Perhaps you’ve been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome or suspect you have it. If so, you may be wondering what sort of help is available. Although a cure has not yet been discovered, many therapies have emerged recently that assist adults with Asperger’s to live successful, meaningful and happy lives.
Here are five ways that therapy can help you with the challenges of Asperger’s in adulthood
1. Improving Communication
An Aspergers psychologist or other mental health professional with experience in this condition can improve your understanding of others and how to express yourself. You can learn to interpret gestures, facial expressions and change of tone so that the intentions of someone you are conversing with, in addition to the subject matter itself, can become clearer.
By learning how communication works, it is possible in therapy to become less literal and to comprehend the meaning of complex words and phrases, such as metaphors and analogy, so that is it easier to understand what people mean. Interpreting the body language of others and how non-verbal cues are used in communication is possible through instruction and practice in therapy.
2. Using Special Interests
Adults with Asperger’s Syndrome typically have intense or even obsessive interests that in some cases are narrow and limited, such as train schedules, road signs or WWII fighter planes. At first, this sort of focused interest may not seem useful, but the kind of obsessive involvement with a particular topic that occurs in Aspergers has several advantages. It allows the person to gain unusually proficient insight and knowledge in a specific area. It also can lead to a similarly focused interest in unrelated areas, computer programming or systems analysis.
Therapy can help you center your interests on subjects that provide for a broad acquisition of knowledge and increase your employment opportunities. An Asperger’s psychologist can work with you to choose a type of work that best reflects your strengths, interests, and skills or to help you better align your interests with your current job.
3. Increasing Social Possibilities
Problems recognizing how people interact often leads to social isolation for those with Asperger’s. Not understanding sarcasm or humor, or having difficulty maintaining eye contact, recognizing facial expressions, body posture or nonverbal gestures make it hard to interact successfully one-on-one and in groups.
An important benefit of therapy is to guide the adult with Asperger’s Syndrome in building skills that lead to greater comfort, ease and success interacting with others. These skills can be learned, and through guided practice, refined and improved resulting in more flexibility in social situations and less need to isolate yourself.
4. Accepting One’s Self
At some point in your life, you came to recognize that you are different from other people. You may have seen yourself as inadequate compared to your peers, less skilled socially, alienated from others and lonely.
Psychotherapy can help you achieve a realistic appreciation of who you are and to recognize your strengths more than your weaknesses. It can reduce self-doubt and self-criticism and increase social success and self-esteem.
Working with an Asperger’s psychologist can help you understand the intentions of others and to gain a more objective perception of how people experience you.
If your reaction to Aspergers has been to achieve social acceptance by acting the way you think you are expected to act, you may have camouflaged your true self and who you really are. Psychotherapy can help you achieve a realistic understanding of yourself and greater acceptance of the unique qualities you possess.
5. Promoting Intimacy
You may choose to stay single or to marry, to have children or not. But if you are searching for an intimate relationship, the challenges of Asperger’s may require guidance.
You “love” just like anyone else but you may not understand the need for expressing love nor understand when and how expressions of love should occur.
Developing skills that increase intimacy such as empathy, communication of emotions, active listening, positive vulnerability and mutual respect are core benefits of a therapy aimed at building personal closeness.
Whatever the direct cause may be, Asperger’s Syndrome can be treated. Professionals, such as an Aspergers psychologist, can help you improve the quality of your life and of the relationships surrounding you. Support from a therapist, together with support from friends, relatives, and others can help you overcome your problems and aid you in leading a happy, productive and satisfying life.
Dr. Kenneth Roberson is an Asperger’s psychologist in San Francisco with over 30 years of experience. To ask a question, or schedule an appointment,
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