High functioning Autism. High functioning Down syndrome.
People often try to lessen a diagnosis with this label: high functioning.
There is even disagreements between special needs parents because of this little adjective phrase.
“Oh, but my son is high functioning.”
“Yes, but she’s high functioning.”
As a Mama of a “high functioning” child with Autism, let me tell you it’s not all sunshine and rainbows over here. Sigh.
There is some protection in the self contained special ed unit. My daughters have teachers, aides, and classmates that get them. They are protected and watched over. They are in the same school with everyone else, but they are within their own world, a protected world. I love that world! I am so grateful for it! It helps my Mama’s heart not to worry as much.
But then my “high functioning” one- the one that can take Honors classes and get straight A’s, the one that can hold conversations with professionals who are astonished at her self awareness and ability to express herself – that one gets thrown in with all of the masses, and with all of her accommodations, she’s expected to deal. Deal with the noise. Deal with the chaos. Deal with the swearing. Deal with teenagers. And today she’s not “dealing” well. Today we are reminded that Autism doesn’t go away. Just because you are excited to start school. Just because you look super cute and did your hair in a cute new way. Just because your counselor spent hours and hours designing the perfect schedule, hand selecting your teachers, copying your 504 plan and making sure your new teachers have it before school starts. Just because you are ready and the school is ready, she’s still autistic.
And today was a hard day for my high functioning girl.