Many people are under the impression that autism exists on a linear spectrum, going from not-at-all-autistic to extremely-autistic (“Oh we’re all a bit on the spectrum, aren’t we?!!”). Autistic people are given labels that put us on a scale from ‘low’ to ‘high’ functioning. Most autistics I know aren’t that interested in the idea of lining ourselves up in order of who is the ‘most’ autistic (much as we may enjoy a nice orderly line) so effectively these labels are just a shorthand for professionals. This idea of graduated difficulties can be useful in some situations, and is essential under a medical model – for example an A&E nurse responsible for triaging patients needs to know that a broken leg is more severe than a sprained ankle. However, is it really appropriate to apply the same kind of scale to something that is simply a difference in how we are wired? Is there a risk that the use of functioning labels could mean people who are seen as ‘high functioning’ have their struggles dismissed or ignored, and people who are ‘low functioning’ are presumed incompetent and unable to communicate, when that may not actually be the case?