High On The Spectrum Autism – In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association published the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). This edition of the DSM has several important changes in the way autism is diagnosed. Previously, diagnoses such as Asperger’s Syndrome and Childhood Disintegrative Disorder were used to describe individuals who were on the extreme end of the autism spectrum. High-functioning autism and Asperger’s are not official medical diagnoses, but rather informal terms used to describe individuals with mild symptoms. Parents and service providers in the autism field may still refer to these terms to indicate the level of support or level of disability.
With the DSM-5, all of these diagnoses fall under “autism spectrum disorders.” Individuals with autism spectrum disorders now include a level of severity in their diagnosis. What was once known as high-functioning autism or Asperger’s is now considered level 1 ASD.
High On The Spectrum Autism
Regardless of the term used, early identification of autism spectrum disorders is important. Autism diagnosis rates continue to rise, especially as parents and professionals become more aware of the symptoms of Grade 1 ASD or high-functioning autism. Tools such as the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) help psychologists and other therapists make official diagnoses.
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Many patients receive the support they need to live full and productive lives because their abnormal behavior is no longer viewed as social awkwardness or mere eccentricity. As more medical and mental health professionals learn to recognize the common signs of high-functioning autism, the number of interventions available for people with autism will increase.
Although often overlooked, sensitivity to emotions is one of the most common symptoms of autism. These people can function in everyday life but struggle to control their emotions in the same way that neurotypical, or non-autonomous, people can. For example, frustrating morning experiences such as running out of milk or getting cut off while driving can lead to irritability and difficulty concentrating throughout the day. People with autism spectrum disorders may also have more intense emotional reactions than other people.
Constantly discussing the same topics in conversation, obsessively playing the same songs over and over again, or reading every article on a particular topic are signs of high-functioning autism in adults and adolescents. These interests can be negative if they take over a person’s life or interfere with their relationships with others.
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Of course, these neutral trends can also help; Don Aykroyd, writer and star of the movie Ghostbusters, was inspired by its focus on ghosts and the paranormal. Many other high-functioning autistic people use their focus on math, biology, or writing to inspire successful careers.
Individuals with high-functioning autism symptoms may begin speaking much earlier than usual and often display impulsive vocabulary. They may find conversations with other people boring or difficult to follow and may avoid talking to their peers. Autistic people may appear cynical during conversation because of their different words, frequent interruptions, or focus on a particular topic, appearing as quirks rather than neurological symptoms.
Parents and teachers may notice that autistic children have problems interacting with their peers. Symptoms of high-functioning autism in children and adolescents may include:
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Sometimes teenagers are considered shy, awkward or socially awkward when they are actually dealing with an autism spectrum disorder. Counseling services are needed to help these children learn social rules, as problems communicating with others usually stem from a lack of understanding of appropriate behavior with peers. They have difficulty recognizing social cues and body language. Early intervention from a mental health professional can help autistic youth learn how to best interact with their peers and potential friends.
Noisy public spaces can cause emotional distress, as can uncomfortable clothing or unwanted touching. These problems can be frustrating and stressful, but according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, autism symptoms can improve over time when children with mild autism learn to manage their behavior with the help of a professional.
Many people on the autism spectrum can benefit from occupational therapy to address sensory issues. An occupational therapist can develop goals and strategies for the individual to work on. They meet with the person one day a week or several days, depending on the individual’s needs.
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People with high-functioning autism are usually devoted to routines. They may stick to routines created by others, such as reading 15 minutes before bed or brushing your teeth five minutes after eating. Any kind of deviation from the norm can lead to frustration. Examples include:
People with high-functioning autism may spend a lot of time disrupting their routines:
Repetitive behaviors can also be a symptom of autism in adults. These habits can interfere with a person’s ability to do what they need to do or others to do what they want to do. One type of repetitive habit can be associated with movement. A person has to tie and take off his shoes several times before he is satisfied and can start walking or leave the house.
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Some high-functioning autistic people also develop restrictive habits that interfere with socially acceptable lives. For example, a person may refuse to wear any type of shirt other than a t-shirt. This can affect their health and well-being if they live in places with cold weather.
One of the hallmarks of high-functioning autism is a strong dislike of change. A person may eat the same food for breakfast every day, and they may eat it in the same quantities, in the same dishes, and in the same places. Any disruption or change in routine can cause emotional breakdown in the individual. For example, if a regular brand of peanut butter is out of stock, and another brand is purchased instead, a person with high-functioning autism may experience anger or frustration. If someone has consumed their favorite foods, they may have experienced the same discomfort.
People with high-functioning autism may have difficulty forming close social relationships with others. Part of the problem also involves focusing too much on yourself. A person with high-functioning autism spends a lot of time talking about himself, not allowing others to share complete thoughts or answers. It makes conversation difficult. In a family or home environment, people with high-functioning autism may only think about themselves while doing activities. For example, they may ask for a drink without asking if the other person also wants a drink. They may take more of what others consider snacks or snacks, without thinking that others might want some of those things.
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A person with high-functioning autism may have abnormal movement patterns. Walking is a common movement disorder. A person can walk on their toes or ball of foot without putting weight on the rest of the foot. This can result in pain in the ball of the foot, hamstring, or bunion due to excessive pressure. Shoes and socks will wear out more quickly in the toe area than in the heel area. People who walk on their toes may experience more foot injuries, such as blisters, calluses, and bunions on the soles of the feet and toes. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons states that clubfoot is more common in young children and musculoskeletal disorders.
All individuals with autism exhibit physical impairments or an inability to maintain social bonds. High-functioning autistic individuals typically exhibit symptoms that are not initially associated with autism. Helping professionals should continue to encourage recognition of the wide range of behaviors associated with the autism spectrum. Familiarity with these ten symptoms of high-functioning autism can help providers, parents, teachers, and others coordinate early treatment for someone with the condition. Resources such as Autism Speaks can also provide support and helpful ideas for parents and professionals. High-functioning autism, often referred to in the context of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), presents a complex and diverse picture that challenges conventional understanding. According to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders v.5 (DSM-V), autism is characterized by persistent deficits in communication and social interaction, as well as restricted and repetitive behavior patterns, interests, or Activities.
High-functioning autism, in particular, is a term often applied to autistic individuals who may not exhibit intellectual disability but still face significant challenges in adaptive behavior. This may include difficulties understanding emotional sensitivity, managing sensory overload, and coping with emotional distress.
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For example, a child with high-functioning autism may do well academically but have difficulty understanding social cues or experience severe anxiety in social situations. These forms of autism in adults and children often require different medical diagnoses, taking into account factors beyond intellectual quotient (IQ).
High-functioning autism is not just a medical condition but a complex interaction of cognitive, emotional and sensory experiences that requires a comprehensive understanding.
A relevant statistic to consider is that approximately 1 in 54 children are diagnosed with ASD, which reflects this.
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