Read all about Joe’s Functioning Level


I Am Joe’s Functioning Level is a great post over at Asperger Square 8, highlighting the fact that most of what gets seen as “functioning level” in autistic people is how much a person can pass for normal at any given time, in a superficial way, regardless of any other traits or difficulties they might have (which nobody would believe anyway, since they’ve already imagined up everything they think they know about the person’s life based on superficial appearances). Read through the comments, too.


About Mel Baggs

Hufflepuff. Came from the redwoods, which tell me who I am and where I belong in the world. I relate to objects as if they are alive, but as things with identities and properties all of their own, not as something human-like. Culturally I'm from a California Okie background. Crochet or otherwise create constantly, write poetry and paint when I can. Proud member of the developmental disability self-advocacy movement. I care a lot more about being a human being than I care about what categories I fit into.

10 responses »

  1. I especially liked abfh’s characterization of “high-” and “low-” as being “evil twins.” After all, they both serve the same purpose: to invalidate a human being for some “failing” or other, in whatever way happens to serve the momentary whims of the “normal” person using the label.

    Tangentially, there’s another irony I’ve noticed. Clinicians routinely mollify themselves with notions of their own “objectivity,” which includes the presumption (or pretense) that the labels they use never in any way imply that a value judgment is being made. BUT, let the client use a label in the course of describing their own experiences, and, — oh, horror! — unless that label has already be “prescribed” by the clinician, they will instantly launch into a “politically correct” lecture about the evils of using labels!

    Overcompensation, anyone?

  2. Pingback: the problem with labels « barbara fister’s place

  3. i am normal! I have great eye contact and I am keenly aware of all non-verbal cues that spring up during social interaction. I don’t count things, flap my hands or make high-pitched noises. In fact, I am so normal, I’m considering giving lessons.

  4. ha ha ha! If you are also good at being tolerant towards autistic and other disabled people with their differences in thinking and acting, you might want to give lessons on that topic to……….a whole lot of people.

    FYI: any hint of sarcasm that may be found in this comment should not be viewed as an attack on the author above.

  5. OK, can anyone explain to me why the most verbal child in the house is the only one exhibiting any self-injurious behaviors? It doesn’t seem to fit in the “functioning level” categorization.

    Oh, wait. That whole “functioning level” crap is bogus.

    (Trying to figure out the child hitting her head on the wall — it just started in the past couple of days, and I’m concerned. I’m going to have to keep a closer eye on her for a few days, figure out what’s precipitating it, and help avoid whatever it is.)

  6. Taking it even further, even the lack of a label (or, rather, an implicit “normal” label) can cause similar problems. I never got any diagnosis, except “gifted”. I guess that was as far as they felt they needed to look.

  7. Yeah, I had those problems pre-diagnosis as well (including when my main “diagnosis” was “gifted”, which meant that everything else was… let’s see, bad behavior, failure to think properly before opening my mouth, being inconsiderate, rude, sloppy, disorganized, lazy, talking funny, too passive, too wrapped up in my own head/stuck in my own world/whatever, out of touch with reality, etc).

  8. I think it is certainly worth posting on the CNN site as a lot of parents have already had their say along the lines of ‘it’s mercury’ or ‘it’s diet’ or ‘it should be cured’ or ‘it’s so devastating for a parent’…..

    So perhaps now would be a good time for us to have our say!

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