Being an adult with autism spectrum disorder, Asperger’s syndrome, or high functioning autism can be lonely and frustrating. For many, navigating social encounters can feel like having to play a high-stakes game without being told the rules; rules that all the other players seem to know instinctively.
If you grew up with undiagnosed types of autism, you may have internalized the idea that you were “odd” or “weird.” You may have been a target for bullying, or you may have simply always felt like an outsider without understanding how or why.
You may have found your own ways to cope, whether by avoiding social situations altogether or developing a convincing mask of “normal” behavior. This can also include seeking out special interest groups (gaming groups, for example) where intelligence and specialized skills tend to be valued over conventional social graces.
Autism is a term used to describe a condition that introduces certain challenges for individuals in their development. These behaviors affect individuals in varying ways, most often in terms of social skills and nonverbal communication. However, autism is not a single condition. The term autism spectrum disorder represents the range or spectrum of types of autism known today.
Asperger’s syndrome is a similar condition where cognitive and language abilities are unimpaired and may be well above average, even genius level. There are minor differences between the two, often revolving around the age of detection and speech development. As such, Asperger’s syndrome has now been merged into what is now known as autism spectrum disorder.
There are a variety of various behavioral and social challenges to take into consideration. These include:
These issues may be profound or subtle, often being misidentified as simple eccentricity or weirdness. For those experiencing these symptoms, a diagnosis often comes as a relief that they are not “wrong” or alien. They are simply different in a specific way that can be understood and coped with the help of others.
Being an adult with autism spectrum disorder poses specific challenges. Awareness is growing, but the vast majority of society is poorly educated on the subject. This means that even well-intentioned individuals may react with unease or impatience, leaving you feeling sad, angry, and/or ostracized. You may even have trouble finding or keeping jobs, which can further cause consequences to your self-esteem.
An empathetic, well-informed therapist will help you manage those emotions. They will also help you build the necessary social skills needed in the context of how your mind works.
Our counseling approach combines client-centered therapy with cognitive techniques. We work to get to know you in the context of your own personal struggles. Once you feel some measure of trust, we will collaborate on identifying your particular goals, whether they are internal or external. Internal goals can include self-compassion or coping with emotions you might be experiencing. External goals in contrast are those that help you build relationships and navigate the world that thinks differently than you do.
As we strategize these goals, we will work to help you build a clear and compassionate understanding of yourself in terms of both strengths and challenges. Without trying to change the way you think, we will help you to identify and challenge thought patterns that may not be serving you well. The end goal is for you to become an effective and appreciative ally of the unique human being you actually are.
Yes, therapy can be beneficial for individuals with autism. Therapy can help those with autism improve social skills, communication, behavior, and emotional regulation. Different types of therapy such as speech therapy, occupational therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) are effective for individuals with autism. However, it is important to note that the type and approach of therapy should be tailored to the individual's specific needs and symptoms. Louis Laves-Webb, LCSW, LPC-S offers counseling and therapy for individuals with Autism in Austin, TX, and the surrounding areas.
Several therapies are commonly used to help individuals with autism, including
• Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA): ABA focuses on teaching new behaviors and reinforcing positive behaviors through repetition and reinforcement.
• Speech and language therapy: This therapy helps individuals with autism improve their communication skills and articulate their thoughts and feelings more effectively.
• Occupational therapy: This therapy helps individuals with autism develop the fine motor skills needed for everyday tasks, such as eating, dressing, and grooming.
• Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT helps individuals with autism learn coping strategies for managing their emotions and behaviors.
Social skills therapy: This therapy focuses on teaching social skills, such as taking turns, understanding body language, and making eye contact.
•Developmental, Individual Differences, Relationship-based (DIR) / Floor Time: DIR focuses on building relationships and communication with individuals with autism through play-based activities.
These are some of the commonly used therapies for autism, but it's important to note that different individuals with autism may respond differently to different types of therapy, so a personalized approach is often recommended.
No, there is currently no direct “cure” for autism. Autism is a disorder that impacts neural development and results in difficulties with communication, socializing, and behavior. While there is no cure for autism, early intervention and therapy can make a significant difference in the lives of individuals with autism by helping them develop the skills they need to communicate, build relationships, and live independently.
It's important to understand that autism is a spectrum disorder, which means that its effects can range from mild to severe and that individuals with autism have unique strengths, challenges, and needs. With the right support and resources, many individuals with autism can lead fulfilling and productive lives.
Autism is typically diagnosed through a combination of clinical evaluation, developmental assessments, and behavioral observation. The following are some of the steps involved in diagnosing autism:
• Developmental Screening: A healthcare provider may perform a quick test to determine if a child is at risk for autism.
• Comprehensive Diagnostic Evaluation: A comprehensive evaluation typically includes a medical evaluation, a developmental assessment, and a review of the child's behavior and communication.
• Behavioral Assessment: A trained professional will observe the child's behavior and social interaction to look for signs of autism.
• Diagnostic Criteria: The diagnosis of autism is based on criteria specified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) and the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11).
It's important to note that a diagnosis of autism can only be made by a qualified professional, such as a psychologist, pediatrician, or neurodevelopmental pediatrician. Early diagnosis and intervention are important to the quality of life of an individual with autism, so it's recommended that parents seek help if they have concerns about their child's development.