Three times in the past week someone has mentioned this in relation to my son. The most recent was his neurologist. She noticed a marked improvment in his behaviour and "socialness" at his recent appointment. I remember, before the autism diagnosis, her wondering aloud about ADHD. As she finished her observations she said something along the lines of "that's wonderful he's doing so well, he must be high functioning."
Why must he be? He certainly wasn't a year ago. Can't children on the lower to middle parts of the spectrum make large improuvments without being considered "high functioning"? And when do they get that label anyway? When they're closer to "normal"? Is there a known line they pass in their development? What if they're in the lowest percentiles in some areas and higher in others?
It's so confusing and unnecessary. Patrick's not high or low functioning. He's Patrick. He's very verbal. He doesn't always understand input and we struggle sometimes to make him understand us. His output isn't always "appropriate". He has sensory issues. He's slowly improving socially. He shuts down sometimes for no reason. He's got some behaviour that is worrysome. He used to self injure. He wanders. He doesn't understand danger. He can't answer why but he's learning to ask why.
But what I've described is Patrick today. Patrick one year ago was very different. I'm sure Patrick one year from now will be very different.
I don't get it. What's the point? Does labelling children high functioning somehow make some people feel less "icky" around autism? Nobody has ever said, in my hearing anyway, "gee, he's having so much trouble, he must be low-functioning".
I don't know the answer. I don't know what category Patrick falls into nor do I care to be perfectly honest.