Just some thoughts – low functioning and high functioning

Awareness and acceptance is one thing – but reality is something else. Learning the roller coaster of this life can be difficult at times. How many times do you hear are they low functioning or high functioning? These children on the spectrum grow up to be adults on the spectrum. Full bodied adults many having extreme delayed mentalities. Think about this…..
When Tyler was 5 he was at a 20 month old developmental level across the board, not potty trained and very limited vocabulary (words and vocabulary do not mean communication and that’s a topic for another day). Tyler was diagnosed as severe autism and sensory processing disorder.

Today at age 15 he ranges from a 5-9 years in developmental levels, about a 3rd grade academic level, is completely potty-trained (even though it took me 4 1/2 years he was not fully potty trained until 8 1/2 years old) and is making progress by the day. Tyler’s diagnosis is still severe autism and sensory processing disorder.

Biologically he is on target, developmentally he is delayed and in society’s calendar he will be an adult in 3 years. (this should mean physically, emotionally and developmentally) but it won’t. Tyler has achieved things that I was told would never happen but it hasn’t come easy.

The words High Functioning and Low Functioning are not true medical terms, but terms established in the community as to levels that parents and educators developed. People look at me and say, well he’s pretty high functioning – and I have to strongly disagree, my vision of high functioning (in a nut shell) is someone who can live independently with little supervision, can think “quick” on their feet, has what is taught or instinctive “common sense” does not let anxiety block their ability to react and think in high stressed situations, can function under their sensory issues, can adapt (even if not easy) to changing environments, is able to control their personal behaviors (most of the time), able to read, comprehend and able to verbally process simple instructions, etc. (or effectively communicate with sign language or voice output devices) Able to be socialable in society, as necessary, in appropriate manners and ways. (Having words and using them inappropriately doesn’t mean appropriate behavior (IMO). Able to make life decisions, relating to living environments, medical, simple things like eating, shopping, hygiene, calendar, clocks and money management etc. But other parents views of high and low functioning are their views and should be respected by others as to how that parent sees their loved one.
Developmental delay is not I.D. (though many on the spectrum have numerous diagnosis which impairs development even more and an I.D. diagnosis as well). People will tell me how smart Tyler is and sometimes I just look at them and say, I have never said my son is stupid, he is neurologically delayed and learns, comprehends and responds in a different manner. So because of the actions, behaviors, communication barriers, etc does society view auties as not smart? Auties and many Aspies just learn differently, it’s not that they don’t learn. Those with an I.D. diagnosis aren’t not smart either, they learn differently and slower than others.

Most parents raise their children with the hopes that they will be independent and on their own shortly after their 18th birthday. I raise my son to be as independent and responsible under my roof because that is where (according to the path we are on) he will be until I die.

I am a strong believer from Tyler’s own improvement about the problems caused by toxic living – and the progress and improvements that can be made by detoxing and cleaner living – Tyler is living proof.

Don’t pay too much to what the media and Hollywood portray about the spectrum. If you want to know about the spectrum – in addition to the media and Hollywood, ask a parent and look at how broad the spectrum is. It is true, when you’ve met 1 person on the spectrum you’ve met only 1 person on the spectrum. Those on the spectrum are like snowflakes, there are no 2 alike but all unique in their own way.


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