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What is High Functioning Autism? | Kati Morton

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Published on May 7, 2018

People who fall into the high functioning portion of the spectrum often live lives just like anyone else who's not on the spectrum. They are said to be higher functioning cognitively than others on the spectrum.
SYMPTOMS:
Just like anyone on the Autism Spectrum high functioning people can still struggle with communication, making eye contact, and socially interact overall. Since interacting with others can be so difficult, those who are high functioning often report feeling very anxious prior to a social gathering, and being wiped out afterward because it takes SO much energy to engage with others.
Anxiety, OCD, bipolar disorder & depression are the most common comorbidities with HFA, and research shows that OCD and HFA commonly occur together because they both are affected by any abnormalities in a person’s serotonin production. Based on that information we could conclude that all comorbidities can be caused and affected by serotonin changes. I also believe that because people with HFA are more aware of their differences from others they could feel anxious about interacting with people or even depressed about their struggle to connect. Sometimes having insight and awareness into our own conditions can be hard to handle, and could lead to other mental health issues.
People with HFA may struggle to understand jokes or sarcasm from their peers. Therefore they can appear “mature for their age” but they are really just uncomfortable in social situations. They can have delayed initial speech, but later develop functional communication. They can have obsessive actions regarding appearance, cleanliness, fears and social situations, and also shortened attention spans.TREATMENTS: ASD isn’t something that people grow out of, nor is it something that needs to be cured, but there are many supports:
1. Occupational therapy OT: an occupational therapist is there to help develop skills for handwriting, fine motor skills, and activities of daily living skills. 2. Speech therapy: a speech therapist helps your child learn spoken language and/or nonverbal communication skills.
3. ABA therapy: applied behavior analysis focuses on techniques that help guide learning and bring out a meaningful and positive change in behavior. 4. Psychotherapy: psychotherapy uses a variety of techniques to help children who experience anxiety, depression, OCD, or other psychiatric systems that cause problems for the autistic child. 5. Floortime therapy: floor time activities derive from the idea that we as parents can help our children by meeting them on their level to expand circles of communication. 6. RDI therapy: relationship development intervention therapy is a family-based, behavioral treatment designed to address autism’s core symptoms by appreciating all perspectives, coping with change and integrating information from multiple sources such as light and sound.
7. PEC therapy: picture exchange communication is used with nonverbal autistic children to learn to communicate without words so that they can make choices and communicate their needs and minimize their behaviors so that they can be a much happier child.
8. Aquatic therapy: using swimming as therapy increases the effectiveness of all other forms of treatment by learning better balance, communication skills, sensory issues, and oral motor skills.
I'm Kati Morton, a licensed therapist making Mental Health videos!

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