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.