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Kathy Marshack News

Smart and Autistic: What is Very High Functioning Autism?

Monday, November 05, 2018


Smart autistic still can't put the puzzle pieces of empathy togetherHigh-functioning autism isn’t an official medical term or diagnosis. It’s an informal one some people use when they talk about people on the ASD Spectrum. Notably, they can function independently in today’s world, yet their social skills are lacking. And even though the American Psychiatric Association grouped autism related disorders on a Spectrum, I still refer to high functioning autism as Aspergers, since that is how many of my clients first learned to identify this disorder.

Recently, I began noticing a new trend. Many of the members of my Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD

meetup are saying their Aspie is "very high functioning." Somehow this is a way NTs are separating their Aspie loved one from the rest of those with Asperger Syndrome. However, the definition of Asperger Syndrome is that the autistic person is "very high functioning." This is the quintessential quality that distinguishes them from other autistics.


I think the notion that our Aspies are "very high functioning" is more than a misunderstanding of the diagnosis. Rather it appears to be a way NTs seek to comprehend the chaotic, yet brilliant mind of their Aspie. Frankly, though I don't think this helps. It leaves you stuck believing your Aspie has more going for him or her than they actually do. Brilliant or not, they lack empathy. Reciprocity in the relationship is nearly non-existent. So it makes more sense to credit your Aspies for what they are good at. But they are not high functioning when it comes to relationships.

Would you like to join our discussion on this topic? If you’re a member of my Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD Meetup, I invite you to join us for a free international teleconference on Thursday, November 15th. It’s entitled: Smart and Autistic.

If you prefer 1:1 counseling and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works best for your busy schedule.



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