What Is High-Functioning Asperger’s?

By Jessica Anderson

Updated December 03, 2019

Reviewer Audrey Kelly, LMFT

Have you heard of "High-Functioning Asperger's?" If so, you've heard a misshapen phrase. Understanding the different terms that relate to Autism can be challenging, but we are here to help. "High Functioning Aspergers" is simply a mix up between Asperger's syndrome and High Functioning Autism. In the article below, we will discuss the difference between these two terms, and look in-depth at what High-Functioning Autism is.

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As we mentioned above, Asperger's Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism are technically the same things. Interestingly enough, neither of these are actual medical terms. Asperger's Syndrome is a term that was used in the past but was disregarded in 2013 when Autism was found to be on a spectrum, not a straight diagnosis. High-Functioning Autism is simply a term that describes the top end of the spectrum. However, medically speaking, each of these would now be diagnosed as "Autism," with professionals understanding that the term is broad and symptoms and severity vary greatly from person to person. Therefore, if you are wanting to learn more about people with Autism who are high functioning, you can look into Autism Spectrum Disorder, and study the symptoms that come at the top end of the spectrum.

What Is High-Functioning Autism?

Psychologists now believe that around 1 in every 250 people exhibit signs of being on the Autism Spectrum, so if you've recently gotten a diagnosis, it is important to remember that you are not alone. It is also important to know and understand that with the right tools, these people live completely normal and happy lives, and so can you.

We know that High-Functioning Autism is not a medical diagnosis, but you may still hear the term from time to time. If you do hear this phrase, think of it as a colloquialism used to refer to someone who has Autism but can still carry out life's basic functions, such as reading, writing, and speaking. Typically, someone is considered to be near the higher end of the spectrum if his or her IQ is greater than 70.

Symptoms Of High-Functioning Autism

Listing symptoms of Autism at any level can be challenging because it is an extremely individualized disorder. While one person may have difficulty speaking, another may have an intense sensitivity to light and sound. However, some symptoms remain accepted as a general list of what to look for in someone who may be on the spectrum. These symptoms include:

  • Shutting down in social situations (i.e., Not making eye contact)
  • Having a strong preference for routine, and not being able to cope if that routine is disrupted
  • Losing jobs or switching employers often
  • Trouble focusing while at school

These symptoms occur in all types of people, so they are not indicative of Autism in all cases. They are simply traits that are often recognized in people with Autism who are near the high end of the spectrum.

Jobs for Those with Autism

Just because you have an Autism Spectrum Disorder does not mean you are any less of a wonderful worker. If you see a job that you like, go for it. You can do anything and be anything, just as anyone else in the world can. However, if your specific symptoms make working feel difficult for you, you may want to bring your strengths and weaknesses into play as you search for the perfect place of employment.

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This could mean anything to you, so take a look at what you're best at and what you would rather not spend your days doing. Typically, those with Autism do better in a job that has a well-defined goal, and one that focuses more on the task at hand, rather than only interacting with other people. Some areas in which those with Autism do particularly well tend to be:

  • Computer science
  • Accounting
  • Engineering
  • Commercial art and drafting (i.e., drawing blueprints for architects)

These careers are ideal because there is little interaction, but meaningful work is done at the same time. You can be left to your own devices without relying so much on what other people need from you.

Romantic Relationship Advice for Those with Autism

Making friends and romantic partners is hard for all of us, but it can be especially tricky for those with Autism. The social barriers that Autism presents can make it incredibly hard for someone with the condition to get close to another person, but this is not to say that it can't be done.

One way to set yourself up for romantic success is to improve your social skills and comfort levels. One way this can be done is through early intervention. If you discover your diagnosis when you are young, help tends to become set in stone faster. This means you can continue therapies and settings that get you more comfortable with social settings.

If increasing social skills does not seem like an option, try not to worry. Focus on finding someone who is right for you and your needs, instead of trying to conform to what the rest of the world thinks of as relationship standards. If you're struggling socially, find someone who feels comfortable to talk to. If you need to stick to a solid routine, find someone who will join you where you are. Your diagnosis is a beautiful part of you, and you should never let it hold you back from happiness.

Wondering If You or Someone You Know Has High-Functioning Asperger's?
Talk To An Expert. Schedule A Session With A Mental Health Counselor Online Now.

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Therapies That Can Help People With Autism

Autism cannot be treated, but if there are parts of the disorder that disrupt the life you want to live, you can reach out for help to manage or overcome them. For example, if you're struggling with anxiety due to changing routines, anxiety treatments can help you. If you're struggling with sensory input, help is available for you. Because Autism is a spectrum disorder, your symptoms may vary widely from other people who have the same diagnosis. No matter what symptoms you are facing, if you want help, it is available for you. Here are some examples of therapies that can help unwanted symptoms:

If your Autism Spectrum Disorder is causing you anxiety, depression, or trouble focusing, medication can help. Medication has been found to be particularly effective when it is combined with therapy rather than being taken without any accompanying treatment. Psychologists also recommend those on the Autism Spectrum to eat healthier, exercise, and get plenty of sleep. When your body is taken care of, it will react better to the stimuli you encounter every day, therefore easing the symptoms you experience each day.

Speaking With A Counselor

If you have an Autism Spectrum Disorder at a high functioning level and are looking for a convenient therapist, BetterHelp counselors may be precisely what you need. With BetterHelp, you do not have to leave the house to talk to your counselor. You can easily access help anytime you need it, no matter where you are. Our counselors are trained and skilled at what they do. See reviews of our BetterHelp counselors below, from people experiencing similar issues.

Counselor Reviews

"Working with Carolyn has been a life-changing experience, and I'm only a couple of weeks in! She is my first counselor, despite being in therapy most of my life. The difference is that in addition to hearing me out and discussing specific events, Carolyn also provides tools and guidance to help me succeed in scenarios where I'd previously stumble. It's also great to be able to send her messages in between weekly meetings. She usually responds quickly, well within the 24hr window. Her thorough responses are evidence of her genuine desire to facilitate positive & empowering growth. I'm thrilled to be working with her."

"I worked with another counselor for over 6 months before working with Arielle Ballard. In one 30 minute session, I got more accomplished in terms of structuring goals, building coping mechanisms, and recognizing thought patterns, than I had in the 6 months working with the other counselor. I'm pleased with my progress and am very grateful to Arielle."


Overall, "High Functioning Aspergers" is simply a misshapen phrase for those on the higher end of the Autism Spectrum. If you've found yourself struggling with certain symptoms of Autism, remember that you're not alone. With the right help, you can live a completely happy life. Take the first step today.

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