Anxiety and stress are a constant for most of us. But this is also inevitable for adults with autism, especially if they desire to work, or need to earn to thrive and live with their condition. Although we may be more capable of handling ourselves when we are face to face with problems, we can only imagine how these autistic adults struggle to keep up with their fellow employees, or perhaps excel and become the employee of the month – or year.
I have experienced this first-hand, when Allison became my workmate and friend in the editing company that I am currently working in. Ally has what we know as Asperger Syndrome, a component of ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), which is considered to be at the high-functioning end of the spectrum. She is usually happy, carefree and comfortable, but definitely not a year ago when she was new.
Common Behaviors Seen in Adults with Asperger Syndrome
Ally, on her first months of work, used to act really awkward around us. She would prefer eating by herself and I would find her discussing a project by herself as well. It took her about two months to try to see me eye to eye, and she’d be shy one minute then be hyperactive the next. She also used to be very shy and I could see how difficult it was for her to socialize with us, as she had limited verbal skills and spoke repetitively most of the time. These are among the most common symptoms one can witness in an adult with Asperger Syndrome.
Support And Services Available For People With Asperger Syndrome
After a few months, management decided to provide support for Ally through various types of therapy. She proved to be capable and efficient but just needed help in coping with her emotional and mental health issues, including stress and anxiety.
- Social Support From Co-Employees and Management
I am proud to say that I belong to a supportive and sympathetic management. They made it easier for Ally to work efficiently by modifying her workplace, e.g. placing her in a more quiet office where she has somewhere to relax and be herself. She was also given a more precise set of instructions and a list of her assignments for the week, which was displayed on her table where she can see it every time she forgets or loses focus.
As for me, as a co-employee, I assist her with some of her reports and provide positive feedback by complimenting her work, which is mostly excellent. One time, our photocopy machine didn’t function and she just got so worried and panicked. So I helped her relax and led her to the next floor to use the working machine there. She sometimes gets confused and less sure of her performance so I always make time to comfort her in her ‘chaotic’ moments.
- Talk Therapy
This type of therapy has various forms, one of which is cognitive behavioral therapy, apopular and effective treatment for people with Asperger Syndrome. It works by regulating the individual’s feelings and impulses, which is done through changing her negative thoughts into more positive and healthy ones. Many experts testify the effectiveness of utilizing CBT in coping with autistic adults’ stress and anxiety.
- Speech Therapy and Social Skills Training
Because Ally was exceptional at her editing job but had trouble communicating with her workmates and heads, we encouraged her to try speech therapy. It helped her a great deal in learning how to improve the way she speaks and the way she verbalizes her thoughts. Individuals with Asperger Syndrome usually have trouble understanding certain gestures and figures of speech, and this is also one of the many goals of social skills training.
People like Ally not only learn from those who don’t have Asperger Syndrome, but undoubtedly I have learned much from her too. We both have recognized the fact that autistic or not, we need each other under the same or different circumstances in life – because they have much to teach us as well.