How to Live with Asperger's Syndrome

Three Methods:General IdeasTips for Interpersonal SkillsGetting Support

Below are tips on how to live with autism or Asperger's Syndrome. People who live with Asperger's may be called "Aspies" or "Aspergians" and they are sometimes labeled as geeks, dorks, or nerds. Autistic people often experience problems with social interaction that neurotypicals (non-autistic people) take for granted. With patience, and the right help, anybody with Aspergers can succeed in this world.

Method 1
General Ideas

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    Remember that autism is a neurological disability, not a disease. Every personality type has its positives and negatives. Autistic people are usually funny, insightful, detail-oriented, and moral. They may need help with social skills, anxiety management, choice making, and understanding unwritten social rules. Since autistic people are very diverse, it's difficult to generalize about their traits.
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    Consider how to develop social skills. Therapies such as RDI can help you work on learning how to interact with neurotypicals.
    • Conversations in various social situations
    • Job interview skills
    • Asserting your needs and boundaries
    • Reading facial expressions
    • Determining whether someone is interested in talking
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    Learn which specific aspects of Asperger's Syndrome give you the most trouble, and try to work around them.
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    Learn how to handle sensory overload and meltdowns. These can be incredibly frustrating to deal with, and it's important to know how to stay feeling good. Don't stop at the wikiHow articles—look online to see what other autistic writers do in order to stay calm.
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    Focus on your strengths. Being disabled doesn't make you a weak or lesser person—it's just one aspect of who you are. You can still find meaningful work, build worthwhile relationships, and make the world a better place. You are not broken.
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    Practice independent living. For teens and young adults, as you get older, you need to take necessary steps so you can eventually live on your own.
    • Start doing laundry, cleaning your room, and doing dishes. Ask your parents for help until you feel able to do it yourself.
    • Find a program that teaches disabled people to drive.
    • Find a job. Job assistance programs are available to help you.
    • If you are unable to take care of yourself, you can live in assisted living. Many intelligent and good people, like autistic writer Amy Sequenzia, live in some form of assisted living.
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    Face your anxieties. Many autistic people face social anxiety (e.g. talking to groups or professors), generalized anxiety (e.g. fear of the future), or PTSD (e.g. from abusive therapists). Here are some tips to deal with anxiety.
    • Talk to your therapist.
    • Try facing your fears in little pieces. If you're afraid of talking to a guy you like, first smile at him in the hallway. Once you can handle that, try saying "Hi" or "How are you?" Remember that you're in control, and you can back out whenever you start to feel overwhelmed.
    • Ask yourself: what's the worst thing that could happen? Is this realistic? How bad is it likely to get? Is it possible that your thinking is distorted?
    • If you're feeling bad about yourself, take the perspective of a friend. "Would I be okay with my friend being told that she's a loser? Then should I say this to myself?" "Would I judge a friend for slipping up like that?" If not, then you're fine.
    • Practice habits that lower stress. Exercise is a good way to lower stress levels. Also make sure you are getting enough sleep, eat well, and limit how much caffeine you consume.
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    Cultivate your special interests. They may turn into a fun, secure job someday. Furthermore, your colleagues will share your interests, so you can talk about your passion all the time!

Method 2
Tips for Interpersonal Skills

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    Remember to talk with people, not at them. A good ratio in a one-on-one conversation is to listen about 70% of the time and talk about 30%. Try not to talk for more than five to ten minutes at a time. Let the other person set the pace of the conversation.
    • Sometimes people are interested in monologues, because they want to learn more about your special interests. If they ask, it's okay to dive right in! Monitor their expression, and give pauses to allow them to react, so that you can adjust the subject or answer questions as need be.
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    Know that eye contact is not a necessity. While most neurotypical engage in it, it is perfectly fine not to do it if it makes you feel uncomfortable or distracted. Depending on what you can handle, try one of these:
    • Watch their hands or feet. (Looking in their general direction suggests listening.)
    • Look at their shirt, scarf, or necklace.
    • Observe their chin, mouth, nose, hair, or forehead wrinkles.
    • The best way to achieve eye contact is to look at their left eye briefly and then shift to their right eye.
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    Learn how to read other people's behavior. This can be done by:
    • Watching television shows and observing the faces
    • Looking at art tutorials: what do angry faces look like? What do happy faces look like?
    • Asking other autistic people for tips
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    Listen with the intent to understand. Try to fully understand how the person feels before you explain your point of view. While this can be a difficult thing to do, people usually respond very well to it, and feel more opening to listen once they know that they're heard.
    • Ask questions to clarify. "She moved the deadline of the report?"
    • Summarize what they've said. "So, you felt frustrated when your dad kept cutting you off like that." (It sounds silly, but it works!)
    • Ask for their opinion. "Did you think it was fair of the academy to do that?"
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    Ask before offering advice. Many autistic people experience a strong sense of social responsibility, or a desire to help out and fix problems. However, sometimes neurotypicals do not want advice—the best way you can help them is by listening. In this case, it is best to stave off the impulse to help, and allow them to be independent (for better or for worse).
    • "Were you looking for advice, or just someone to commiserate? Because that sounds like it stinks."
    • "Would you like some suggestions on how to deal with that?"
    • "I went through a similar experience last fall. Let me know if you'd like any tips."
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    Learn when it is appropriate to touch and approach people. Practice what you learned and try to follow the treatment plan recommendations.
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    Practice validating others' feelings.[1][2] This practice can cause people to quickly trust and like you. Whether you agree with their actions or not, make it clear that you hear them and sympathize with their troubles. Acknowledge their feelings, rather than trying to one-up them, and your social skills will be better than those of plenty of neurotypicals.
    • "I'm really sorry to hear that. That sounds rough."

Method 3
Getting Support

The world can be a confusing or isolating place for an autistic person. A strong support network will help you meet the challenges of daily life.

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    Ask a professional for advice. Consult a psychologist, licensed social worker, occupational therapist, or a psychiatrist to learn more about autism/Asperger's Syndrome. As therapists, they may develop a treatment plan to assist with daily living.
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    Network with other autistic people online. Autistic people usually use hashtags like #actuallyautistic and #askanautistic. You can share coping strategies, talk about your lives, and make friends who think in ways that you do.
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    Form a team of people whose judgment you trust: parents, older siblings, relatives, therapists, close friends, et cetera. Whenever you feel uncertain, you can come to them for advice. Hearing a variety of perspectives will help you imagine possibilities so you can make the best decision.
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    Join clubs or activities related to your special interest. This will give you a chance to make friends who share your passions, and the fun topic will make the outing less exhausting. Even if you don't talk to anyone there, you have a chance to practice something you love.
    • Due to your intense focus and passion, you may even reach a leadership role! This will allow you to coach others (and will look great on your resume).
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Article Info

Categories: Autism Spectrum