Aspergers Diagnosis for Adults
Many individuals around the world may have grown up feeling as if they live on an alien planet. Nothing makes sense. Everything they feel comfortable with, other people seem to view as strange. They may have gone through school being ridiculed, not fitting in. Then, over time, they may gather bits and peices of information that may fit together into a puzzle that finally makes sense: It comes in the form of aspergers diagnosis for adults.
If, as an adult, you are wondering whether you have Asperger’s or another form of autism spectrum condition, I want to lay out a road map that may help guide you.
Screening: Do Some Preliminary Research
Read my article on some of the online autism quizzes and tests that you can take to see if you’re in the right ballpark.
Talk to Your Doctor
Be very specific when making your appointment with your primary care physician. Let her or him know that you have been reading about autism and Asperger’s syndrome, and that you think you may have this diagnosis.
If your primary care physician is not as familiar with the criteria for autism spectrum conditions, s/he may at least be able to refer you to a health professional who specializes in understanding and diagnosing autism spectrum conditions.
Here are some health professionals who may be involved:
Know Your Autism Spectrum Facts
Describe the Triangle of Challenges
Other professionals have referred to Asperger’s syndrome as being characterized by a triad of impairments. I like to look at it as a triad of challenge, versus as an impairment, because I believe words are powerful.
Because autism is a spectrum, these challenges can vary from person to person in terms of how frequent, severe, or intense they are. I am listing these three areas below:
One of the key differences between autism and Aspergers is that individuals with Aspergers have always had normal speech. In fact, many children with Aspegers are seen as ‘little professors’ because of their sophisticated vocabulary.
However, the social aspects of communication provide the biggest challenges:
- difficulty understanding gestures, body language, and facial expressions
- knowing what is socially appropriate and knowing what topics to talk about in a conversation
- dreading and avoiding social situations because communication is so difficult.
- may have few friends because they choose not to socialize very much
Here are some questions to ask yourself about difficulties you may have had with social understanding:
- Have you had difficulty in group situations, such as going to a restaurant with a group of friends?
- Have yhou had a hard time with small talk at some social occasions or outings?
- Have you had problems understanding double meanings, for example not knowing when people are teasing you?
- Do you often take what people say very literally?
Think about specific examples of social situations that you find difficult. Write them down so that you can present them as specific pieces of data for your healthcare professional.
Projecting Alternative Outcomes
Because of challenges with the first two areas: social communication and social understanding, it becomes difficult for a person on the autism spectrum to predict what will happen next in many situations. It’s not like the neat rules of hard science or math, where A + B = C. Rather, in the social world, there are endless nuances and possibilities, and this makes it hard to know how to act in any given situations.
As a result, many individuals with Aspergers syndrome have compensated by being planning meticulously with written or mental checklists as a way of surviving in the world.
Other Possible Autism Spectrum Characteristics
I’ve written about some co-morbid conditions that can accompany autism spectrum conditions. These can include the following:
- the stress of navigating the social world, with its many confusing unwritten rules and nuances, can often lead to discouragement and depression
- Anxiety in the form of panic attacks, social phobia, and obsessive compulsive disorder can sometimes accompany autism spectrum conditions.
You may or may not have some of these co-morbid conditions. Remember, you do not have to have all of the characteristics, but you may have some of them. Going through a thorough assessment process with a seasoned and sensitive professional can bring a lot of clarity to life as you have been experiencing it.
After The Diagnosis
Your diagnosis is a good starting point for getting a better understanding of yourself and your strengths, as well as areas you may need to grow in.
In some cases, you may want to consider connecting with an understanding professional who can better assist you with navigating through your thoughts and feelings regarding your new diagnosis.
If you click on the heading above (autism support groups), you’ll find the article I put together to help you find support both on the internet and more locally. Take some time to connect with others like you: you’ll feel less isolated and alone. Remember that some people are more severely impacted than you, while others may be less impacted than you. Be open minded to the people you encounter.
Autism Aspergers Coaches
I have two autism/aspergers coaches I thought of immediately as I was writing this post, and I’m going to include links to their sites.
Patricia Robinson is a licensed marriage and family counselor in California who provides therapy and coaching to children and adults on the autism spectrum. She writes a great blog called Thrive on the Autism Spectrum.
Brian R. King is a licensed clinical social worker. His unique value lies in the fact that he himself has Asperger’s syndrome. Not only is he skilled in understanding the skills of people helping, but he know what it’s like to be an individual on the autism spectrum. You can find out more about him and his services at SpectrumMentor.Com
Read Autism Spectrum Books
You can start off by visiting my Autism Books section at this site.
I’ve also written another post called The Top 10 Autism Spectrum Books: My Wish List .
Thanks for taking the time to read my road map for adult autism spectrum diagnosis. I hope you found it helpful. I look forward to your comments!
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