What Is High-Functioning Autism?

There’s a very good reason why the umbrella term is Autism Spectrum Disorder. Autism is a condition that appears on a spectrum. Therefore, while “high-functioning autism” is not an official diagnosis, it is a helpful way to differentiate between points on that spectrum. In turn, this ability is a major part of getting people the support they need.

You see, someone with high-functioning autism may be casually identified as awkward, shy, or perhaps eccentric. Identifying that they are on the autism spectrum shifts the conversation. They are now able to get treatment and guidance that empowers them to live a more enriching life.

5 Signs of High-Functioning Autism

1. Fixation

This is one of the better-known signs. Someone with high-functioning autism may, for example:

  • Dedicate themselves to learning about a particular topic
  • Listen to the same music over and over
  • Focus on the same subjects when having conversations

These fixations have the potential to be a positive, negative, or relatively benign presence in their life. Hence, working with a therapist can be a useful way to recognize how they affect you.

2. Routines, Habits, and a Dislike of Change

A fixation-oriented personality can be very ritualistic. They develop a routine and will not change it unless forced. Anything that throws off their rhythms can be a major source of stress, e.g.

  • A child may become disconcerted if school is unexpectedly canceled
  • An adult may only wear one kind of shirt or pants
  • Habits like brushing one’s teeth or tying one’s shoes must be performed in a specific way 

It’s not that a person with high-functioning autism is incapable of change but they will go to extremes to avoid it. Their reaction to change can also be quite volatile. This reaction highlights another common symptom: emotional sensitivity and dis-regulation.

3. Social Challenges

Awkward social interactions are frequently the first clue that someone is neuro-divergent. In young children, it might manifest in an unwillingness to share toys or play with others. Later, in school or at work, you might have a very small social circle and eschew working in a group. This symptom can develop into an extreme focus on one’s self. Rather than being shrugged off as “quirkiness,” such behavior can be addressed and managed through counseling.

4. Sensory Issues

All across the autistic spectrum, this is common. Individuals struggle with certain smells, sounds, tastes, and textures. As a result, they can experience sensory challenges in everyday actions and settings like:

  • Food that is too crunchy, too mushy, too spicy, etc.
  • Noisy and crowded public places
  • Bright lights and flashing lights
  • Situations that involve smoke or strong smells
  • Clothes that feel tight or itchy

Everyone has their preferences when it comes to sensory input. For an individual with high-functioning autism, such a situation can be the cause of severe distress and discomfort.

5. Toe Walking

Unusual movement patterns are not unusual for someone with high-functioning autism. Toe walking is a particularly common and obvious example. They may choose this gait to avoid the sensation of their foot touching the ground or floor. But left unaddressed, this pattern can cause a wide array of other physical concerns from muscular problems to skin issues.

How to Learn More

There is no clear-cut cause for high-functioning autism and no specific test you can take to find it. What’s needed is an assessment with an experienced practitioner. If any of the above symptoms rang a bell for you, it could be wise to find out more. As mentioned above, what is dismissed as quirkiness may actually be a disorder that can be managed.

People can live full and fulfilling lives with high-functioning autism. Working with a therapist is a giant first step in that direction. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us to learn more about Therapy for Autistic Adults.

Autistic & Considering Therapy? 5 Reasons That’s a Good Idea

Life on the autistic spectrum can provide you with gifts and challenges. How ideal would it be if you could maximize your ability to appreciate the gifts? As you’re about to learn, therapy can be a giant step in that direction for you.

People with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) may go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. But they don’t need an “expert” to tell them they’re having trouble fitting in. During childhood, someone with relatively mild ASD symptoms can find ways to navigate social interactions. However, this process is a whole lot more tricky as an adult. So, for starters, let’s review some of the reasons why you may be considering therapy.

A Few Ways Being Autistic Can Be a Challenge

Nuance and Context

Adult human interactions, in general, can feel like a minefield. We’ve created so many unwritten rules and social norms that can, in turn, vary due to culture, geography, etc. Then we have jokes, inside jokes, metaphors, and sarcasm. All of this can make someone with ASD feel left out and confused.

Non-Verbal Communication

Body language, vocal inflections, and facial expressions are just some of the ways we can speak volumes without speaking a word. ASD can make “reading between the lines” particularly tough.

Spontaneity and Lack of Structure

Maybe you prefer structure. You may thrive with schedules and routines. Adult life can be chaotic and impromptu and thus, exasperating.

How much would it help to have a skilled professional guide you through the mazes and obstacles?

5 Reasons Why Therapy is a Good Idea For People With Autism Spectrum Disorder

1. Understanding Your Capabilities, Needs, and Viewpoints

Autism does not define you. Like everyone else, you are a complex being with an infinite amount of uniqueness. Working with a therapist can help you better understand who you are — to yourself and to the world at large.

2. Gaining Confidence

Through trial and error — and a fair amount of role play — you and your counselor can work toward reducing self-doubt. As you grasp more about your individual needs, you can better negotiate a world that often doesn’t seem accommodating. Let’s say you’re someone with high sensitivity to sensory input. Your sessions can support your efforts to manage environments that feel challenging. This can be a major confidence boost!

3. Building Healthier Relationships

Each person you meet has her or his own emotional inner life. This is often shaped by experiences they have lived through. Connecting with others requires us to develop an intuition for understanding where people are coming from. Right now, this may feel impossible. But it can be developed to a variety of degrees. As you do this work, you increase your ability to build lasting connections with others.

4. Interacting More Comfortably With Strangers

If you get a little shy or tongue-tied around strangers, you’re not alone. With or without ASD, this can be one’s of life’s toughest situations. Your therapist will be a stranger — at first. Your sessions are the ideal setting to get more comfortable with the whole “getting to know you” process.

5. Unpacking Negative Thought Patterns

Living with ASD can lead you to develop some unhealthy beliefs about yourself. These beliefs can translate into behaviors that work against you. An experienced therapist can assist you in learning the skills you need to replace both the beliefs and the behaviors.

I’ll Bet You Have Questions

Autism Spectrum Disorder is not a reason to shy away from therapy. On the contrary, therapy can be essential. What I’ve stated above is only an introduction. If you want to ask more and learn more, I’m here. I’d love to connect with you for a free and confidential consultation.