I'm not sure that it does. My psychiatrists over the years and my sister have described me as very intelligent . However I have much lower non-verbal than verbal intelligence. I struggle with day to day practical tasks. I get quite a bit of help from my stepdaughter and someone who comes in twice a week to clean. The help is described in my care plan as enabling me to continue living independently in my flat.
To be honest, I have never read a satisfactory explanation of what is meant by the term high-functioning. Regardless of any hitherto established clinical definition, it seems to be used in common parlance to describe both autistic individuals of average or above average intelligence on the one hand, and autistic individuals who exhibit supposedly 'milder' or fewer of the traits conventionally associated with autism spectrum conditions on the other. The problem is, of course, that these two things are not synonymous and so ensues massive confusion and misapprehension. I thought the term was being phased out in clinical practice, but perhaps I am mistaken?
My main issue with terms like high-functioning and what it insinuates, I suppose, is that high intelligence is so frequently mistaken for the ability to maintain independence in this current modern society (earn a living, pay bills, navigate public transport, understand contractual arrangements for housing, etc.), and the two, as far as I'm concerned, are only tangentially connected at best.
I always thought that high functioning meant 'passes as NT' so that must mean someone who doesn't qualify for support. I've also met lots of very unintelligent NTs.
Use of terms such as high and low functioning and mild and severe autism are not very helpful to those affected.
"High functioning" or what are considered to be 'mildly affected' individuals still have needs that need addressing. So called 'Low functioning' or 'severely affected' individuals still have abilities that need recognising. Someone non-verbal can be highly intelligent. And someone who is able to do the most complicated algebra may have difficulties understanding nuances in speech and problems with social interraction.
Rather than try putting people into boxes we should respond to each person as an individual with respect for their needs and abilities. To suggest, as my GP did, that someone who is in the autumn of his life does not need help is what really needs addressing with training for medical staff including GPs so they are aware of what exactly autism is and are made aware of the needs and abilities of those affected.
Someone once suggested intelligence was the quality that is tested by an intelligence test. It has little to do with 'common sense' or ability to mix in a social group. And I would imagine many of us who respond to this forum are very much in the higher 'intelligence' group, however we are affected by autism.
High functioning and low functioning are terms that spark quite a lot of debate. Generally they are terms to describe whether a person with autism needs looking after. A person that is low functioning is often non verbal, low intelligence and needs complete care. They would not be able to live independently in my understanding of this term.
High functioning seems to describe people who manage. Not exclusively but including people with high intelligence. Its a debatable term as just because a person is intelligent or can manage to hold down a job does not mean they function in every sense of the word.
What I get confused about is whether there is a middle. What do we call these people? Are they just autistic? Or is there literally just high and low functioning. If there is only 2 options then I'd definitely say you are high functioning.
So all in all I haven't really answered your question because I just don't think it's that clear what high functioning actually means!
I was diagnosed very recently and apparently DSMV doesnt use low and high functioning any more - they say you're either level 1 (needs support), level 2 ( needs substantial support) or level 3( needs very substantial support). That makes more sense to me.
High functioning never really made sense to me either. In my case would that be describing tne person who (just about) manages to hold down a professional job. Or would that be the person who is then so tired they need to sleep most of the weekend, that is completely bewildered by the local shop changing the till layout, has put up with a loo seat that falls off for more than a year because they cant quite get it together to sort a new one (true story!). The person that cant sleep without their childhood teddy bear at the age of 40 something, or like you, descends into total chaos without someone else to clean the house!
That's interesting. I was diagnosed late last year and wasn't given a high/low functioning or a number. Just an asd diagnosis. Those levels make a lot more sense. There still might be the odd person where it's difficult to place them due to varying needs but it definitely makes more sense than high and low.
I also sound similar to you. I have a job but spend much of my evenings/weekends sleeping. I end up living with issues that could be easily fixed for no good reason. I can't keep my flat tidy to save my life. I also sleep with my childhood teddy although I'm not quite 40 yet.
Zomted said:descends into total chaos without someone else to clean the house!
That's very much me. At my old address I was living in a mess. My stepdaughter would have a cleaning blitz the 2-3 times a year she saw me. Psych services knew how bad things were because they only came to flat once. Since moving near my stepdaughter I have help with cleaning that my stepdaughter arranged.
I didnt actually get a number either, just ASD. Im assuming level one based on the fact I survive without a lot of support except for some adjustments at work and a cleaner. On the other hand that is 'low support gets', not necesarily 'low support needs'...
I was diagnosed before the new criteria came in. I've always been puzzled too - I certainly wouldn't describe my autism as 'mild' by any stretch of the imagination but I'm bright so I'm able to work in environments like universities or tech where having high-level skills just about compensates (sometimes) for not having basic employability skills. I kind of jump from log to log, work freelance or part-time if I can, cope somehow. I've thus always seen it as a balance between the severity of the autism and the ability to acquire saleable skills - and so keep a roof over one's own head - however stressful and unstable this process might be. When I was first assessed as a kid, I seem to remember the difference was that HFAs had language delay whilst aspies didn't (I had language delay) but the assessment wasn't completed. When I was formally diagnosed the distinction seemed to be between aspergers (can look after themselves) and autism (can't look after themselves). They told me recently that now I'd be diagnosed as AS without learning difficulties, nothing about a scale marked by numbers. I find it mildly humourous if they've changed the criteria so that everyone is seen as needing support - given than few autism services are ever likely to give 'high functioning' people much support :D But I gather that needing support is now a diagnostic criterion for AS of any kind.
Zomted said: they say you're either level 1 (needs support), level 2 ( needs substantial support) or level 3( needs very substantial support).
I wonder what defines needs/needs substantial/needs very substantial