Learning the language of Autism

 

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inspiration from a quote by Laura Tisoncik- high & low functioning?

 

 

I came across this quote from Laura on Alex Lowery's website.  Simple yet completely right in my opinion. Years ago, when all of this was new to me I  came to think that high functioning and low functioning diagnosis was down to whether a person is verbal or non-verbal.  This was my experience of seeing such diagnosis, it didnt feel right then and it doesnt now.  so this quote really rang true with me. 

As we currently live in a society governed by tests and results with assesments for 'disabilities as well as abilities in all genres of existence, from school to work to hobbies.. The need for such labels such as high functioning (HFA) and low functioning (LFA) are still present.  

As a parent I have been asked this many times, when I say Jeorge has autism, many have automatically asked, 'Is he high or low functioning?' to my amazement.  It seemed so rude, imagine if I was introduced to a non-autistic person and asked if they were low or high functioning! It doesn't actually mean anything at all.  Well it means someone has assessed a person within a certain criteria of which is set into a number of questions.  Scores are added up and bingo, easy, you are HFA or LFA bla, bla. Imagine being told this as a parent or even more so the autistic person? 

Depending on our labels, given by others we are then treated in a certain way, or expectations of us are minimised to the label. (see my blog titled labels, imagining a world without them)

Within a day I can honestly say I am both high and low functioning , well my interpretation of such a label, for me is: How interactive have I been with the exterior world.  Yet, when I am meditating or wandering through nature connecting am I low functioning? Definitely not, I am in fact fully tuned in and fully present.  The difference is I am not high functioning within the 'normal expectations of society' 

Within the world of autism, those of us who are autistic have to endure this kind of language and perception of us on an almost daily basis. Most of the time, the functioning aspect is always present, busy busy all the time, just not conforming to the accepted and therefore expected reality.

I know I have often been interrupted by , 'Kerrie, are you listening? You were miles away then?' I maybe was miles from what was going on with others but never low functioning, busy doing, thinking or being somewhere/thing else!  

When we move away from being completely controlled by money, budgets, bidding for services etc, we can throw out the labels that minimise our ability to see. Instead we meet a person discuss what is required to assist them individually and take action on it. Infact I feel we have got to the point where we are over assessing, over testing, becoming smaller in both our vision and understanding.  We are denying ourselves the important part, human to human acceptance, compassion and celebration. Mostly the response to someone being 'different' is of sympathy, how wonderful it would be to et the reaction of excitement and a 'wow' you are amazing! You have so much to teach and share with us, we are ready to listen and learn.  A wonderful hope, I have it and I am sure those of us on this planet who are labelled with dis - whatever's would embrace that attitude too.  I know I would as a parent. The way we are treated from the get go can mould us into feeling negative or positive about ourselves. I have learnt in my life that different is only good, different gives everyone else the opportunity to learn more about themselves first.  It teaches us our strengths, our weaknesses, it teaches us love and compassion and it gives us freedom, to be who we really are, letting go of often conforming behaviours in fear of being 'different'.  when in fact each of us is unique, offering something new to each other and the world.  

quotes and explanations from people with autism
Doing the 'RIGHT' thing

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