High Functioning Autism
High functioning autism is an unofficial and informal diagnostic term used to describe an individual that clearly has autism but functions better than most other people with autism. Although it is not a formal diagnosis, many doctors use this term when the patient functions better than other autistic patients, but does not meet the criteria for Asperger's syndrome. People with high functioning autism usually fall on the high end of the autism spectrum disorder scale. High functioning autism is often confused with Asperger's syndrome because many of their symptoms are so similar. The one big difference between high functioning autism and Asperger's syndrome is language development. People with Asperger's syndrome do not experience a delay in language development, whereas individuals with high functioning autism do. The high functioning autism behaviors are much the same as those displayed in individuals with other degrees of autism, but they are not as severe.
Differences in Behavior Between High Functioning Autism and Classic Autism
Unlike other degrees of autism, people with high functioning autism have average or above average intelligence levels. Another big difference between people with high functioning autism and those with classic autism is their social interaction. People with classic autism typically do not desire interaction with other people, while those who are high functioning do. Those with high functioning autism still have the same social issues though. Although they want to interact with other people, they simply do not know how to go about it properly. They do not understand such things as body language, facial expressions, humor, sarcasm, or irony. They do not understand how to differentiate between the different emotions of other people, which makes it difficult to interact.
Behaviors and Symptoms Of High Functioning Autism
Most of the high functioning autism behaviors are similar to those of classic autism, however, they may not be as severe. People with this disorder have a significant delay in developing motor skills. They also have very strong reactions to the stimuli around them, including, taste, texture, smells, sights, and sounds. They may become agitated or aggressive if they are forced to eat foods of certain flavors, colors, or textures. They are also demanding when it comes to the textures and colors of their clothing. Another common behavior of people with high functioning autism is obsessiveness. Individuals with this disorder seem to become overly obsessed with certain items, numbers, or subject matters. One example of their poor social skills is the fact that they will talk about their obsession at length and repeat the same information over and over, making those around them uncomfortable. This is the type of behavior that causes people with high functional autism to have a difficult time forming relationships, though they are unable understand why. Being rejected by their peers can cause secondary disorders which further complicate the disorder.
Although people with high functioning autism do not have all of the same behaviors of those with autism, it is important to understand that they still have the disorder and still need to be treated. Without proper treatment, the symptoms can become more severe and lead to more serious issues.
WebMD: High Functioning Autism and Aspergers Syndrome
Medscape Today: Asperger Syndrome and High Functioning Autism: Research Concerns and Emerging Foci
ABC News: What Is High Functioning Autism, and How Does it Differ from Asperger Syndrome
Asperger Assessment Scale for Children and Adults