I’ve been speaking to a friend of my youngest daughter (22). Recently she was diagnosed with Autism (ASD) and ADHD.

She sent me this explanation as to how she often feels. I felt her insight was really profound and I wanted to share it with you:

I was reading the section about how describing autism as a spectrum can often hinder understanding because people think of something like the electromagnetic spectrum and think autism is a straight line from ‘mild’ to ‘severe’ and I remembered an amazing infographic I found the other day that I think might be useful for your pamphlet or something, or even as a poster? Basically it’s just a really great little visual explanation.


Open photo


Just because someone is verbal and has relatively low support needs (e.g. ones who would have been previously diagnosed as Asperger’s). It does not mean that they are any more intelligent or worth more than people who aren’t verbal and need a lot of support.

I think too often we look at someone considered ‘low functioning’ who cant talk and look after themselfs etc and see ‘other’, we see just disability and have low expectations. People like me are just better at blending in or ‘masking’ we’re not actually any more intelligent or useful than any other autistic person.

That’s why terms like ‘aspergers’ contributes to abelism. I think some people who use it (whilst knowing it’s history) just want to think of themselves as better than others or ‘almost normal’ when in reality that is quite naive. Also very importantly I believe that functioning is fluid. Someone is not ‘high functioning’ or ‘low functioning’ constantly, it fluctuates throughout life.

For example, there are times when I can solve really complicated beaurocracy problems involving a lot of people in my second language, but there are also times where I can’t physically speak and shut down.

There are times where I can use everything I have learned to be a good listener. But there are also times where I have overestimated what I can do again and get burnt out like now where I can’t control emotions at all and it’ll be extremes of mood over the tiniest things.

There are times when I can wince and suck it up when I’m going to the big supermarket or my someone is making noise with keys or coins or jewellery, but there are also times when I can’t wince and suck it up and it is unbearable. I was never given any allowance for the times I couldn’t cope. I was never given any support at school or breaks/accommodations when I needed them so I had to learn to mask and survive. There simply is no choice for children like me.

A famous Bob Dylan song goes ‘Well you better start swimming or you’ll sink like a stone’ and I think that sums up how it is for children like I perfectly.

A bit of a drawn out explanation but what I mean is that I think ‘high-functioning’ is often a created state through necessity by those who are in a lucky enough situation to have the creative thinking processes to achieve it.

So called ‘high functioning’ people are often denied support, and ‘low functioning’ people are denied agency. That’s why I completely agree it’s wrong to try an classify what is a neurotype by the disease criteria of ‘mild’ and ‘severe’.


Regardless of dyslexia, autism, ADHD, ADD. everyone of us is an individual and that has always been the foundations of Clara James Tutoring. We need to celebrate and explore every individual’s needs.

If you have any questions, please do get in touch and ask and I promise we will always do our best to help

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