Helping a loved one to cope with Asperger’s
Asperger’s syndrome is a form of autism, a learning difficulty which affects how people experience the world around them. It’s estimated that autism affects around 700 000 people in the UK, with all at different levels on the spectrum.
It was previously thought that Asperger’s was separate to autism, however the condition was recategorised in 2013 in line with a diagnosis of autism. It’s not uncommon for Asperger’s to be prevalent alongside other learning difficulties as well.
Because Asperger’s can present itself in various ways, it can be hard to know what the best support option is for a loved one.
The symptoms of Asperger’s
Peoples’ experiences of Asperger’s vary, however some of the most notable symptoms are sensory and physical difficulties, such as problems coping with loud noises or bright lights, and finding it challenging to understand non-verbal means of communication, such as body language or gestures.
Difficulties within personal relationships, education, and work, can be as a result of Asperger’s. Forming friendships can be difficult and many people with Asperger’s find it hard to maintain eye contact, and even process their own thoughts and feelings. This, in turn, may result in a person feeling isolated or unable to engage with other people’s emotions.
People with Asperger’s feel most comfortable when they have a rigid routine or specific rituals, however detracting from these routines can cause sensations of anxiety or being overwhelmed, and it can be hard for a person to cope with these sensations.
Typically, the symptoms of Asperger’s become apparent during early childhood, although sometimes the condition isn’t formally diagnosed until adulthood. Gaining a diagnosis as early as possible ensures that a person and their family can get the right support for everyone, both emotionally and practically.
Gaining a diagnosis of Asperger’s and autism
It’s not always easy to gain a diagnosis of Asperger’s as it affects each person on a different level, such is the nature of spectrum conditions. Some people who display some of the symptoms go through a large part of their lives.
Some people feel uncomfortable with seeking a diagnosis, and deciding whether you want to yourself is entirely your choice. However, should you wish to seek a diagnosis, your first point of call will be your GP, who will then refer you to a psychiatrist. They will then carry out a series of tests to determine the level of Asperger’s or whether it is prevalent in the first instance
Following a diagnosis of Asperger’s or otherwise, your next step will be to assess your care and support needs.
Living an independent life with Asperger’s
There is no cure for Asperger’s or autism, however there are a number of therapies and treatments which can be put in place to help you or someone in your care with the condition.
The National Autistic Society has a range of methods which may help manage the symptoms of autism and Asperger’s, such as using visual aids to understand feelings and even counselling.
However, there are a number of steps which can be implemented at home to minimise the distresses which can be caused by Asperger’s. These include keeping the house as quiet as possible, following a set routine when it comes to meals, and allowing time for your loved one to process what you are telling them.
People with Asperger’s also have keen interests on which they focus quite intently. They can vary from music, to mathematics, to computing. And showing an interest in these areas, while encouraging the person you’re supporting to take them into volunteering for example, can also help them to build confidence and social skills.
The difference Asperger’s care can make
Living on a farm in Hampshire means Oscar is always looking after a variety of animals, including a family of lively pigs. His Asperger’s meant that this could be very stressful for him.
However, with visiting carer Sadie on hand to talk to him and help him when needed, Oscar is able to complete his duties and enjoy having a friend in Sadie who enjoys being around the animals as much as he does. He’s now able to manage his emotions and channel his strength productively.
Take a look at what a typical day looks like for Oscar and Sadie.
Can we help your loved one with Asperger’s?
Here at Helping Hands, our carers always put your independence first. With live-in care, you can follow a routine which you are both used to and comfortable with, and still enjoy the support from family members and friends.
Our home care support is always tailored and unique to your needs – whether that’s helping with a particular hobby or activity to making sure you’re safe within your own home.
To understand more about how home care for Asperger’s works, speak to one of our friendly advisors on 03300376958.
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We’re here seven days a week to talk through your home care needs and find the best option for you. Call 03300376958 or request a callback and we will call you.
Page reviewed by Kevin Antrobus, Autism and Asperger's Expert on July 18, 2019