The ability to participate in systems capitalist...
I feel like the majority of the time that I hear the phrase “high functioning,” the speaker is referring to a person who has a steady job despite the fact that this person is visibly disabled. The phrase is almost always prefaced by the word “but.” Such as “Susie has [whatever] BUT she is high functioning. Just look at her work!” This is the kind of person we...
Have a trait valued by staff
I was in a long series of segregated “placements” as a teen. I found that as I was sent from one place to the next, staff would often change my (completely unofficial) label from low functioning to high functioning and back again. Overnight. And if they thought of me as one of these things, they would refuse to believe stories from the last place that they associated more with the...
In one of the classes at my special ed high school, there were a number of students who were roughly the same in various abilities that mattered to the teachers. But the teachers always talked about one of them as if he was significantly “higher functioning” than the others. I didn’t know what to make of it until I realized he was the only one who obeyed everything they said.
I am willing to question or even break rules that I feel are unjust or unnecessary, so acquaintances not only remark that I must be particularly “high-functioning,” but they will sometimes question the fact that I’m autistic at all. Because surely all autists must be obsessed with following rules according to the letter of the law. (Note: I am not advocating illegal or...
Having an imagination
When I’ve had the phrase “high functioning” applied to me, it’s usually in the context of the fact that I read and appreciate fiction and poetry, and have attempted to write my own. I’m told that it’s a remarkable gift to have imagination like that, and a “mark of a high functioning brain” to be able to read and enjoy fiction like I do.
knows how to ask what it means to exchange a look
(in the same class, a student is talking about having read the book Little Women to some teenagers/young adults with autism in a special ed school) student: The book has illustrations and one of the captions was, “The two aunts exchange a look,” and Warner, who is the most verbal and was the only one really playing attention, said, “What does it mean to exchange a look?” ...
shouldn't be in a sheltered workshop
[people in a psych class talking about experiences volunteering at a sheltered workshop] girl 1: I kind of had a mentor at the workshop, who was one of the clients [clients means disabled people]…he kind of gave me the lowdown on everyone else girl 2: oh, Mike! He’s so high-functioning. He shouldn’t be there.
I would prefer that people submit stuff that actually contains a use of the term “high-functioning” instead of just general complaints re: stereotypical ideas about disability. Obviously that stuff is annoying and worth talking about, but I think taking this concept literally can speak for itself. Also, it’s possible to submit posts without having a tumblr. (This post contains a...
But you can talk!
is verbal. Everyone knows that real autistics cannot talk. And that people who cannot talk cannot communicate. And that there is only one way of really communicating.
is better at passing.
The context in which the word “high-functioning” has been thrown around in discussions within my family? The better you can pretend to be neurotypical, the higher-functioning you are. Passing for normal.