How do I tell an adult they might have autism or Asperger's Syndrome?

Posted by: manarm — about 8 years ago (12 comments)

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We are often asked this question by people who feel their relative or co-worker might benefit from a diagnosis or awareness of their differences. Has anyone got any real experiences they can share of what has worked and what has not worked?

Comments

Posted by: Felicity — over 6 years ago

"Advice: How do I tell my husband I think he has Asperger’s?"

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Posted by: Living Autism Moderator — almost 7 years ago

From Nathaniel -  As an adult with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), it can be a blessing to get that diagnosis. I am at a point now where I feel that it can be a special gift that allows the person to see the world in new and different ways. We need creative people with ASD who can see the positives and not dwell on the negatives. If I were to encounter more adults with ASD I would tell them to stay positive and see it as a blessing.

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Posted by: Living Autism Moderator — almost 7 years ago

From Esther - Wow. I wouldn't worry so much about it. Every adult that I've met who received a late diagnosis has been relieved. There is something wonderful about knowing your perfectly normal within your realm of existence and your eccentric for a reason. It's wonderful being able to finally grasp why and start working towards solutions to problems that we'd viewed as personality qwerks. Have you come across hostility or denial?

wonderful comments, very honest and insightful.

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Posted by: Felicity — about 8 years ago

 

Hello Mandah, 
 
I am sorry to hear that your friend is having a hard time with diagnosis at the moment.
 
If you would like to email us direct at info@livingautism.co.uk and let us know in which area your friend is living we can see if there are any diagnosticians nearby. He can then take this information to his GP who should be able to refer him for assessment.
 
I would also suggest having a look at the NICE guidelines which can be found clicking here -  these cover the recognition, referral and diagnosis of autism.
 
Felicity

Posted by: mandah — about 8 years ago

 i am sure a close friend of mine is aspergers,have shared this with him and he seemed happy to put a name to his ways,but trying to get diagnosis for support seems impssible,gp doesnt seem to know where to direct him and he has been left unsupported and more frustrated as nobody seems to really care or take this seriously,please advice,thankyou

Posted by: Living Autism Moderator — about 8 years ago

From Juli - As executive director of a nonprofit early intervention center for autism, we are often faced with this in dealing with parents of preschoolers with ASD. Many parents of children with ASD (myself included) have tell-tale features of ASD, yet many times these features do not render us unable to function or negatively impact the necessary care for our child with ASD. In these cases, we do not intervene or make suggestions. Often, by spending time in support groups and informal social gatherings with fellow parents at the Center, parents with strong features become aware of their ASD features on their own. However, this year it became necessary for our staff to approach a parent (a mother) who was clearly demonstrating exacerbated symptoms of untreated ASD in response to her own son's diagnosis and subsequent treatment. Her anxiety in response to his behaviors was impacting the child's own anxiety levels and progress--and the mother was resorting to extreme remedy's in order to cope (remaining isolated at home to avoid dealing with behaviors, leaving the child alone in his bedroom rather than working through problem behaviors). Her patterns of being able to complete the steps in the behavior plan perfectly with staff, yet unable to generalize to the home setting or other settings was a huge red flag; perseveration on unimportant aspects of behavior; avoidance of change, etc....were all red flags that were affecting her child and herself. Our staff psychologist who provides counseling for parents was at a loss for gaining her compliance in exploring anxiety medications or further treatment. As a parent myself of two sons with ASD, I met with her and shared my own recognition of my ASD features and how I came to recognize them and cope (even though I do not have or need a formal diagnosis). I then addressed her presenting features and how they might be impacting her own happiness and ability to help her son. As a result, she decided to accept our offer of diagnostic services with our psychologist (included parent history interview from her own mother), as well as a Cognitive Behavior Plan and self-accountability for implementation, as well as support from our staff for her targeting goals for her son. While addressing the huge pink elephant in the room can sometimes be excruciatingly uncomfortable, ethical treatment requires that it be addressed when quality life and of care are adversely impacted. Via chat or email

Posted by: Living Autism Moderator — about 8 years ago

From David - To clarify my previous statement, my comment in response to a question about how to advise an adult he or she might be on the spectrum was that it might be to helpful to tell the person that there are people with Asperger’s who consider their ASD to be a gift as opposed to a disability. I was referring to high-functioning, articulate, independent people like John and others I have met on LinkedIn and elsewhere (who although they regard their ASD as a gift, also often describe it as a mixed blessing). Obviously, it is difficult to say how the many people on the spectrum with impairments such as seriously delayed language, severe stereotypy, and co-morbid conditions regard their ASD, or in some cases if they are even aware they have it. Few parents of children with such debilitating symptoms would consider their children’s ASD to be anything other than a disability. Yet while there is is a lot of hard work to be done keeping them safe and helping them learn to communicate, develop other adaptive behaviors, and cope with their unique biology and the world around them, the rewards of loving and being loved by such innocent,vulnerable, extraordinary children are great. Our children are precious gifts to us, and hopefully we can be the same for them. Via chat or email

Posted by: Living Autism Moderator — about 8 years ago

From Barbara - When this issue comes up for me, the concerned party is a parent or employer. I approach the individual in question by discussing behaviors that are causing problems. In the U.S. it would be against the Americans with Disabilities Act for an employer to suggest that an employee may have AS. But behaviors can be discussed. Even when a parent raises the question about an adult child, I am mindful that some people might be very offended or upset if I was to state directly that perhaps they were on the austism spectrum. The problem behaviors almost always involve interpersonal communication. Once I understand how the individual sees the situation, I point out the concerns of others, and where misunderstandings are happening. I explain that not all people pick up on communication skills intuitively, and that there are techniques for learning these skills. Michelle Garcia Winner's book, Social Thinking at Work, Why Should I Care, is a great resource because it addresses the concept of social awareness and problem solving, without attaching a label (e.g. AS, or ADD, etc.). Often, you learn from someone's history that the problems have been long-term, from childhood. So I might mention that there can be many reasons for a person's difficulty, and ask whether they had ever had any evaluations, and might one be useful now. From time to time I work with someone who is very troubled either by a DX or someone's question about whether they have AS. In these cases, I take any diagnosis off the table, and just concentrate on what is causing a problem in that person's life. Via chat or email

Posted by: Living Autism Moderator — about 8 years ago

From Dana - Apparently, I don't treat people with disabilities very well at all. In fact, someone suggested I am a person who produces rage-killers. Soooooooo, I am going to go back to producing rage-killers and hating people with disabilities. That, naturally, means I have to hate myself, but I digress. Via chat or email

Posted by: Living Autism Moderator — about 8 years ago

From David - You might consider telling the person that many people with Asperger’s consider it to be a gift rather than a disability. It the person expresses a need for help dealing with social/emotional/behavioral issues, make appropriate referrals unless you do that kind of work yourself. There is also a lot of comradarie and support to be found in the autism community. Via chat or email

Posted by: Living Autism Moderator — about 8 years ago

From John - Some folks with ASD wouldn't mind if you just asked them directly and bluntly. Others would respond with the same emotional defense mechanism "neurotypical" people would respond with. If you aren't sure what to expect, then go below the radar to avoid a possible defense mechanism. Do the same thing you'd do if that person was "neurotypical". Give bits and pieces of information and ask the right questions to get them to ask themselves whether or not they could have Asperger's Syndrome. It's a time consuming strategy that requires a good sense of timing, but it works for "neurotypical" folks and folks with ASD alike. Years before I got my official diagnosis, I first became aware I had Asperger's by watching a movie based on a real life "Aspie" could called "Mozart and the Whale" ( http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0392465/ ) and recognising myself in both the male and female lead. If you can come up with an excuse to get those you suspect to have it to watch that movie, it could be way to introduce the subject. Via chat or email

Posted by: Living Autism Moderator — about 8 years ago

From Dana - If you find out, please let me know. Someone very close, in my opinion, has AS. Via chat or email