Many people toss around labels to describe capabilities of individuals with autism and other disabilities. We should avoid using such terms that place people in boxes. Labels are harmful and lead to excluding people based upon others’ beliefs about labels. Both High functioning (HF) and low functioning (LF) are two damaging labels. Why?
- Individuals labelled with (HF) have much potential, however, they are often misunderstood. Many people assume those who are (HF) should be completely independent in daily living, thus do it themselves. Consider this example: John was considered a genius. He received a full scholarship to a prestigious university. Sadly, after six weeks of being misunderstood and without supports, he struggled to adapt to new people, peer, professors and settings. Unfortunately, he returned home.
- Individuals labelled (LF) have strengths and talents, yet they are critically evaluated based upon their label. This is harmful. When providers assumed there are too many challenges, the client has been denied employment or community inclusion services. This assumption is dangerous and limits a person’s potential. In reality, these individuals have been effective in a job, self employment, or volunteer activities. I offer a You Tube Video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kRVB-IH8VKs
- We must look past labels of any kind. We must see capabilities, strengths and talents. Most importantly, we must feel empathy, see potential, and get moving to create supports that promote interests. With these in combination, individuals with autism and other disabilities can turn failure into possibilities, and possibilities into reality. https://marquettestrengthsindex.com/wp/the-questions-you-ask-yourself-about-your-capabilities-are-important/
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Dr. Jackie Marquette
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