High-functioning autism

High-functioning autism

High-functioning autism (HFA) is an informal term applied to autistic individuals who are in some sense able. One definition is that individuals with HFA have an IQ above some cutoff value such as 85. There is no consensus as to the definition, and the extent of the overlap between HFA and Asperger syndrome is unclear.


High-functioning autism is not a recognized diagnosis in the DSM-IV-TR or the ICD-10.


People with high-functioning autism are not mentally retarded; they have an average or above-average IQ. Although they typically have adequate vocabulary, their comprehension is generally behind neurotypical peers. Typically they use less emotional content in speech and are less able to interpret non-verbal cues, such as when listeners are bored with or distracted from the topic of conversation.


Determining whether a person with autism is "high functioning" or "low functioning" based on an IQ score can be complicated because it is difficult to measure IQ in persons with autism accurately using standard measurement instruments. The amount of language processing necessary on the tests and the large quantity of verbal instructions involved in the testing process even on the "non-verbal" portion of standard intelligence measures can produce a misleadingly low score. There can be a significant difference between an autistic person's measured IQ scores when comparing standard testing methods and a truly non-verbal method.

Notable individuals

There is some speculation in the scientific community about famous individuals that may have had many different variations of autism along with HFA; some of these individuals are Janet Frame and Michelangelo.

See also


External links

Teaching children with autism and asperger syndrome – BBC article

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