Friday, October 14, 2011

What Is HFA - High Functioning Autism?

Autism as a disorder is diagnosed on the basis of abnormalities detected in the subject in the spheres of social interaction, communication, imagination, combined with a marked tendency towards indulging in peculiar, repetitive behavior. Most autistic subjects also have very few interests and passions and largely keep to themselves. So how is the condition of high functioning autism different and how is the diagnosis made on the subject?

The term, 'High-Functioning Autism', also called HFA, applies to people suffering from autism, who also register an IQ of 80 or above. People with HFA also have a clear ability to speak, read and write. Hence, people diagnosed with HFA might actually have normal or even above-average intelligence on the whole and might not at all seem that cognitively challenged at all.

An autistic person who displays all the signs of typical HFA except having a history of delayed or abnormal speech development, is said to be suffering from Asperger's Syndrome (AS).

There is a school of thought that believes that both AS and HFA are types of a disability in the autistic child. But that might not be the case at all. Children suffering from high-functioning autism are only different as compared to others, not necessarily disabled.

Sometimes, certain types of high-functioning autism are diagnosed as Asperger's Syndrome and certain other Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD). The symptoms of such types of HFA are more or less those of regular autism. There might be a delay in speech development, understanding of language and slang, repetitive behavior and rigid, unchanging and stubborn mental attitude.

A child who is diagnosed with HFA should immediately be taken to a specialized professional, such as a pediatric neurologist or child psychologist, who would be able to suggest further course of treatment. With regular treatment and therapy, children with high functioning autism may even be able to live full, normal lives.

Raising a child with high-functioning autism is not the end of the world either for the child or his family. There are only certain things that have to be done if the child has to make quick recovery.

Visiting treatment centers

Once the diagnosis of high-functioning autism has been made on the child, he needs to be immediately taken for treatment. The earlier the therapy commences, the better it is for the child. Each school district in the United States offers programs that help and assist children with such conditions.

Mapping out a strategy for treatment

The strategy for therapy has to be decided upon and implemented without delay. Autism is not a disease - it is only a mental condition which involves a different kind of brain functioning. Charting out the best course of therapy and getting to it as soon as possible helps the child overcome his challenges that much faster.

Experts formulate a strategy for social, communication, motor and other behavior skills. A specialized therapy plan, called the Individual Education Plan (IEP) is worked at, after the specialist brainstorms with the parents and teachers. Methodically laying out this plan is what helps the child progress in the academic and other fields of his life.

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

ABA is applied to reward these children for right behavior, so that they learn to reform from it. They are also taught to let go of their stubborn tendencies and develop better social and communication skills.


Treating children with HFA is slowly becoming easier, thanks to the discovery of new strategies and therapies available for the condition. If treated early enough, children suffering from high functioning autism can lead a normal, successful life ahead.

Melissa Fox is a health professional very interested in Teaching Children With Autism. She enjoys writing inspirational articles for Real Living. To learn more about High Functioning Autism please visit

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  1. Well written write-up. Glad I'm able to locate a site with some knowledge about HFA plus a great writing style. You keep publishing and i will continue to keep browsing. I have gained a lot of useful knowledge about Autism.
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  2. You got a really useful blog I have been here reading for about an hour. I am a newbie and your success is very much an inspiration for me.
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