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Aspergers Adults and Anxiety Prevention


Anxiety is very difficult for many grown-ups with Aspergers and High Functioning Autism to over-come. It can affect an individual psychologically and physically. Anxiety can happen for a range of reasons, and adults with Aspergers can vary in their ability to cope with it.

Emotions are abstract. To understand emotion, you need an imagination. One of the areas of difficulty for adults with Aspergers is not being able to imagine things, so understanding emotions can be difficult for them.

Anxiety can affect both the mind and the body, and produce a range of symptoms. The psychological and physical symptoms of anxiety are closely linked and so can lead to a vicious cycle that can be difficult to break. The psychological symptoms of anxiety are:
  • becoming preoccupied with or obsessive about one subject
  • depression
  • difficulty concentrating
  • difficulty sleeping
  • easily losing patience
  • thinking constantly about the worst outcome

Its physical symptoms include:
  • dizziness
  • excessive thirst
  • frequent urinating
  • headaches
  • loose bowel movements
  • muscle aches
  • periods of having gas
  • periods of intensely pounding heart
  • pins and needles
  • stomach upsets
  • tremors

If you do experience any of these symptoms, it is important to also get medical advice to rule out other medical conditions.


==> Anxiety-Reduction: Quick Tips for People with AS [audio excerpt from Mark Hutten's lectures]


Once you understand anxiety and identify the things and situations that make you anxious, you can then take steps to cope with it. Strategies for managing anxiety include the following:

1. Any activities that are pleasant and calming such as taking a bath, listening to relaxing music, aromatherapy, playing on a computer may also help reduce anxiety. Some Aspies may find lights particularly soothing, especially those of a repetitive nature, such as spinning lights or bubble tubes.

2. Keep a diary. Try to understand the anxiety symptoms you display when you are anxious – and to look at the causes of your anxiety. Keeping a diary in which you write about certain situations and how these make you feel may help you to understand your anxiety and manage it better. Use the diary also to think about the physical changes linked to anxiety. Aspies often retreat into their particular interest if they are anxious about something. Use the diary to monitor this as well.

3. Create an “anxiety plan.” An anxiety plan is a list of things and situations that cause anxiety as well as solutions and strategies you can use to help manage your anxiety levels. The plan can be adapted, depending upon how well you understand anxiety.

4. Physical activity can often help to manage anxiety and release tension. Using deep breathing exercises to relax can be helpful, as can activities such as yoga and Pilates, which both focus on breathing to relax. Use a visual timetable or write a list to remind yourself when you need to practice relaxation.

5. Aspies can find it very difficult to relax. Some adults with Aspergers have a particular interest or activity they like to do because it helps them relax. If they use these to relax, it may help to build them into their daily routine. However, this interest or activity can itself be the source of behavioral difficulties at times, especially if they're unable to follow their interest or do the activity at a particular moment. Some Aspies may need to be left alone for short periods of the day to help them unwind.

6. Some adults with Aspergers find direct confrontation difficult. They may therefore be unable to say they don’t like certain things or situations, which will raise their anxiety levels. If they identify they are anxious, they could use a card system to let family or friends around them know how they are feeling. They could also carry a card around with them to remind themselves of what they need to do if they start getting anxious. Devise a stress scale that you can use whenever you find something particularly stressful.

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

==> Skype Counseling for Struggling Individuals & Couples Affected by Asperger's


Comments:

•    I think there are many Aspies, self included, that have an abundance of imagination AND empathy...the issue with understanding emotion is just that, and being uncomfortable or overwhelmed... As well as plagued or struggling with how we even sort through the feelings and reactions we are having to them...it can be linked to earlier past negative experiences, and fear...thus the "fight or flight" response/anxiety kicks in as a defense mechanism, or others freeze and shut down. I still don't believe that is about imagination, but coping and reconditioning in many cases, developing skills too...because some take a long time to develop a more "mature" way of acting/coping, as one might be just reacting. Just my take...
•    I have lots of empathy but I just don't know how to show it very much. I also rarely read fiction because I can't follow it.
•    I`m HFA and now 50 years old, and through my life, I have developed a wide variety of coping strategies that help me deal with all kinds of situations.The one thing that still has a serious impact on my life is anxiety linked to not being able to control my surroundings. I tend to mask it by portraying myself as happy-go-lucky, but inside, situations that others find mundane, fill me with dread and quite literally make my stomach churn. The physical symptoms of my anxiety are still the biggest thing that stops me enjoying life to the full. Situations that take me out of my "comfort zone" are made far worse by the thought that my increased anxiety may cause my bowels/bladder to let me down at the wrong moment. Boarding a train or bus with no toilet is something I will avoid wherever possible, and I dread when I`m flying somewhere and the seat-belt light stays on for ages....People laugh at me when they see me use the bathroom several times in a short period of time. As a consequence, events that should be fun and enjoyable send my anxiety levels through the roof. Recently, I won an award that required me to travel to London and go on stage in front of thousands of people to receive it. Just the thought of my body letting me down at the critical moment led me to decline the invitation. Still kicking myself over that one...
•    My daughter is 19 and struggling so bad with anxiety at the moment. She has been in a great private clinic for the past 2 weeks but she never seems to be able to put all the strategies they them into practice. They say cbt is hard for aspies as they are so rigid in the way they think??? 10 years of CBT and she is getting worse by the year. I am so desperate now to find answers. 

Correcting Social Deficits: Tips for Aspergers Adults

One of the most characteristic symptoms of Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism is a deficit in social behavior. Many reports written by researchers have described this problem, and it is thought by many to be the key defining feature of Aspergers. The social problems can be classified into three categories: socially indifferent, socially awkward, and socially avoidant.

1. The socially indifferent Aspie:
  • does not seem to mind being with people – but at the same time – does not mind being by himself
  • does not seek social interaction with others (unless he wants something), nor does he actively avoid social situations

It is thought that this type of social behavior is common in the majority of Aspergers adults. One theory is that they do not obtain 'biochemical' pleasure from being with others. Beta-endorphins (an endogenous opiate-like substance in the brain) are released in the brain during social behavior. There is evidence that the beta-endorphin levels in people with Aspergers are elevated, so they do not need to rely on social interaction for pleasure. Some research on the drug called “Naltrexone” (which blocks the action of beta-endorphins) has shown to increase social behavior.

2. The socially awkward Aspie:
  • desires romantic relationships, but does not have the skills to find and keep a partner
  • does not learn social skills and social taboos by observing others
  • is self-centered
  • lacks common sense when making social decisions
  • lacks reciprocity in interactions, since conversations often revolve around self
  • may try very hard to have friends, but can’t keep them

3. The socially avoidant Aspie:
  • avoids virtually all forms of social interaction

In childhood, the most common response in the socially avoidant individual is having a tantrum or running away when someone tries to interact with him or her. As infants, some are described as arching their back from a parent to avoid contact. For many years, it was thought that this type of reaction to their social environment indicated that the person with Aspergers did not like - or was afraid of - people. Another theory (which is based on interviews with Aspergers adults) suggests that the problem may be due to hypersensitivity to certain sensory stimuli (e.g., some said that a parent's voice hurt their ears, some describe the smell of their parents' perfume or cologne as offensive, some describe pain when being touched or held, etc.).

In addition to the above three types of social deficits, the social cognition of adults with Aspergers may be lacking. Recent research has shown that many Aspies do not realize that other individuals have their own thoughts, plans, and points of view. They also appear to have difficulty understanding other people's beliefs, attitudes, and emotions. As a result, they may not be able to anticipate what others will say or do in various social situations. This has been termed “mind-blindness.”

Treatment—

1. Biomedical: Naltrexone is usually not prescribed to improve social interaction; however, research studies and reports have often indicated improved social skills when given Vitamin B6 and magnesium, and/or dimethylglycine (DMG).

2. Sensory: If the problem appears to be due to hypersensitivity to sensory stimuli, sensory-based interventions may be helpful (e.g., auditory integration training, sensory integration, visual training, and Irlen lenses). Another strategy would be to remove these sensory intrusions from the person's environment.

3. Social-Skills Training: A major goal of social skills training is teaching Aspergers adults about the verbal and nonverbal behaviors involved in social interactions. There are many Aspies who have never been taught such interpersonal skills (e.g., making "small talk" in social settings, the importance of good eye contact during a conversation, etc.). In addition, many of these individuals have not learned to "read" the many subtle cues contained in social interactions (e.g., how to tell when someone wants to change the topic of conversation or shift to another activity). Social skills training helps a person with Aspergers to learn to interpret these and other social signals, so that he or she can determine how to act appropriately in the company of other people in a variety of different situations.

Social skills training makes the assumption that when individuals improve their social skills or change selected behaviors, they will raise their self-esteem and increase the likelihood that others will respond favorably to them. Aspies learn to change their social behavior patterns by practicing selected behaviors in individual or group therapy sessions. Another goal of social skills training is improving the person’s ability to function in everyday social situations. Social skills training can help the person to work on specific issues (e.g., improving one's telephone manners) that may interfere with his or her job or daily life. 

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

Building a Healthy Self-Esteem: Tips for Adults with Asperger's

To feel good about your life and the way it evolved, you need to change two basic things: (1) how you see yourself, and (2) your personal responsibility over your life. If you don’t take responsibility for your actions, and if you don’t fight to make your wishes come true, then you are bound to believe that you have no control over your life and your achievements, that you are at the mercy of fate, and that you will never be happy!

So you are doomed - doomed to live a life which you don’t appreciate, you don’t respect, don’t feel proud about it, and of course ... you don’t want!

How can you feel good about your life and your achievements? How can you improve your confidence and self-esteem? How can you see yourself with other eyes and take responsibility for your life?

Starting from this moment, you can follow these strategies that, although simple, can have tremendous impact on your psychology and the evolution of your life:

1. Nothing is more valuable to your life than when you can accept your weaknesses and improve your strengths. You are not the only one in the world who has difficulties and problems! We all have. Rather than grumble about your weaknesses you need to reconcile with them, face them and you win the first battle against them! The refusal and arrogance never helped anyone. You need to see yourself objectively.

2. Building confidence is a process that needs a lot of effort, courage and patience. Confidence is defined as the absolute faith in yourself and your abilities. Confidence includes self-esteem and dignity and the belief that you are able to carry out and meet any challenge or dilemma in your life. Self-confidence is the way you talk to yourself.

3. The people you love, your pets, your flowers, your friends and what makes you feel beautiful in life is precious. Make sure that you love and protect and fill your life with more love. A life full of love is of great value.

4. You never know enough. No information is useless. You should learn as much as you can, and never think that you know everything. The only thing certain is that if you spend all your life reading, you will still have little awareness in front of the infinite knowledge that exists around you. So, you should not be dogmatic, don’t reject other ideas, and don’t always think you are right. There is no surer way to screw-up your life!

5. If you are constantly thinking of the future and you always wait for something to happen, you lose the moment, which you may already have all these things that you are waiting for ...and simply you don’t see them! Live in the moment. Be creative now. Try something new now. Don’t leave for the future what you can do now.

6. Even if your life is not as you want, don’t be discouraged. Fight for the life you want. There are always opportunities for you. There are always alternatives and other routes that can lead you right where you want to reach. Don’t compromise using expressions like this: “Life is a bitch – and then you die.” This is defeatism. You can do everything!

7. If something goes wrong in your life, then ask yourself who is to blame, what you are doing wrong, what you can change, how can you learn more information to get a better picture, etc. Don’t take anything for granted, and above all, don’t take your life for granted! Question your behavior, the methods you have learned to use, the way you think and operate – even question your values. Review your behavior and don’t sit back and hide behind the security of the current situation. The current situation is not necessarily the right thing for you. There are thousands of individuals who feel so much security in the current situation who don’t dare get out of this comfort zone! Don’t be one of them. You need to have courage to learn the truth and acknowledge your mistakes. You need courage to accept the imperfections and win the life that you would like!

8. The past can’t change, and in any case, the past does not specify your future. Don’t be discouraged by the past. Use today to make one more step closer to your happiness.

9. Confidence and high self-esteem is really valuable for those who have managed to acquire it. These individuals feel beautiful and they show it. They are effective and productive. They don’t have insecurities, and they operate knowing that they are capable of being loved and respected. They don’t try to improve their self-esteem by reducing other people around them or humiliating them.

10. Psychologists often indicate that almost all sectors of our lives - our happiness, our success, our relations with others, creativity, sexual life - is based on our level of confidence and self esteem. The more confidence we have, the more we achieve our objectives.

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

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