HELP FOR PARENTS OF CHILDREN WITH ASPERGER'S & HIGH-FUNCTIONING AUTISM

Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders

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Aspergers Adults with Avoidant Personality: Self-Help Strategies

Adult "Aspies" (i.e., people with Aspergers or high-functioning autism) with Avoidant Personality experience a long-standing feeling of inadequacy due to the lack of social skills that result from mind-blindness. This influences the Aspie to be socially inhibited. Because of these feelings of inadequacy and inhibition, these individuals will often seek to avoid work, school, or any activities that involve socializing or interacting with others (e.g., many young Aspergers adults with Avoidant Personality are still living with their parents and playing video games rather than working, going to college, getting married, etc.).

The major problems associated with the Avoidant Personality style occur in social and occupational functioning. The low self-esteem is associated with restricted interpersonal contacts. These Aspies may become relatively isolated and usually do not have a large social support network that can help them weather crises. They desire affection and acceptance and may fantasize about idealized relationships with others, but may not have the social skills to find and keep friends. The avoidant behaviors can also adversely affect occupational functioning because these Aspies try to avoid the types of social situations that may be important for meeting the basic demands of the job or for advancement.

Avoidant Personality is characterized by a long-standing pattern of feelings of inadequacy and social inhibition. It typically manifests itself by early childhood and includes a majority of the following symptoms:
  • Avoids occupational activities that involve significant interpersonal contact
  • Is inhibited in new interpersonal situations
  • Is unusually reluctant to take personal risks or to engage in any new activities
  • Is often unwilling to get involved with people
  • Shows restraint within intimate relationships
  • Views self as socially inept

Most adult Aspies with Avoidant Personality don't seek treatment until the condition starts to significantly interfere or otherwise impact his/her life. This most often happens when a person's coping resources are stretched too thin to deal with stress or other life events.

The treatment of choice is psychotherapy. While individual therapy is usually the preferred modality, group therapy can be useful if the Aspie can agree to attend enough sessions. Because of the basic components of this condition, though, it is often difficult to have the individual attend group therapy early on in the therapeutic process. It is a modality to consider as the Aspie approaches termination of individual treatment, if additional therapy seems necessary and beneficial to him/her.

Avoidant Personality: Self-Help Strategies—
  1. Actively seek out and join supportive social environments.
  2. Challenge negative, unhelpful thoughts that trigger and fuel social anxiety, replacing them with more balanced views.
  3. Challenge social anxiety one step at a time. While it may seem impossible to overcome a feared social situation, you can do it by taking it one small step at a time. The key is to start with a situation that you can handle and gradually work your way up to more challenging situations, building your confidence and coping skills as you move up the “anxiety ladder” (e.g., if socializing with strangers makes you anxious, you might start by accompanying an outgoing friend to a party, and once you’re comfortable with that step, you might try introducing yourself to one new person, and so on).
  4. Group therapy for social anxiety is a good idea. It uses acting, videotaping and observing, mock interviews, and other exercises to work on situations that make you anxious in the real world. As you practice and prepare for situations you’re afraid of, you will become more and more comfortable and confident in your social abilities, and your anxiety will lessen.
  5. Know that avoidance leads to more problems. While avoiding social situations may help you feel better in the short term, it prevents you from becoming more comfortable in social situations and learning how to cope. In fact, the more you avoid certain social situations, the easier it is to become even more unsociable. Avoidance may also prevent you from doing things you’d like to do or reaching certain goals.
  6. Learn how to control the physical symptoms of anxiety through relaxation techniques and breathing exercises.
  7. Take a social skills class or an assertiveness training class. These classes are often offered at local adult education centers or community colleges.
  8. Use cognitive-behavioral techniques for social anxiety, including role-playing and social skills training.
  9. Volunteer doing something you enjoy, such as walking dogs in a shelter, or stuffing envelopes for a campaign — anything that will give you an activity to focus on while you are also engaging with a small number of like-minded people.
  10. Work on your communication skills. Good relationships depend on clear, emotionally-intelligent communication. If you find that you have trouble connecting to others, learning the basic skills of emotional intelligence can help.



COMMENTS:

RE: "Why are you posting info about adults on the spectrum on this site? I thought this site was about children on the spectrum."


•    Mark Hutten, M.A. said… Because many of the parents of Aspergers children here in our support group have Aspergers (high functioning) themselves. When these parents come to terms with their own disorder, they become better at parenting their 'special needs' kids. Make sense?
•    Anonymous said... Also, kids with asperger's grow up to become adults with it. Some people have children standing on the threshold of adulthood and need info too.
•    Anonymous said... As a parent of a 20 year old, only diagnosed age 18, I still need help with my son, whether he is classed as a child or an adult. There is very little information/support out there as it is for parents like me with a young man floundering on the edges of society where he is expected to be able to live by himself, but struggles to do that. He is still my child, whether he is 20 or 10. Symptoms remain constant, coping mechanisms may need a bit of adjusting given his age, but I can still learn lots from how the parents of young children with Aspergers.
•    Anonymous said... Children on the spectrum will become adults on the spectrum. I love hearing from adults on the spectrum, helps me know what to expect in the future.
•    Anonymous said... I agree. Many parents dont realize they are on the spectrum as well. All of the posts are helpful & eye opening!
•    Anonymous said... I agree. My son has Aspergers he 12 1/2. I have now come 2 terms that I may have. So I have a Apt to have myself tested. 2 better myself for my son.
•    Anonymous said... I am a parent of a misdiagnoses Aspie for 20 years. I value the posts because we just had to figure things out as we went. Finally a little bit if information sure helps!
•    Anonymous said... I am a parent to two ASD children but since they have been diagnosed my husband has started noticing asd traits in me what steps should i be taking and how long can it take for myself to be tested any help would be of great value thanks in advance concerned mum
•    Anonymous said... I am one of that kind of parents. Aspergers myself, son with HFA. This is the most informative and helpful website I have found.
•    Anonymous said... I can relate to all the above comments. My son wasn't diagnosed until he was nearly 15. I found very little info on teens. So this info on adults is exceptionally helpful as this dx is life long and the struggles remain with them and us as parents forever.
•    Anonymous said... I like reading about trials we may face with my aspire growing up. I know each person is different, but I find it helpful for being as prepared as I can be for him.
•    Anonymous said... I will always be parenting a child with aspergers! Each individual with aspergers is different. hearing stories of all ages helps to prepare and think about my sons future (he is 14). if someone finds out they have aspergers at an older age, that does not necessarily mean they have the answers to parent their child perfectly.
•    Anonymous said... I'm in the same situation Deborah, waiting for my referral to be tested, my oldest son is the same age as yours 
•    Anonymous said... it was only after my children were dx that my hubby realized he is on spectrum too.and aspergers kids grow up,
•    Anonymous said... Makes perfect sense to me! 
•    Anonymous said... Makes total sense! It was only through the process of our son being dxd my husband finally accepted the bleeding obvious about himself, and now our daughter is being assessed I realise I'm probably an aspie too.
•    Anonymous said... My 14 yr old has just been diagnosed so I'm looking for infor that helps for someone that's not a child but not yet an adult - finding it good here
•    Anonymous said... My Aspie son is now 17, soon to become "an adult", ha, that is hardly a statement. We need all the advise that we can for children as well as adults. Just cause the person gets older doesn't mean the disorder disappears, in some cases it intensifies. As a community we must teach and support one another to over come the obstacles aspies have and can be so challenging for the world to understand and understand them without prejudice. This is about everyone! God bless us all and have a good day!
•    Anonymous said... My husband did not know that he had it till our son was diagnosed and he realised that what I was reading out to him was all about him. It makes it easier for me to parent the both of them. Also when my son has meltdowns or things change he hears me speak with my son and he learns what to say next time. My husband accepts that it is what it is and that they get each other.
•    Anonymous said... My son is days away from turning 13 and we are in the process of receiving a dx... Any and all support and info is helpful...
•    Anonymous said... My son was not diagnosed till he was 3 months away from being 18yrs old. Every support group, source of information was a necessity to us so that we could get the support he needed as well as understanding what is aspergers and what is just teenage stuff.
•    Anonymous said... One day your children will be adults better for you to know now it's easy to live day by day because its easy but teenage year a big handful 
•    Anonymous said... our children become adults which my son turn 19 couple days ago I became his legal guardian when he turn 18 and now my daughter turning 16 soon. So I can see talking about adults either parents themselves or families who children are reaching adulthood my son still in school he could of graduated last year but he is staying until he is 21 and he is in the 18-21 yr work program so working on those important vocational skills this summer he did 2 paid work trials he enjoy that as well. The older he became the more progress he has made in his life. His younger years were very hard on everyone but now he is doing so well. Now hoping my daughter will make it down the same path but right now she is down the wrong path I believe girls especially the teenage years are so much harder than with a boy. She was the easy one when she was younger but now I never know what she going to throw at us. having 2 on the spectrum at different levels both are verbal just not the same
•    Anonymous said... So true, my sons aunt & uncle have it.
•    Anonymous said... Surely, whoever asked the original was the parent of a very young child and just wasn't thinking it through. If the read these comments, they will quickly realize understand.
•    My 12 1/2 year old son was dx with Autism at 3 and will be an adult before too long. Like many others commenting, I now have no doubt that I am on the spectrum and possibly my husband. At 43, I don't see the benefit of seeking a dx for me. (Especially considering the cost involved since we only have private health insurance.)
•    Anonymous said... Thank you, yes indeed, its helpful and encouraging. I'm not alone. Although, I'm not HFA, my boys 24 and 19 are. We still don't know yet where/how or which genes came from. Their dad(I'm divorced)was abusive, so we parted years ago, when boys were 5 and still pregnant with younger one. It has been a long hard struggle, but thanking God, each day for my boys, I would do it all over again. They've struggled and sometimes still with anxiety. And they've been through a period of depression during high sch. They've been through a lot. Now younger one in 2nd year in college, older one rebalancing himself, he just recently restarted therapy and meds. Charactics of HFA are there, but they do love humor. And even a lil bit of sports. We live in a small town. We are native Americans, so healthcare wasn't all that great for my boys. Seems not enough good therapist here, but yes indeed, we are getting there. God provides. I do want my boys to attend church with me, but I've tried asking before,they do believe God exists and they probably know the Holy Bible better than I do.lol so now I attend church for the three of us. Any suggestions? And dating is/was hard. So its like a the back burner.lol any suggestions? I just wanna share with anyone who cares to listen....only God will carry you and family through the fire. Its just as simple as that. Im praying for all parents and kiddos here. I appreciate all your comments/suggestions.very helpful indeed. May God bless y'all and never give up on your children, no matter what. Have a great day!
•    Anonymous said... The other factor to consider if that as a parent of an almost 18 year old with Aspergers, (as well a other dx) I will not stop being his parent because he turns18. There is limited support and resources for teens and adults, compared to the younger kids...just as when he was younger there was little information compared to now. I'm always having to work for new ideas for motivation, his self care, advocacy and so much more. Its appreciated having as many resources as possible when trying to guide my son to his independence whole allowing him to remain himself.
•    Anonymous said... The points made is so true, one kids grow up, and some adults shpuld b tested too, they may not b aware they have it,,, special guidance is needed 
•    Anonymous said... We were just clinically "quirky" back then.
*   Anonymous said... It's kind of funny to think that even if someone had noticed something was off about me when I was a kid, there was no way I could have been diagnosed correctly. I was born in 1977, so at the time, Asperger's hadn't been recognized officially as a condition and wasn't included in the diagnostic manuals until 1995 (when I graduated high school incidentally). The issue of adults with Asperger's is a relatively new thing, which probably explains why it is so difficult to find trained counselors to help out adults instead of kids. I tend to think the adults have unique problems that children with Asperger's don't, primarily depression for years of feeling "off", and improperly learned communication habits. Years ago, someone with Asperger's was just considered strange. If they entered into a relationship, as long as they were male, then the standoffishness and silence was considered part of "being a man". Times have changed, though, and communication has become a huge part of our society. EVERY job these days requires good communication skills, and there is almost no way you are going to enter a relationship and get away with be standoffish. Hopefully, as time progresses, treatment options to help aspies deal with these issues will improve. In the mean time, sites like this one are a fantastic way for aspies to talk to each other and help find ways to deal with the day to day issues of being part of a different world. It's also a great way to practice communicating.
•    Anonymous said… I have to be dragged into doing everything and the more important it is the harder it seems to be to get me to do it. I can know it's important and still can't seem to do it, I even get in a right stress with myself for being so crap.
•    Anonymous said… I wasted so much time with this and worrying about inadvertently offending others or worrying about people thinking that I'm one narrow archetype or another; one overly serious and literal - or alternately a creative eccentric. The more I was aware of how different it was, the more concerned and slightly avoidant I became. I used to only do groceries late at night when the shopper count drops dramatically. Now I realize though that the desire to fit with what I 'thought' was the norm took energy away from other pursuits. This maladaptive over-processing ironically leads to more self surrounding than would happen if we instead dedicated ourselves to our "hyper focussed" pursuits. At least our interests, if they could lead to niche careers, would ultimately bestow more success, achievement and the confidence of identity that then begets more social, cultural and capital exposure.
•    Anonymous said… Sounds like me. I always thought this was normal for I never really wanted to connect to people anyway.
•    Anonymous said… that's pretty much me. I find tho, once I get going it's ok, but most of the time I don't go out anywhere and I try not to run into my roomate if I can help it. I shouldn't even have a roomate to begin with and it keeps me from getting to a place of processing b4 I can go out. It sux.  


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