“As high functioning autistic adults, we have to become our own experts”
I have written this article to explain the way I cope with being an adult with high functioning autism.
But firstly, just a little background on how I arrived at my “solution.”
As we know there is not a “cure” for Autism. There are no magic wands that will make a person neuro typical, and even if there was, I would not want to change who I am anyway. I look around and see many unhappy non autistic people that have their own problems.
For higher functioning autistic adults, there is a lack of services and support to help them function in the world, to help them cope with the difficulty they have in managing their intense emotions.
Autistic adults need help finding psychologists and other medical professionals that have specialist knowledge of autism. Unfortunately the relevant health services are practically non existent here in the UK.
The challenges faced by autistic people fall into two main areas. Firstly, the autistic traits and symptoms that make life difficult and confusing for us. Secondly are the mental health problems faced by so many people with Autism/Asperger syndrome.
To date, I have not discovered a place where autistic people can go to find help for both sides of the problem. There are of course mental health services, and medication for anxiety and depression is quite easily available from your local doctor. But ask them for advice or support for your needs as an autistic person, and you are met with silence. Even after the Autism bill here in the UK there are no services.
More often than not, I know more about autism than the average doctor or psychologist. I have done the research and know how it feels to be autistic. Most high functioning autistic adults, have to get used to not being able to get “expert” help, advice and support.
As high functioning autistic adults, we have to become our own experts
So what is the answer – what works for me?
I deal with the combination of High functioning autism, anxiety, depression and OCD in the following ways:
- Taking the smallest amount of medication for anxiety and depression, that will just take the edge off the worst feelings. With the help of your doctor, you may need to experiment with different medications until you find one that works for you. My present one is Clomipramine, and it seems to work ok. But I do stress just the smallest amount to help you get through the day.
- Relaxation techniques, relaxation music, guided meditation cd’s and massage.
- Learning as much as I can about autism, and how it affects me. This helps me to understand myself more, and leads to a greater acceptance of my difficulties.
I now only take a very small amount of medication, as taking too much will mask the benefits of the relaxation techniques. Taking higher levels of medication for anxiety and depression, creates undesirable side affects, and does not make me a happier person.
I do understand that many people with High functioning autism and Asperger syndrome, will struggle with some of these relaxation techniques, and some may not like the sensation of massage, but I have found them to be very beneficial.
In my role as a tutor to autistic adults, I was using a guided meditation/relaxation technique on a 35 year old person with autism that had intense anger and emotional problems. After we finished the guided meditation session, she commented that it was like, “having her brain massaged”. For the first time in ages she looked relaxed and untroubled, at least for a few hours.
So this may not be a perfect or instant solution for every autistic person, but like I’ve said, it works for me and many other autistic people I work with as a tutor.
The use of meditation and relaxation techniques, are a subject that I will be returning to often in my blog, as I feel the possibilities for an increase in our quality of life are endless whether you are a person with autism or not.
Thanks for reading