Well, mostly like the above:

Or the below:

And then there are the times that our high functioning ASD children look quirky, or interesting, or different to their peers or siblings.

Children on the spectrum, like any other children, can have a whole range of cognitive abilities.  Many children diagnosed with ASD are very bright, or gifted.  They may have an exceptional vocabulary and speak in sentences that sound mature for their age.  They may have particular talents that match their interests and they can perform at an above-age level in an area.

Life presents significant challenges for these children and they require thoughtful management by those around them.

Coping with life can be very difficult.  Bright children often know that they are “missing something” or different in some way.  They can be more aware of their difficulties and as a result they can be highly defensive.  As a result, when faced with an uncomfortable situation they may “shut down” or over-react.

Children on the spectrum almost always have sensory sensitivities.  This means that what they can feel, taste, smell and hear can be more powerful than what others perceive.  It makes sense that these children will react more strongly to this sensory input.  In the intensity of the moment they are less likely to regulate their reaction, whether or not they are “high functioning” and able to discuss the situation appropriately in another time and place.

Many children on the spectrum have particular interests or focus.  They may be fixated on discussing this topic or interest and can often do so to an advanced level.  However, they can have a great deal of difficulty noticing or being interested in other peoples’ interests.  Conversation can keep reverting to a particular topic.  They can appear insensitive to other people’s preferences.

Despite having an excellent understanding of many aspects of what they hear or read, many high functioning children with ASD cannot “join the dots” in the same way as other children. Abstract language can need explaining for children who take things literally.  When people understand language very literally it leads to misunderstandings.

Frequently body language, tone of voice and gesture is misunderstood.   Most people use these extra nonverbal features to make clear what we are saying and how we feel about it.  When children do not innately sense the meaning of nonverbal communication then they can be confused about another person’s meaning.  It makes it harder to get their own message across to other people also if they are not using body language and tone of voice effectively.

Our children with “high functioning autism” are all different and individual in their strengths and weaknesses.  If we know what their strengths and weaknesses are then we can help them negotiate life more successfully and with significantly less stress.