Monday, April 21, 2008

What The Function?

We often hear Autism described in terms of functionality. A person with Asperger's Syndrome is said the be a high-functioning autistic. A person with PDD-NOS is considered higher functioning than a person with a diagnosis of Autism.

I don't like those labels. I do think it is important to diagnose a person based on their symptoms and manifestations of autism but I don't think it's a good idea to label how a person functions.

I do not have Autism, at least I don't think I do. Am I considered a higher functioning human than my son because he has Autism and I don't?

David is sweet. Me not so much. David is energetic. He really has a lot of get up and go. My get up and go got up and went. In fact, I am still looking for it.

I don't think we should label our children and other loved ones in terms of functionality. Who are we to judge how another person functions? Yea, yea, I totally get that Autism is a spectrum disorder. One side of the spectrum is considered high functioning and the other side, well, not so much. Why can't we change our way of thinking and our descriptive language? Instead of high-functioning how about less-challenged? Or maybe even better, why assign a value to one's autism at all?

I think using language that gives value to functionality also gives value to the quality of life and to our children as people. I think that is damaging. I think that language can create stereotypes and expectations that aren't necessarily accurate. After all, everyone is unique and everyone has a place in this world.

2 comments:

amy said...

You are absolutely right and it's unfortunate that not everyone thinks the same.

Enjoy the weather tomorrow - it's going to be great!

Best wishes,

Amy

Anonymous said...

I heartily agree. I get frustrated sometimes that my daughter with Aspergers is considered high functioning just because she can talk whereas my younger son with classic autism is not... he actually has far fewer sensory issues than she does and far less to deal with. Assignments of functionality feel like an indictment of the legitimacy of the disorder for those who are "high functioning."