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Friday, April 9, 2010

Functionality and Normalcy

Now at age 18 Tikaani could feed, dress and use the toilet by himself. Skills that Hanai though he will never learn. However he still has trouble cooking the most simple of meals, can't sow or tan leather. He can make a drum from scratch though make a fire and hunt for clams and even fish, but not hunt or work with any weapons. He can't be left alone for his running behavior. He can read and write though and does well with dogs.

but...is he normal?

What is exactly is functionality? Why do professionals fixate on the binary of low and high functioning? Is Tikaani low functioning since he could barely speak accept for short sentences or is he high functioning enough since he could do a trade like make drums or harvest selfish in his tribe and he is also literate.

Functionality creates a border. An us/them mentality that does more harm than good and the concept of functionality seems to be evolving every year. I can't drive I can't hold a full time job I probably won't marry again (I don't even want to talk about that) or go to college. Am I functional though? Doctors think I am. I am Asperger, ergo HFA. So I must be high functioning. Despite having obvious challenges that more "functional" people have. I know autists that can drive and hold full time jobs, marry and be huge drivers in politics. Are they more "high functioning" than me? Do they get their Autie Licenses revoked?

I have seen the dreadful hierarchy that functionality causes. This idea that HFA autists should 'lord' over LFAs makes me nauseous. The idea that the LFA need us to protect them is stupid. ASAN unfortunately from what I see makes no effort to address this issue. This deciding line between LFA and HFA and the fact that these labels are going extinct (eventually) is going to be important for ASAN and other organizations to pay attention too. They need to see the infighting and the ableism within the group. I believe LFA people have much to contribute as long as they gain accommodations they need.

The problem is...once an oppressed group gains power, the opposing group tries to find ways to get it back. Any means necessary.
You can interpret that last line any way you want.

PS, I don't put Tikaani with any functionality label, at least not personally. I use a label to for reference for some RP players and in my fictions for the public. But generally, Tikaani isn't Low or High functioning. He's...Tikaani.



  1. The line I go with is that if you can have this back and forth with me, no matter through what mode of communication, then you are high functioning. You are no a being capable of the public use of reasoning and therefore can and should have the right to engage in the social and political offices of a citizen.

  2. What bothers me about the " Functionality " label set is that it assumes if you can do something, you are perfectly high functioning in that category. Never mind the actual difficulty inherent to doing the task, or how many times in your day-to-day life you have to face that difficulty.

    I like that your character Tikaani is so hard to define by labels, because labels don't do anyone any good.

  3. I like that your character Tikaani is so hard to define by labels, because labels don't do anyone any good.

    To be honest I thought the lack of label was fail on my part for not keeping a consistent character. It was only when I realized or rather had an epiphany, that autistic people in RL don't have labels like that either in the social context...so why does Tikaani?

    To point out something else Tikaani actual intelligence is something of an enigma. I can't tell where he is IQ. I rationalized that he is normal intelligence in his homeland...now outside it?