Functioning labels are bullshit

Let’s take two girls with autism.

Trisha is an articulate and eloquent writer. She has autism, but that hasn’t kept her from presenting and preforming for large audiences. Her teachers have described her as introverted, bookish, gifted, and eager-to-please. She has multiple friends, she can take a train across the city independentally, and her mother thinks nothing of leaving her home alone with her younger brother.

Kailey cannot bathe herself and has trouble with dressing, eating and most activities of daily living. She spends hours engaging in self-stimulatory behavior and she routinely self-injures to the point of bloody sores. She has meltdowns in which she hits herself, bashes her head into walls, and destroys things; medication cannot control them. She has limited verbal ability and a wandering problem that has led to her almost walking into cars. She cannot function in a normal school.

Which of these people sounds “low functioning” and which sounds “high functioning”?

Guess what? They are both me.

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5 thoughts on “Functioning labels are bullshit

  1. I just came out a couple days ago to a friend, and then she gaslighted me and im alone right now and ii didnt know who might care. Your the only autistic i know about right now. Im panicky. Thanks. Sorry to be off topic. Im very sad and hurt. So glad your blog is here. I dont like being alonecwhen this is happening.

    • *offers hugs* I’m so sorry that happened to you.
      Here is a couple other autistics off the top of my head:
      chavisory.wordpress.com
      timetolisten.blogspot.com
      juststimming.wordpress.com
      andromedalogic.tumblr.com
      and tumblr.com/tagged/actuallyautistic is always full of autistic people. You are not alone. We’re a we.

  2. I love this post. The labels are reflections of unacknowledged social privilege, stagus, and/or injustice , time of month/year, age, relationsips, interests, sleep quality, noise level and on and on…like for…well humans, of course. And i hate that humanity is now evaluated by functioning, like we are industrial eqipment that has value based only on its efficiency and use to others.

    Your narrative is beautiful for its undenable Truth. Its perfect.

    • “And i hate that humanity is now evaluated by functioning, like we are industrial eqipment that has value based only on its efficiency and use to others.”
      Yeah. That.
      Thank you!

  3. The example you used is so true and highlights your point that that just because a person is categorised as being one label doesn’t mean that other labels don’t also apply.

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