High-Functioning Autism, as Defined by Aspergers from the Inside

I came across the following video on YouTube, posted in September 2019, by the channel Aspergers from the Inside. While I’m fully capable of performing my own research and formulating my own definitions based on said research, I also appreciate efficiency.

I would rather share my brief thoughts on this video now, as I tend to belay certain activities indefinitely, particularly when I hold myself and my creations to such high standards that I avoid creating altogether. (A constant setback, I assure you, but not always definite.)

First, I’ll mention there’s a lot of controversy around the term ‘high-functioning,’ but really… what isn’t surrounded by controversy today? Everything is being called into question, and much of which for good reason, but… I digress.

In short, there are some who consider the term to be dismissive of the struggles many of us on the Spectrum face in our daily lives, simply because we do not appear to be what society at large considers “disabled.” Like all things, the conversation goes far deeper than this simplified summary, and I invite you to look into it on your own, should curiosity spur you to do so.

So, how is ‘high-functioning’ defined in the video?

“What it literally means is, ‘I am functioning well at the moment and my struggles are invisible.’ High Functioning literally means, ‘invisible struggle.’ […] Whatever struggles I’m going through, you can’t see them.”

Paul Micallef, Aspergers from the Inside

What I appreciate most about this definition, is that it can be applied to any personal challenges, be they physical or otherwise, including depression, anxiety, addiction, brain injury, heart or lung issues, cognitive abilities, grief, and so on.

Therefore, it makes it so much easier to understand and so much more widely applicable and relatable, regardless of one’s neurological state. I imagine everyone can relate to this definition, as we are all struggling through something that is invisible to others—neurotypicals and atypicals alike and beyond.

That is a simple fact of existence. What we see in others and how we present ourselves, is merely the tip of the iceberg.

That being said, it’s important to understand most of what people think they know about the Autism Spectrum and its diverse proliferations in Autistic individuals, stems from outdated, incorrect, and highly prejudice and cruel experiments and methods of treatment conducted in the 1940s, which also completely denied the fact that females and people of colour could be on the Spectrum. (A major double-yew-tee-eff, I know. Believe it or not, we’re just now starting to unravel that mess.)

As awareness movements of all kinds, for all types of marginalised and oppressed groups of people, are coming to the forefront of human consciousness to be faced, healed, and purged from the collective, may we stand in solidarity with our human family, regardless of race, gender, creed, or mental/physical condition, and learn to better embrace our differences in celebration.

After all, we are far more alike in our differences than we tend to recognise or admit. We are, also, all in this together. Perhaps our togetherness is what we should be focusing on.