Neurotypical people seem to love using functioning labels, as if labelling someone as high or low functioning makes them feel safer because they can put us in neat little boxes. That they can convince themselves that we’re not scary anymore, because we’re predictable.
“Of course they can’t achieve that, they’re low functioning.” “They don’t need any assistance, they high functioning.” “They can’t understand you, they have the mind of a child.” “How can they be doing so poorly, they’re so high functioning.”
They call me high functioning, which to them means that I’m almost good enough to be like them.
This is what I hear when I’m called high functioning:
You’re too good for help, but not good enough for me for accept you
Please tell me that high functioning means you don’t do any “scary autism” stuff
You’re better than those autistics, but not as good as me
If you can talk now, you can talk all the time
You don’t act the way I expect someone with autism to, but you don’t act like me
Because I couldn’t tell you were autistic, I’m just going to ignore it
You can do some normal things, so you can do all normal things
I don’t care that “passing” is an energy drain, if you can do it, you should
Functioning labels don’t mean anything. They’re an outdated system based on old stereotypes. Every autistic person is different, and has different needs. And categorizing someone by functioning labels tells you nothing about a person’s strengths and weakness, the level of assistance they need, and most importantly, who they are.
When you call me high functioning, it’s not a complement. When you say that you can’t tell that I’m autistic, it’s not a complement. I don’t like to be told that I’m almost like you. I don’t need you to reinforce the belief that I have to be normal, no matter the cost.
Tell me that you like my hair. Tell me that my jokes make you giggle. Tell me that you enjoy spending time with me.
Ask me who I am, not how I function.