an adverse reaction to the music or TV being turned up too loud or if adults in the room are having a loud and animated conversation or if other children are playing nearby are making loud sounds or even when you run the vacuum cleaner.

This is something worth paying close attention to.

Because children with autism process the world around them differently, they may have trouble filtering out irrelevant sounds coming from the microwave or washing machine sounds that would disappear as white noise in the background for neorotypical children.

These reactions may result in fits, crying, anger, or even physically aggressive behaviorthe reaction differs based on the child and the severity of their sensitivity to noise.

Narrow Areas Of Intense Interest

This is a common sign of autism. But if you do a Google search for the signs of autism, when they mention this sign its usually followed by examples such as memorizes license plates or the TV guide or Can list all sub-species of insects in alphabetical order.

In other words, its usually described as an unusual, narrow topic of interest.

This is not always the case.

My sons first special interest was Thomas the Train. He was two years old. What two-year-old boy doesnt love Thomas the train? It didnt seem like a big deal to me, he was a little boy loving a little boy show.

Although in hindsight, there were red-flags that it was more than a boy loving Thomas.

He actually wouldnt watch anything else on TV but Thomas for over a year. We only read Thomas books, he slept with a Thomas blanket, and he wore Thomas pajamas. He had over 50 toy characters from the TV show, hundreds of pieces of wooden train track, and a ride on toy Thomas too.

Clearly, there was a bit of Thomas the Train overkill happening at our house, but as a first-time mom, it all seemed fine to me.

These days he loves all things Pokemon. It started when Pokemon Go was released and its grown from there. Weve played all the video games, watched all the shows, collect the cards and toys, etc.

Read Also: Can Autism Be Passed Genetically

Why Do Some Young People Get A Late Diagnosis

It is common for a young person to get a late diagnosis if they are high functioning or academically able. This also occurs more in girls than in boys, as girls are generally more adept at copying neuro-typical behaviours, including verbal and non-verbal communication in order to mask their autism.

Late diagnosis can happen because there is some ambiguity which makes it difficult to be sure a young person has autism, or because other conditions have presented as being their primary need e.g. challenging behaviour or ADHD. Typically, children are also often able to cope in a primary school environment but find the increasing demand of secondary school very stressful, leading to their difficulties becoming more apparent.

Diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorder

Whatâs it Like to Have High Functioning Autism? Autistic Adult

In order to determine whether your child has autism spectrum disorder or another developmental condition, clinicians look carefully at the way your child interacts with others, communicates, and behaves. Diagnosis is based on the patterns of behavior that are revealed.

If you are concerned that your child has autism spectrum disorder and developmental screening confirms the risk, ask your family doctor or pediatrician to refer you immediately to an autism specialist or team of specialists for a comprehensive evaluation. Since the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder is complicated, it is essential that you meet with experts who have training and experience in this highly specialized area.

The team of specialists involved in diagnosing your child may include:

  • Child psychologists
  • Need urgent help? .

    Also Check: What Is The Autism Symbol

    Level 3 Asd: Requiring Very Substantial Support

    This level is the most severe form of autism spectrum disorder. People at Level 3 exhibit significant difficulties with social communication as well as social skills.

    People with Level 3 ASD also have restricted and repetitive behaviors to the extent that they get in the way of functioning independently in their daily lives and activities. They have extreme difficulty coping with changes. Changes cause great stress and difficulty.

    Some people with Level 3 ASD can communicate with words. However, many of them do not communicate verbally or do not use many words in communication. They may be over- or under-sensitive to certain sensory inputs.

    Individuals with Level 3 ASD speak with few words, they rarely initiate interaction. When they do initiate interaction, it is limited to meeting needs only. They engage in restricted and repetitive behaviors like echolalia, rocking back and forth, or spinning things.

    Those at Level 3 ASD require very substantial support in order to acquire skills to help them in their daily lives.

    I Have High Functioning Autism

    I spent my entire life struggling to know why I was so different from everyone else. I was born in the 90s and back then only boys seemed to have high functioning autism. In fact, my younger brother was diagnosed with high functioning autism as a small child.

    The reason that girls are often overlooked is that girls mature faster than boys and they usually have a better ability to adapt to their situations and blend in.

    However, once I had my first child and she started to have symptoms of autism, I was later tested and diagnosed with high functioning autism at 26 years old. Now as an adult I have had to learn more about how to handle my symptoms. Being diagnosed literally changed my life, but I really wish I had been diagnosed as a child so I could have received therapy and understanding.

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    Also Check: What Is The Difference Between Autism And Sensory Processing Disorder

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