Autism: Mild vs. High-Functioning



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IceCreamGirl
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Wed May 11, 2011 6:21 pm

Is there a difference between "mild" and "high-functioning" autism? I know a few people with autism who seem to be mild, but not exactly high-functioning. They are fairly independent and can have a conversation, but they have some learning issues.



potatomasher
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Wed May 11, 2011 6:35 pm

That is a really good question. I started out asking a psychiatrist if I had a "touch or autism" or "mild autism." Turns out that I have either Aspergers or High-Functioning-Autism depending on an answer to a question about my vocabulary at three. Nobody knows the answer.

He didn't use the term "mild."

Technically "high-functioning" means autism with an IQ above 70 (or 80 or 85 depending on who you read). High-functioning doesn't refer to how successful one is.

So maybe "mild" means the lower end of high-functioning?

I suspect that "mild" means "not as bad as some cases people have in mind."

But I really like the question. Worth thinking about.



SyphonFilter
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Wed May 11, 2011 7:07 pm

The difference between Mild and High-Functioning Autism is probably based on one's IQ. Not that IQ even comes close to accurately depicting one's potential, though.



SuperTrouper
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Wed May 11, 2011 7:19 pm

Those terms are not diagnostic nor official, so, the answer is that technically, no one knows. For example, I have ASD and my IQ is high, but I am only partially verbal. I have been called everything from Asperger's (because I can speak at all) to HFA to MFA to autistic disorder (no qualifier) to ASD to PDD. All by professionals. This mass confusion is why your best bet is to say "autism" and describe your own unique set of gifts and challenges.



wavefreak58
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Wed May 11, 2011 9:10 pm

It drives me crazy trying to rate the degree of my autism. Outwardly I'm "OK", but nobody knows how I live in a constant state of extreme tension, a few bad events away from a total meltdown. Such a collapse would look like regression to anyone peering in from the outside. I'm not sure I would retain all my so call "high functioning" traits. So when people ask about high v.s. low functioning, I just scratch my head and wonder how to even make those distinctions.


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Thu May 12, 2011 2:04 am

Since I am able to do so, I've been removing elements from my life that cause overload and shutdown, so while I may appear somewhat functional, my range of activity is pretty restricted. If I go beyond that range in certain ways, I may very well come off as being more severe.

I'm not really satisfied with my current solution, either.

Couple this with people seeing what they want to see: My therapist seems to think I do much better socially than I really do because I do decently in a one-on-one setting where I can talk to her about myself for an hour. Never mind that she constantly misreads my moods, intentions, and emotions, and keeps trying to do psychotherapy as she would with an NT, thus either confusing or frustrating me because we end up wasting time on therapy that sounds like it's more for her benefit than mine.

Er, anyway, what I mean is, I don't really know how severe or mild my autism is. I know what I can and can't do, and I know what, when I do it, will cost me in some way. I have no idea how to rate it and no way to work out how other people see me.



Phonic
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Thu May 12, 2011 2:44 am

Verdandi wrote:
Couple this with people seeing what they want to see: My therapist seems to think I do much better socially than I really do because I do decently in a one-on-one setting where I can talk to her about myself for an hour. Never mind that she constantly misreads my moods, intentions, and emotions, and keeps trying to do psychotherapy as she would with an NT, thus either confusing or frustrating me because we end up wasting time on therapy that sounds like it's more for her benefit than mine.

Er, anyway, what I mean is, I don't really know how severe or mild my autism is. I know what I can and can't do, and I know what, when I do it, will cost me in some way. I have no idea how to rate it and no way to work out how other people see me.


I am able to yap on about myself and my interests endlessly, I think only a fool would interpret with as good social skills.

"mild" is how funtioning you are, HFA is autism with a normal IQ and language delay, aspergers is autism with a normal IQ (and IQ tests are BS btw) and no language delay. So you can have someone with HFA who is reletively dependant and severe, maybe as bad as classic autism, and someone with aspergers who is severe.
So you can be high funtioning severe, high funtioning mild.

But it's pointless to think about it because the DSM is getting rid of this crap and replacing with severity labels alone, no more HFA or aspergers, just "severe ASD" "moderate ASD" "mild ASD".
I'm probably moderate or above

Verdandi wrote:
Since I am able to do so, I've been removing elements from my life that cause overload and shutdown, so while I may appear somewhat functional, my range of activity is pretty restricted. If I go beyond that range in certain ways, I may very well come off as being more severe.

I'm not really satisfied with my current solution, either.


I would appear as a lost child in a crowd and a boy genuis alone. The curse and gift of autism :( :)


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potatomasher
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Thu May 12, 2011 9:50 pm

I think the labels must have been invented by an NT psychologist. Mild or High-Functioning are probably aimed at observable behaviors and don't take into account the problems inside. I describe myself to NTs as "High-Functioning-Autism" and when people look at me like I said something crazy I say: Autistic with an IQ over seventy. When they still look puzzled I say: "I put a tremendous amount of effort into coping." I think that they take "Mild" or "High-Functioning" as "getting along without much effort.

Part of the problem is that all the diagnostic criteria seem to be aimed at observable behavior and not at what is going on inside.

On using IQ as a measure: I have a nephew who has an IQ easily thirty or forty points above mine who is much less "successful" at coping with the NT world. Using IQ as a divider isn't too helpful.



Callista
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Thu May 12, 2011 10:17 pm

It's not just that they were invented by NTs--it's that they've got absolutely no basis in reality. They mean nothing more than what the doctor perceives you to be, which may have little to nothing to do with your actual ability or the actual degree to which your autistic traits cause problems for you.


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Verdandi
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Fri May 13, 2011 1:59 am

Phonic wrote:
I am able to yap on about myself and my interests endlessly, I think only a fool would interpret with as good social skills.


Yeah, my therapist doesn't really have a lot of experience with autism.

Quote:
"mild" is how funtioning you are, HFA is autism with a normal IQ and language delay, aspergers is autism with a normal IQ (and IQ tests are BS btw) and no language delay. So you can have someone with HFA who is reletively dependant and severe, maybe as bad as classic autism, and someone with aspergers who is severe.
So you can be high funtioning severe, high funtioning mild.


It's interesting - Asperger's Syndrome requires no speech delay, but a diagnosis of autism or PDD-NOS does not require a delay. Also, most who are diagnosed with AS fit the criteria for autism or PDD-NOS anyway.

Or what Callista said in the previous post. It's all arbitrary.

Quote:
But it's pointless to think about it because the DSM is getting rid of this crap and replacing with severity labels alone, no more HFA or aspergers, just "severe ASD" "moderate ASD" "mild ASD".
I'm probably moderate or above


I don't really think about it - I just call myself "autistic."



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