How To Know If You Re Autistic – Although not an official medical diagnosis, “high-functioning autism” is often used to refer to people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who can speak, read, write and manage their daily lives without much help.
Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder traditionally characterized by problems with communication and social interactions. The symptoms can vary from mild to severe. Because there is such a wide range, what used to be defined as “autism” is now referred to as autism spectrum disorder. People with high-functioning autism refer to people on the milder end of the spectrum.
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A list of identified conditions and disorders is maintained by the American Psychiatric Association (APA). The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is used by doctors to compare symptoms and make diagnoses. In the latest version (DSM-5, 2013), all autism-related conditions were combined under one term – ASD.
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This is the mildest level of ASD. People functioning at this level of ASD generally have very mild symptoms that do not greatly affect their work, school or relationships. When people refer to high-functioning autism or Asperger’s syndrome, they are usually referring to people with Level 1 autism.
People with autism level 2 usually need more support. They will often need speech therapy, social skills training, and other counseling and therapeutic treatments to function fully.
Level three is the most severe form of ASD. People at this level need a lot of support. Support at this level may include full-time assistants or intensive treatments. Often people with this level of autism cannot function on their own.
There is no specific test to determine a person’s level of ASD. Instead, a psychologist or other doctor should spend a lot of time interacting with the person and observing their behavior. This allows the clinician to get a better idea of the person’s verbal and emotional development, social and emotional abilities, and nonverbal communication skills. They may also try to measure how well the person is able to maintain or form relationships within their family or with their peers.
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While ASD can be diagnosed as early as eighteen months, many people are diagnosed much later, which can make treatment more difficult. If you think your child may have ASD, consider making an appointment with a specialist as soon as possible. There are many options when it comes to treatment for intellectual and developmental disabilities in Little Rock.
As diagnosis rates for ASD continue to rise, people are becoming more familiar with the symptoms of individuals on the autism spectrum. Because of this awareness, people with autism get the help they need to live full, productive lives instead of being labeled as “quirky” or “socially awkward.”
As more parents and professionals learn to recognize the more common symptoms of high-functioning autism, more interventions will become available for people with level 1 autism. If you notice many of these characteristics in your child, you may need to seek intellectual and intellectual therapy and developmental disabilities in Little Rock.
Sensitivity to emotions is a common, but often overlooked, problem for people with high-functioning autism. While they can function in their daily lives, they struggle to control their emotions like neurotypical people can.
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Many people with high-functioning autism have unusually strong emotional responses compared to their peers. For example, a frustrating experience like spilling coffee on their shirt or taking a wrong turn on the way to work can cause irritability and difficulty concentrating for the rest of the day.
Talking about the same topics over and over, playing the same song on loop, and compulsively reading a certain topic are all ways that autistic fixations can manifest.
There is nothing wrong with having a passion or a hobby, but these interests can become negative if they take over one’s life or interfere with one’s relationships.
On the other hand, these obsessions can lead to great things. Dan Aykroyd’s strong affinity for ghosts and the paranormal led to the creation of the hit movie Ghostbusters! And many famous mathematicians, artists, musicians, biologists and writers with high-functioning autism have used their ability to hyperfocus to build highly successful careers.
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Anthony Hopkins, Leonardo da Vinci, Tim Burton, Thomas Edison, Temple Grandin, Beethoven, Greta Thunberg, Albert Einstein, Sir Isaac Newton, Clay Marzo, Mark Twain – all these people and many, many more have been diagnosed with or believed to have had ASD. Many of them are believed to have or have been diagnosed with high-functioning autism, or Asperger’s as it was known.
While children with low-level autism typically struggle to hold conversations and build vocabulary, their counterparts at the high-functioning end of the ASD spectrum often speak much earlier and show an impressive grasp of vocabulary.
But they often find conversations with their peers boring or hard to follow. They can come across as eccentric – their different vocabularies, interruptions and focus on specific topics make for a different kind of conversation than people are used to.
For people with high-functioning autism, it is usually not easy to interact with their peers. In children and young people with high-functioning autism, this can manifest as a limited circle of friends, difficulty completing group work or problems sharing toys and materials.
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Many people with ASD have sensory difficulties. Certain tastes, sounds, smells or feelings can be offensive. Large crowds and loud noises, unwanted touching and uncomfortable clothing can lead to anxiety and emotional distress. But while these issues can be upsetting and stressful, many children with high-functioning autism can learn to regulate their behavior and reactions through working with professionals.
People with high-functioning autism usually love routines. They can carry routines from childhood into adulthood—like reading for 15 minutes before bed or brushing teeth for exactly three minutes—or they can develop their own routines. Any deviation from the routine, even if it is for a good reason, can make them feel frustrated and stressed. They may spend too much time on their routines, even at the expense of sleep, exercise, self-care, work or work.
Repetitive habits are formed by people with high-functioning autism and become part of their routine. These habits can affect their daily life or what other people have to do. Some repetitive habits are related to movement, such as turning the light on and off several times before they can leave the house. Others are restrictive habits—such as refusing to wear anything but flip-flops. This can be harmful to their health if they live in a place with a cold winter.
Part of the reason why people with high-functioning autism find it difficult to develop deep social relationships is too much focus on themselves. They may spend an inordinate amount of time talking about themselves, interrupting others when they are speaking, and changing the subject back to themselves. This makes conversation difficult for most people.
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This focus can also result in a person with high-functioning autism appearing to engage in “selfish” activities, such as pouring a drink without asking if someone else wants it, making a snack and not sharing it, or to get more than his fair share. But keep in mind that this is not premeditated selfishness – they actually have a hard time picking up on other people’s feelings and considering thoughts and feelings outside of their own.
Aversion to change is a hallmark of high-functioning autism. They may eat the same thing for lunch every day – in the same place, on the same plate and in the same order. Any disturbance or change can cause frustration, stress and even anger in the person. They may not cope well when friends move, lose family, or the logos of their favorite brands are redesigned.
People with high-functioning autism sometimes display unusual movement patterns such as Toe walking is when a person walks on the toes or ball of the foot without putting weight on other parts of the foot. This can lead to foot, bunion and calf pain, as well as causing shoes and socks to wear out more quickly in the forefoot area. This is much more common in young children and people with musculoskeletal problems and can be trained at a young age.
Not everyone with these symptoms has high-functioning autism, but if you notice many of these symptoms together, you should talk to your doctor, psychologist, or other ASD professional.
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If you are looking for autistic child support services in Little Rock, contact Integrity Inc. at 501-406-0442. We specialize in treating intellectual and developmental disabilities in Little Rock, including ASD in children and adults. In the world of autism, there is so much to know. It can feel incredibly overwhelming as a parent trying to figure it out on their own. How important is a formal diagnosis really? Value? If you suspect your child is autistic, a diagnosis will be an important step in their growth and development. Many parents of autistic children find this time stressful, but ultimately one of the best paths to a better, healthier life for their children.
A 2022 study of autistic students found that those who were diagnosed as children felt happier about
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