Welcome to the forum. :) let's just skip the high and low functioning thing and just say that autism is a spectrum. Each person has strengths and weaknesses and in some areas someone nonverbal may be more skilled than me. I'm highly verbal and I was diagnosed PDD NOS at age 6. Even though I am highly verbal I have many hang-ups related to autism, just it makes it harder for people to see it.
From what you described sounds more like PDD NOS type autism. Were you able to think in full sentences? Was it only verbalizing them that you had trouble?
Making friends is hard... I have found people dealing with other disAbilities to make great friends. People who have been there tend to be more understanding than soemone who never had dealt with such things. Not to say that "normal" people can't make good friends, but it may be harder for them to relate. It helps to be open about your hang-ups. If people can accept you for who you are and be willing to work with you, then they are good friends. If they criticize you, then they aren't worth being friends to anyone..
From a clinical point of view a child diagnosed with Aspergers should have typical language development. The fact that you did not speak until 10, in my opinion, should mean a diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorder (ie. somewhere on the autistic spectrum). But as many websites point out, if a high functioning autistic child learns to speak competently then there usually isn't an awful lot of difference between the two as adults.
Yeah, I don't get the low and high functioning thing either. Though I feel very low functioning as a person until I get my caffeine in the morning. LOL...
I made the comment about skipping high and low functioning after seeing Amanda Baggs and another nonverbal autistic person bee able to communicate through a voice program and communicating their thoughts in type. After reading and hearing what they had to say, who am I to judge high and low functioning? Being unable to communicate is very frustrating. That's why I'd like to see more research done in enabling people to communicate. I believe it will open doors and help with many of the other aspects such as anxiety and meltdowns, etc.
There are many nonverbal ways to communicate. Some guy gave me "the bird" when I cut him off driving last week. Oh, and sure did blow the horn quite loud which then made me almost drive off the road. Dude needed to get some anger management under control there... people make mistakes sometimes. I wonder what the way to express "I'm sorry" is when you're driving. I mean, anger is flipping the finger. How do you say "I'm sorry" with your hand? Yeah, I felt very unable to communicate. You can't exactly scream "I'm sorry" to another person in another car in the dead of winter when your windows are all rolled up. Oh, so like my point which I am getting to is that I felt frustrated so people who can't talk must be really frustrated... and then they get to use voice programs on the computer and type and wahlah, they get to communicate... they must be really happy to live in today's computer age. I wonder what people with autism who couldn't speak before computers did... I guess wrote on paper? Not as quick and having the ability to share with lots of others as the computer.
MJ, I like your questioning the high/low functioning thing. I get angry when people ask me if my daughter is high or low functioning. Oh, another thing I hate is when people ask me "when did you realize something was wrong with your daughter?" Wrong? Something different maybe, but not wrong. Um, sorry to go on about that... guess something has been ticking me off lately... Grrr....
What you say is very true. We definately judge a person's 'intelligence' by their ability to communicate. And I know alot of careworkers were shocked when they saw the video of Amanda Baggs because they were probably thinking that they work with people like her all day long and maybe they too could communicate if they had the right tools and i'm sure they made judgements on their mental abilities depending on how able they were to communicate.
I read an interesting article in one of the UK papers last week about an autistic savant who, amongst other things, could learn a new language in a week. However, although he was British he preferred to live abroad because his 'communication difficulties' were always put down to 'being a foreigner'. And that made me smile because when I lived in Greece for 7 years, initially I did not understand the language or culture at all, and I recognised my own social behaviour change and become rather 'autistic' due to the fact that I couldn't communicate. For example I would try to communicate one to one and avoid groups. I would avoid eye contact incase someone would speak to me and I couldn't answer. I was echolalic - ie. I would use phrases that I thought were appropriate because I had heard them before but I had no idea what the individual words meant. If I was in a group that were talking I would quickly zone out and start thinking about things I needed to do, or make a mental shopping list because you can only concentrate for so long on something you don't understand etc etc. So I believe that difficulties with communication is a huge part of being on the spectrum.