Monday with Maureen: Adults With Aspergers

autism ribbon

As the criteria for diagnoses has changed over the years, more and more adults are realizing that they have Aspergers. Here is a great article that breaks it down.

Adults With Aspergers: What Other Family Members Need To Know

Aspergers is typically first diagnosed in children. In contrast to those with autism, adults with Aspergers usually acquire language skills normally, develop appropriately in cognitive abilities and tend to have higher-than-average verbal skills. The most significant feature of Aspergers is the inability to interact appropriately on a social basis. If untreated, many difficulties continue into adulthood.

Eccentric people have always existed, but until recently, Aspergers wasn’t recognized as a possible cause of strange adult behavior. Aspergers, one of the neurological disorders on the autism spectrum, can be mild, causing only somewhat unusual behavior, or severe, causing almost complete inability to function in society without assistance. Adult Aspies, like kids with the syndrome, have trouble deciphering the normal rules of society, which impacts their home, work and social lives.

Grown-ups with Aspergers have high intellectual functioning – but diminished social abilities. An adult Aspie might:

  • appear clumsy
  • follow repetitive routines
  • have limited or unusual interests
  • lack social skills
  • lack the ability to read non-verbal cues
  • seem egocentric
  • use peculiar speech and language

 

Typical adult ASPERGERS symptoms include:

  • “black and white” thinking
  • a tendency to be “in their own world”
  • appear overly concerned with their own agenda
  • difficulty managing appropriate social conduct
  • difficulty regulating emotions
  • follow strict routines
  • great musical ability
  • highly focused in specific fields of interest often to the exclusion of other pursuits
  • inability to empathize
  • inability to understand other perspectives
  • intense interest in one or two subjects
  • outstanding memory

Let’s go into greater detail regarding Aspergers in adults:

  1. Assessment—Aspergers is a clinical diagnosis versus medical. Neurological and organic causes remain unknown. Psychological interviewing that includes medical, psychiatric and childhood history contributes to an Aspergers diagnosis. Aspergers is considered a pervasive developmental disorder according the DSM-IV. The DSM-IV extension after Adult Asperger Assessment (AAA) includes a list of criteria for an Aspergers diagnosis. Aspergers may coexist with other mood and behavior disorders.
  2. Behavior— Grown-ups with Aspergers usually prefer structured lives with well-defined routines and may become agitated or upset when these routines are broken. If, for example, your spouse normally eats breakfast at 9 a.m. and becomes stressed out when asked to eat at an earlier time, this may be indicative of Aspergers. Unlike adults with autism, however, an individual with Aspergers will probably be able to keep his frustration in check. Grown-ups with Aspergers may also be reluctant to initiate conversation and require prodding to talk to you at all, especially if that individual is already engaged in a favored activity when you try to initiate conversation. Eye contact may be rare. An individual with Aspergers may have obsessive tendencies that manifest in such ways as insisting all of his books be lined up in a certain order on the shelf or that the clothes in his closet are categorized by color, style or season. Reliance on routine, obsession with categories and patterns and limited conversation are all symptoms of Aspergers that may be observed at home.
  3. Cognitive Symptoms— While grown-ups with Aspergers are often of above-average intelligence, they may process information more slowly than normal, making it difficult to participate in discussions or activities that require quick thinking. Grown-ups with Aspergers may have trouble with organization and seeing the “big picture,” often focusing on one aspect of a project or task. Most are rigid and inflexible, making transitions of any type difficult.
  4. Common Careers— Adults on the autism/Asperger continuum have sophisticated skills in certain areas, such as those dealing with numbers or art. Most often, these skills do not exist together. Careers that do not rely on short-term memory are better suited for an individual on the spectrum. Appropriate careers include computer and video game design, drafting, commercial art, photography, mechanic, appliance repair, handcraft artisan, engineering and journalism.
  5. Communication— Grown-ups with Aspergers may demonstrate unusual non-verbal communication, such as lack of eye contact, limited facial expressions or awkward body posturing. They may speak in a voice that is monotonous or flat. They may engage in one-sided conversations without regard to whether anyone is listening to them. Grown-ups with Aspergers are often of high intelligence and may specialize in one area or interest. This leads to a lack of interest in alternate topics and the unwillingness to listen when others are speaking. Such poor communication skills can lead to problems finding a job or interacting effectively in a workplace environment. Grown-ups with Aspergers often communicate poorly with others. Many talk incessantly, often about topics that others have no interest in. Their thought patterns may be scattered and difficult to follow and never come to a point. Speech patterns may have a strange cadence or lack the proper inflections. An individual with Aspergers may have difficulty understanding humor and may take what’s said too literally.
  6. Diagnosis— Most grown-ups with Aspergers are able to live relatively normal lives. They are often regarded as shy, reserved or even snobbish by others. As these are not considered abnormal behaviors, a real diagnosis may come late in life, or not at all. You can get a more accurate picture of whether your partner/spouse has Aspergers by talking to the people who know him, such as co-workers, college professors, other relatives and friends (though an individual with Aspergers may have a very limited social circle). Ask whether your partner/spouse initiates conversation, if he seems awkward and unsure of himself during social interactions and whether he has any strange behaviors his peers may have noticed. If the answers you get make you suspect Aspergers, you can encourage your partner/spouse to seek medical attention to manage the condition better.
  7. Emotional Symptoms— Unlike adults with autism, people with Aspergers want to fit in with others. Their social and work-related difficulties can cause anxiety, anger, low self-esteem, obsessive compulsive behaviors and depression. They may feel disconnected and distant from the rest of the world, a feeling called “wrong planet” syndrome.
  8. Imagination— Grown-ups with Aspergers may be unable to think in abstract ways. They may be inflexible in their thinking, unable to imagine a different outcome to a given situation than the one they perceive. Such rigid thinking patterns may make predicting outcomes of situations difficult. Grown-ups with Aspergers may develop strict lifestyle routines and experience anxiety and distress if that routine is disrupted. To avoid such disruption, some adults may keep extensive written to-do lists or keep a mental checklist of their plans.
  9. Physical Symptoms— Grown-ups with Aspergers are often physically awkward. Many have a peculiar walk, poor posture or general clumsiness or difficulty with physical tasks.
  10. Preoccupations and Obsessions— One of the diagnostic criteria for Aspergers is an “encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus.” A grown-up with the syndrome may obsessively latch on to a single hobby or area of interest, often memorizing facts to the smallest detail. Some individuals are successful in their work environment because of their attention to detail and ability to retain information. An inability to be flexible or to deal with changes in routine is also a trait. An adult with the syndrome may have difficulties in his home life, often demanding little or no change in routines or schedules.
  11. Prognosis— Aspergers is a continuous and lifelong syndrome. Individuals with Aspergers should be able to function with the syndrome with proper coping skills in place. Adapting their environment to their syndrome is especially critical. Finding a work environment that de-emphasizes social interactions may be appropriate. In addition, having a regular work routine and schedule may be beneficial. Interventions, such as social skills training, education and/or psychotherapy, may be necessary to better manage symptoms.
  12. Relationships— Because grown-ups with Aspergers struggle to understand emotions in others, they miss subtle cues such as facial expression, eye contact and body language. As a result, an adult Aspie appears aloof, selfish or uncaring. Neurologically, adults with Aspergers are unable to understand other people’s emotional states. They are usually surprised, upset and show remorse when informed of the hurtful or inappropriate effect of their actions. Affected adults show as much interest as others do in intimate relationships. However, most Aspergers adults lack the social or empathetic skills to effectively manage romantic relationships. An individual with Aspergers behaves at younger developmental age in relationships. The subtleties of courtship are unfamiliar and sometimes inappropriate physical contact results.
  13. Social Interaction— Grown-ups with Aspergers may have difficulty interacting in social groups. For example, they may choose inappropriate topics to discuss in a group setting or find making small talk difficult or even annoying. As they tend to be literal thinkers, they may have trouble understanding social metaphors, teasing or irony. They may lack empathy or find it hard to relate to other people. Some adults with Aspergers have anger management problems and may lash out in a social setting without regard to another’s feelings. They may report feeling detached from the world and having trouble finding and maintaining relationships.

An individual with the syndrome lacks the ability to display appropriate non-verbal behaviors, such as eye contact, facial expressions, body postures and gestures. He may have difficulties in initiating and maintaining friendships because of inappropriate social behaviors. He may appear rude or obnoxious to others and at times is left out of social encounters. Unlike adults with autism, who withdraw from other people, adults with Aspergers often want to fit in but don’t know how. The inability to “read” other people’s social signals or to display empathy for other’s problems leads to awkward social encounters.

14. Speech Patterns— Another feature of Aspergers is impaired speech. The individual with this syndrome may speak in a monotone voice or may speak too loudly and out of place. He may interpret everyday phrases literally. The commonly used phrase “break a leg” will be taken literally to injure one’s self. Subtle humor or sarcasm may not be understood or may be misinterpreted. Some individuals display highly developed vocabulary, often sounding overly formal and stilted.

15. Stereotypical Behavior— Grown-ups with this syndrome often are preoccupied with something to the extreme level. For example, if an individual with Aspergers likes football that is all he will talk about–all the time and with everyone. These individuals are also often obsessed with parts of objects. On another note, grown-ups with Aspergers need routines to help them function. They do not like changes in routines, and find them difficult. Other stereotypical behavior in which they engage is body movements; they often flap their hands or fingers, or make complex body movements.

This article is compliments of http://www.myaspergerschild.com/

Monday with Maureen: Tips for Surviving the Homework Battle

hateshomeworkAre you losing the homework battle every night? I ran across this great article that has some tips that may actually ease the pain!

Resolving “Homework Battles” With Aspergers Children

“Getting my Aspergers son to do his homework has become a nightly battle. We are at the point of arguing constantly, which clearly is making a bad problem worse. Is there a way I can help him understand the importance of education and to develop some interest in following through with schoolwork?”

Homework can be very difficult for kids with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism to understand for the following reasons:

  • they do not understand why they are expected to do schoolwork at home
  • they find school stressful and do not want any reminders of it at home
  • they might have difficulty with organization skills
  • they find it difficult to remember to write down all the homework and remember deadlines

However, there are a number of tips that can help these young people in the future:

  •  Only help if your youngster asks for it. Don’t do problems or assignments for kids. When your youngster says, “I can’t do it,” suggest they act as if they can. Tell them to pretend like they know and see what happens. Then leave the immediate area and let them see if they can handle it from there. If they keep telling you they don’t know how and you decide to offer help, concentrate on asking than on telling. Ask: “What do you get?” … “What parts do you understand?” … “Can you give me an example?” … “What do you think the answer is?” … or “How could you find out?”
  • Eliminate the word “homework” from your vocabulary. Replace it with the word “study.” Have a study time instead of a homework time. Have a study table instead of a homework table. This word change alone will go a long way towards eliminating the problem of your youngster saying, “I don’t have any homework.” Study time is about studying, even if you don’t have any homework. It’s amazing how much more homework Aspergers children have when they have to study regardless of whether they have homework or not.
  • Doing homework can suck on its own. It’s even worse when your youngster is hunched over the books alone thinking that the rest of the family is having a party in the other room. Sit with your youngster, review the work, encourage and help (but don’t you dare do the homework yourself!). If you must get things done, at least park your youngster in the same room so you can answer questions as you make dinner, pay bills, or post of Facebook.
  • Allow Aspergers kids to make choices about homework and related issues. They could choose to do study time before or after dinner. They could do it immediately after they get home or wake up early in the morning to do it. Invite them to choose the kitchen table or a spot in their own room. One choice kids do not have is whether or not to study.
  • Disorganization is a problem for most Aspergers kids. If you want them to be organized, you have to invest the time to help them learn an organizational system. Your job is to teach them the system. Their job is to use it. Check occasionally to see if the system is being used. Check more often at first. Provide direction and correction where necessary. If your youngster needs help with time management, teach them time management skills. Help them learn what it means to prioritize by the importance and due date of each task. Teach them to create an agenda each time they sit down to study. Help them experience the value of getting the important things done first.
  • If your child can’t do his homework at school, he might need to unwind and relax when he first comes home, instead of launching straight into work. Giving him time to reduce his stress levels may mean that he then finds it easier to focus on the work later on. Some kids may also benefit from using either a reward system or a behavior contract. If he successfully completes his homework every day for a week, could he get a reward at the weekend? Alternatively a behavior contract could be drawn-up with everyone in the family, with everyone agreeing to do one task every day – and it could be agreed that completing his homework will be the thing that your child will do.
  • If your child finds it difficult to understand why he does homework at home, could he do it at school instead? Some kids find break and lunchtime very hard and they may find it preferable to sit in the library or a quiet place in the school and do their work. Some schools also have after-school clubs or homework clubs, which your child may find of use.
  • If your child has more than one piece of homework, it may be useful to ask the teachers in each lesson to either make sure your child has written down the homework in his diary, or write it in for him. They may also need to provide written instructions to take home which breaks the task down further as well.
  • Keep the routine predictable and simple. One possibility includes a five minute warning that study time is approaching, bringing their current activity to an end, clearing the study table, emptying their back pack of books and supplies, then beginning.
  • Replace monetary and external rewards with encouraging verbal responses. End the practice of paying for grades and going on a special trip for ice cream. This style of bribery has only short term gains and does little to encourage kids to develop a lifetime love of learning. Instead make positive verbal comments that concentrate on describing the behavior you wish to encourage.
  • If homework is something your children have to squeeze in between karate, piano lessons and soccer practice, they’re not going to think of it as important. And, unless you really enjoy over-dramatic tears and hearing every excuse in the book, avoid doing homework right before bedtime at all costs.
  • Time slams to a crawl for many Aspergers children when faced with a stack of papers and a #2 pencil. Set a timer for 15 minutes and, when it dings, tell your youngster to take a quick break to stretch, get a drink of water or collapse on the floor and moan “I hate doing homework” over and over again. Really active children may need to run around the house before they get back to the books.
  • Use study time to get some of your own responsibilities handled. Do the dishes, fold laundry, or write thank you notes. Keep the TV off! If you engage in fun or noisy activities during that time kids will naturally be distracted. Study time is a family commitment. If you won’t commit to it, don’t expect that you kids will.
  • You need to use leverage to get some children to do anything. Do they love television? Computer games? Guitar Hero? Unplug it all until homework is done. You can even exchange homework time for something they love: 15 minutes of effective homework time = 15 minutes with their beloved plugged-in whatnot.
  • There comes a time when your Aspergers child has to accept that homework is his responsibility. So, if you’re really tearing your hair out and aging prematurely due to the nightly fighting, it may be time to let your little bird fly on its own. Let your youngster go to school with an unfinished assignment and accept the consequences. Collaborating with the teacher ahead of time may insure an appropriate response to “the dog ate my homework”.

 

This wonderful article was originally published on www.myaspergerschild.com

Monday with Maureen: Asperger Syndrome, a Trait in Great Demand

Mozart, Einstein, Bill Gates? If your child has Asperger Syndrome–I’d say he is in great company!

Asperger Syndrome, a Trait in Great Demand

Asperger syndrome has been long considered an obstacle in a child’s harmonious social development, but nowadays this disorder on the autistic spectrum has become a trait in great demand, especially when it comes to the labor market. Even though it is still perceived by some as autism, what determined pediatrician Hans Asperger to nickname children suffering from Asperger syndrome “little professors” was the preoccupation they had for a certain subject and the reason why most of those who know how to channel their gift end up being prodigies.  Continue reading