ASD – Asperger’s syndrome

ASD – Asperger’s syndrome is a neuropsychiatric disability. ASD stands for Autism Spectrum Disorder. Asperger’s syndrome is a form of ASD. If you have ASD / Asperger, you may notice how you communicate with others. You may also find it easier than others to focus on things that interest you.

ASD – Asperger’s is a form of autism

This text is about ASD / Asperger syndrome. ASD is a collective name for different types of autism. ASD / Asperger is a milder form of autism than an autistic syndrome.

ASD – Asperger can show up in different ways

ASD – Asperger’s syndrome can manifest in different ways for different people and the symptoms can be of varying severity. 

If you have ASD / Asperger, you probably recognize yourself in some of these symptoms:

  • Some interests take up much of your time.
  • You have a very easy way to get involved in topics that interest you but feel resistant to receiving information when you are not interested.
  • It can be difficult to understand what others mean and how they feel unless they say it very clearly.
  • Some tasks that others do almost automatically, you may need to do more consciously and step by step.
  • You can easily get stressed if you need to do something that is new and unfamiliar to you.
  • It can be difficult to communicate with others and you are not always understood. You may need someone to clearly explain unwritten rules that exist when socializing with others.
  • Sometimes you end up with behaviors and routines that feel hard to break.
  • Your senses seem stronger than others, such as smells and tastes. You may find that the clothes are scratching or that some sounds are very disturbing or unpleasant.
  • You may have difficulty interpreting other people’s facial expressions and body language. Signals that indicate that someone wants to end a call, for example, are not always clear enough and you may not notice if the other person stops listening.
  • It probably doesn’t seem obvious to you to use social signals yourself, such as eye contact, facial expressions, body language, and gestures.

Many people with ASD / Asperger have a very large vocabulary, but it can be difficult to understand when a word is used figuratively or has multiple meanings. If you have ASD / Asperger, you may sometimes misunderstand jokes or imagery and interpret it literally. On the question “can you open the window?” you might answer “yes”, but missed that it was actually a call to you to open the window.

Difficult for social small talk

It can be difficult for a person who has ASD / Asperger to read other people’s feelings and, for example, notice if someone is sad. Many people with ASD / Asperger say exactly what they think, which others can sometimes perceive as hurtful, even if it was not intended at all. The social small talk that is sometimes expected can feel difficult or unnecessary to participate in.

It can also be difficult to make decisions or choose between different options, as it can be difficult to imagine what the choices mean. Things that others may appreciate, such as gifts and surprises, you may find most difficult. You may also dislike different kinds of changes and maybe extra stressed by things like train delays or having to stand in line for a long time.

You can have very easy to learn facts, such as learning many details or a whole text at the outside. Maybe you remember better than others what a place or a picture looked like.
It is common to have difficulty with motor skills. It often takes longer to learn to cycle or swim and team sports usually do not belong to the favorite jobs. But it doesn’t have to be that way for everyone.

Tips on books

If you want to understand more about ASD – Asperger’s syndrome, read about it. There are many books written by people who themselves have been diagnosed. They give a good insight into what life can be like for others in the same situation.

Here are some tips on books:

  • “In another way” by Paula Tilli, Sivart publishing company, 2013
  • “A real person” by Gunilla Gerland, Studentlitteratur AB, 2010
  • “Asperger’s Syndrome: Do I Really Have It?” by Gunnel Norrö, Dejavu publication, 2011
  • “Children, adolescents, and adults with Asperger’s syndrome: normal, genius, nerds?” by Christopher Gillberg, Student Literature, 2011 
  • Infoteket, the county council in Uppsala county, has compiled a selection of books on Asperger’s syndrome.

How is life affected?

Many who have ASD / Asperger live an independent and good life as adults. Some may need support in everyday life, such as helping to find strategies for planning everyday tasks, setting times and finding different environments.

How much trouble you experience depends largely on how your everyday life is adapted to your difficulties. With the right support from the surroundings, you may not experience any major problems. It is different from person to person how much support is needed. Some also have other neuropsychiatric disabilities, such as ADHD. Then there may be other difficulties, and more help is needed. It is also quite common for people with ASD / Asperger to have depression. Then you may need treatment for it.  
If you find it difficult to talk to and understand others, you can practice it in groups or on your own.

If your child has ASD / Asperger’s, it is important that you are aware that other symptoms may also exist, such as impulsivity, sleep difficulties or food difficulties, for example, that the child eats very unilaterally. Children who have severe problems, such as self-injurious behavior, may experience even greater difficulties in puberty. Extra support may be needed from, for example, child and adolescent psychiatry.

You and your child can also read and learn more about habilitation by following the wonderful character in the  Wonder app. The app is available for download to the phone or tablet.  

How can I make everyday life easier?

If you have ASD / Asperger, you may prefer fixed routines, which means you don’t have to improvise as much. There are various tricks that you can use to make everyday life better. Try it out and see what is right for you:

  • Make it a habit to write down everything you need to do in a calendar, such as the one on your phone.
  • If you are going to a meeting, go to the dentist or something else, write on a note or on your mobile wherever you need to, when you have to leave home and about how long the meeting or visit should be.
  • Set up your phone so that you get a reminder and can prepare yourself well in advance.
  • Make a schedule when it comes to things like cleaning and laundry. It can be things like taking ten minutes to pick up every night or always washing on Sunday afternoons.
  • If you are easily stressed, it may be good to try some relaxation exercises. This also applies if you have trouble falling asleep in the evening.
  • If you have trouble sleeping, you can not drink coffee or tea containing caffeine. From the afternoon onwards you can drink evening tea or decaffeinated coffee instead.
  • Move. If you exercise, it is easier for the body to recover from stress. If you have not found any way to exercise that you like, you can take a quick walk each day instead.
  • Keep in mind that many things that people with asparagus find difficult, can be painful for others as well. Like coming in time to meetings or having just cleaned up at home. Some things may be more difficult just because you have ASD / Asperger’s. But you are also a person with other characteristics than that of Asperger’s.
  • Please be kind to yourself. Try not to value everything you do, and how you are as a person.

Several causes of ASD – Asperger’s syndrome

The causes of ASD – Asperger’s syndrome is not entirely known, but it is probably due to several things. The most common cause is that there is heredity, it is common for biological relatives to have similar personality traits. ASD / Asperger is not something you can handle yourself, nor is it due to psychosocial problems in childhood.
In connection with the diagnosis of ASD – Asperger’s syndrome, an opportunity should be given for discussion with a doctor about the cause and the doctor will then decide whether a special medical examination is needed. 

Investigations

Before starting an investigation, it is good to think about what benefit you have of a possible diagnosis. The investigation takes some time and energy. There may be benefits, for example, that you get an explanation for your difficulties. It can make you understand yourself better and gain a better understanding of the surroundings.

Most children are diagnosed at school age. Although it may be noticed that a child of the preschool age functions differently than others, the signs are often not so clear until the school age.

So the investigation goes on

There is no special medical test that can answer if you have asparagus. The study is conducted in much the same way for adults and children and is largely based on information about how the child, teenager or adult works / worked during preschool, school hours and – for adults – in adulthood. Investigating doctors and psychologists need to be informed about various abilities such as interaction and communication with others, behaviors and interests, learning, motor skills and concentration/attention ability. In the case of children and adolescents, information is also obtained from teachers.

When it comes to adults, you have interviewed yourself and someone who has known you when you were a doctor and/or psychologist. In some parts of the country, an occupational therapist or a curator may also participate. The questions are about what symptoms you had as a child, how the development has looked and what difficulties you have as an adult.

The interviews are usually supplemented with questionnaires. Sometimes you can do different tests to investigate, for example, different aspects of memory, concentration, and ability to plan. The doctor also makes a medical and psychiatric assessment. Many adults with autism spectrum disorders and even children and teenagers may have other problems, such as anxiety or depression.

When the investigation is completed, you will be given access to the result of both orally and in writing. It may be good to have someone you know when you know the outcome of the investigation. Here you can read more about how a neuropsychiatric investigation is done.

To be notified that you have ASD / Asperger’s

Different people react in different ways when they learn that they have ASD / Asperger’s. In the teens, for example, it may feel hard to know that you have a functional difference because it is common to want to be like everyone else. If you are young and have ASD / Asperger, you can read the text ASD – Asperger’s syndrome at UMO.se. 

It can also be a relief to get a diagnosis because it provides an explanation for the various difficulties that you have experienced.

If you get a diagnosis, it may be good to take the time to review the message and read about the difference in function and also talk to others about it.

Right to apply for support according to LSS

If you have a diagnosis within the autism spectrum, you are covered by special legislation, the LSS, which means the Law on Support and Service for Some Disabled People. It is a law of rights that will support people with disabilities to live as independent and good life as possible. You then have the right to apply for various support efforts from the municipality and from the county council’s habilitation. Through them, you can get help to find different ways of managing life.

School, work-life and housing

In order for you to live as well as possible, everyday life may need to be adapted to your needs. And people around, like family, friends, and workmates, may need to know what ASD / Asperger means.

Going to school and having asparagus

It can be good if classmates get information about ASD / Asperger. If you attend elementary or high school, you can sometimes avoid the requirement to achieve certain goals in school. This may be the case if, for example, you are unable to participate in group work or in discussions about a topic. If major changes are needed in the syllabus, it may mean that you cannot get a grade in the subject but receive written reviews instead.

In some places, there are special high school programs for students with ASD / Asperger’s. There are opportunities to extend high school time by one year if you need a slower pace.
Several public colleges have courses aimed at students with asparagus. You can learn practical things you need to cope with adulthood, such as cooking or planning the economy. Such a course can be good when moving from home and managing yourself.

Clarity facilitates

Creative, free tasks are often difficult for people with autism spectrum disorders. It can help if the teacher gives clear instructions on how the assignment should go. Some have difficulty taking oral instructions. They may not be able to perceive and process everything they hear. It usually works better with short and clear instructions, preferably also written or with pictures.

Everyone who has ASD / Asperger’s is different. Free tasks can work well for someone, but not for anyone else. Some are very easy for most tasks in the classroom but have difficulty understanding the rules of the school playground.

For many children, it is important to be prepared for what will happen during the school day. Class teacher, student assistant, or mentor can go through today’s schedule and describe in detail what the class should do during lessons. Younger children may need pictures that further clarify the schedule.

  • Here are examples of questions that can make life easier in school for those with ASD / Asperger:
  • What should I do now?
  • Where should I be?
  • Who should I be with?
  • How long will it last?
  • What will happen next?
  • What should I bring?

Finding the right job

In recent years, some companies have focused on hiring people with ASD / Asperger. The companies then take different needs into account when it comes to, for example, working hours and work management. They want to be able to use the special skills that some people with ASD / Asperger have, without making the same social demands that exist in many other workplaces.
Most people need to try their hand to find a job that they enjoy and can do well. If you have ASD / Asperger, you may need support to find a job that fits.
Some who have ASD / Asperger have unusually easy to handle tasks that, for example, require concentration and sharpness. It is good if you can get work tasks where such characteristics can be utilized.

If you have a job, supervisors and workmates may need to be informed about what special needs you have. Sometimes the working hours may need to be adjusted, and the tasks are extra clear.
If you have ASD / Asperger, you may need more time and energy than others for the various tasks that everyday life consists of. It can also make you need more time to rest. For some, it may, therefore, be good to work part-time.

Housing support

Many people with ASD – Asperger’s syndrome can live on their own when they move away from home. Some, but not all, need support at home with practical chores one or a few times a week. This is called housing support.
Some may need, for example, group housing and serviced accommodation. Then you live in your own apartment, but have access to support from staff in the same house.
It is the municipality that handles housing support and accommodation in group housing or service accommodation. Each municipality has a website where you can find information on how to apply.

Read more about aids and housing adjustments.

Being close to someone with ASD – Asperger

Living with someone who has ASD / Asperger’s can be different than living with someone who doesn’t have it. A person who has Asperger’s may have difficulty communicating, but at the same time would like to spend time with others and have close relationships.
A close relationship may require a lot of energy from someone with Asperger’s, partly because the person has difficulty interpreting other people’s moods and unspoken desires. As a relative, you may feel confused and misunderstood.

If you have lived near someone who has had ASD / Asperger’s without knowing about it, a partner, friend or family member, you may have experienced that a diagnosis made it easier for you to understand and accept certain behaviors. That doesn’t mean you have to accept just about everything. Just as in any relationship, it is good to be clear, and for example, explain that you do not always want to listen to the other person’s / others’ talk about their special interest.

The more you know about ASD / Asperger’s, the easier it is to understand why the person is acting as they do in different situations. It can also be useful to share with others the experience of living with someone with ASD / Asperger. 

Here you can read more about being close to children who are mentally ill and how it can be if an adult in your family does not feel well.

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