These are the kids that people talk about when they refer to kids with "mild autism." These kids are verbal. They're learning. They may make it to and through college. Yet, with all that, their ability to "pass" as typical is small to nil. Their problems - ranging from severe anxiety and social phobia to serious sensory issues to behavior problems, flapping, and more - will never disappear. And to make it worse, every one of these young teens is keenly aware and able to articulate the fact that they are autistic.
I used to believe in "mild autism." I was one of those parents who scorned the parents of kids with Asperger syndrome for insisting on specialized programs and special needs gym. After all - they looked just like everyone else. Why push them into "special" settings at all.
Then I noticed that it was these very "mildly autistic" kids who were most likely to get bullied in typical settings. They were the same kids who burst into tears at the smallest provocations, eliciting even more teasing. They were the ones with the social anxiety, the anger management issues, and the overwhelming sensory issues.
Far from being "mildly" affected by autism, these kids with Asperger syndrome seemed to be suffering much more than those deemed "low functioning." In fact, their symptoms were anything but mild.
What's your take? Is there a "mild" form of autism? Or do the symptoms just look different when the person with autism is verbally articulate? Oh - and while you're thinking about this topic - another question. Are the symptoms of Asperger syndrome only relevant when there are "neurotypical" people around to point out their differences? In other words, when autistic people are alone or among truly supportive friends and family, are their symptoms truly symptoms at all?