Most clinicians don’t think of autism when they diagnose “normal” looking people. They think of Sheldon in The Big Bang Theory or of the stereotype of the nerdy boy memorizing dates of WWII battles. Many high functioning people on the autistic spectrum (Asperger’s) and NLD (which is a neuropsychological profile with many Asperger's traits) don’t look like Sheldon or the stereotype and are still neurodiverse. This is especially true of girls, whose...
Parents usually want Asperger's or NLD children to learn social skills to get along with school peers, family and others. Many with Asperger's feel that "neurotypicals" (those without Asperger's) should accept them as they are for who they are and all they have to offer. On the other hand, some with Asperger's lament that it seems others are born with a built in manual for social behavior; they feel lost, confused or overwhelmed without that manual.
I've read posts by people who are neurodiverse (Aspergers, NLD) who actually wonder if they’re too smart. They don’t meet people’s expectations for “autistic” so their behavior is misinterpreted, their needs are overlooked and the expectations of their performance doesn’t take into account the challenges of their neurodiversity.
There’s pressure on everyone during the holidays and that pressure can be stressful. It’s like “be happy or else,” which doesn’t work for anyone. Here’s some ideas for having holidays go well, for yourself, your spouse or your child:
People with AS and NLD often are depressed as I wrote in a recent blog. It's a combination of the impact of difficult life experiences and sometimes a predisposition to clinical depression. When depression significantly interferes with daily life, professional help is necessary. If it’s not that incapacitating, self care strategies can help significantly. Best, they’re generally free and portable.
People with Asperger's Syndrome who are high functioning are often undiagnosed as having AS. They are often diagnosed as having depression, anxiety, OCD, ADHD, ODD, personality disorders, or a psychotic illness -- and the AS is missed. The lack of severity of AS symptoms doesn't correlate with the severity of stress people experience, since many have been struggling with the internal pain of isolation, bullying, not fitting in, feeling overwhelmed and difficulties with work that seems easy for others.
It’s not unusual for people Asperger syndrome to be be depressed. Studies have varied somewhat, but generally the rate of depression of those with Asperger’s is over 3 times that of the normal population. Studies have suggested that 18% to 22% of those with AS have depression compared with 6.7% of the general population. The times of highest risk for depression are late adolescence and young adulthood.
As students with AS and NLD of all ages return to school, there’s two challenges: making the transition from summer to the school routine, and setting up the year to maximize success. Transitions and novelty often are the source of anxiety, so many AS and NLD students are increasingly anxious as that first day back to school approaches. Anticipatory anxiety can be expressed as headaches, stomach aches, and specific fears of the year ahead: who’s in the classes, will there be bullying, what’s expected by teachers, having to take gym. How can a parent help (or an older student prepare)?
Parents, teachers and partners always tell me that children/adults with Asperger’s Syndrome or NLD should be more self aware, not engage in annoying or rude behaviors and self-advocate when they don't know or understand something. They're supposed to develop "EQ" on cue....
The NY Times printed a letter and advice about the inappropriate behavior of a man most likely with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) in an office, the headline calling him “creepy.” (People in the office had identified him as on the autism spectrum.) That the man was a supervisor only made it worse. I’ve had similar issues with teens who have AS and NLD who have been accused of everything from stalking to harassment.