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Can HFA autism be accepted as normal part of society?

(19 Posts)
mortforya Mon 18-May-20 23:17:32

This is my first time starting a thread and I'm nervous. I was diagnosed with being on the spectrum of autism. It wasn't a surprise, I felt I was for years and years and only got diagnosed 5 years ago at the age of 32,am 38 now. My daughter has also being diagnosed as being on the spectrum also and gets so much help in school and in her therapies. It got me thinking as to how, when I was growing up, it was so difficult as I had no access to support and hense found life very difficult. So I often think of my generation now who can be very ignorant of autism and I don't think they realise it. I work for a large company and if anyone is nervy, quiet, unfriendly (due to social anxiety, a comorbidity of asd) I often hear people openly laughing and saying he must be on the spectrum somewhere and they sneer at people. Now, sorry after that long winded intro I would like to ask this question. Do You think there will be a time where a person..with HFA who looks normal, intelligent, able to hide any stims, able to look at you and make eye contact But is unable to ask you questions, refuses all invitations to social things, who can be very anxious of even the smallest things, they shut Down and freeze sometimes unable to function as they r overwhelmed. Do u see a time where people will accept them like they do for more obvious autistic people. Do you see people with hfa being able and expected to share that they have asd and that people might just take it as the norm and think nothing of it. Do u think they will b supportive with helping that person with social skills,understanding they may need things broken down for them, even basic things as what time ur lunch is(not because they are not intelligent but because social things are difficult for them to understand) and will people be pleased to help out. Do u think it will be very normal soon???

OP’s posts: |
TARSCOUT Mon 18-May-20 23:26:55

Hi. Well, you have just told me more in one post than I have ever known. I know lots of adults with autism but none that are anywhere near the level of functioning that you are. How do you think people who are different from you should obtain this knowledge. We can't say teach in schools as there are so many different level of a variety of disabilities (if that's the correct terminology). There will always be people who dismiss or ignore things like this however there are probably more who just, like me, need someone to tell us and then we can indeed be supportive. Hope this is the feedback you were looking

sevencontinents Mon 18-May-20 23:38:49

Yes I think they will. A university was recently in the news because they wanted to introduce 'silent clapping'. This was sneered at by older generations ho didn't understand the reaaon: to support people with asd and other conditions who struggle with the sensory overload of clapping. Autistic role models are beginning to show up: Greta Thumberg, for example. Most classes have an autistic person in so children will grow up being familiar with the condition and its associated behaviours. I think the world will become very accepting with the generation who are currently in school, and we will look back on 'he' s on the spectrum, sneer, sneer' and cringe.

JohnnyMcGrathSaysFuckOff Mon 18-May-20 23:47:24

Tbh depends heavily on your work and social context. I work in a university and there are a lot of colleagues who have slightly odd social behaviours, rigid routines, etc etc. I am sure quite a few on the spectrum, probably some not. It is pretty much just accepted. But universities are probably an unusual environment.

BogRollBOGOF Mon 18-May-20 23:50:18

DS, and his cousin have HFA diagnoses. I strongly suspect both DS's uncles are on the spectrum too. Both have their own comfortable niches in life where they are professionally well respected for their attention to detail and there is very little social pressure on them. Certain sectors tend to be more "autism friendly" because they tend to be attractive to perfectionist, logical, technical mindsets.

My main concern for DS is getting through the school system. Beyond that, he will have more autonomy of choices and lifestyle. He needs the education first to open up the professional choices that are attractive to the way his mind works.

Hunnybears Tue 19-May-20 00:03:35


refuses all invitations to social things, who can be very anxious of even the smallest things


I’ve not got autism but I highlight the bit in bold because that’s me to a tee. I get anxious about being anxious. I hate group gatherings and never go on with dd party’s. I hate stuff like that.

It’s funny because I’m very much a people’s person in that I love chatting and taking one on one and getting to know people. I work with the public and it suits me so much more that a back office role.

My DH just switches off because I’m always rabbiting in to him 😂 so I’m very social on the one hand but put me in groups and I feel out of my comfort zone.

Doing a presentation at uni to other people was my idea of hell. I would be sweating, hard pounding, wouldn’t be able to sleep worrying about it...

But if other people knew they would be very shocked as I love talking etc..

What I’m saying is, we’re all unique. We all have our quirks, habits, traits. I have a habit of picking the skin on my fingers (vile I know lol) but potentially that could be along the lines of my personal stim. I absolutely wouldn’t fit the ASD criteria but who knows, things change and evolve.

What saying is, we’re all unique. With our unique characteristics.

Hunnybears Tue 19-May-20 00:06:21

Also- my DH has very rigid routines. He likes everything the way he likes it and he can’t settle unless it ‘right’. My ex also had ways that could be seen as traits of ASD.

None of them would be diagnosed, neither would I, however we have all fit our little ways...

MarylandMayhem Tue 19-May-20 00:06:32

* . A university was recently in the news because they wanted to introduce 'silent clapping'. This was sneered at by older generations ho didn't understand the reaaon: to support people with asd and other conditions who struggle with the sensory overload of clapping*

Bit crap for blind people though.

Hunnybears Tue 19-May-20 00:06:52


Hunnybears Tue 19-May-20 00:08:49

I never go on works parties I mean

VicesReturning Tue 19-May-20 00:33:34

Sadly, I fear there will always be.mean people around. There will always be people who sneer at other people etc..(wish that wasn't the case)

That said, in terms of HFA specifically, I think some areas of the country are doing better than others as seeing this as just normal. Cambridge has a large HFA population for example, and I don't think many people here would notice or care of you have it or not. It's normal in large parts of Cambridge.

MrsBobDylan Tue 19-May-20 00:53:34

When people say 'Oh I think he's a bit autistic', I genuinely think they think they are being funny. Which, of course, they aren't.

The phrase which pisses me off most is "I think we are all somewhere on the spectrum". No, everyone is not somewhere on the spectrum, which you'd know if you ever stopped spouting your vague, pseudo psychology, which enables you to brush away just how much people with autism can suffer. To me that is like saying to someone who uses a wheelchair, "I can relate, my knee is painful since I fell playing squash last month".

Anyway op, I think understanding will evolve but there will always be those who refuse to evolve. Just try to ignore the silly comments because most people are understanding and accepting.

WhatwouldLangdo Tue 19-May-20 01:01:17

Hopefully not normalised to the point where people feel it's acceptable to say "oh everyone's somewhere on the spectrum" or "has a bit of autism". hmm
But I do hope that people soon acknowledge we meet many more people with autism than we realise, especially those with HFA. Some presentations of autism absolutely can be disabling but it also gives some individuals an insight that the rest of us would see at genius etc.
I hope that society becomes equitable to people with autism, not equal. If equal is giving everyone the same, then that's still a great many barriers for some, and still so far from inclusive.

planningaheadtoday Tue 19-May-20 09:35:48

Yes, it's coming!
As generations move on, the knowledge and understanding we have gained with each new generation helped in school and at home will come through.

As parents and professionals are increasing able to positively frame autism and it's abilities the positives will come through into society.

It's going to take time. I think very approximately it's the children who are teens now that will make the difference in say 10-15 years time.

It's empowering the child to know they are right to be differently wired. It's slowly becoming less disability more different ability.

Having said this, it can still be crippling to the child or adult with HFA. It can take an extraordinary amount of mental effort to present as others expect. It's in these expectations I hope for change.

RonObvious Tue 19-May-20 10:03:17

There are large tech companies now that are realising that some desirable characteristics for their employees - such as attention to detail, maths / computing skills, hyper-focussing - can be found in people on the autistic spectrum, and so are finding ways to allow autistic workers to function within their businesses. This means that, rather than being seen as a disability, their autism is seen as a desirable attribute. I think that this is really positive, as it sets the example that people can have different challenges and needs, and that having a "one-size-fits-all" working environment could mean that you miss an exceptional employee.

I also think attitudes are changing. My daughter's autistic, and the school didn't bat an eyelid when I asked if she could bring in a chew bracelet. They've been brilliant. I was in the park with her the other day, and we saw another boy from her school, who came up and spoke to us. He was very polite, so I was surprised when he had gone that she remarked that he was very naughty. I said was she sure that he was naughty, or was he finding school difficult. She thought about it for a minute, and then said that she thought he was a little bit like her, because he had also had a chew toy. She (and a lot of her friends) are so understanding of differences, and I think a big part of that is that the school are so accepting of differences, and allow children to have the things they need. As a result, the children have a much broader definition of "normal", which gives me a lot of hope for the future!

ahorsecalledseptember Tue 19-May-20 10:06:46

It hugely depends.

Quirky, highly reliant on routines and order - yes, possibly.

But HFA takes other forms too. In a case close to me, it involves almost total absence of personal hygiene or conventional grooming, loud muttering, talking and laughing to himself, and in particular a real lack of sensitivity and tact.

Not their fault, but it is unfortunately understandable that people keep a polite distance.

RoseWharf Tue 19-May-20 10:42:29

I really hope so. It was so isolating when me and DH started dating to Google autistic relationships and only find pages and pages of non-autistic people complaining about how their autistic partners had ruined their life (usually about things that were part of their autism that the person would have noticed within 5 minutes of meeting them, or often self diagnosing a partner based on signs that have nothing to do with autism, and are more likely to do with being an abusive individual generally). Luckily I have an understanding DH and am fairly flexible, so our relationship is wonderful, but after reading all that I wouldn't be surprised if he'd gone running for the hills.

The same seems to be the case when trying to learn about about being a parent as an autistic person. Lots of adult non-autistic people self-diagnosing parents with autism because they were narcissistic and abusive, despite a grear lack of any actual autism traits, or parents of grown autistic people complaining about their grown autistic child. Reading all of that just makes you feel incredibly unwanted as an autistic person.

I hope that one day non-autistic people can better understand autism, rather than using it as a heavy handed label for anyone that they don't like.

Ponoka7 Tue 19-May-20 11:02:39

" It is pretty much just accepted. But universities are probably an unusual environment."

When I was doing a BA in 2010 it wasn't accepted. I was criticised by Tutors because of my lack of mixing. I used to always sit on the end of a row and that was commented on. There were students who were rude etc, one even asked a tutor if they could use a made up name because they couldn't ever remember the tutor's name, but it eas me who had my communication style pounced on. I had really worked on my communication and learned to mask/fake, i asked a couple of people in the class, who would be honest and they said there wasn't an issue. There was no understanding why I couldn't willingly join in with groups and why I found some meet ups excruciating. On placement I wasn't supported. I was once again criticised because I didn't want to go on the Christmas night out. This was from Tutors on a SW BA.

My autistic DD, who has S&L issues is more accepted in work than one of her friends who is high functioning, but has social difficulties.

It's a matter of luck.

BlankTimes Tue 19-May-20 13:03:30

What do people think "High Functioning Autism" means?

It's not a 'you'd never guess s/he's autistic' description, yet that's the way a lot of people misinterpret it.

It means having autism and an IQ of over 70. That's all.

Please read this for better understanding of the term.
"The study, the largest of its type, shows that individuals deemed high functioning often have poor ‘adaptive behavior’ — the ability to perform basic tasks such as brushing teeth, tying shoelaces or taking the bus.
The term completely disregards the difficulties these individuals have on a day-to-day basis,”
more at

Because to be diagnosed with autism, someone has to meet this criteria.
The characteristics of autism vary from one person to another, but in order for a diagnosis to be made, a person will usually be assessed as having had persistent difficulties with social communication and social interaction and restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviours, activities or interests (this includes sensory behaviour), since early childhood, to the extent that these 'limit and impair everyday functioning'.
Please note the bit about limit and impair everyday functioning

Also see the attached graphic which explains the spectrum and there's a great article about the spectrum here too

Autistic people are wired differently, each one is an individual so won't fit someone's preconceived ideas of what an autistic person can and can't do. Some employers actively welcome neurodiversity and disability in their workforce.

Slowly, the levels of acceptance of peoples' differences will grow, but I don't think we're there yet.

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