Prepare to enter the wild and wooly world of an adult with Aspergers Syndrome, a form of autism characterized by intellignce, quirks, social difficulties and downright strange and oddish behaviours.

People with Aspergers generally are high functioning in everyday life but have great difficulty connecting with others due to the inability to read faces, body language and subtle verbal clues. They also tend to take words literally and have a hard time multi-tasking.

Oversensitivity to touch (clothing has to be soft and often the tags removed), light (do not leave home without the sunglasses), sound (loud noises and noisey places are avoided), taste (many Aspies have quite a limited diet and are frequently very picky eaters) and smells makes the everyday existence more of a challenge.

Fasten your seatbelts and come on in...
To find out more about what Aspergers is..please check out my earliest blog entries

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Things Everyone With Aspergers Should Know.....Tips

As an Aspie who was not diagnosed until I was forty, here are a few things I wish that I had figured out years ago.

1) It is very helpful to find a family doctor who has an understanding of Aspergers whom you can trust. This is beneficial on a number of fronts. I have great difficulty relaying what exactly my physical symptoms are and have on multiple occasions made appointments, "because I don't feel good", unable to provide specifics. My doctor has taken to slowly running down a checklist of specific symptoms in order to isolate the problem.
Also, because I am much more sensitive to medications, my doctor agrees to start me on very low, children size doses of medication and gives me a verbal or written list of signs I need to call or see her about.
In addition, stress can cause confusing, distressing physical symptoms, i.e. panic attacks can feel like heart attacks and emotional distress makes any little innocuous pain 10x worse. I sometimes panic with small injuries and my doctor gave me a rule of thumb. If I am ever unable to sleep or cannot stop obsessing regarding a physical symptom, on weekends and after hours, I can go to the emergency room to have my fears alleviated. Yes, everyone at my local ER knows me by name but they also are aware of my autism and treat me with respect.

2) Taking medication whether it be an anti-anxiety, anti-depressant or sleep aid can help if you decide that symptoms are interfering too much in your daily life. Medication is a personal choice and some choose to be on meds and some do not. Both are acceptable. It is an individual choice.
I choose to be on an anti-depressant daily and my life is dramatically better and calmer for it. I also have an anti-anxiety med that I can take as needed. I've discussed with my doctor the dosages that I can vary between. Most days, I do not need it at all, but if I have an event I must attend or simply cannot slow down my thoughts enough to rest, it is there for me.

3) Try and find at least two adults with whom you trust and can speak freely. Use them as sounding boards when you have ideas or questions. I know from personal experience how challenging it is to navigate this NT world without "guides". I highly recommend seeking out friends whether it be family members, therapists, clergy or buddies. It can be so hard to share and let people in, but I know too personally and painfully what can happen when an Aspie has only one unhealthy friend and listens to only them.....
My Eldest Aspie son, is currently serving time in prison. Because he was gullible, naive, emotionally immature and had only one friend who happened to invite him along for a night of crime. They committed five felonies and my son is half way through a thirty month prison term. Prison is no place for an Aspie. I know how easily even I can be manipulated at times, so its very important to have at least two trusteds, two sounding boards to keep one healthy and out of trouble. Sometimes we cannot see or comprehend the consequences of our actions, I know this to be true. Therefore, I have two or three different people that I try and have hour long talks with on a weekly basis. I know relationships/ friendships can be challenging, but I find them to be most necessary.

4) Consider going gluten and or casein free for a month. Study after study after study has proven that autistics benefit by these diets. Our bodies simply were born without the enzyme to digest certain substances, namely gluten (wheat, rye, etc) and casein (milk, certain cheeses, etc.). This inability causes digestive and intestinal distress in the form of bloating, weight gain and sluggish elimination among other things.
I have been gluten free and mostly casein free except for some small amounts of cheese low in casein such as mozzarella and a little Colby, for almost a year and I wish I had taken this step years ago. As long as I could remember I have had to take multiple fiber supplements to stay regular. Being on this diet eliminates that problem and the need for any supplements. In addition, I have considerably less minor illnesses such as colds or flus.
There is a large amount of information available on the Internet to guide one into the world of GF/CF. It takes two full weeks of making the changeover for ones body to be G&C free, so I would recommend trying it for a full month and notice what changes.
There are GF breads, muffins, donuts, pizza crust, cookies, brownies, pastas, you name it. I even found a GF apple pie the other day that was totally delicious. You will not go hungry!

5) Its okay to say no to certain events and invitations. Large gatherings of people can be over stimulating and too darn stressful for the Aspie at times. I used to feel terrible when I said no to parties, graduations and get togethers, but I realized that I was doing the best I could. Yes, there are times I am incapable of attending events and I am really working on accepting that it's okay.
I also stumbled upon the idea that it is okay to take care of myself and sometimes that means turning off my phone, not answering the door or keeping the computer off for days at a time. I have learned to recognize and respect the times when I simply cannot handle any more input. Such is life with Aspergers.

6) Tell people you have Aspergers. It's not a crime or illness, it's just the way one is born and hard-wired. Some people are not going to understand it, but my experience has shown me that when I tell others, they are understanding, kind and willing to help me more. I get confused with forms and deposit slips. I mentioned my Aspergers at my bank and they are very understanding and willing to assist me. The same is true of the staff and teachers at my sons school, those people I see everyday. I often have rudimentary or silly questions that I ask and they are right there willing and able to answer.

7) Read all about Aspergers on the Internet and in books. Search for other Aspies and see if you can find support either online or in person. It's a wonderful feeling to find out that you and your unusual symptoms are not alone. I only have two Aspies in my area and I so enjoy the opportunity to talk and share with them. It's like finding a long lost family member that actually speaks the same language! I find it very rewarding.

8) Learn to ask for help if you need it, clarity if you don't understand the questions and for specifics when instructions are vague. No one is perfect and everyone needs a little help now and then. The majority of people's are kind and willing to help. Unfortunately, there are always a few bad apples. Learning to tell healthy from unhealthy people is a big accomplishment. Unhealthy people tend to yell, scream, whine and complain a lot. Observe how someone interacts with their children, animals and family. If they routinely kick the dog or bad mouth a neighbor, they may be trouble.

9) Be kind to yourself. Recognize that it is okay to be you, okay to be Aspie. You are a magnificent, unique being! Be very, very kind to yourself:)

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