Interventions for Young Adults Diagnosed with High-Functioning Autism

Do you have an older teenager or young adult on the autism spectrum who is struggling (or drifting) in life? Then share this post with him or her:

Everyone with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger’s is different, so interventions need to be individualized. Adults come to this awareness at different ages and stages of their lives, which can influence the approaches they choose.

It’s best to have a set of simple coping skills that you can refer to when needed. So, here are a few basic tips for young adults on the autism spectrum:

1.  Work with a Life Coach or Job Coach. He or she will work with you on multiple levels (e.g., concrete skills-building and goal direction, independent living skills, employment related skills, social skills, understanding your traits and symptoms, etc.).

2.  Utilize career one-stop centers (i.e., federally funded centers designed to help people learn new, marketable skills, identify jobs and prepare for interviewing).

3.  Treat yourself like you would a trusted/valued friend!

4.  Stop the blame. Blaming yourself or others is common and not helpful.

5.  Simplify your life.

6.  People with HFA tend to connect most comfortably around shared interests.

7.  Medication can be helpful in decreasing symptoms of depression and anxiety that often accompany HFA.

8.  Know your areas of difficulty and work on those.

9.  Join a group (online or off) where you can meet other adults with HFA.

10.  Hire people to do the things you’re not good at (e.g., money management, housework, organization and bookkeeping).

11.  Heightened sensory sensitivities may make particular environments unpleasant or intolerable. Thus, change lighting, decrease noise, wear comfortable clothing, etc. when needed.

12.  A therapist with an awareness of HFA or interest in learning about it with you is essential.

13.  Educating others in your family about HFA.

14.  Downtime is required. Sensory and social demands of daily life make more downtime essential for people with HFA. Communicate with those around you about your need for this, but do not use it as an excuse to avoid participation in family or other activities.

15.  Disclose your disorder strategically (i.e., only share the information that is required for that time and place). Consult with a trusted person to determine what to disclose if unsure.

16.  Decrease “isolation-time” (i.e., do not stay home - all day - by yourself every day).

17.  Contact the vocational rehabilitation agency in your state. With an official diagnosis of HFA, you may be entitled to service.

18.  Cognitive-Behavioral approaches to therapy are strongly indicated.

19.  Build on your strengths rather than focusing on your weaknesses.

20.  Be creative in the combination of interventions you use.

21.  Attend a group where social skills are explicitly taught.

22.  Advocate for environmental changes at work or home. If you are more comfortable, the people around you will be as well.

23.  A slower-paced environment will likely be more tolerable and allow for a greater sense of comfort and competence.

==> Launching Adult Children With Aspergers and HFA: How To Promote Self-Reliance

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