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Schools must not get duped by the "high-functioning" label

Many children in Mobile, Alabama, have a condition which commonly gets referred to as a high-functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder. Conditions like Asperger's Syndrome and other disorders fall under this label. While it is true that people with higher-functioning autism may be able to live, learn and, ultimately, work in society at a higher rate than those with more other forms of autism, the label high-functioning can lead to a lot of misunderstandings.

For instance, it is not true that someone with a high-functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder has just a minor disability that does not require the assistance offered under an Individualized Education Plan or a 504 plan. To review, both of these plans afford legal protections to students as required by the special education laws of this country.

Statistics even suggest that those with high-functioning Autism Spectrum Disorders struggle to find and maintain steady employment, with 9 out of 10 being unemployed at some point in their adult lives. This is in part because those with this condition may struggle with those social and communication skills that employers expect workers to exhibit. These people need help, as part of their education, with acquiring these important social skills.

In short, high-functioning autism is still autism, and it can still make life very difficult on the person who experiences it. Unfortunately, even some school officials in the Mobile, Alabama, area may misunderstand high-functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder, thinking that it means a student's struggles are minor or that they will consistently and in all areas perform better than those with other forms of autism.

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