I recently had a discussion about using labels when describing people on the autism spectrum. Some of the people in the discussion felt strongly that labels are completely inappropriate.
What do I mean by labels?
People with autism are often described as being high-functioning vs low-function or mild vs severe. I will admit that I’m not crazy about the labels of high or low-functioning. They seem to put definite limits on ability. The truth is that my children are high-functioning in certain areas and low-functioning in others.
But I am okay with mild and sever autism. I understand that some people find this offensive but it is true that autism affects different people in different ways. A person with Asperger’s and a PhD is different from a nonverbal person with a global delay. One is not better than the other, but they are on different points on the spectrum.
I don’t think that describing this as mild or severe is a bad thing. A person with muscle weakness might be mild and just get tired out easily or might be severe and fully rely on a wheelchair. Looking at that as mild or severe is not offensive, why should it be for autism?
Some people might disagree with me and that is okay. This is just my opinion. I don’t trying to limit my children with functioning labels but I am fine acknowledging that they are on the severe end of the autism spectrum.