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Abstract

The current research aims to analyze the impacts of Asperger’s syndrome on human lives and on the well-being of adults in particular. Even though autism and Asperger’s syndrome as its subtype are mostly diagnosed in children, the paper represents its considerable impact on the lives of adults. The review of recent literature has shown that it has become a topical issue among various psychologists and autism-related organization. Focusing on the negative influence of Asperger’s syndrome on the level of adults’ socialization, this disorder becomes destructive in practically all spheres of life, including work, romantic or friendly relationships and parenting. In fact, such negative influences cannot be neutralized, but a timely diagnosis and proper treatment according to individual recommendations can let one minimize Asperger-caused risks for career, relationship, family and for overall mental state.

Asperger’s Syndrome

Autism is a mental disorder that affects the behavior of people in a society. However, covering a broad spectrum of symptoms that can be met in different combinations, autism is a general notion that has various subtypes. Among such, Asperger syndrome (AS) is a concept used to define specific mental problems caused by malfunctioning of some brain processes. As a developmental disorder, Asperger’s syndrome is generally associated with a problem that is diagnosed and demands treatment in childhood. However, in the modern world, more and more adults are getting diagnosed with this disorder. As a result, they meet a number of problems and barriers in their everyday lives and they cannot always experience the same quality of life that healthy people do. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is the most common and effective way of treatment for AS. However, the problem with it is that it is available mostly for children rather than adults (Gaus, 2007). Moreover, there are no consistent government policies that would support adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) (Gallin&Weinroth, 2008). These people require more attention than children. While the main aspects of Asperger syndrome-caused problems among children include difficulties with learning, language usage and communication with other kids, for adults the same disorder leads to problems in both personal and social lives, difficulties of career development and problems with mental state. Hence, in the majority of cases, they suffer because they cannot live a full life. Individuals with Asperger-syndrome very often require a type of special care that far not always can be provided by their family. This research paper aims at analyzing how the special needs of adults with AS are different from children’s and how they create a serious social problem due to having less attention from the society.

The prevalence of various Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) continues to grow. Even though it is commonly believed that such disorder is common only for children, the statistics demonstrate that is in fact not true. According to Gallin & Weinroth (2008), the statistics for Ontario shows that out of 70,000 people diagnosed with ASD, 50,000 are adults. Such a number demonstrates that the prevalence of this disorder is more than twice higher among adults as compared to children. Being accompanied by some severe problems with communication and behavior, such developmental disabilities are commonly noticed in the earlier stages and are rarely associated with an adult age. However, the latest reports show the opposite and some scholars have investigated how differently the Asperger’s syndrome can influence the lives of people of various age groups.

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Life order, social networks and other aspects of adults’ and children’s lives predetermine similarities and differences in development of the disorder and its methods of treatment. Speaking about children with Asperger’s syndrome, it is necessary to point out the severe difficulties that children experience in creating relationships with their peers and the delays in learning. In a conversation, they not always understand the feelings, thoughts and especially hints and require more time for doing so (Attwood, 2012). The capability to interpret emotional aspects is quite limited, but some sensory experiences can be quite impressive for them (Attwood, 2012). Some of their interests can be unusual in terms of intensity or focus. In general, it is difficult for them to understand the intensions of other people. These reasons are the causes of difficulties in socialization. Hence, the therapy for children is focused primarily on the above mentioned aspects of communication. The adults may have some similar problems in socialization. However, the first point is that the aim of their communication with other people can be different from ordinary chatting or discussing something. Adult life implies that people have to communicate for work, personal life and basic food or clothes needs. Hence, if children with Asperger’s syndrome are very likely to have parents nearby to support them, problems with communication are likely to hurt the life of an adult person, who has no parents to do some things for him or for her. An adult person with Asperger’s syndrome is rarely content to stay alone and lead a ‘monastic’ lifestyle as it is common for autism (Attwood, 2012). The researches show that young people with Asperger’s syndrome would like to have a partner for dating and marriage. However, given a number of complications, it becomes quite difficult to maintain a relationship. Very little is investigated about the means to support young people and help working on problems in relationships between people with Asperger’s syndrome (Attwood, 2012). However, encouraging successful relationships is important in contributing to the overall welfare of the society.

The relationships between people meet numerous obstacles in case one or both of the partners have Asperger’s syndrome. The basics of a successful relationship between people are mutual understanding, trust and respect. However, people with Asperger’s syndrome fail to provide it in majority of the cases due to lack of an ability to catch the ideas of other people and to properly interpret their behavior, lack of self-understanding and failure to respect self because of rejection by peers as being small  (Attwood, 2012).  Adolescents with Asperger’s syndrome are very vulnerable, can be easily deceived and ‘set up’, which may often lead to accusation in inappropriate social or sexual behavior (Attwood, 2012). Such tendencies show that people with Asperger’s syndrome possess the features that are incompatible with happy marriage. Love confuses them due to inability to express affection and accept it.  People with Asperger’s syndrome do not seek for bright expressions of love. Even a hug may be perceived as an uncomfortable and restricting squeeze. Hence, it would cause confusion instead of warm feelings (Attwood, 2012). Moreover, wide ‘vocabulary’ of expressions related to feelings is absolutely unknown for people with Asperger’s syndrome due to their limited vocabulary. Lack of understanding, difficulties in expression of emotions can often lead to anxiety, depression or even difficulty managing anger (Attwood, 2012). Hence, adults with Asperger’s syndrome can be defines as emotionally and socially immature.

Being very vulnerable to outside influences, the mental state of people with Asperger’s syndrome requires special treatment. The offences and misunderstandings that may lead to anxieties and depressions are often met in late adolescence (Asperger’s Syndrome Foundation, 2015). Even though the verbal or non-verbal expressions may not correspond to the depression or anxiety symptoms, it is important to remember that emotionality and vocabulary of people with Asperger’s syndrome is different from those of healthy people. Nevertheless, inability to express feelings of disturbance or anxiety makes it quite difficult to diagnose these disorders or to diagnose a depressed or anxious state. Depression is often associated with an individual’s realization of personal disability to communicate effectively and create new social connections (Asperger’s Syndrome Foundation, 2015). Such state is often caused by the necessity to appear at the university or at work, where other people make friends and become an example of that what is out of reach for an individual with Asperger’s syndrome. In such a way, psychological, physical and motivational symptoms are often caused by very unstable psychological state of a person. Being common among people with Asperger’s syndrome, anxiety is found among 84, 1% (Asperger’s Syndrome Foundation, 2015). Phobias, panic disorders, overanxious disorders or obsessive compulsive disorders are quite destructive for the happy life of people and functioning of the society. Hence, a person with Asperger’s syndrome faces a great number of barriers in life.

As it was mentioned above, the common challenges that people with Asperger’s syndrome face are communication and socialization difficulties, anxiety, executive functions deficit, and difficulty with change, perseveration and emotional responses (Gallin &Weinroth, 2008). The person with Asperger’s syndrome cannot switch focus from one to another quickly or finish someone’s sentence. Participation of such people in social activities is also very challenging. Unsureness in social expectations, problematic problem solvation, and lack of planning, organizing and flexibility skills decreases the involvement into social life of the community. In addition, inadequate emotional responses and preservation alienates individuals with Asperger’s syndrome. Primarily lack of diagnosis or misdiagnosis of such symptoms leads to even more dangerous consequences (Gallin &Weinroth, 2008).

 
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It is crucial to diagnose this disorder and help people who suffer from it. As for the diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome in adulthood, it is not a complicated issue. Diagnosis of the syndrome is the first and important step on the way to find the effective means to treat the person. Some syndromes that may lead a person to seek help from the specialist include such self-reported problems as loneliness, discomfort in social situations, depression, interpersonal conflicts, anger control problems, employment dissatisfaction, and frustration with living situation (Gaus, 2007). The family of a person with Asperger’s syndrome often reports anger outbursts, obsessions, narrow or intense interests, depression, lack of motivation, compulsive or odd behavior, poor self-care and organization skills (Gaus, 2007). Finally, interviews with the following symptoms checklists with special scales become the means to diagnose a person. Baron-Cohen et al. (2005) report that for a great number of adults who have a suspected Asperger, the Adult Asperger Assessment (AAA) is an effective diagnostic method. The need to find new means to diagnose the AS appeared due to the fact that the other instruments are designed to evaluate children, while the situation with adults is also quite disturbing (Baron-Cohen et al., 2005). Lack of the methods to treat adults is also a common social problem.

Emotions and communication are the main aspects of treatment for people with Asperger syndrome. For this reason, these areas are under investigation of the scholars who intend to help people with this disorder and to improve their quality of life. Golan & Baron-Cohen (2006) reported that treatment of adults with Asperger syndrome primarily needs reference to emotions. The ability to recognize such basic emotions as anger, happiness, sadness, fear, surprise, and disgust is crucial for humans and is developed in very young age, during the first year of life. Thus, the choice of the scholar who developed the treatment for adults with AS became based on necessity of the recognition of emotions. Mind Reading was chosen as an interactive multimedia system to teach adults to recognize the complex emotions (Golan & Baron-Cohen, 2006). The software is based on voices and face recognition divided according to three separate generalization levels (Golan & Baron-Cohen, 2006). As for engagement in social activities, social skills improvement is necessary in order to let people with AS consider themselves more sound community members. The feelings of loneliness and isolation can be decreased by means of special trainings. Koegel et al. (2013) focused on involvement of students into the college community using a special structured social planning. Hence, weekly sessions with step-by-step social planning and feedbacks were proven to be effective for improving the organizational and socialization skills of the students. Therefore, it is possible to improve the quality of life of people with Asperger’s syndrome.

To sum it up, the prevalence of Asperger’s syndrome among adults is much higher than commonly thought and has a great influence on well-being of each person and the entire community. Even though autism and Asperger’s syndrome as its subtype are mostly diagnosed in children, it has a crucial impact on lives of the adults. Asperger’s syndrome has negative influence on adults’ socialization level, due to focus, emotional and communication problems it causes. This disorder is even more adverse for adults than for kids as it is destructive for practically all spheres of ordinary life, including work, romantic or friendly relationships and parenting. Considering adults with Asperger’s syndrome emotionally and socially immature, one can conclude that they can hardly live a full and happy life. In fact, such negative influences cannot be neutralized, but timely diagnosis and proper treatment based on the individual recommendations can let one minimize Asperger-caused risks for career, relationship, family and overall mental state of people who suffer from it. 

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