The diagnosis of Aspergers in adults is increasing, possibly due to the increased attention the disorder has been receiving in recent years. Adults with Aspergers are socially impaired and may lack fine and gross motor coordination, but they are of at least average intelligence and have no communication deficits or difficulties. For this reason, they often remain undiagnosed until adulthood, and typically only seek treatment due to issues with maintaining employment or relationships.
Identifying Aspergers in Adults
Identification of adult Aspergers is often more difficult than recognizing signs of the disorder in a child. This is because adults with the disorder have spent many years developing coping skills and finding ways to minimize the impact of their social deficits on their personal and professional lives. Moreover, not everyone with Aspergers syndrome experiences the same symptoms, and the variation in symptoms may increase with time and age.
Some common symptoms of Aspergers syndrome in adults include:
- Concrete thinking, difficulty with abstract concepts
- Seems to have lack of empathy for others
- Problems controlling emotions, such as anger and depression
- Difficulty understanding the point of view of others
- Strict adherence to schedules and routines
- Narrow range of interests
- Misinterpretation of social cues and body language
- Difficulties with reciprocal conversation
Getting Help for Adults with Aspergers
If you feel like any of the symptoms mentioned above sound like you or a loved one, start taking steps to get help.
Learn About Aspergers
The first step to getting help for adults with Aspergers is learning all about it. Research the disorder online and in books. Talk to local autism and Aspergers organizations about the condition. Find out which treatments are effective and about any new interventions or important studies.
Seek a Diagnosis
The second step is to seek a diagnosis. Approach your primary care physician first for assistance. He may be able to screen you for Aspergers and autism, or recommend you to a local Aspergers expert for screening. If you are not happy with the diagnosis results, get a second opinion. You may want to get a second opinion on principle to confirm an Aspergers diagnosis.
Join Support Groups Locally and Online
After receiving an Aspergers diagnosis, join local support organizations and find an online Aspergers community. There are a number of helpful adult Aspergers and autism online communities, such as:
- Aspergers Syndrome site: The former Online Asperger Information & Support (OASIS) merged with MAAP services and is now aspergersyndrome.org. The site provides articles, newsletters, a discussion forum and blog that offer general information on Aspergers.
- Global and Regional Asperger Syndrome Partnership (GRASP): GRASP was developed for adults with Aspergers. It allows free access to both online and live regional support networks in various locations, along with lists of recommended therapists. The site also provides information on support services to help people adjust to work or college.
- Neurodiversity: Neurodiversity provides educational information on Aspergers and autism. The site also has regional lists of support services, employment assistance and recommended local resources in various locations.
- Wrong Planet: Wrong Planet has blogs, discussion forums, how-to articles and live chats for adults with Aspergers. The site also reviews current films, books and news about Aspergers and autism.
Use Support Services
Take advantage of local support services. There are programs that help people with Aspergers improve social and communications skills so that they can adjust better to college, work and independent living.
Keep Family and Friends Involved
Keep family and friends involved in your life as you figure out your best treatment plan. The support of family and friends can help you adjust better to the necessary changes in your life after diagnosis.
Coping with Adult Aspergers
While there is no cure for Aspergers in adults, there are numerous therapeutic treatments aimed at improving functioning, communication, and social skills. Through specialized speech therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and occupational therapy, adults with Aspergers can develop coping skills that allow them to blend into society, hold gainful employment, and lead independent lives. Many people with the condition live happy lives, have families and deep, meaningful relationships.
Life experience teaches appropriate social behavior, thereby enabling adults with Aspergers to behave in social settings and lead fairly normal and productive lives. With time, adults with this disorder can learn to distinguish between and understand the subtleties of body language, eye contact, and facial expression. By mimicking the behavior of others, even when those behaviors are not fully understood, affected adults may become indistinguishable from other members of society, at least on the surface.
Many adults with the disorder lead successful lives, and some do not view their symptoms as abnormal, just different. If the affected adult is able to live independently and function without assistance, many experts believe treatment is not necessary.
A Happy Life with Aspergers
It is possible to live a happy and productive life with Aspergers. Many people diagnosed with Aspergers go on to have happy relationships and successful careers. In fact, diagnosis and the right treatment plan can improve your overall quality of life.