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Anxiety

Ten Ideas to Live Healthier and Feel Better: Divergent Thinkers and Everyone

Respect yourself.   As hard as things have been, focus on your strengths. Your path, however bumpy, has gotten you to be the person you are. You are unique, and no one else can contribute your insight and perspective.

Reach out for support.   If you have family or friends who “get it,” that’s terrific. If not, there’s communities of support out there on Facebook, like "The Aspergian Has An Article for That" and "Autism Support and Discussion Group". People have had similar experiences and are working on the same issues.
Advocate for yourself. No one can see inside you.   Consider how best to communicate to the person who is listening. With some people, you can probably say what you want plainly. For others, help them understand. You might try this: say something positive (I want to do a good job), then your need: (but I need a quieter place to work) and then something positive (I’ll be able to get that done). Or, another example: positive (I want us to get along), need (so I need you to be clear and not expect I know what you want), positive (that will really help).
Take care of your health.  Your body is critical to your mood, your ability to think and your wellbeing. Too many people don’t get enough sleep, eat well or take the time to take care of themselves. Treat yourself to a recharging walk to somewhere you enjoy (or nap), whatever works for you.
 Meditate   It’s been proven that mediation can structurally change your brain to be more stress resilient, and it’s like creating a center of calm for yourself. There’s many ways to do it (mindfulness, repeating a phrase, yoga, even walking). You’ll find great apps to lead you through mediation like Calm, Headspace and Insight Timer.
Know yourself     Know your triggers for emotional and sensory overload and early warning signs in your thinking, feeling or body that say it’s getting too much. Have strategies you’ve pre-thought for calming down, whether it’s something like taking a walk, listening to music, doing a minute or two of meditation, anything that works.
Have strategies    If you can’t escape going into difficult situations, have strategies for handling it. Short doses, taking time outs. Use self-advocacy to share that this situation is difficult and what might be helpful. If that doesn’t work and this situation keeps recurring, there’s something fundamentally wrong with this situation and you might have to think about how to change it.
Have compassion for yourself    We all do our best and no one is perfect. You may have made mistakes and regret them but that’s how we learn. You need to give yourself the compassion you’d want to give a friend in the same situation.
Let go of anger     This saying is allegedly attributed to the Buddha: He who holds onto anger is like the man who drinks poison and expects the other person to die. Anger stimulates your stress response so your autonomic nervous system stays in fight/flight mode. This is bad for your health, your immunity and your outlook on yourself and life. I’m not saying forget, just do whatever re-centers your focus on how you overcame (or can overcome) whatever obstacle you encountered. You’ve undoubtedly had some good experiences; focus on them as balancing the negative.
Learn the serenity prayer.    Give me the serenity to accept what I can’t change, the courage to change what I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.



Anxiety

12 Tips For Going Back to School And Making It Work

Going back to school makes many of us nervous.  We tend to re-live the sore spots of the past - the rude classmate, the poor grade on a paper - and dwell on it. We tend to worry about the future – I bet I’ll be lonely, my professor won’t understand my questions, I won’t do well. Our worrying is understandable when you think about the challenges:  meeting new people, adapting to new classes and schedules, dealing with unanticipated changes, even learning a new environment for those starting a new school all involve social anxiety, transitioning and flexibility.



Asperger Syndrome

What’s the Difference Between Asperger’s and NLD?


Comparing Nonverbal Learning Disability (NVLD or NLD) and autism (Asperger’s) is like comparing apples and oranges.  Asperger’s (now called autism spectrum disorder level 1) is a medical psychiatric diagnosis. An autism diagnosis is made by taking a careful history, observation, and sometimes questionnaires or interactive protocols. A deficit in social relationships is among the top criteria.  NLD is not a psychiatric or medical diagnosis listed in the DSM-V; it is a neuropsychological diagnosis from testing. NLD isn’t really a learning disability. It’s a pattern of strengths (verbal) and weaknesses (visual-spatial) found on neuropsycholocial testing. Both Aspergers and NLD would be considered "neurodiversity," a different way of having our brains be  "wired."


Asperger Syndrome

Is PTSD Inevitable for People with Asperger’s ?


A senior clinician who also works with Asperger’s and NLD clients told me that he feels most of his clients have PTSD. That sounds like an extreme, even surprising statement, but it’s probably true. PTSD results from trauma, and most people with spectrum social, sensory and processing traits experience childhood trauma - bullying, rejection and the constant message that they’re wrong and inadequate. For many, the trauma of these repeated experiences can...


Asperger Syndrome

Does Teaching Social Skills Teach Masking Asperger’s?

There’s an emphasis on teaching social skills to those with Asperger’s or NLD. There are different ways of looking at why those who are neurodivergent could benefit from learning these skills: one can see it as “fixing” someone who is not good enough at a “normal” process, or one can see it as providing useful skills and understanding to someone whose way of thinking and expressing himself is different.



General

April is Autism Awareness Month: Acceptance Is a Better Word


Why have a month for autism awareness? Look at the numbers- in 2014, the CDC estimated of the US population is on the autism spectrum, which is 1 in 59. The percentage is similar in other countries as well, and despite misconceptions otherwise, only 31% have co-existing intellectual disability.

Many people you would not suspect to be on the autism spectrum actually are, and experience social stress, anxiety, and sensory challenges. They might seem sort...


Asperger Syndrome

Explanations Aren’t Excuses: Understanding Asperger’s Thinking

People come to me asking to better understand individuals with Asperger’s or Nonverbal Learning Disability (neurodiverse). This usually happens when parents (and spouses) are frustrated by a family member’s behavior, resistance to what seems to be reasonable needs and expectations. They want to have things go more smoothly and are frustrated by refusals and meltdowns.

In turn, the neurodiverse individuals are frequently frustrated by the expectations they face. They often feel that...


Asperger Syndrome

Are Doctors Missing Asperger’s?

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...


Asperger Syndrome

What’s The Balance Between Learning Social Skills and Acceptance Of Asperger’s And NLD?

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.  



Asperger Syndrome

Too Smart To Have Asperger’s?


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.