Be Careful with Labels

Nadia Shanab | Uncategorized
7 Feb 2013

When we try to classify individuals with autism on the spectrum, we usually refer to two major categories:

HF, high-functioning and LF, low-functioning.

Ironically, it was decided to use the word spectrum or continuum to include the whole range of autistic people.

If you consider the Bell Diagram/Graph/Curve that describes the natural distribution of any given phenomenon, it is defined as follows (google): A graph of a normal (Gaussian) distribution, with a large rounded peak tapering away at each end.

Which means that the HF and the LF poeple combined represent a small percentage of the entire population represented on the spectrum. In reality, the vast majority of autistic children and adults I have met belong somewhere between the HF and LF people. How should we call them? Average-Functioning? Center-Functioning? Standard-Functioning?

Please help me find a name for the majority of people represented on the spectrum. They cannot be ignored or refered to relative to HF and LF.

Individuals with autism can be very smart but have severe behavior issuses. Consequently, the classification should not be defined in terms of severity only. Severe, moderate, and mild may discribe a behavior but not the intellectual capacity of an individual.

A child can be considered “severe” just because she/he has poor verbal skills, while her/his other math, language, art,…skills are great.

We need to be more careful with our labels.

nadia shanab

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