There are people whose opinions about autism are sought out by members of the media who promote the falsehood that there is no such thing as people who are low-functioning. Those who promote this falsehood should STOP doing so and they should stop right now. They are causing harm.
We do not do any favors for persons who are severely affected by disorders like autistic disorder, those who have serious intellectual deficits and lack the ability to function independently, by making statements denying that some persons with autism are low functioning because of their autism. We are hurting them by denying their reality and by assigning blame to them and family members because they do not meet the high standards of those less severely affected, if at all, by autism. Under the DSM5's new Autism Spectrum Disorder persons who lacks functioning deficits in everyday life activities should not receive a diagnosis and should not be described as autistic. The proposed wording of the New Autism Spectrum Disorder, despite some questionable components, does make the functioning issue clear in Criterion D of the 4 mandatory criteria to meet an ASD diagnosis:
"D. Symptoms together limit and impair everyday functioning."
The three categories in the New ASD are distinguished based on functioning levels:
"Level 1 Requiring Support
Level 2 Requiring Substantial Support
Level 3 Requiring Very Substantial Support "
Being positive about facing challenges should not be taken to the extreme of denying that many people have disorders that in fact render them low functioning even to the extent of being dependent on the care of others in order to live. J E Robison, Alex Plank, Ari Ne'eman, Michelle Dawson and most, if any, of the members of the Board of Directors of ASAN Inc. do not share the deficits, the low functioning levels, of the 80% of persons with Autistic Disorder (DSM-IV) who have intellectual disabilities. These successful business people, college graduates, researchers and political participants, some who have sufficient communication skills and social abilities to be able to play in rock bands, find marriage partners, raise families, and participate in high level political and corporate environments do not share the challenges faced by the low functioning persons with autistic disorder whose realities they downplay or deny entirely. The great irony is that it is on THE Spectrum, Autism Spectrum Disorder, where you find persons with an incredibly wide and disparate range of abilities, deficits and challenges that we are most likely to find people denying that functioning levels matter or even exist.
The attempt to deny the importance of different functioning levels among persons with Autism Spectrum Disorders should STOP right now. It hurts those most severely affected by autism.