Breaking the Stigma: Understanding High Functioning Autism


Autism is a complex neurological disorder that affects individuals in different ways. It is a spectrum disorder that ranges from severe and non-verbal to high functioning individuals who may not show any visible signs of the condition. The latter is called High Functioning Autism (HFA). Though it is a highly recognized condition, many still misunderstand and stigmatize HFA. This stigma can be extremely disheartening and overwhelming for those living with HFA and their families. In this article, we will discuss what HFA is, the misconceptions around it, and how breaking the stigma is crucial.

What is High Functioning Autism (HFA)?

High Functioning Autism (HFA) is a condition where an individual has autism, but they possess higher intellectual abilities and the ability to carry on daily activities without assistance. They may appear “normal” and blend in with society, but they might lack social comprehension, have difficulty with communication, and struggle with sensory processing. Like any other autism, HFA is a lifelong disorder, and the symptoms can vary from one person to another.

Misconceptions about High Functioning Autism

One of the most significant misconceptions about HFA is that individuals with this condition suffer from a less severe form of autism. This is not true. Autism is a complex brain disorder that affects individuals differently. Some people with HFA may not experience the same struggles as those with non-verbal and severe autism, but that doesn’t mean the condition is less severe. HFA can still impact an individual’s quality of life and can cause anxiety, depression, and social isolation.

Another misconception is that individuals with HFA are socially isolated and anti-social. This is not the case. People living with HFA might have challenges in social interactions and communication, but they still want to connect with others and enjoy meaningful relationships with family and friends. They might need support in relationships, but they can still live fulfilling lives.

Breaking the Stigma

Breaking the stigma around HFA is crucial as it can help individuals living with this condition to feel more accepted in society. It’s essential to understand that HFA is not a disease or something to be afraid of. Individuals living with this condition should not be judged or stigmatized for being different from others.

Creating a more inclusive society starts by educating people about autism and the different ways it can manifest. This can be done through public awareness campaigns, online resources, and training for individuals to become more knowledgeable about autism. Educating school teachers, employers, and healthcare professionals about HFA can lead to better inclusion in the workplace, educational environments, and healthcare settings.

In conclusion, understanding HFA is essential in breaking the stigma and creating an inclusive society. We should all work towards creating a world where individuals with autism and other disabilities are accepted, respected, and included regardless of their differences. Autistic individuals with HFA are intelligent, independent, and have unique traits that should be celebrated, not stigmatized. By embracing diversity, we can create a society where every individual is valued and respected.