I suspect that I have Aspergers. What course of action should I take - if any?
Because individuals with Aspergers are among the most high-functioning and able on the autistic spectrum, they are also the most likely to slip through the diagnostic net. Although many are diagnosed as kids, others reach adulthood either undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.
The key to getting an accurate diagnosis is finding a professional who has experience diagnosing children, teens and adults with Aspergers (High-Functioning Autism). A clinician whose only experience is with "low-functioning" autism may not be as helpful. Here is a list of clinicians who have experience in diagnosing Aspergers.
Grown-ups with Aspergers who seek help with challenges they face are sometimes misdiagnosed with depression, bipolar disorder, or other mental illnesses. It is important that adults questioning whether or not they have Aspergers seek the services of a professional experienced in diagnosing Aspergers.
Does it matter if you get a diagnosis or not? Well, if you are functioning well and have a job, and are happy with the life you have, then there may be no reason to get a diagnosis. Conversely, if you are struggling in important areas in your life, a diagnosis can provide a framework for understanding and learning about behavioral and emotional challenges that have seemed unexplainable until now. Although challenges in sensory integration (i.e., the ability to organize sensory information for use by the brain) are not considered diagnostic criteria, most – if not all – Aspies have a sensory challenge of one kind or the other.
Some areas of difficulty where Aspergers could possibly be a factor include the following:
1. Are parties uncomfortable or overwhelming? Social events are a great way to meet people, and they can be essential for business, dating, and even marriage. But if you are uncomfortable because you are unsure of what to wear, how to start conversations, you have a hard time reading body language, then these “fun events” can be murder.
2. Do you a problem focusing on what others are saying while looking at them?
3. Do you avoid social events because you can't hear the person next to you over the hum of the crowd, or you don't like the touch of shaking people's hands or having people pat you on the back?
4. Do you have a passionate interest in a certain subject or topic? Perhaps you've been called OCD, but you think you're just very interested in one incredibly fascinating subject matter. This passionate topic could help you in other areas of your life, if only you knew how to use it.
5. Do you have a tough time making or keeping friends, and don't understand why? Or perhaps your peers are only interested in you when you're engaged in an activity or interest that you share, but you have not built a personal relationship.
6. Do you have trouble in getting and keeping a job that reflects your abilities even though your credentials look great on paper? It could be that you are very talented but don't have a clue as to how to do the sell yourself during an interview. Maybe the office politics are just something you don't get, so you are routinely passed up when it comes to promotions.
7. Has someone you are very fond of pointed out certain behaviors that drive them crazy and suggested that you might have Aspergers. Maybe there is something to their suggestion.
8. Have you ever met someone special that you wanted to get to know better, but didn't have a clue as to how to go about asking him or her out on a date?
9. If you are a college student, do you have trouble keeping up with coursework and finishing a degree? Perhaps you could use some help in getting and staying organized and planning your time.
Why you should get a diagnosis, if indeed you do have Aspergers:
1. Getting a diagnosis may help you find the strategies you need to be more successful in the areas where you are facing challenges.
2. It may help others in your life understand why you are the way you are, and respond to you differently.
3. There are Aspergers support groups out there (on-line and off-line) who can help you in many ways so you don't have to feel isolated and figure everything out for yourself.
4. There is a whole community of people who get who you are, how you think, how you feel, and that you can share experiences with.
5. You can begin the process of learning to live more adaptively with an Aspergers brain.
6. You may be eligible for service services in areas of need thanks to having a diagnosis - perhaps help with finding a job or a place to live.
How to find out if you have Aspergers or not:
1. If you know any mothers or fathers of kids with Aspergers, ask them about the clinicians in your area familiar with Aspergers. If those clinicians can’t help you, they will hopefully refer you to someone in your area familiar with Aspergers.
2. One way to find the right person in your geographical location is to contact The Global and Regional Aspergers Partnership (GRASP), and the Autism Society of America (ASA). These organizations may have chapters in your area. If not, they can provide you with the names of professionals who would know someone to refer you to, in your geographical area.
3. Typically you need to see a clinical social worker, a licensed professional counselor, a psychologist, a psychiatrist or neuro-psychiatrist. It is important to see a professional who specializes in Aspergers, especially one who is familiar with Aspergers in grown-ups.
The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook