Adults with Asperger’s: How they struggle, how they thrive

May 12, 2021 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health
Categories: Healthy Driven Minds

People with Asperger’s syndrome usually don’t understand conventional social rules, they may not make eye contact with other people or they may seem unable to understand sarcasm.

Children on that end of the autism spectrum have good language skills, they may just talk too loudly or with a monotone voice when they speak.

By the time they are adults, many people with Asperger’s don’t stand out as much, having learned more about communication while struggling to understand others. They may have a successful career, with a job that requires minimal social interaction or is very structured.

Elon Musk recently shared while hosting Saturday Night Live that he has Asperger’s syndrome.

The diagnosis used to indicate someone on the high-functioning end of the autism spectrum.

As of 2013, the diagnosis for someone with the characteristics of Asperger’s would be classified under “autism spectrum disorder” in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), rather than as a separate condition. The term "autism spectrum" refers to a wide range of developmental disabilities with varying degrees of severity.

However, many adults who have been diagnosed with Asperger’s still identify as an “Aspie.”

Adults with Asperger’s can be successful in some areas of their lives and struggle with other aspects. They want to fit in and make friends but aren’t sure how to do it and are often socially awkward. They also want meaningful romantic relationships as much as people without autism, but find it difficult to engage others in conversation which could lead to a relationship.

People on this end of the autism spectrum may display characteristics including:

  • Hypersensitivities (to lights, sounds, tastes, etc.)
  • Difficulty with the give and take of conversation
  • Difficulty with nonverbal conversation skills (distance, loudness, tone, etc.)
  • Uncoordinated movements or clumsiness
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Difficulty with social interactions
  • Restricted interests
  • Desire for sameness
  • Distinctive strengths
  • Remarkable focus and persistence
  • Aptitude for recognizing patterns
  • Attention to detail

Elon Musk isn’t the only famous person who has revealed being on the autism spectrum—others include actors Anthony Hopkins, Dan Aykroyd and Daryl Hannah.

Many adults with autism spectrum disorder develop anxiety and depression as they struggle to understand others and fit in.

Children with autism spectrum disorder who are diagnosed and treated early in life have an increased chance of being successful in school and later in life.

If you’re concerned about your child’s development, don’t wait. Linden Oaks Behavioral Health offers Aspirations, an intensive outpatient program for adolescents who struggle with autism spectrum disorder, along with anxiety and/or a mood disorder.

The focus is on helping teens better manage their emotions and become able to function more smoothly in school and other settings. Individual and family therapy offers parents a chance to talk about what's working or not working at home. The teens go home with strategies to guide them in practicing their new skills at school and elsewhere.

To learn more, call the Linden Oaks Help Line 24/7 at 630-305-5027.

Get support for Asperger’s at Linden Oaks Behavioral Health.

This blog was reviewed by Erica Shick, LCPC, with Linden Oaks Behavioral Health.

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