Are you an adult with High-Functioning Autism or Asperger's? Are you struggling emotionally, socially, spiritually or otherwise?
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Reasons To Get A Diagnosis: Tips For Adults Who Think They “May” Have Aspergers

Aspergers is a high functioning form of autism that only became an "official" diagnosis in 1994. This means that many grown-ups with Aspergers have never been diagnosed. Have you ever had the thought, “Hmm, I think I could have Aspergers – I have some of those darn traits”? If so, are you hesitating to find out, for sure, whether or not you have Aspergers?

Here are 15 reasons why you should consider getting out of your “comfort zone” and seek a diagnosis:

1. A diagnosis can provide a framework for labeling, understanding and learning about behavioral and emotional challenges that have been baffling up to this point.

2. A diagnosis helps others in your life to understand you and respond differently to your “odd” behavior.

3. A diagnosis is needed to request reasonable accommodations for employment under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

4. Getting a diagnosis removes the mystery and diminishes the shame associated with “being a bit weird,” which leads to a greater sense of community and begins the process of learning to live more adaptively with an Aspergers brain.

5. If you do have Aspergers, you may have encountered problems throughout your life. You may be isolated, low on funds, or even in need of better housing. A diagnosis of Aspergers can qualify you for a variety of federal services, accommodations and supports.

6. If you have Aspergers, you may be a visual thinker in a verbal world. With an Aspergers diagnosis, you can get the help and accommodations you need to complete courses, tests and interviews to get the work you want.

7. Official diagnosis is necessary if you want to apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

8. Parties and social events are a great way to meet people, and they can be essential for business, dating, and even a happy marriage. But if you don't know where to stand, how to break into a conversation, what to wear or whether you're talking too loudly, you may need help and support to take part and have fun.

9. Someone you care about has suggested that you may have Aspergers, and they've pointed to certain behaviors that drive them crazy. They'd like you to get a professional opinion and, ideally, some help. Could they be right? Only an experienced professional can tell you if you have Aspergers.

10. You get easily overwhelmed anytime there's too much sensory input (e.g., at parties, the mall, grocery store, sporting event, etc.). And you'd very much like to be comfortable taking part in those ordinary activities. The problem could be Aspergers, and part of the solution could be getting that diagnosis.

11. You have a tough time making and/or keeping friends, and don't know why – or your friends are only interested in you when you're engaged in an activity you share, but you haven't built a personal relationship with anyone yet. The issue could be Aspergers-related.

12. You met someone special. You're interested in making a move. Now what? Dating is tough for anyone, but if you have Aspergers, it can be downright confusing. Need help? You might need to start with an Aspergers diagnosis.

13. You never seem to get a job that reflects your abilities, even though all your credentials are terrific on paper – or you're passed over for promotions regularly because you just don't get office politics. Could this be Aspergers?

14. You've been called "obsessive," but you feel you're just very interested in one incredibly interesting subject or activity. You'd like to figure out whether you're right or wrong, and make a good decision about whether to try to expand your interests. It would help to know whether or not you have Aspergers.

15. You've been feeling "different" your whole life. Now, you're hoping to find a community of individuals who get who you are, how you think, and even how you feel. A diagnosis of Aspergers may give you the push you need to get in touch with support groups and connect with that community.

It’s never too late to increase self-awareness in order to capitalize on strengths and work around areas of challenge. Knowing about Asperger gives you an explanation, not an excuse, for why your life has taken the twists and turns that it has.

Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples


 COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said... Autism, as it existed as a diagnosis in the 1950s, more closely resembled Aspergers Syndrome than classical Autism.
•    Anonymous said... I graduated high school in 1995, needless to say no one knew about this. I was diagnosed last year. I've had a few good jobs over the years, but could never stay for any longer than a year. Then I'd have major break downs, not realizing it was the AS that was causing this. Very frustrating. Now I can't find counseling from someone specializing with AS patients. Those resources are almost exclusively for children. Adults are being abandoned. I keep hearing people griping about their tax dollars paying for welfare. Well, some of us are on it because we don't the resources to help us. We don't want to be here. We want to have a job, pay taxes, provide for ourselves, and be productive members of society. However, society has decided it would rather ignore us and then chastise us and threaten to take away our only source of help from us, labeling us as lazy people. Nothing could be further from the truth.
•    Anonymous said... I was diagnosed around 5 years ago at the then age of 47..
•    Anonymous said... I was diagnosticed a couple months ago so is true for me
•    Anonymous said... my hubby and twin only diagnosed age 60,after our children were,
•    Anonymous said... Then they say get over it, we all have troubles. Yeah? Really? You don't tell someone with cancer to just get over it. You don't tell someone in a full body cast after a bad crash to just get over it. Some of us can't JUST get over it,we need the resources of professionals to help us so we can finally reach our goals. We have dreams and we have feelings. Sometimes I get so frustrated and angry I want to tell the world to kiss my ass, but that would not be an appropriate reaction.

Please post your comment below…

Living Alone: Tips for Adults with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

“Living alone” is coming out of the closet as more and more Aspergers adults find themselves alone. It can be tough to adjust to going solo. If you're an adult Aspie living alone - or are about to move out on your own - there are a few things to keep in mind to ease the transition and remain connected to the world around you.

To live alone doesn't automatically mean you're lonely. In fact, you can learn to enjoy solitude just as much as spending time with other people. Here are some tips:

1. Avoid convenience food. Even though it sucks to cook for yourself, convenience foods are expensive and rarely good for you. Plus cooking can be an expressive art form in itself, not to mention a rewarding skill to cultivate, as well as a pleasant way to fill up what might otherwise be an empty evening.

2. Avoid television (a time-eating, life-sucking device in the wrong hands). Unless you can dole out to yourself only shows you mindfully enjoy, cancel your cable. Don’t waste your life.

3. Avoid tobacco and alcohol. Tobacco and alcohol are ready substitutes for everything missing in your life. Beware replacing missing chunks of life with addiction.

4. Be safe. Living in a safe area and feeling secure in your new place will grant you peace of mind. A good security system doesn't hurt, either.

5. Call friends and family back home when you feel down. Sometimes all you need is a pep talk from your friends or just to hear a family member's voice to remind you that you're not alone.

6. Connect to the people around you. Sometimes you just have to get yourself out there and say "hi." If you live alone in an apartment complex or condo, go to the sponsored events and talk to at least three new people before you go home.

7. Consider church. One of the biggest benefits of church is having yet another avenue of community (e.g., friendly faces to see, groups to join, etc.). Church will also remind you (in a message worthwhile no matter your beliefs) to forgive others, forgive yourself, be kind, tell the truth, be in the present moment, enjoy life, help people who need help, and share – all good stuff. Anything that maintains mental health is good for singles (who tend as a group to neglect themselves).

8. Don't forget healthy living. It is necessary to take proper care of your health when you are living alone. Try to keep your living place neat and clean.

9. Enjoy the perks of living alone. Decorate however you want to, leave dirty dishes in the sink, walk around in your underwear, make rude noises, or have a solo jam fest to your favorite music. You'll never have to share the remote or the bathroom, and you're free to do what you like.

10. Enjoy your entertainment. Listen to your music and read books of your choice. In the afternoon you can take a cup of tea or coffee staying in the balcony. Watch TV or movie and be relaxed. Extend the breadth of your world.

11. Exercise. The benefits (e.g., socialization, better sleep, better able to handle stress, etc.) make it even more valuable for people who have to deal with the stress of handling most every crisis alone. Regular exercise gives you a place to spend time being social and staying healthy, and having a workout friend (or just people who know you at the gym or on your running route) is yet another avenue of healthy, nourishing interaction.

12. Get a pet. Rescue a cat or dog from a shelter. Having a furry friend to take care of will keep you on track. You will be surprised at the love you will feel for the animal you bring into your home, and the companionship and love it will provide. You can also meet new people walking your dog or taking your ferret to the pet store.

13. Have a form of creative expression that is meaningful and fun to do. Whether you design homes, sew, build birdhouses, dance, sing or flip around on a pommel horse, try to find something yours to do, and explore it deeply and visit it often. Call what you do “art” and take it seriously.

14. Join a local group or organization in your area. Volunteer at a local shelter, nursing home, or other charitable organization. You can connect to your community and make new friends.

15. Keep in Touch with friends and family. You're not an island. Go to the movies, out to dinner, out with friends, or invite friends in. Don't forget to have fun.

16. Stick to a schedule. With no one else in the house, you’ll feel like you have greater freedom to sleep in, lie around, and do nothing. While this is hard to combat, keep your mind aware of it and try not to waste life in being slow and dull. Having a regular schedule of a time to wake, work out, eat, etc. helps keep time from getting away from you.

17. Keep your home environment pleasant and clean. You’re going to be spending a lot of time there. Make it a place you like being in.

18. Learn to shop for one. You're making meals for one person. And you only need kitchen service for a minimal number.

19. Look out for the “me disease.” This happens when you reach a place of stress and isolation so awful that it shifts your perceptions so that it becomes difficult to see other people’s lives through their experiences. You can only see things through the lens of your own suffering. You’ll know you have this self-centered disease when you stop thinking about the people you love and what is going on in their lives. Look out for it, and fight it by asking people how they are, and listening to what they say.

20. Surf the web for connections with others. The computer is a great means to chase the blues away and reach out to people you'll never even meet. Join newsgroups, chat rooms, and web forums to stay connected.

Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

How to Turn Your Passion into a Career: 15 Tips for Aspergers Adults

Showing Aspies how to follow their passion is one of my favorite topics. Thus, I want to share these valuable and actionable tips on how to turn an activity that you love into a money-making proposition:

1. A bad attitude can be your worst enemy. It’s far too easy to feel defeated or depressed when things get difficult. You need to be your own biggest cheerleader, fire up your ambition to succeed and listen to your gut. If it’s telling you to get out of what you’re currently doing, or away from the path that you’re on now, listen carefully.

2. A good rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t quit your “boring” job unless you have at least 3 months worth of living expenses saved up.

3. Competition can be daunting. And in this economy, it can be even harder to break free from the pack. Whether you’re fully employed, trying to get recognized for bigger opportunities, struggling to find a job when everyone seems to be looking, or fighting every day to build more business, separate from the pack. Most people stick to small confined areas where they fight like mad to compete for the same pool opportunities or resources. The competition gets so fierce that it often gets bloody. However, the world is huge and vast and loaded with abundance. You just have to start looking where others are not – where no one else is or few others have ventured.

4. Even if your passion is obscure and not easily translatable into a job, being extremely good at it means that others will often invent services for you. For example, Kseniya Simonova’s passion is sand art. Despite it being an obscure field without many opportunities, she manages to earn a living because she’s so good at it, nobody can ignore her. Do your best to become great at what you love and it will be hard not to find work!

5. Find role models who are making money doing what you want to do – and unabashedly copy them! Try to work out the steps they took to get where they are. Did they get formal training? Where did they start off? When did they get their big break? How did they develop their skills? By copying what has worked before, you’ll have a path to follow.

6. Focus on slow and steady development of your business or career. Try to improve one thing about you or your business every day.

7. If you can put some element of your passion business or job online, do so – it will drastically increase your potential audience and client base.

8. If you’re not yet skilled in your passion, you may need to do an apprenticeship of sorts before you start thinking about earning money. This period will help to set you up for future successes. As an apprentice, aim to get your skills to the point where you are not making too many mistakes, even if your work lacks some polish and finesse. Depending on your passion, you may be entirely self-taught in this period, or decide to get some formal training. Whatever path you take, find someone – or a community of people – who can give feedback on your work.

9. In the beginning, experience is more valuable than money. While it shouldn’t be necessary to work for free, don’t worry if you start off earning or charging much less than you eventually hope to earn. Don’t expect your business or career path to be fully developed from the first day. The process of charging higher rates, making more sales, or earning a high salary will come with time, and you’ll be able to move closer to your goals as you get better at what you do. In the meantime, part of your “payment” is simply being able to practice your passion, and the happiness you get from that.

10. It’s important not to become overwhelmed in the early days. Focus on one thing at a time – whether that’s one client, one project, or a single product. Complete it to the best of your abilities, then move on to the next one. With each successful job, project or product completed, you’ll increase your chances of more coming in the future.

11. It's a lot easier to get an interview if someone within the company vouches for you, so get out there and meet people in your desired field. Scope out some local business networking events, grab your business cards, and start schmoozing. You can also set up an informational interview, where you chat with someone in the industry to get a feel for what you need to know. You'll gain valuable insight into your new career path, and, if you're lucky, you might even get yourself a job offer out of it. If your dream job involves working for yourself, networking is just as important. You need to build up that client base so you can afford to keep the lights on. It's also helpful to build up a support system of other local entrepreneurs, so that you have a network of people who you can bounce ideas off of or ask for help when you're stuck.

12. Opportunity comes in many forms. Not just jobs. Don’t get stuck on finding a job. Or starting a business for that matter. There are lots of opportunities in between that can enable you to turn your passion into your work. Sure, you can get a job doing X, but what about a project, a consulting opportunity, an internship, licensing a business, becoming a franchisee, partnering up with an organization, doing some temp work. Break away from the “get a job” mentality. There are lots of ways to make money doing just about anything …if you’re creative enough.

13. Start creating a (small) platform you can use to help yourself. This is a means to promote your eventual business, service or products. It might be a Facebook or Twitter account, a blog, a LinkedIn profile, or a stack of pamphlets for a letterbox drop. If you start work on this now, you’ll have less work to do when it’s time to start searching for clients, or a job, or a market for your products.

14. Talk to some people who are doing the job that you would like to do. There's often a big difference between the career you fantasize about and the day-to-day reality of turning a passion into a full-time job. For many individuals, it's worth sorting through the mundane details in order to do what you love, but make sure you don't take the plunge with stars in your eyes. Few careers are as fun in practice as they seem to an outsider, and getting a clear picture of your potential “new career” can help ensure that you don't end up disappointed.

15. What makes you different makes you special. You don’t necessarily need to be an expert in your area of passion. You don’t need to have years of experience under your belt to do something with it either. That can come. Take whatever it is that makes you different, unique, special, interesting, quirky or uncommon and turn that into a fascinating story of why you’re pursuing a particular passion.

If you’re not sure how to turn your passion into a job, research what others have done before. What kind of jobs exist around your passion? What kind of products? Good luck!

Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

How to Make Your Spouse Happy: 7 Tips for Aspergers Husbands

You want to make your spouse happy? You want her to feel satisfied? Feel appreciated? Do you want your spouse to put you back on the top of her priority list? 

Below are 7 ways to make your spouse happy – starting today:

1. Make your spouse happy by cleaning anything. When you do any single chore that she doesn't have to do, she is less bogged down. As a mother and wife, her “to do” lists are never ending. While she might love to climb into bed with her husband and think only about love making, she usually can't do that easily. When her husband helps her and makes a serious effort to cut down on what she has to do, she feels thankful for his willingness to help and less overwhelmed by what still awaits her. If you already do a lot around the house, as you should, do one more thing a day and sit back and watch her reaction. Your spouse may not notice your new haircut, but she will always notice a chore that is off her list.

2. Make your spouse happy by complimenting her. You may think that she already knows that you think she is still beautiful, but she can never hear it enough. When you express kind words towards your spouse, she feels a renewed love and appreciation for not only you – but herself. She remembers, even for a brief second, that she is a lovely woman and that has a husband that loves her. What more could she want? She wants and needs to be reminded of how you feel about her.

3. Make your spouse happy by giving her small gifts. While buying her gifts is not nearly as important as your attitude and actions described in the other tips, gifts can play a role to please your spouse. If you can afford a nice little gift here and there, do it. Buy her something that she truly likes though. Think about something she liked way back in college that she hasn't had in a while. Did she like garlic pickles? If so, find a place that sells them and show up with one.

4. Make your spouse happy by having fun and playing with your kids. When a woman sees her husband playing with their children, it is a big turn on. When you think of an activity to do with the kids on your own and you execute that activity showing true interest in them, you might as well pull out the satin sheets, because you're getting lucky. Most women are very conscience of the fact that kids need attention and love from both parents for important emotional development. When a wife sees her husband giving his kids the time and energy that she thinks they deserve, she feels excited and appreciative.

5. Make your spouse happy by remembering special occasions. Remembering birthdays, anniversaries and special dates tells your spouse loud and clear that you truly care. But, when you think outside the box and remember dates that she hardly remembers, she will be totally impressed. She will not only feel special but will feel like you are thinking about her more than she thought. For example, tape a note to the coffee maker in the morning that says "Happy 5 Years Since We Met." Your spouse will be figure out instantly if you are right and then she will call her best friend to tell her that you remembered.

6. Make your spouse happy by showing her affection. Showing your spouse affection is another sign that you love and appreciate her. Hugs and kisses are obviously great ways to show your spouse love, but there are so many other ways to show affection in subtle ways that send a message of love. Why not hold her hand on her way to the laundry room? Put your arm around your spouse while watching TV, or rub her back as she makes dinner. Touch her back as she walks by, kiss the top of her head for no reason, and touch her whenever you can. Show her that you want to touch her in and out of the bedroom.

7. Make your spouse happy by spending as much time with the family as possible. When you are able to get away from work and spend time with your family, do it. The key though is to spend quality time. Turn off your cell phone and the computer and give yourself to your family. Let them see your complete abandon for time. Your spouse will again feel appreciated, and your kids will feel special too.

Making your spouse happy has a lot more to do with performing in everyday life and less about performing in the bedroom. Showing her that you love her every day by touching her, relieving her of some of her duties, showing love to the kids, and spending time with your family will surely make your spouse very happy. This will, in turn, make you happy!

Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

Young Aspergers Adults and Independent Living

This post is written to help young Aspergers (high functioning autism) adults make the most of their abilities and increase their self-reliance and self-confidence.

Yes, you can take control of your life and live independently while fulfilling your dreams and enjoying each day, one day at a time.

1. Always look for the bright spot in everything. But be careful though, because staying positive isn’t the same as settling for whatever comes your way and not aspiring for more. Your happiness and optimism can be both a blessing and a curse. Although you can remain happy despite most of your problems, sometimes you may adapt too much! Adapting as a form of “giving up” is NOT a good thing.

2. Be dependable and punctual. Dependability and punctuality are skills that are learned through trial and error. Aspies who learn to be dependable make their employers happy and get raises and promotions.

3. Be open to new experiences and opportunities. While living alone, you may find yourself complaining that you come face-to-face with major life-changing decisions too frequently (e.g., where to go to school, how to find a better job, when to ask that special person out for a date, etc.). But you won’t accomplish all that you are able to if you are closed to all these experiences. You may have many “firsts” (e.g., first time living alone, your first bank account, your first time spending your birthday away from home, etc.), but all of these experiences are helping you to develop emotional muscles that you would never develop otherwise. And with stronger emotional muscles, confidence and an enjoyment for life begin to grow.

4. Be respectful to others. This is a tough skill for some Aspies to learn. Often they feel that those who deserve respect are those people they like - and no one else. They need to learn that although you may not like someone, that someone deserves your respectful attitude just for the sake of their being and the place that someone has in your life. When you learn to have a respectful attitude towards all others, it becomes easier for you when you work with those who may have different values.

5. Have a positive attitude. It is not possible to truly remain positive all of the time. But if one learns to look for the positive when faced with adversity, instead of wallowing in the negative, one is more likely to find a way to be as positive as possible. You can learn to look for - and strive to achieve - positive outcomes. Then you can use this skill to help you find and keep a job you enjoy.

6. Have a solid work ethic. Working is just that, getting a task completed. When you learn to see a job through until it is done - and done well - you build more confidence and are better able to handle the next task given to you. This skill leads to positive outcomes in the workplace and at home.

7. Keep your faith. When life knocks you down to your knees, remember you’re in the perfect position to pray! During difficult times, you will become more attune to your relationship with God. Every day, wake up and thank Him that you are still alive and doing well. When everything else seems bleak, your faith will keep you strong.

8. Keep yourself busy! Loneliness will get to you, eventually. Coping with loneliness is a very important skill on your list of needed independent living skills, because every Aspie I've ever known has needed it. Aspies who know how to recognize loneliness as the temporary feeling it is (a) use their support system, (b) work through their loneliness, and (c) do just fine in the long run.

9. Know how to problem-solve. When faced with a problem, there are people who ignore them, people who fall apart, and then there are people who look for and find solutions. An Aspie who learns to be the type who looks for solutions will be happier with their chosen career and place of employment.

10. Learn to deal and get along with all kinds of people. Living alone can get you in all different kinds of situations, and in those adventures, you will encounter people from all walks of life. Be interested in them – and learn from them

11. Make yourself happy by doing what you love. If your personal life is messed up, and so is your family life, you might as well try to salvage it by having a good professional working life. At least this one, you have some sort of control over. Money is definitely a necessity, but find the time to do whatever makes you happy during weekends, holidays or after work!

12. Recognize that being alone does not equal being lonely. Being comfortable with being by yourself is part of having a healthy attitude. Have some positive “alone-time” activities. Reading, drawing, journaling, crafting and listening to music are activities that you can enjoy by yourself without feeling lonely.

Jobs for Aspergers Adults Who Prefer to Work Alone

Good jobs for grown-ups with Aspergers (high functioning autism) can vary depending on the person, but in general, careers where the individual can work alone are sometimes better.

Below are 7 careers that may be better suited for "Aspies" who don’t like to socialize:

1. Accountant: While just about any position will require some amount of face-time with co-workers and clients, accountants find themselves diving into a spreadsheet more often than reaching for a cell phone. With plenty of financial data and tax information to digest, chit-chat time is at a minimum. The U.S Department of Labor predicts a 22 percent increase in job opportunities for accountants and auditors through 2018.

2. Actuary: Risk assessment is the name of the game for actuaries, who spend their days analyzing the habits of people and companies. Instead of talking with people, though, their work is based on statistics. Employment of actuaries is expected to jump 21 percent through 2018, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

3. Budget Analyst: Similar to accountants, budget analysts help organizations increase profits by improving efficiency. But the bulk of their time is often spent working independently while compiling and crunching numbers. Budget analysts are projected to enjoy a 15 percent increase in jobs through 2018, according to the Department of Labor.

4. Computer Programmer: It's not uncommon to see computer programmers listening to music while coding. Telecommuting is also an option at some companies. If you can write the code (which isn't easy) many tech managers might be happy to leave you alone. Job opportunities are expected to soar 22 percent for computer programmers and software engineers through 2018, according to the Department of Labor.

5. Forensic Science Technician: Although crime scene investigators have to deal with people, it's often just dealing with their hair, tissue, or DNA samples. When not collecting evidence, working in a laboratory setting is most common for forensic scientists. Jobs for forensic science technicians are expected to grow 20 percent through 2018, according to the Department of Labor.

6. Medical Transcriptionist: Petty office politics and gossip don't easily reach the ears of medical transcriptionists, who wear headphones while transcribing dictated recordings from doctors and other health care pros. A no-nonsense, buttoned-up approach can help since you'll be editing reports for grammar and clarity. Many MT's work at home or off-site from their clients.

7. Writer: Writing is a solitary process. The ability to block out distractions and stay focused is essential in this career. Marketing is one industry where writers and copywriters are in demand. The Department of Labor expects salaried writing positions to increase as the economy strengthens. Online media outlets are driving many of these writing opportunities.

Aspergers Adults and Social Anxiety Disorder

Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), also called social phobia, is diagnosed when individuals become overwhelmingly anxious and excessively self-conscious in everyday social situations. Aspergers (high functioning autism) adults with SAD have an intense, persistent fear of interacting with others (especially in groups). They can worry for days or weeks before a dreaded situation. This fear may become so severe that it interferes with work, school, and other ordinary activities, and can make it hard to make and keep friends.

It's normal to feel nervous in some social situations. For example, going on a date or giving a presentation may cause that feeling of butterflies in your stomach. But in SAD, everyday interactions cause irrational anxiety and self-consciousness.

While many Aspergers adults with SAD realize that their fears about being with others are excessive or unreasonable, they are unable to overcome them. Even if they manage to confront their fears and be around others, they are usually very anxious beforehand, are intensely uncomfortable throughout the encounter, and worry about how they were judged for hours afterward.

SAD can be limited to one situation (e.g., talking to others, eating or drinking, writing on a blackboard in front of others, etc.) or may be so broad that the individual experiences anxiety around almost anyone other than close family members.

Symptoms—

Emotional and behavioral SAD signs and symptoms include:
  • Anxiety that disrupts your daily routine, work, school or other activities
  • Avoiding doing things or speaking to others out of fear of embarrassment
  • Avoiding situations where you might be the center of attention
  • Difficulty making eye contact
  • Difficulty talking
  • Fear of situations in which you may be judged
  • Fear that others will notice that you look anxious
  • Intense fear of interacting with strangers
  • Worrying about embarrassing or humiliating yourself

Physical SAD signs and symptoms include:
  • Blushing
  • Cold, clammy hands
  • Confusion
  • Diarrhea
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Muscle tension
  • Nausea
  • Shaky voice
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Upset stomach

Worrying about having symptoms:

When Aspergers adults have SAD, they realize that their anxiety or fear is out of proportion to the situation. Yet they’re so worried about developing SAD symptoms that they avoid situations that may trigger them. This type of worrying creates a vicious cycle that can make symptoms worse.

When to see a doctor:

See your doctor or mental health provider if you fear and avoid normal social situations because they cause embarrassment, worry or panic. If this type of anxiety disrupts your life, causes severe stress and affects your daily activities, you may have SAD or another mental health condition that requires treatment to get better.

Feelings of shyness or discomfort in certain situations aren't necessarily signs of SAD, particularly in kids. Comfort levels in social situations vary from individual to individual due to personality traits and life experiences. Some people are naturally reserved and others are more outgoing. What sets SAD apart from everyday nervousness is that its symptoms are much more severe, causing the Aspergers adult to avoid normal social situations.

Common, everyday experiences that may be difficult to endure when the Aspergers adult has SAD include:
  • Being introduced to strangers
  • Entering a room in which individuals are already seated
  • Initiating conversations
  • Interacting with strangers
  • Making eye contact
  • Ordering food in a restaurant
  • Returning items to a store
  • Using a public restroom or telephone
  • Writing in front of others

SAD symptoms can change over time. They may flare up if you're facing a lot of stress or demands, or if you completely avoid situations that would usually make you anxious, you may not have symptoms. Although avoidance may allow you to feel better in the short term, your anxiety is likely to persist over the long term if you don't get treatment.

Causes—

Like many other mental health conditions, SAD likely arises from a complex interaction of environment and genes. Possible causes include:
  • Brain chemistry: Natural chemicals in your body may play a role in SAD. For instance, an imbalance in the brain chemical serotonin may be a factor. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and emotions, among other things. Individuals with SAD may be extra-sensitive to the effects of serotonin.
  • Brain structure: A structure in the brain called the amygdale may play a role in controlling the fear response. Individuals who have an overactive amygdala may have a heightened fear response, causing increased anxiety in social situations.
  • Inherited traits: Anxiety disorders tend to run in families. However, it isn't entirely clear how much of this may be due to genetics and how much is due to learned behavior.
  • Negative experiences: Kids who experience teasing, bullying, rejection, ridicule or humiliation may be more prone to SAD. In addition, other negative events in life, such as family conflict or sexual abuse, may be associated with SAD.

Risk factors—

SAD is one of the most common mental disorders. It usually begins in the early to mid-teens, although it can sometimes begin earlier in childhood or in adulthood. A number of factors can increase the risk of developing SAD, including: 
  • Environment: SAD may be a learned behavior. That is, the Aspergers adult may develop the condition after witnessing the anxious behavior of others. In addition, there may be an association between SAD and moms and dads who are more controlling or protective of their kids.
  • Family history: You're more likely to develop SAD if your biological moms and dads or siblings have the condition.
  • Having a health condition that draws attention: Facial disfigurement, stuttering, Parkinson's disease and other health conditions can increase feelings of self-consciousness and may trigger SAD in some individuals.
  • New social or work demands: Meeting new individuals, giving a speech in public or making an important work presentation may trigger SAD symptoms for the first time. These symptoms usually have their roots in adolescence, however.
  • Temperament: Kids who are shy, timid, withdrawn or restrained when facing new situations or individuals may be at greater risk.

Complications—

Left untreated, SAD can be debilitating. Your anxieties may run your life. They can interfere with work, school, relationships or enjoyment of life. You may be considered an "underachiever," when in reality it's your fears holding you back, not your ability or motivation. In severe cases, you may drop out of school, quit work or lose friendships. SAD can cause:
  • Hypersensitivity to criticism
  • Low self-esteem
  • Negative self-talk
  • Poor social skills
  • Trouble being assertive

SAD can also result in:
  • Excessive drinking, particularly in men
  • Isolation and difficult social relationships
  • Low academic achievement
  • Poor work record
  • Substance abuse
  • Suicide

Preparing for a doctor’s appointment—

You may start by seeing your family doctor. After your initial appointment, your doctor may refer you to a mental health provider who can help make a firm diagnosis and create the right treatment plan for you.

What you can do:
  • Ask a trusted family member or friend to be present for your appointment, if possible. Sometimes it can be difficult to soak up all the information provided to you during an appointment. Someone who accompanies you may remember something that you missed or forgot.
  • Write down all of your medical information, including other physical or mental health conditions with which you've been diagnosed. Also write down the names of any medications you're taking.
  • Write down any symptoms you've been experiencing, and for how long. SAD often first appears in your teens. Your doctor will be interested to hear how your symptoms may have waxed or waned since they began.
  • Write down questions to ask your doctor.
  • Write down your key personal information, especially any significant events or changes in your life shortly before your symptoms appeared. For example, your doctor will want to know if your social anxiety seemed to be triggered by a promotion, meeting new individuals, or another new work or social demand.

Questions to ask your doctor at your initial appointment may include:
  • Are there any other possible causes?
  • How will you determine my diagnosis?
  • Should I see a mental health specialist?
  • What do you believe is causing my symptoms?

Questions to ask if you are referred to a mental health provider include:
  • Am I at increased risk of other mental health problems?
  • Are effective treatments available for this condition?
  • Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me? What websites do you recommend visiting?
  • Is my condition likely temporary or chronic?
  • With treatment, could I eventually be comfortable in the situations that make me so anxious now?

In addition to the questions that you've prepared in advance, don't hesitate to ask questions at any time during your appointment.

A doctor or mental health provider who sees the Aspergers adult for possible SAD may ask:
  • Do you avoid activities in which you are the center of attention?
  • Do you drink alcohol or use illegal drugs? If so, how often?
  • Do you ever have symptoms when you're not being observed by others?
  • Does anything seem to make your symptoms better or worse?
  • Does fear of embarrassment cause you to avoid doing things or speaking to individuals?
  • Have any of your close relatives had similar symptoms?
  • Have you been diagnosed with any medical conditions?
  • Have you been treated for other psychiatric symptoms or mental illness in the past? If yes, what type of therapy was most beneficial?
  • Have you ever thought about harming yourself or others?
  • How are your symptoms affecting your life, including your work and personal relationships?
  • When are your symptoms most likely to occur?
  • When did you first notice these symptoms?
  • Would you say that being embarrassed or looking stupid is among your worst fears?

Tests and diagnosis—

When you decide to seek treatment for SAD symptoms, you may have a physical exam and your doctor will ask a number of questions. The physical exam can determine if there may be any physical causes triggering your symptoms. Answering questions will help your doctor or mental health provider find out about your psychological state.

There's no laboratory test to diagnose SAD, however. Your doctor or mental health provider will ask you to describe your signs and symptoms, how often they occur and in what situations. He or she may review a list of situations to see if they make you anxious or have you fill out psychological questionnaires to help pinpoint a diagnosis.

To be diagnosed with SAD, an individual must meet criteria spelled out in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). This manual is published by the American Psychiatric Association and is used by mental health providers to diagnose mental conditions and by insurance companies to reimburse for treatment.

Criteria for SAD to be diagnosed include:
  • Persistent fear of social situations in which the Aspergers adult believes he/she may be scrutinized or act in a way that's embarrassing or humiliating.
  • These social situations cause you a great deal of anxiety.
  • You avoid anxiety-producing social situations.
  • You recognize that your anxiety level is excessive or out of proportion for the situation.
  • Your anxiety or distress interferes with your daily living.

SAD shares symptoms with other psychological disorders, including other anxiety disorders. Your mental health provider will want to determine whether one of these other conditions may be causing your social anxiety, or if you have SAD along with another mental health disorder. Often, social anxiety occurs along with other mental health conditions, such as substance abuse problems, depression and body dysmorphic disorder.

Treatments and drugs—

The two most common types of treatment for SAD are medications and psychotherapy. These two approaches may be used in combination.

Psychotherapy:

Psychological counseling (psychotherapy) improves symptoms in most individuals with SAD. In therapy, you learn how to recognize and change negative thoughts about yourself. Cognitive behavioral therapy is the most common type of counseling for anxiety. This type of therapy is based on the idea that your own thoughts — not other individuals or situations — determine how you behave or react. Even if an unwanted situation won't change, you can change the way you think and behave.

Cognitive behavioral therapy may also include exposure therapy. In this type of therapy, you gradually work up to facing the situations you fear most. This allows you to become better skilled at coping with these anxiety-inducing situations and to develop the confidence to face them. You may also participate in skills training or role-playing to practice your social skills and gain comfort and confidence relating to others. Your mental health professional may help you develop relaxation or stress management techniques.

First choices in medications:

Several types of medications are used to treat SAD. However, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are often the first type of medication tried for persistent symptoms of social anxiety. SSRIs your doctor may prescribe include:
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem, others)
  • Fluvoxamine (Luvox)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil)
  • Sertraline (Zoloft)

The serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) venlafaxine (Effexor) also may be an option for SAD.

To reduce the risk of side effects, your doctor will start you at a low dose of medication and gradually increase your prescription to a full dose. It may take up to three months of treatment for your symptoms to noticeably improve.

Other medication options:

Your doctor or mental health provider may also prescribe other medications for symptoms of social anxiety.
  • Anti-anxiety medications: A type of anti-anxiety medication called benzodiazepines may reduce your level of anxiety. Although they often work quickly, they can be habit-forming. Because of that, they're often prescribed for only short-term use. They may also be sedating. If your doctor does prescribe anti-anxiety medications, make sure you try taking them before you're in a social situation so that you know how they will affect you.
  • Beta blockers: These medications work by blocking the stimulating effect of epinephrine (adrenaline). They may reduce heart rate, blood pressure, pounding of the heart, and shaking voice and limbs. Because of that, they may work best when used infrequently to control symptoms for a particular situation, such as giving a speech. They're not recommended for general treatment of SAD. As with anti-anxiety medications, try taking them before you need them to see how they affect you.
  • Other antidepressants: The Aspergers adult may have to try several different antidepressants to find which one is the most effective and has the fewest unpleasant side effects.

Don't give up if treatment doesn't work quickly. The Aspergers adult can continue to make strides in psychotherapy over several weeks or months. And finding the right medication for your situation can take some trial and error. For some individuals, the symptoms of SAD may fade over time, and medication can be discontinued. Others may need to take medication for years to prevent a relapse. To make the most of treatment, keep your medical or therapy appointments, take medications as directed, and talk to your doctor about any changes in your condition.

Lifestyle and home remedies—

Although SAD generally requires help from a medical expert or qualified psychotherapist, the Aspergers adult can try some self-help techniques to handle situations likely to trigger symptoms.

First, consider your fears to identify what situations cause the most anxiety. Then gradually practice these activities until they cause you less anxiety. Begin with small steps in situations that aren't overwhelming.

Situations to practice may include:
  • Asking a retail clerk to help you find an item
  • Calling a friend to make plans
  • Eating with a close relative, friend or acquaintance in a public setting.
  • Getting directions from a stranger
  • Giving someone a compliment
  • Making eye contact and returning greetings from others, or being the first to say hello
  • Showing an interest in others — ask about their homes, kids, grandkids, hobbies or travels, etc.

At first, being social when you're feeling anxious is challenging. As difficult or painful as it may seem initially, don't avoid situations that trigger your symptoms. By regularly facing these kinds of situations, you'll continue to build and reinforce your coping skills. The following techniques can help the Aspergers adult begin to face situations that make him/her nervous:
  • Adopt stress management techniques.
  • Focus on personal qualities you like about yourself.
  • Pay attention to how often the embarrassing situations you're afraid of actually take place. You may notice that the scenarios you fear usually don't come to pass.
  • Practice relaxation exercises.
  • Prepare for conversation. For instance, read the newspaper to identify an interesting story you can talk about.
  • Set realistic goals.
  • When embarrassing situations do happen, remind yourself that your feelings will pass, and you can handle them until they do.

Avoid using alcohol to calm your nerves. It may seem like it helps, but in the long run it can make you feel more anxious.

Alternative medicine—

Certain supplements may help relieve anxiety, although it isn't clear about how much they help or what possible side effects they might have. Some supplements used to treat anxiety include:
  • Vitamin B and folic acid: These nutrients may relieve anxiety by affecting the production of chemicals needed for your brain to function (neurotransmitters).
  • Valerian: Most commonly used as a sleep aid, valerian has a sedative effect and may also relieve anxiety.
  • Kava: This herb is reported to relax you without making you feel sedated. Some studies have linked kava to liver problems, so it isn't a good idea to take it if you have a liver condition, drink alcohol daily or take medications that affect your liver.

Talk to your doctor before taking herbal remedies or supplements to make sure they're safe for you and won't interact with any medications you take.

Coping and support—

Some coping methods that may help ease your anxiety include:
  • Doing pleasurable activities, such as exercise or hobbies, when you feel anxious
  • Eating a well-balanced diet
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Joining a group that offers opportunities to improve communication and public speaking skills, such as Toastmasters International
  • Joining a local or Internet-based support group
  • Reaching out to others with whom you feel comfortable

Over time, these coping methods can help control your symptoms and prevent a relapse. Remind yourself that you can get through anxious moments, that your anxiety is short-lived, and that the negative consequences you worry about so much rarely come to pass.

Prevention—

There's no way to predict for certain what will cause someone to develop an anxiety disorder in the first place, but the Aspergers adult can take steps to reduce the impact of symptoms if anxious:
  • Avoid unhealthy substance use. Alcohol and drug use and even caffeine or nicotine use can cause or worsen anxiety. If you're addicted to any of these substances, quitting can make you anxious. If you can't quit on your own, see your doctor or find a support group to help you.
  • Get help early. Anxiety, like many other mental health conditions, can be harder to treat if you wait.
  • Keep a journal. Keeping track of your personal life can help you and your mental health provider identify what's causing you stress and what seems to help you feel better.
  • Prioritize your life. You can reduce anxiety by carefully managing your time and energy.



Best Comment:

This is very true, other people can't see that it's a constant battle before, during and after. THis is totally draining. However I think it's vital that Aspergers be diagnosed for a person first before SAD can be addressed. I was treated for SAD which made it worse because they made out I was behaving irrationally, had I known I had Aspergers it would have been OBVIOUS why I feel and act like I do. The reason we suffer from SAD is because of people who don't accept us and don't tune in to our needs.

Aspergers Adults with Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Aspergers adults with Generalized Anxiety Disorder go through the day filled with exaggerated worry and tension, even though there is little or nothing to provoke it. They anticipate disaster and are overly concerned about health issues, money, family problems, or difficulties at work. Sometimes just the thought of getting through the day produces anxiety.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder is diagnosed when an individual worries excessively about a variety of everyday problems for at least 6 months. Adult Aspies with Generalized Anxiety Disorder can’t seem to get rid of their concerns, even though they usually realize that their anxiety is more intense than the situation warrants. They can’t relax, startle easily, and have difficulty concentrating. Often they have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.

Physical symptoms that often accompany the anxiety include:
  • difficulty swallowing
  • fatigue
  • feeling out of breath
  • having to go to the bathroom frequently
  • headaches
  • hot flashes
  • irritability
  • lightheadedness
  • muscle aches
  • muscle tension
  • nausea
  • sweating
  • trembling
  • twitching

When their anxiety level is mild, adult Aspies with Generalized Anxiety Disorder can function socially and hold down a job. Although they don’t avoid certain situations as a result of their disorder, Aspies with Generalized Anxiety Disorder can have difficulty carrying out the simplest daily activities if their anxiety is severe.

Other anxiety disorders, depression, or substance abuse often accompany Generalized Anxiety Disorder, which rarely occurs alone. Generalized Anxiety Disorder is commonly treated with medication or cognitive-behavioral therapy, but co-occurring conditions must also be treated using the appropriate therapies.

Treatment—

In general, anxiety disorders are treated with medication, specific types of psychotherapy, or both. Treatment choices depend on the problem and the individual’s preference. Before treatment begins, a physician must conduct a careful diagnostic evaluation to determine whether an individual’s symptoms are caused by an anxiety disorder or a physical problem. If an anxiety disorder is diagnosed, the type of disorder or the combination of disorders that are present must be identified, as well as any coexisting conditions, such as depression or substance abuse. Sometimes alcoholism, depression, or other coexisting conditions have such a strong effect on the person that treating the anxiety disorder must wait until the coexisting conditions are brought under control.

Adult Aspies with anxiety disorders who have already received treatment should tell their current physician about that treatment in detail. If they received medication, they should tell their physician what medication was used, what the dosage was at the beginning of treatment, whether the dosage was increased or decreased while they were under treatment, what side effects occurred, and whether the treatment helped them become less anxious. If they received psychotherapy, they should describe the type of therapy, how often they attended sessions, and whether the therapy was useful.

Often Aspies believe that they have “failed” at treatment or that the treatment didn’t work for them when, in fact, it was not given for an adequate length of time or was administered incorrectly. Sometimes people must try several different treatments or combinations of treatment before they find the one that works for them.

Medication—

Medication will not cure anxiety disorders, but it can keep them under control while the individual receives psychotherapy. Medication must be prescribed by physicians, usually psychiatrists, who can either offer psychotherapy themselves or work as a team with psychologists, social workers, or counselors who provide psychotherapy. The principal medications used for anxiety disorders are antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, and beta-blockers to control some of the physical symptoms. With proper treatment, many Aspies with anxiety disorders can lead normal, fulfilling lives.

Anti-Anxiety Drugs: High-potency benzodiazepines combat anxiety and have few side effects other than drowsiness. Because people can get used to them and may need higher and higher doses to get the same effect, benzodiazepines are generally prescribed for short periods of time, especially for people who have abused drugs or alcohol and who become dependent on medication easily. One exception to this rule is people with panic disorder, who can take benzodiazepines for up to a year without harm. Clonazepam (Klonopin®) is used for social phobia and Generalized Anxiety Disorder, lorazepam (Ativan®) is helpful for panic disorder, and alprazolam (Xanax®) is useful for both panic disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Some people experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop taking benzodiazepines abruptly instead of tapering off, and anxiety can return once the medication is stopped. These potential problems have led some physicians to shy away from using these drugs or to use them in inadequate doses. Buspirone (Buspar®), an azapirone, is a newer anti-anxiety medication used to treat Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Possible side effects include dizziness, headaches, and nausea. Unlike benzodiazepines, buspirone must be taken consistently for at least 2 weeks to achieve an anti-anxiety effect.

Antidepressants: Antidepressants were developed to treat depression but are also effective for anxiety disorders. Although these medications begin to alter brain chemistry after the very first dose, their full effect requires a series of changes to occur; it is usually about 4 to 6 weeks before symptoms start to fade. It is important to continue taking these medications long enough to let them work.

Beta-Blockers: Beta-blockers, such as propranolol (Inderal®), which is used to treat heart conditions, can prevent the physical symptoms that accompany certain anxiety disorders, particularly social phobia. When a feared situation can be predicted (such as giving a speech), a physician may prescribe a beta-blocker to keep physical symptoms of anxiety under control.

MAOIs: Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) are the oldest class of antidepressant medications. The MAOIs most commonly prescribed for anxiety disorders are phenelzine (Nardil®), followed by tranylcypromine (Parnate®), and isocarboxazid (Marplan®), which are useful in treating panic disorder and social phobia. People who take MAOIs cannot eat a variety of foods and beverages (including cheese and red wine) that contain tyramine or take certain medications, including some types of birth control pills, pain relievers (such as Advil®, Motrin®, or Tylenol®), cold and allergy medications, and herbal supplements; these substances can interact with MAOIs to cause dangerous increases in blood pressure. The development of a new MAOI skin patch may help lessen these risks. MAOIs can also react with SSRIs to produce a serious condition called “serotonin syndrome,” which can cause confusion, hallucinations, increased sweating, muscle stiffness, seizures, changes in blood pressure or heart rhythm, and other potentially life-threatening conditions.

SSRIs: Some of the newest antidepressants are called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs. SSRIs alter the levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain, which, like other neurotransmitters, helps brain cells communicate with one another. Fluoxetine (Prozac®), sertraline (Zoloft®), escitalopram (Lexapro®), paroxetine (Paxil®), and citalopram (Celexa®) are some of the SSRIs commonly prescribed for panic disorder, OCD, PTSD, and social phobia. SSRIs are also used to treat panic disorder when it occurs in combination with OCD, social phobia, or depression. Venlafaxine (Effexor®), a drug closely related to the SSRIs, is used to treat Generalized Anxiety Disorder. These medications are started at low doses and gradually increased until they have a beneficial effect. SSRIs have fewer side effects than older antidepressants, but they sometimes produce slight nausea or jitters when people first start to take them. These symptoms fade with time. Some people also experience sexual dysfunction with SSRIs, which may be helped by adjusting the dosage or switching to another SSRI.

Tricyclics: Tricyclics are older than SSRIs and work as well as SSRIs for anxiety disorders other than OCD. They are also started at low doses that are gradually increased. They sometimes cause dizziness, drowsiness, dry mouth, and weight gain, which can usually be corrected by changing the dosage or switching to another tricyclic medication. Tricyclics include imipramine (Tofranil®), which is prescribed for panic disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and clomipramine (Anafranil®), which is the only tricyclic antidepressant useful for treating OCD.

Taking Medications—

Before taking medication for an anxiety disorder:
  • Ask your physician to tell you about the effects and side effects of the drug.
  • Ask your physician when and how the medication should be stopped. Some drugs can’t be stopped abruptly but must be tapered off slowly under a physician’s supervision.
  • Be aware that some medications are effective only if they are taken regularly and that symptoms may recur if the medication is stopped.
  • Tell your physician about any alternative therapies or over-the-counter medications you are using.
  • Work with your physician to determine which medication is right for you and what dosage is best.

Psychotherapy—

Psychotherapy involves talking with a trained mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, or counselor, to discover what caused an anxiety disorder and how to deal with its symptoms.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy:

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is very useful in treating anxiety disorders. The cognitive part helps Aspies change the thinking patterns that support their fears, and the behavioral part helps people change the way they react to anxiety-provoking situations.

For example, CBT can help Aspies with panic disorder learn that their panic attacks are not really heart attacks and help people with social phobia learn how to overcome the belief that others are always watching and judging them. When people are ready to confront their fears, they are shown how to use exposure techniques to desensitize themselves to situations that trigger their anxieties.

Aspies with OCD who fear dirt and germs are encouraged to get their hands dirty and wait increasing amounts of time before washing them. The therapist helps the person cope with the anxiety that waiting produces; after the exercise has been repeated a number of times, the anxiety diminishes. People with social phobia may be encouraged to spend time in feared social situations without giving in to the temptation to flee and to make small social blunders and observe how people respond to them. Since the response is usually far less harsh than the person fears, these anxieties are lessened. People with PTSD may be supported through recalling their traumatic event in a safe situation, which helps reduce the fear it produces. CBT therapists also teach deep breathing and other types of exercises to relieve anxiety and encourage relaxation.

Exposure-based behavioral therapy has been used for many years to treat specific phobias. The person gradually encounters the object or situation that is feared, perhaps at first only through pictures or tapes, then later face-to-face. Often the therapist will accompany the person to a feared situation to provide support and guidance.

CBT is undertaken when Aspies decide they are ready for it and with their permission and cooperation. To be effective, the therapy must be directed at the person’s specific anxieties and must be tailored to his or her needs. There are no side effects other than the discomfort of temporarily increased anxiety.

CBT or behavioral therapy often lasts about 12 weeks. It may be conducted individually or with a group of people who have similar problems. Group therapy is particularly effective for social phobia. Often “homework” is assigned for participants to complete between sessions. There is some evidence that the benefits of CBT last longer than those of medication for people with panic disorder, and the same may be true for OCD, PTSD, and social phobia. If a disorder recurs at a later date, the same therapy can be used to treat it successfully a second time.

Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples


COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said... Struggle with that daily diagnosed
•    Anonymous said... Remember that everyone doesn't fit every profile of aspergers syndrome....some have some characteristics and others may have different ones....
•    Anonymous said... My son who is 11 was diagnosed with Aspergers and I am without doubt that my partner also does although he has not been diagnosed. I however was diagnosed with GAD, it doesn't take much to cause an anxiety attack, some days it is unbearable from the moment I wake!
•    Anonymous said... I have it.
•    Anonymous said... I don't think I ever had GAD. It was certainly never diagnosed. Is it common in people with ASD?
*   Anonymous said... I am a GADS lady and Asperger's .. Diagnosed at age 45 now 52.. My whole life makes sense now!

Post your comment below…

Developing Conversation Skills: Tips for Adults with Aspergers

One of the best ways to connect with others and build quality relationships is through making conversation. Although most "Aspies" can hold a conversation, only a few are smooth and charismatic when they talk. Working as a “life coach” for teens and adults with Aspergers, I have explored and tested many techniques for improving their conversation skills. I have come up with 15 simple – but effective – ways to be a good conversationalist. Here they are:

1. Ask good questions. A routine question will evoke a routine response. Thus, "How's it going?" will generally get a "Fine, thanks," or perhaps a "I can't complain." If the purpose of the question is only to acknowledge an acquaintance briefly and move on, your purpose is served. This is the social function of language that the anthropologist Malinowski called "phatic communion," which is nothing more than a brief and superficial verbal connection, the smallest of small talk. However, if you'd prefer a more substantial conversation, you'll need to use a different question to evoke a different response. A deeper and more detailed conversation will certainly be less predictable and probably more interesting, and it will likely have the effect of enriching your relationship.

2. Balance the energy. Think of a conversation as an exchange of energy. Whenever such an exchange takes place, balance is always important. You want the energy going one way to match the energy going the other. This balance is often the missing ingredient in conversations between an Aspie and a neurotypical. To get around this, when the other person is talking, you should be listening. Then, when the other person has stopped talking, it’s your turn to respond. Good conversation implies balance. It is through balancing the energy in conversations that you become able to make them fruitful for the both you. The scientific evidence suggests that balancing our conversation so that everyone gets a turn (who wants a turn) is supportive of social relations. In informal conversation, balance requires that speakers monitor themselves so that they do not dominate by talking too much. It is also important for more quiet people to speak up from time to time so that the talkative ones don't think you are giving up any interest in sharing your ideas. Balancing the talk doesn't require a strict 50-50 distribution. The ratio can be 80-20 and still be balanced, as when one person is mainly interviewing the other who of course will do most of the talking. The key here is not so much the actual time each one talks. It is the taking turns that matters. One person may ask a brief question that requires a long, detailed answer.

3. Be patient with yourself as you go through a “trial and error period” in which you have some good conversations some of the time, and maybe some not-so-good ones at other times. Don’t keep score, just keep trying.

4. Conversational skills don’t improve over night. It takes time, practice and the ability to learn from your own experiences. Additionally, these skills have virtually no limit to how far they can be developed. Considering your relationships constitute one of the fundamental components of your life, it is worth mastering your interpersonal abilities.

5. Express your emotions. It’s very rare to meet people who are comfortable talking about their emotions and how certain things make them feel, especially with strangers. But, this way of talking has real quality. Don’t just present the facts – you’re not a newspaper. Express your feelings about those facts. Keep in mind that it is at the emotional level that others connect best.

6. Give unique compliments. Anybody can pay a generic compliment to try and get another person’s approval or appreciation. Charismatic individuals, on the other hand, are able to really pay attention to the people they are in a conversation with, to look beyond the facade and thus, pay unique compliments. Do the same, and besides encouraging others, you may even help them find out things about themselves they didn’t know. Some people have trouble giving compliments. Others have trouble receiving compliments graciously. Most of these troubles are caused by upbringing and culture. All of these old habits can be eliminated and replaced with kinder and more generous behavior that fosters better relations between people.

7. Have fun. Don’t make talking to others a “chore,” rather make it an enjoyable way to spend your time and energy.

8. Hold more eye contact. Most Aspies tend to keep eye contact about 2/3 of the time or less when they talk. Change that temptation to look away from the listener. It’s a very good idea to hold eye contact just a bit more than ½ the time. This will convey confidence and interest in interacting with others.

9. Keep your positive energy up. When we interact with others, we exchange not only words and bodily expressions. We also give off - exchange - our vital energy. If our energy is high and vibrant, we lift the conversation. If it's low and sluggish, we sap energy from the encounter.

10. Notice the details. Individuals with good conversation skills tend to (a) notice details that the average person misses, and (b) pull details into the conversation. They may notice and point out an interesting ring on the other person’s hand, a certain foreign accent, or a certain voice tone they use when saying a name. Thus, such people impress others in a very graceful manner.

11. Offer interesting insights. Anybody can talk about the news or express basic opinions. But good conversationalists can frequently tell you things you didn’t know and that you’ll find fascinating. This is why it’s good to have knowledge in certain fields (e.g., psychology, sociology, etc.), and bring such knowledge out at the right moments in a conversation.

12. Show interest in - and be curious about - those you talk with. In conversation, to be curious is a definite plus. Being curious about another person helps to engage us and to validate that person as interesting. On the other hand, if we seem bored by or indifferent to the person, they feel invalidated, as if we are saying "You hold no interest for me. You are not interesting."

13. Smile. Smiling is a powerful tool, try it right now. Let a big smile stretch across your face. It feels good doesn’t it? A smile makes you look and feel friendly and approachable. It keeps the mood warm and disarms people. Not only that – it is contagious.

14. Talk slowly. Typically, good conversationalists don’t rush into a conversation. They take their time when they reflect on something and when they say it out loud. They act as if they have all the time in the world. This makes them appear centered and collected. Model this way of talking, and you will create the same effect.

15. Use the right words. The ability to be a good talker has a lot to do with choosing the precise words to convey your precise feelings or thoughts. Constantly develop your vocabulary and practice communicating as accurately as possible. It will help you develop a way with words and allow you to express yourself more easily.

Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

Longing for Romance: Tips for Aspies

If you are an Aspergers adult – and you long to be in a relationship, then this article is for you.

It is often very stressful for an Aspie to date. If you find that you are unable to complete any of the tasks below, or if you become very distressed when attempting to complete these tasks, consider working with a psychotherapist. Counseling can offer you the much needed support as you go through the dating process.

First of all, let's talk about risk-taking and dating. There’s no way to avoid taking emotional risks when dating. Give yourself support, and seek out support from others as you do this. Be gentle with yourself. Get extra help if you need it, as you would for any other important area in your life. Good luck!

Steps in the dating process with extra help for Aspergers adults:

1. Ask those closest to you for their help. The individuals who know you well may be able to give you some valuable insight into what has been preventing you from taking the necessary steps toward enjoying a healthy romantic life. Though criticism isn't always the easiest thing to hear, what your loved ones have to say might be more valuable to you than you realize.

2. Before asking someone out on a date, sit down, do a relaxation exercise, and visualize how you would like the date to go. This should be a positive visualization, and you should create the visualization in such a way that you enjoy the experience. Doing this helps your mind prepare for the date.

3. Learning how to talk with others often requires a certain amount of confidence. If you are unhappy with your life, it may be too difficult to find ways to reach out. In many cases, Aspies are harder on themselves than need be, making too much of problems that many individuals share. It's important to remember that nobody's perfect and they shouldn't expect you to be either. At the same time, if you feel that certain changes would improve your life, with or without including the effect of such changes in the romance department, it may be time to take some proactive steps in your life.

4. Once you find someone that you have some connection with, follow up with phone calls or e-mails just to get to know the person. Be prepared for rejection (this is often the toughest part of dating). Remember you are building a connection with this person, and regular communication is essential.

5. Plan out dating as you would any other important area of your life. Commit yourself to taking the time and energy to finding individuals that are right for you to date. Be discriminating – and expect for it to be bumpy. Remember, dating is a numbers game. You may need to meet several (10-20) new individuals before finding someone that you really click with.

6. Practicing the best flirting lines or best pick up lines may seem a little silly in the bathroom mirror, but practice does often make perfect, and repetition may prevent you from jumbling your words when the time comes.

7. Preparing for a new outlook by making some changes to your life may help you to feel more confident. In some cases, a detail as seemingly small as buying a few new clothes may help. In other cases, perhaps it's time to make a career change. If you should come across anything in your life for which you believe altering would improve things greatly, consider making those improvements.

8. Pursue coed activities that interest you (e.g., biking, hiking, photography, self-help seminars, volunteer or charitable organizations, literature classes, etc.). Plan to participate in one or more of these activities one or two times a week - every single week of your life - until you are in a relationship. Once you are attending your activities on a regular basis, begin to ask individuals out - one after the other. Usually coffee or lunch dates work best for a first date. Start by chatting with the new person about the activity you are both participating in, and then casually ask if the person would like to get together some other time.

9. Taking note of how you appear to others (e.g., your facial expressions and body language) may help you to feel more confident about how you're coming across.

10. The internet presents a great place to practice talking with others without the pressure of face-to-face communication. When you chat online, you can choose your words more carefully, and even in the worst case scenarios, you can simply click and exit if need be. After practicing for some time, you may even find that talking with others, the very same individuals you may have found impossible to chat with in person, becomes easy and even relaxing. With the anonymity of online communities, you may also be able to ask certain romance or dating questions that may have previously given you trouble.

11. Though preparation may not have the same feeling to it as actually being in the presence of a person who you find attractive, there are many things that you can do to increase your chances for success. Brushing up on some good conversation topics can be very useful so that you do not have to struggle with ideas in the moment. Composing a list of 10 questions to ask your date, for example, may help you to stay focused and not panic.

12. To expect that you will become a boisterous, outgoing person who is forever free of hesitation when it comes to romance may be too much to expect. Many individuals find “Aspie-like” personalities positively charming – and you should not feel that it is necessary to rid yourself of these traits. Understanding the actions which you believe are setting you back, how you began acting them out, and how you can rid yourself of them does not mean that you should change who you are. Simply look at what negative aspects of being an Aspie are making your life feel incomplete, and learn how to separate yourself from those traits.

13. Understanding why you feel so compelled to hold back when those who you see in a romantic light are present may help solve your problem entirely. Often the fear of rejection and insecurity lie at the heart of such issues. Perhaps a past relationship caused you to feel reluctant to try a new relationship, or maybe you've just felt this way your entire life. However you came to feel this awkward around others, it's important that you get to the root of the problem so that you can begin to find ways to overcome it.

14. When heading out on a date, you may want to select your location more carefully because of the difficulty you experience. The best places to go on a date will often include those which are familiar to you and allow you to feel at ease. Adding in the tension of unfamiliar surroundings along with the stress of trying to impress someone will often create unnecessary problems. In your comfortable surroundings, it may be easier to focus on the date itself.

15. When you go out on a date, try to be curious about the other person, and use this curiosity to focus on whether or not you like the person. Ask questions and create conversation out of mutual interests - even if you do not know much about the subject at hand. Allow for some quiet, awkward moments during the date, it always happens.

Here are some ideas for meeting other single individuals:
  • Volunteer Work: Food banks, Children's shelters, service clubs, etc.
  • Sports: Soccer, volleyball, tennis, dancing, baseball, biking, rafting, roller-blading, canoeing, etc. If you do not know where to find the locale of a particular sports activity, find a local store that sells the equipment for that sport and ask the sales individuals.
  • Online Dating: There are many online services to choose from. Proceed cautiously, if you agree to meet the person. Talk on the phone first then meet briefly in a public place. Do not give out any personal information such as your full name, address, place of work, etc. until you know the person first. If you are a teen tell your parents and a few close friends if you are planning to meet a stranger. Let the stranger know that you have done this.
  • Communities: Many single individuals these days belong to a community of individuals with similar interests who like to participate together in a particular activity. These are often warm and friendly places to meet new individuals. Meditation, Sierra Club, biking, book groups, self-help activities such as 12 step programs, online communities.
  • Classes: Cooking, photography, yoga, creative writing, dancing, etc. These classes can be found at community colleges, city recreation centers, adult education programs and many private organizations.

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