Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Functioning Labels

I'm sure you've heard the terms "high" or "low" functioning before. While people may use them only intending to describe the level one operates at, they can be very misleading and ableist. I'll do something here I've seen a few times:

Zoey, 31, received her Bachelor's in Social Work. She holds both a full-time and relief position working with people who have mental illness and developmental disabilities. Zoey has an active social life, spending time with her friends and family. She considers herself a mediator, as keeping the peace is a strength of hers.

Max, also 31, still lives with her parents who provide her with a lot of moral support. She struggles to manage money, having difficulty budgeting. Max feels that she is at a turning point in life, in a developmental stage similar to that of a teenager. She is not sure just what she wants out of life and is trying to find her path.

Now, looking at the two above stories, you'd probably assume that Zoey operates at a "high" functioning level and Max on a "low" functioning level. The truth is, if you haven't figured out already, Zoey and Max are both facets of me :) The point of this all is to prove that functioning labels are not always accurate, as one can be BOTH "high" and "low" functioning, in varying areas. Everyone is created unique, with their own strengths and weaknesses. One may excel in living independently and struggle with social relations, while another may still be getting their footing on independence, but be a social butterfly....sound familiar? ;) The next time you hear someone using functioning labels, remind yourself that there is a lot more to a person than meets the eye!

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