Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is known for often appearing quite early in a child’s development. However, this is not always recognised in early life as the symptoms can vary in severity. For example, one individual may be relatively fluent with their speech and have above average intelligence, whilst another individual with ASD may have difficulties with speech and their ability to learn in school.
Therefore, some people enter their adolescent or adult years and suspect that some of their childhood experiences, or even the difficulties they have faced as an adult, may be linked to ASD. On the other hand, they may have received a diagnosis for ASD and some professional support at a young age, but recently feel as though it is bringing rise to other difficulties.
ASD is a lifelong developmental disorder that affects the way individuals relate to people and their environment. Some of the difficulties that you may have noticed throughout your life include:
- Struggling to put into words what you want to say
- Talking about your hobbies and interests for a long time, until maybe you notice that people walk away or stop responding with interest
- Finding it difficult to contribute to a conversation which you don’t want to talk about
- Struggling to maintain eye contact, feel physical contact or to use the correct body language
- Being told you that you are rude or unfriendly without meaning to be
- Finding it difficult to understand other people’s emotions or what they mean when they say certain things
- Having a strong interest in a specific thing and spending most of your time and thoughts on this interest
- Struggling with any change to your daily routine, and feeling distressed when things unexpectedly change
- Facing prejudice, bullying or exclusion from your peers
- Wanting to experience independence from your family or carers but not knowing how
If you have experienced some of these things, it does not mean that you have ASD. There are a number of other factors which could be causing you difficulties in social relationships and day-to-day functioning, including certain negative mood states or personality traits.
At VCPS, the practitioners can help you to identify whether you have symptoms of ASD. If you have already been diagnosed in the past, they can also help you to manage any symptoms that you are currently experiencing. Some approaches they may use include:
- Gaining a comprehensive understanding of your background, childhood experience and any past support strategies received from mental health professionals
- Building on your social and communication skills
- Teaching you assertiveness in order to stand up for yourself
- Learning how to cope with unexpected changes or events when they occur
- Providing techniques to manage stress and anxiety
- Medication is occasionally used to improve attention span or reduce unwanted behaviour