Functioning – High, Low, Somewhere in between; Does it really matter?


Functioning – High, Low, Somewhere in between; Does it really matter?

The idea of functioning level has recently been a hot topic for those of us around the office. Why do some people get so hung up on whether children are “high” functioning or “low” functioning and what does that really mean anyway?

It really bothers me when people talk about functioning level. It has nothing to do with the autism. I think sometimes people are referring to cognitive ability, but even then it is very difficult to determine what a person’s true cognitive abilities are. It is amazing to see what strengths a child has after a family begins remediation. Sometimes we are very suprised to find what our children are really capable of if provided with a bit of guidance.

Our philosophy at Horizons is that we are all a family and we accept all members of the family as equals. We all have strengths and areas of weakness. We are all different with our own set of unique needs and abilities. Even with all of these differences our children are the same in that they all have the core deficits of autism. These deficits may look a bit different in each child, but they are there all the same. This is what ties all people with autism together.

I really feel that we need to be mindful of how we think about children and people with disabilities. I challenge all of you to begin thinking in terms of strengths and what each individual can bring to the interaction or relationship versus what their “functioning level” might be.

Talk to you soon,


  • June 27, 2007

    wow, we take the same attitude at our home. we have adopted 4 children. 3 with cerebral palsy and one with failure to thrive/heart problems. each one has their strengths and weakness (just as we all do) and its neat to see one help the other with something they are good at and their sibling needs help with. you guys sound awesome. love your blog!

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