Labels Labels Lables.
They surroung and abound.
Everywhere we go we see them.
Brand labels. Price Labels. Animal Labels. Suburb Labels. Racial Labels. Cultural Labels.
Ugly Ugly Labels.
I would like to speak a little about functioning labels as they relate to Autism.
There are a bunch of labels that have been applied. To mention some:
- High Functioning Autism
- Low Functioning Autism
- Non Verbal
- Classic Autism
- Kanner’s Autism
You get the idea there are so many and I am sure it is not an exhaustive list. I am sure there are many more, both now and historically, and i am sure there will be more as history marches on. The big question is, what purpose do they serve. Do they help. And if they do help, whom is that they help?
I declare my bias. My bias is to dispense with all labels in regard to Autism except for Autism and Autistic. I believe they are all that is required. What more needs to be stated. We already know it is a broad spectrum.
In reality these labels assist professionals such as psychologists and therapists. It assists the bean counters like insurances companies and education departments. And all for the purpose of applying broad categorisation of people. Rather than a true assessment of an individuals needs and strengths.
More specifically the labels of Aspergers and High Functioning Autism have been effectively used to categorise people of not really needing much help. Pigeon holing them into a state of having some social challenges being a bit quirky, a bit like a silicon valley type or the like. In effect to say you don’t really need any services, really you’re just normal (yet another label that is a little bit bullshit), you can pass as typical and just get on with life.
Conversely the Low Functioning Autism label has been applied in horrendous and exclusionary ways. And by the general community and, it is a shame to acknowledge, some in the autistic community also. It is a label that has become virtually synonymous with intellectually disabled. It is often understood to mean unable to communicate, unable to look after anything, not able to advocate for themselves. Many terrible things such as ABA therapy have been inflicted on so called Low Functioning people.
So yes. I am against these functioning labels.
They totally forget the fact that there are eloquent advocates and authors with strong voices among those labelled as Low Functioning. They ignore the fact that there so called Aspies and High Functioning Autistics who are unable to leave the house, look after their hygiene adequately and make any reasonable stab at ongoing employment.
So yes. I am against functioning labels. They are unhelpful.
In reality every Autistic person is a complex mix of challenges and skills. Just as every human is in fact. Let’s dispense with the labels and stick with Autistic. Period.
There is not much more I can say on this issue. Other than it hurts my heart to see my community torn apart by it. Alas I must stand for justice. And I must stand and advocate for personhood.
Thank you for reading.