Our Day In The Life Of High Functioning Autism

Earlier this week I shared an article on Facebook called Why ‘High Functioning’ Autism is So Challenging. I have been thinking about some of our challenges that we do face daily. One thing I feel is that people think that just because someone is higher functioning that we don’t have struggles. We struggle daily with things. I wanted to shed some light on detail on some of the things that were talked about in that article.

Both my kids are high functioning. My son has High Functioning Autism and my daughter Aspergers. They are so different. They are night and day from each other. It’s actually amazing and sometimes very hard at the same time.

My son and daughter both suffer from sensory issues. Noises and crowds are a big issues to my son. Noises he can’t control that are loud upset him. Over time he has really learned to deal with it. He doesn’t melt down like he use. My daughter will panic at times and get upset. She too is learning to deal with it. My son does not like crowds. It is very difficult for him as it makes him really anxious and he starts to get really crabby and starts spewing things out of his mouth. He doesn’t really think it through nor does he understand sometimes what he is saying. There are times that smells upset him and set him off too. He gets really irritable.

Social Cues and Emotions are really difficult for my son and daughter. My son really only knows a few emotions. He doesn’t know how to express them in the most appropriate ways. When he is angry things spew from his mouth and once again he doesn’t realize what he is saying or sometimes he doesn’t even know what he is saying. He will tell you his two emotions are happy and angry. He does know what sad is. He really doesn’t express his emotions either. My daughter on the other hand she can express her emotions. Sometimes she is really easy to cry at things that she really shouldn’t. She is not the best when she is angry either. She hits her brother. Yes I know that it is a sibling thing. She argues and yells at him too. Sometimes the two have a hard time telling when each other is joking because it leads to an argument. This is something we deal with daily! It can get kind of frustrating always having to be a referee.

My son does have anxiety and mood disorders. He doesn’t like to be alone for to long. For example, he likes his independence of being able to stay at home when we run errands but there comes a point where our phones blow up asking when we are on our way home. Now it is annoying but yet rewarding because I know he is ok when he texts our phones. He also doesn’t like to be alone when it is starting to get dark. He does not like the dark. So if he knows we are going to game night at church he normally will go. He isn’t comfortable because there are a ton of people sometimes but he deals with it. He melts down when he gets home.  You can tell that he was overstimulated. There are times were he doesn’t even want to go on field trips or leave the house. He just doesn’t want to be around people. He would rather be in his own comfortable space. He goes to an after school group twice a week and believe me I hear about it those days of how he doesn’t want to go. He may be fine when he goes but you can tell he is over stimulated by the time he gets home. I am proud of him though because he is learning to deal with it and I have seen some gains. I have to keep our schedule each day. It isn’t set exactly to time but the kids know mom cleans in the morning and then it is homework. If I go out of that order you can see the kids both have a hard time focusing because our schedule of how we do things is not in sync with what they are use to. Change is a hard thing for them.

My son has no sense or organization. I can organize things and he will mess them up. Very hard for me because of OCD and having to have things in certain places. If we run out of shampoo or conditioner he doesn’t tell me. I normally find out when I am in the shower and there is none left. He can’t plan anything, or even manage money. If he has money he wants to burn a hole in his pocket. Yes I know probably typical of a teenager. My daughter on the other hand has things organized. She has her crayons in groups of colors. Everything is assorted into rainbow order. Don’t take something out of order or she will let you have it.

My son also has a hard time following directions. I can’t give him three step directions because he will leave something out. Sometimes it’s really hard because he will need to do something and be like I forgot. If I have to have many steps I have to break them down into smaller steps and do no more then one or two at a time.

Lets talk about accommodations that may be needed for school and work. My son knows that he needs certain accommodations. For example he needs steps broken down into shorter directions. He needs to be able to use voice dictation if he needs to write. It’s not that my son doesn’t know how to write, he writes like a first grader because of his tremor. He also needs to be able to tell what his disability is. There is a problem because he doesn’t think this is anybodies business. So you can imagine that he wouldn’t last at a job long if he couldn’t do what he was told and follow directions. This is work in progress. We are currently working on self advocacy and when it is the right time for him to talk about it.

These may not seem like big struggles to you but when you live with them daily they are big. Some days are better then other others. We have gains and setbacks. We work through each and everyone of them that is thrown our way. For one moment please don’t think that High Functioning Autism is a walk in the park or a piece of cake because it isn’t. We struggle too and the frustrations are just as real!

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