The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The many levels of autism

Examples of autism were given in the Nov. 6 Guilfordian article “Problems with autism and the prison system.” The two examples were of an autistic woman who beat her mother to death, and of an autistic savant named “Nigel.” Unfortunately, these two examples failed to adequately express the many levels of autism.

The most common level is high-functioning autism. High-functioning people with autism are mostly just like you and I, but with a few crucial differences.

They don’t pick up on social cues that come naturally to others. Manley Roach is a high-functioning person with autism living in his own apartment in Riverside, Calif.

“It’s not the fact that we can’t learn them, it’s that they’re not natural to us,” Roach said. “We have to think about doing it. It’s not some magical thing that’s beyond us. A poorly trained normal kid will end up just like a high-functioning autistic person.”

There are also low-functioning people with autism. A lot of low-functioning autistic people have multiple issues. Some have Down syndrome coupled with autism, and some have many social disorders coupled with autism.

The next level is autistic savant. Very few people with austism are considered autistic savants. In the movie “Rain Man,” Dustin Hoffman played a low-functioning person that is an autistic savant.

In the Nov. 6 Guilfordian article about autism, Nigel is described as being able to multiply three digit numbers in his head. He is also unaware of how to control his emotions or even what emotions are. Nigel is an autistic savant.

My older brother Scott is also an autistic savant. Scott was diagnosed with something called absent-minded professor’s syndrome, but he can also solve number equations instantly.

Scott also threw fits when we were growing up, but he was never violent. Mostly he’d scream. It wasn’t that Scott didn’t understand emotions or even that he didn’t know how to control his emotions; he just had difficulty filtering their release.

My mother recently told me a story about Scott. There was a dead bird in the parking lot where he works and his boss told him to go pick it up. Scott threw a fit. He shouted at his boss, and even threw his backpack on the ground.

To others, the idea of picking up a dead bird would be distasteful, but they’d keep their feelings in check. To Scott, it was just too much.

Despite his condition, Scott lives by himself and has held a job for the last 10 years. Scott takes pills to control the worst of his symptoms, and he is in a program in Idaho Falls called Options, which helps him learn social cues and how to deal with other people.

People with autism are not rare, nor are they all diagnosed with the same level of autism. A savant or low-functioning person with autism sees the world completely differently then a high-functioning person with autism.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

The Guilfordian intends for this area to be used to foster healthy, thought-provoking discussion. Comments are expected to adhere to our standards and to be respectful and constructive. As such, we do not permit the use of profanity, foul language, personal attacks, or the use of language that might be interpreted as libelous. Comments are reviewed and must be approved by a moderator to ensure that they meet these standards. The Guilfordian does not allow anonymous comments, and requires a valid email address. The email address will not be displayed but will be used to confirm your comments.
All The Guilfordian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *