High-Functioning Autism In Kids And Adults: Everything You Need To Know!

Last Update on June 7, 2024 : Published on June 7, 2024

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High-functioning autism is a term used to describe autistic people who are able to speak, write, read, and manage life skills. High-functioning autism is not an official medical diagnosis but it’s a term used for referring autistic people who are able to manage social communication and interaction as well.

High-functioning autistic people do not require major support meanwhile people struggling with other types of autism need support on a regular basis. In this blog, we will be taking a detailed look at high-functioning autism, its symptoms, causes, and treatment, and more. 

Related Read: Differences Between High-Functioning Autism and Low-Functioning Autism 

List of Contents

How to Determine High-Functioning Autism? 

Generally, autism is divided into three levels, level 1 includes mild symptoms, level 2 includes atypical social behaviors, and level 3 includes severe autistic symptoms.

Now, how do we determine high-functioning autism without any medical or mental guidance? Well, research shows that it’s quite difficult to determine high-functioning autism.

However, there are some evident tools and assessments (such as the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule) that can be used to determine the level of autism along with a deep study of the developmental or growth history of the concerned individual. 

Autistic symptoms can usually be seen clearly after 18 months of birth, and the official diagnosis also begins after 18 months. Since high-functioning autistic people are able to speak, write, read, and manage life skills, they are likely to be the least diagnosed people and the diagnosis process becomes more challenging for mental health professionals.

If you think you or your loved one might be struggling with the symptoms of autism, connect with an experienced and registered mental health professional to receive proper diagnosis and treatment. 


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According to research, high-functioning autism is referred to only when an individual has received an autism diagnosis during late childhood or adulthood, is able to perform well at work or school, does not show developmental delays or language problems, and can live independently. 

Symptoms of High-Functioning Autism 

Below listed are some of the symptoms of high-functioning autism: 

  • Experiences anxiety or anxiety-related disorders 
  • Experiences high sensitivity 
  • Faces trouble in picking up social cues 
  • Organizational challenges
  • Shows limited interest in activities
  • Struggles with initiating conversations 
  • Struggles with sensory overload 
  • Struggles with repetitive actions or self-stimulating behaviors (stimming)
  • Unable to control emotions 
  • Unable to comprehend verbal communication 
  • Unable to maintain social relationships 

What are the Differences between Asperger’s and High-Functioning Autism? 

Below listed are some of the common differences between Asperger’s and High-functioning autism: 

Asperger’s High-Functioning Autism
Asperger’s syndrome is a mental health condition that covers several symptoms of autistic people who are able to use their language, show cognitive development, develop age-appropriate self-help skills, develop adaptive behavior, and develop curiosity.

However, this condition was eliminated from the Diagnostic and Statistics of Mental Health Disorders (DSM) during the 2013 update (DSM-5). 

The symptoms of high-functioning autism are milder and people are able to manage their life without much assistance.
Asperger’s syndrome covers difficulties around social communication and interaction. High-functioning autism also covered difficulties around social communication and interaction.
Basal ganglia, cerebellum, and motor cortex are the brain regions involved. Involves the hippocampus and other cortical regions.
People diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome before 2013 require low support. People identified with high-functioning autism require low support.

How to Live Independently with High-Functioning Autism? 

If you identify yourself or your loved one as a high-functioning autistic person, here’s what you can do to live life independently: 

  • Seek guidance or support to manage finances, home, or work (for example how to create a budget, how to organize a home, how to declutter, and more). 
  • Learn appropriate strategies to develop and achieve goals. 
  • Learn to divide your long-term goals into short-term goals so that you can achieve goals frequently. 
  • Learn how to stay organized at work or home by creating to-do lists or checklists. 
  • Promote positive motivation and reinforcement within. 
  • Learn how to maintain friendships or social relationships with effective strategies. 
  • Join social support groups to manage difficulties in social interaction or communication. 

How to Support Your Loved One with High-Functioning Autism? 

Learning more about symptoms and causes can help you support your loved one effectively. However, it is also important to know that there are no standardized recommendations for determining different levels of autism.

Every individual’s needs are different and are usually based on their symptoms. Generally, people with mild autism and high-functioning autism don’t require much support as compared to those diagnosed with level 2 and 3 autism.

Here’s how you can support your loved one diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)

  1. Learn about their symptoms and understand their individual needs. 
  2. Make them independent instead of providing them support…guide them. 
  3. If you’re dealing with a child, focus more on their motor skills or engage them in occupational therapy. 
  4. Focus on improving their senses with the help of sensory training. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is it like to be a high-functioning autistic person?

High-functioning autistic people can live a normal, independent, and successful life with aim and goal implementation.

Can a person with high-functioning autism live a normal life?

Research shows that there’s no exact cure for autism and there’s no exact treatment for treating autism. The goal of therapy is to support maximum functioning by reducing autism-related symptoms. Therapy helps in supporting better learning and development. In some mild cases, autism can be corrected with the right support and therapy techniques.

What is the difference between high-functioning autism and normal autism?

High-functioning autism is not an official mental health term; it is only used for referring to people who are able to manage life skills without assistance. Meanwhile, normal autism or autism is an actual term used for describing a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by difficulties with social communication and interaction.

What are the strengths of a person with high-functioning autism?

The strengths of a highly functioning autistic person can be attention to detail, creativity, good memory, good catching skills, honesty, empathy, and loyalty.

What are the disadvantages of high-functioning autism?

People struggling with high-functioning autism often face challenges with executive functioning, completing tasks efficiently, staying orderly or organized, and managing time and work accordingly.

Can high-functioning autistic people love?

Studies show that high-functioning autistic people face some challenges when navigating romantic relationships. However, they are able to maintain meaningful and purposeful connections.

I hope this blog helps you understand high-functioning autism. Comment down and share your queries through the same. For more such content, connect with us through all social media platforms. 

Thanks for reading! 

About The Author

Aayushi Kapoor
Aayushi Kapoor

Aayushi is a Content Creator at Calm Sage. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Food Technology and a Master's Degree in Clinical Nutrition. Her constant interest in the improvement of mental health, nutrition, and overall wellness embarked upon her career as a “full-time educational writer.” She likes to make an asynchronous connection with her readers. Her mantra for living life is "What you seek is seeking you".

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