Autism signs & symptoms Autism Spectrum Disorder

The Universal Debate on ‘High Functioning Autism’

Autism spectrum disorder is a known developmental disorder that affects how children interact or socialize with others. Genes and environmental factors are the known causes of autism. The symptoms of autism are varied & visible at an early age and continue throughout their childhood and adulthood stages.

Children with autism often withdraw into themselves and uninterested in relating to the family members and their peers . But many of them love to talk with family members or even a stranger on a topic they are obsessed with. They may at times even indulge in recurring action replicating that of a plane with outstretched while making a soft ‘burrrr’ sound.

Some of the symptoms of autism seen in children are:

  • They may not develop speech until they reach 4 years. As they age, they may speak in simple two- to three-word sentences.
  • They may have trouble bathing, dressing, tying a shoelace or even using the toilet by themselves.
  • They fail to recognize the time and even require guidance while crossing the street.
  • When upset, some of the kids may throw violent tantrums, hurl objects at people or bang their heads on the wall.

Levels Of Autism

Autism is divided into three categories according to the level of severity of the symptoms.

Level 1 

This is the mildest level of ASD. Individuals of level one have mild symptoms of autism that do not interfere during school or work. These people with autism are referred to as the ‘high functioning ones’.

Level 2 

People with autism that comes under this level require training for speech and social skills.

Level 3 

This is the most severe level of autism. The individuals who fall under this category require extreme support and full-time assistance.

High-Functioning Children With Autism

Some of the parents may not acknowledge the fact that their child has autism as they show no signs of cognitive impairment. They may say that he/she excels at reading and subjects like math, takes part in games, can cross the road independently and even interact pleasantly with strangers.

This ‘ low-functioning,’ and ‘high-functioning’ markers can be misleading. It is advisable to have children diagnosed with autism irrespective of their levels and impairment. Although some of the tests may prove that the ‘high-functioning children with autism’ are mildly cognitively impaired, still it is advisable for them to undergo the treatment for autism.


Every child’s unique needs are important. A perfect diagnosis tells exactly the challenges faced by the child, and the right treatment helps to address their needs.

The diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder is based on the way a child interacts, behaves and communicates. According to the experts, if the parents suspect that their child has autism, they must consult their family doctor or a paediatrician. If the tests or screening confirm the disorder, the doctor may suggest an autism specialist.

For a comprehensive evaluation, a team of specialists helps in evaluating the areas that need to be treated. These experts are highly trained and experienced in their specialized areas.

The team involved in diagnosing autism include trained therapists such as:

  1. Psychologists
  2. Psychiatrists
  3. Speech therapists
  4. Occupational therapists
  5. Physical therapists

There continue to be great debates with detailed case studies of individuals with autism. The subject of the debate revolves around different diagnoses and the lack of clarity between the various functioning levels and impaired cognitive function of autism. Still, it is important to seek out immediate clinical diagnosis for early intervention. This may help the child to overcome his/her developmental delays. Thus, putting a potential ‘low-functioning,’ and ‘high-functioning’ label is less important than treating the symptoms.

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