Are you an adult with High-Functioning Autism or Asperger's? Are you in a relationship with someone on the autism spectrum? Are you struggling emotionally, socially, spiritually or otherwise? Then you've come to the right place. We are here to help you in any way we can. Kick off your shoes and stay awhile...

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ASD [Level 1]: Disability or Unique Ability?

Any increasing number of men and women with ASD Level 1 [Aspergers, High-Functioning Autism] are refusing to be classified as individuals with a disability, syndrome or disorder. They claim that ASD is not a disorder, but a “different way of thinking.” 
Many claim that a “cure” for the condition would destroy the original personality of the individual in a misguided attempt to replace them with a “neurotypical” (i.e., a person not on the spectrum).

The “different way of thinking” perspective supports the model of ASD that says that it is a fundamental part of who the autistic individual is – and that ASD is something that can’t be separated from the individual. As a result, some “different way of thinking” believers prefer to be referred to as “autistic people” instead of “people with autism,” because “people WITH autism” implies that it is something that can be removed from the individual.

==> Online Group Therapy for Couples and Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder

ASD individuals with this perspective oppose the idea of a cure, because they see it as destroying the original personality of the individual, forcing them to imitate neurotypical people (which they believe is unnatural to the “autistic”), simply to make mainstream society feel less threatened by the presence of men and women who are unique.

“Different way of thinking” believers assert that the “quirks” of ASD individuals should be tolerated as the differences of any minority group should be tolerated. When there is discussion about visions for a future where the condition has been eliminated, “different way of thinking” believers usually see this as an attempt to end of their culture and way of being.

“Different way of thinking” believers certainly would enjoy having fewer difficulties in life, and they find some aspects of ASD painful at times (e.g., sensory issues), but they don’t want to have to sacrifice their basic identities in order to make life easier. “Different way of thinking” believers strongly desire society to become more tolerant and accommodating instead of searching for a cure. These unique individuals:
  • think that treatments should focus on giving them the means to overcome the challenges associated by ASD rather than curing it
  • support programs that respect the individuality of the autistic
  • prefer the word "education" over "treatment"
  • try to “teach” other ASD individuals rather than “change” them
  • are in favor of helping make the lives of people on the spectrum easier

The “different way of thinking” perspective is related to the controversy of the movement. Some moms and dads see ASD as something that gives their sons and daughters great difficulty in life, and therefore see is as a true  “disorder.” Adults with this perspective believe that a cure for ASD is in their kid’s best interest, because they see a cure as something that will alleviate suffering. This is certainly understandable, but at a different level, insulting.

Many researchers and doctors have the goal of eliminating high-functioning autism completely someday; they want there to be a future with no ASD. But, many autistic men and women see the condition as a natural human variation and not a “disorder,” thus they are opposed to attempts to eliminate it. In particular, there is opposition to prenatal genetic testing of ASD in unborn fetuses, which some believe might be possible in the future if autism is genetic. 
Many scientists believe there will be a prenatal test for High-Functioning Autism someday. Our culture has started to debate the ethics involved in the possible elimination of a genotype that has both unique challenges and abilities, which may be seen as messing with nature in general – and natural selection in particular.

Many individuals on the spectrum believe that society has an opinion about ASD that is highly offensive. This opinion compares it to a “disease.” Thus, one of the goals of “pro-autisitc” adults is to expose and challenge those claims they find distasteful. Similarly, Autistic rights activists reject terming the reported increase in theASD population as an “epidemic” since the word epidemic implies that it is a disease.

If you are an autistic man or woman, and you're tired of hearing about all the "deficits" associated with the condition – join the club! The world needs to know that there are many more positives associated with it than negatives. If it is “cured” someday – then there go all the positives out the window. These positives are well worth celebrating. Here are just a few:

1. How often do neurotypical individuals fail to notice what's in front of their eyes because they're distracted by social cues and random small talk? Individuals with High-Functioning Autism truly attend to the sensory input that surrounds them. Many have achieved the ideal of mindfulness.

2. How often do neurotypical individuals forget directions, or fail to take note of colors, names, and other details? Adults on the spectrum are usually more tuned-in to details. They may have a much better memory than their neurotypical friends for critical details.

3. If you've ever joined a group or club to “fit in,” you know how hard it is to be true to yourself. But for individuals with the condition, social expectations are often irrelevant. Interest and passion are what really matters – not meeting other’s expectations.

4. Individuals on the spectrum tend to be less concerned with outward appearance than their neurotypical friends. As a result, they worry less about brand names, hairstyles and other expensive - but unimportant - externals than most adults do.

5. We all claim to value the truth, but few of us are truly truthful. But to most ASD men and women, the truth is the truth. A good word from an autistic is the real deal.

6. Most ASD individuals don't play head games, and they assume their partners/spouses won't either. That’s a refreshing change from the emotional roller coaster that damages many neurotypical relationships.

7. Who's Richer? Smarter? More talented? Prettier? For ASD individuals, these distinctions hold much less importance than for neurotypicals. Autistics often see through such surface appearances to discover the real person underneath.

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

==> One-on-One Counseling for Struggling Individuals & Couples Affected by Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism



•    Anonymous …On a bbc documentary called living with autism (an excellent programme btw) Simon baron Cohen has a brilliant explanation for the autism spectrum and how most of the world population is on it somewhere. This explains very well why some adults who are aspergers do not get a diagnosis either becuase they are not considered to be affected badly enough or becuase their issues are assigned to something else. Why in my case my issues were put down to 'well every has this or that experience or problem'. True moreso now I have seen prof. SBCs explanation. He draws a line on a piece of paper and on one side puts zero and the other 50. He then puts 25 in the middle. He then explains most people have 'some' ASD characteristics from zero to 25. Then some have 26 and over. The ones under 25 may be considered normal whilst over 25 may be seen to be ASD. But he then added that even though someone may clearly be ASD, the professional may still decide to not diagnose IF in their view the ASD is not impacting severely enough to necessitate the label. I found it re-assuring to find that most of us have some characteristics found in someone ASD becuase of this confusion some professionals were having over diagnosing becuase other people had similar issues who were not ASD, what I did find a bit of a problem is that clinicians still get to decide who to give or not give a label to. Not becuase I label is a good or bad thing but simply becuase the clinician decides if the person with ASD is suffering enough. I do not think it should be the decision of a clinician to decide what constitutes a good or bad quality of life for someone with an ASD. The only person who knows is the person themselves and if they've gone to be assessed for an ASD then clearly there is an issue! The label is regarded by some as unhelpful. Unhelpful to whom? Why unhelpful? If someone has ASD symptoms and are ASD then the label applies. End of. It is preposterous to infer that by giving a label to it you're damning the person with ASD. How so. When you consider it is a developmental disorder the damage for the want of a better dictum is done before or at birth. So how exactly does giving a label to that damn someone? It is a label that defines what is already there you muppets. So help and support can then be sought for the symptoms by the sufferer. IMO the only reason for not giving a label is to keep numbers down and funds are then not needed for those people becuase they are not 'officially' in need becuase they are not 'officially' ASD. To suggest someone with an ASD will be harmed further with a label is rubbish. And it insults our superior intellect. Since being diagnosed with aspergers I have been able to grow. To understand better my symptoms and embrace my qualities that previously actually had been misdiagnosed as personality disordered etc. Really helpful right!? Misdaignosing me added years of torture and misery onto me and my family. Since the (correct) label was given to me I have become empowered. Sadly there is little support for me still yet I have been able to get some extra support becuase of the label so not damned but some help and I have been able vto help lyself and others have gained a better understanding of my condition too so tolerance and support all round. So again I ask, why exactly is is a problem for me to have a label exactly? The ONLY issue I see is being given the WRONG label not being given the correct accurate one. For someone with an ASD labels are brilliant! For a profession that deals with labels all the time and thinking about it we all use labels all the time to say that 'labels aren't helpful', are you kidding me?!? Take it from a 50 year old asperger's person aka sufferer, this label is definitely helpful to me and those in my life. For the help and support for my issues and for the qualities I now can finally embrace. That were mis-labelled by these same clinicians as personality disorder and character flaws. More (accurate) diagnosing and labelling please not less.

•    Anonymous …I have Asperger's and have a lot of work to do to improve my social skills and interaction. I find that having been a member of a nas (national autistic society) group, the other Aspie's in the group are affected very differently to myself. Unfortunately; attending the group didn't help me to make progress in any way; i felt I didn't really fit in. I was diagnosed with Asperger's at the age of 22. I'm now 34 and have an awful lot of progress to make. Any Aspie who suffers with depression; i too; understand how it feels. I have suffered with depression for many years since my Asperger's diagnosis. It can be very hard at times and I guess life is not always easy for anyone. I hope with time that things will get better and that I will move on and get back to being my usual happy self. Hopefully I can vastly improve my independent living skills too: and reach my goals in life. And get the right help to improve my mental health too.

Should You Seek a Formal Diagnosis for ASD?

"What if I think my husband has ASD, but he is hesitant to go get an assessment for fear the information will be used against him somehow?"
After the question of ASD [High-Functioning Autism] is initially raised, many men and women wonder, “Should I get an official diagnosis?” For some, doing their own research through books, on the Internet, through support groups and information organizations provides enough answers and the best explanation regarding challenges that one faces as well as the strengths that one possesses. Others want validation from a therapist.

Getting a diagnosis as a grown man or women isn't easy, especially since ASD [level 1] isn't widely heard of among some medical professionals. The typical route for getting diagnosed is to visit a physician and ask for a referral to a therapist, preferably one with experience of diagnosing autism. If you are already seeing a professional for other reasons (e.g., a therapist because you suffer from anxiety), then you might wish to ask him or her about a referral instead.

It might be difficult to convince your physician that a diagnosis would be either relevant or necessary. So, it’s important to know how to present your case so that your doctor can see (a) why you might have ASD and (b) why having a diagnosis could be helpful.
==> Online Group Therapy for Couples and Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder

Make sure the diagnosis is the only thing you are seeing your physician for. If you try to turn it into a consultation about another issue, he or she may not address it fully. A good way to bring up the subject is to mention that you have been reading about High-Functioning Autism.

Next, explain why this is relevant to you. ASD is characterized by something known as the triad of impairments. Individuals with the disorder will be affected in some way by each of these impairments. The  Autism Spectrum is very broad, and any two individuals with the condition may present very differently. No one individual will have all the traits, but by-and-large, most individuals with High-Functioning Autism will have problems in several important areas.

Individuals on the spectrum may be very good at basic communication and letting others know what they think and feel. Their difficulties lie in the social aspects of communication. For example, they may not have many friends and may choose not to socialize much, they may not be socially motivated because they find communication difficult, they may not be aware of what is socially appropriate and have difficulty choosing topics to talk about, or they may have difficulty understanding gestures, body language and facial expressions.

Some of these problems can be seen in the way individuals with ASD present themselves. For example classic traits include anxiety in social situations and resultant nervous tics, difficulties expressing themselves (especially when talking about emotions), difficulty making eye contact, and repetitive speech.

Typical examples of difficulties with social understanding include taking what others say very literally, problems understanding double meanings (e.g., not knowing when others are teasing you), not choosing appropriate topics to talk about, finding “small talk” very difficult, and difficulties in group situations (e.g., going to the bar with a group of buddies). 
==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

Lack of imagination in people with ASD can include difficulty imagining alternative outcomes and finding it hard to predict what will happen next. This frequently leads to anxiety. This can present as problems with sequencing tasks so that preparing to go out can be difficult because you can't always remember what to take with you, problems with making plans for the future, having difficulties organizing your life, and an obsession with rigid routines and severe distress when routines are disrupted. Some individuals with ASD over-compensate for this by being extremely meticulous in their planning and having extensive written or mental checklists.

Besides the triad of impairments, individuals on the spectrum tend to have difficulties which relate to the triad – but are not included within it. These can include:
  • acute anxiety, which can lead to panic attacks and a rigid following of routines
  • clumsiness often linked to a condition known as dyspraxia (this includes difficulties with fine motor coordination such as difficulties writing neatly, and problems with gross motor coordination such as ungainly movements, tripping, and falling frequently)
  • depression and social isolation
  • obsessive compulsive behaviors, often severe enough to be diagnosed as OCD 
  • obsessive interests in just one topic (e.g., they might have one subject about which they are extremely knowledgeable which they want to talk about with everyone they meet)
  • phobias (sometimes individuals with High-Functioning Autism are described as having a social phobia, but they may also be affected by other common fears such as claustrophobia and agoraphobia)

Not having these associated issues doesn’t mean you don’t have ASD, but if you have any of them, you might want to describe them to the doctor in order to back up your case. However, you don't need to describe every single trait you have. Your physician may be more likely to respond if you give one good example. Once you have explained why you think you have ASD, you could also show him/her this article. If your physician disagrees with your argument, ask for the reasons why. If you don't feel comfortable discussing his/her decision, then ask for a second appointment to talk it through.

Diagnosis as an adult can be a mixed blessing. Some individuals decide they are O.K. with being self-diagnosed and decide not to ask for a formal diagnosis. However, for those who DO want a formal diagnosis, there are a variety of benefits:

1. Many individuals suffer the consequences of being constantly misunderstood. Often the fact that someone has ASD can lead to teasing, bullying and social isolation. When the individuals close to you are able to understand that there is a reason for your quirks and difficulties, it is much easier for them to empathize with your dilemma.

2. It can be fun to meet up with others who have the disorder in order to learn about their experiences and share your own. There are many support groups available. Check with your nearest Autism association. Also, you can contact others with the disorder through the internet. You don’t have to have a formal diagnosis in order to access this support. 
==> One-on-One Counseling for Struggling Individuals & Couples Affected by Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

3. Men and women with ASD may need support with day-to-day living. If they are having these needs met, it may be by individuals who don’t understand the disorder and the specific difficulties associated with it. With a diagnosis, you may be able to access specific services (if they exist in your area).

4. Many people won the spectrum have suffered from mental health problems or have been misdiagnosed as having mental health problems (e.g., bipolar, schizophrenia). They have known that they have specific difficulties for a long time without being able to explain them. A formal diagnosis can be a relief because it allows them to learn about their disorder and understand where and why they have difficulties.

5. Additionally, one may use the information derived from a formal diagnosis to:
  • Consider disclosure to family, friends and co-workers
  • Customize one's environment to be more comfortable and accommodating to the strengths and challenges of ASD
  • Do a life review
  • Understand why careers and relationships have - or have not - been successful
  • Find other people with ASD with whom to compare notes 
  • Find people who share similar interests
  • Improve on relationships and pursue better matches
  • Plot a career that matches interests and abilities
  • Plot a course through college
  • Renew or repair relationships that have been negatively affected by ASD
  • Request reasonable accommodations at school or work
  • Take classes part time in order to account for executive functioning and organizational deficits
  • Work differently with helping professionals with an emphasis on concrete coaching help and building of life skills rather than “insight-oriented” therapy

The bottom line is this: If you have ASD and don’t know, it affects you anyway. But, if you do know, you can minimize the negative impact and leverage the positive. Without the knowledge that one has the disorder, one often fills that void with other, more damaging explanations like failure, odd, disappointment, not living up to one’s potential, etc.

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