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Asperger syndrome and adults


Aspergersyndromeisoneoftheautismspectrumdisorders,andisclassifiedasadevelopmental
disorderthataffectshowthebrainprocessesinformation.PeoplewithAspergersyndromehavea
widerangeofstrengths,weaknesses,skillsanddifficulties.
Commoncharacteristicsincludedifficultyinformingfriendships,communicationdifficulties(suchas
atendencytotakethingsliterally),andaninabilitytounderstandsocialrulesandbodylanguage.
AspergersyndromeisalsoknownasAspergerDisorder.
AlthoughAspergersyndromecannotbecured,appropriateinterventionandexperiencecanhelp
individualstodevelopskills,compensatorystrategiesandhelpbuildupcopingskills.Socialskills
training,whichteachesindividualshowtobehaveindifferentsocialsituations,isoftenconsidered
tobeofgreatvaluetopeoplewithAspergersyndrome.
Counsellingorpsychologicaltherapy(includingCognitiveBehaviourTherapy)canhelppeoplewith
Aspergersyndromeunderstandandmanagetheirbehaviouralresponses.
Symptoms of Asperger syndrome
MoremalesthanfemalesarediagnosedwithAspergersyndrome.Whileeverypersonwhohasthe
syndromewillexperiencedifferentsymptomsandseverityofsymptoms,someofthemore
commoncharacteristicsinclude:
Averageorabove-averageintelligence
Difficultieswithhigh-levellanguageskillssuchasverbalreasoning,problemsolving,
makinginferencesandpredictions
Difficultiesinempathisingwithothers
Problemswithunderstandinganotherpersonspointofview
Difficultiesengaginginsocialroutinessuchasconversationsandsmalltalk
Problemswithcontrollingfeelingssuchasanger,depressionandanxiety
Apreferenceforroutinesandscheduleswhichcanresultinstressoranxietyifaroutineis
disrupted
Specialisedfieldsofinterestorhobbies.
The emotions of other people
ApersonwithAspergersyndromemayhavetroubleunderstandingtheemotionsofotherpeople,
andthesubtlemessagessentbyfacialexpression,eyecontactandbodylanguageareoften
missedormisinterpreted.Becauseofthis,peoplewithAspergersyndromemightbemistakenly
perceivedasbeingegotistical,selfishoruncaring.
Theseareunfairlabelsbecausethepersonconcernedisneurologicallyunabletounderstandother
peoplesemotionalstates.PeoplewithAspergersyndromeareusuallyshocked,upsetand
remorsefulwhentoldtheiractionswerehurtfulorinappropriate.
Sexual codes of conduct
ResearchintothesexualunderstandingofpeoplewithAspergersyndromeisinitsinfancy.Studies
suggestthatindividualswithAspergersyndromeareasinterestedinsexasanyoneelse,butmany
strugglewiththemyriadofcomplexskillsrequiredtosuccessfullynegotiateintimaterelationships.
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PeoplewithAspergersyndromecansometimesappeartohaveaninappropriate,immatureor
delayedunderstandingofsexualcodesofconduct.Thiscansometimesresultinsexually
inappropriatebehaviour.Forexample,a20-year-oldwithAspergersyndromemaydisplay
behaviourswhichbefitateenager.
Evenindividualswhoarehighachievingandacademicallyorvocationallysuccessfulcanhave
troublenegotiatingthehiddenrulesofcourtship.
Issues for partners of people with Asperger syndrome
SomepeoplewithAspergersyndromecansuccessfullymaintainrelationshipsandparentchildren.
However,likemostrelationships,therearechallenges.
Acommonmaritalproblemisunfairdistributionofresponsibilities.Forexample,thepartnerofa
personwithAspergersyndromemaybeusedtodoingeverythingintherelationshipwhenitisjust
thetwoofthem.However,thepartnermayneedpracticalandemotionalsupportoncechildren
comealong,somethingthatthepersonwithAspergersyndromemaybeillequippedtoprovide.
Whenthepartnerexpressesfrustrationorbecomesupsetthattheyaregivennohelpofanykind,
thepersonwithAspergersyndromeistypicallybaffled.Tensionintherelationshipoftenmakes
theirsymptomsworse.
AnadultsdiagnosisofAspergersyndromeoftenfollowstheirchildsdiagnosisofautismspectrum
disorder.Thisdoublewhammycanbeextremelydistressingtothepartnerwhohastocope
simultaneouslywithbothdiagnoses.Counselling,orjoiningasupportgroupwheretheycantalk
withotherpeoplewhofacethesamechallenges,canbehelpful.Somecommonissuesforpartners
ofpeoplewithAspergersyndromeinclude:
Feelingoverlyresponsiblefortheirpartner.
Failuretohavetheirownneedsmetbytherelationship.
Lackofemotionalsupportfromfamilymembersandfriendswhodonotfullyunderstandor
appreciatetheextrastrainsplacedonarelationshipbyAspergersyndrome.
Asenseofisolation,becausethechallengesoftheirrelationshipareuniqueandnoteasily
understoodbyothers.
Frustrations,sinceproblemsintherelationshipdonotseemtoimprovedespitegreat
efforts.
Doubtingtheintegrityoftherelationship,orfrequentlywonderingaboutwhetherornotto
endtherelationship.
DifficultiesinacceptingthattheirpartnerwillnotrecoverfromAspergersyndrome.
AfteracceptingthattheirpartnersAspergersyndromecannotbecured,partnerscan
oftenexperienceemotionssuchasguilt,despairanddisappointment.
The workplace and Asperger syndrome
TheCommonwealthFamilies,Housing,CommunityServicesandIndigenousAffairs(FaHCSIA),in
conjunctionwitharangeofspecialistemploymentservices,helpstoplacepeoplewithdisabilities
intheworkforce.
ApersonwithAspergersyndromemayfindtheirjobopportunitieslimitedbytheirdisability.Itmay
helptochooseavocationthattakesintoaccounttheirsymptoms,andcapitalisesontheir
strengthsratherthanhighlightstheirweaknesses.
Career suggestions for visual thinkers
ThefollowingcareersuggestionsareadaptedfrommaterialwrittenbyTempleGrandin,whohas
high-functioningautismandisanassistantprofessoratColoradoUniversity,USA.Suggestions
include:
Computerprogramming
Drafting
Commercialart
Photography
Equipmentdesign
Mechanic
Appliancerepair

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Handcraftartisan
Webpagedesigner
Videogamedesigner
Buildingmaintenance
Buildingtrades.
Career suggestions for those good at mathematics or music
Suggestionsinclude:
Accounting
Computerprogramming
Engineering
Journalist,copyeditor
Taxidriver
Piano(orothermusicalinstrument)tuner
Filingpositions
Statistician
Physician
Mathematician
Bankteller
Telemarketing.
Where to get help
Yourdoctor
AspergerSyndromeSupportNetworkTel.(03)98452766
Amaze-AutismVictoriaTel.(03)96571600or1300308699
CentreforDevelopmentalDisabilityHealthVictoria(CDDHV)Tel.(03)99024467
CommonwealthDepartmentofFamilies,Housing,CommunityServicesandIndigenous
Affairs(FaHCSIA)Tel.1300653227
AlphaAutismEmploymentProgramTel.(03)98852777
Things to remember
ApersonwithAspergersyndromeoftenexperiencesdifficultieswhentryingtounderstand
theemotionsofotherpeople.Subtlemessagesthataresentbyfacialexpression,eye
contactandbodylanguageareoftenmissed.
Socialskillstraining,whichteachespeoplewithAspergersyndromehowtobehavein
differentsocialsituations,isoftenconsideredtobeofgreatvaluetoindividualswiththis
syndrome.

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