Why This “High-Functioning” Autistic Really Wishes You’d Shut Up About High-Functioning Autistics
I really, really hate functioning labels.
My husband, who is and remains my greatest NT advocate, still uses them when talking about me to new acquaintances, which he does whenever relevant on the theory that parents and teachers (with whom he interacts frequently, being a teacher) need to know that autistic people can and do grow up to have real adult lives and “normal people” in those lives who think their autistic friend is frabjulous. In the introduction to Autism and Representation, Mark Osteen postulates that the labels “high-functioning” and “low-functioning” are useful if they help us avoid allowing “high-functioning” voices to take over the discourse and effectively shut up the very “low-functioning” people they claim to represent.*
But I hate functioning labels.
Plenty of people have wondered why I, of all people, should hate them. By any measure of “high-functioning” that pegs functioning to IQ, I’m “high-functioning”…
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