I have chosen to dedicate this page to a brilliant lady, Robyn Steward, who facilitated a training I attended based on the topic of the asperger's syndrome.
One of the core reasons why stresstherapist.net was started is to build a site that helps to break the stigma against mental health by using the subject of stress to show that mental health is a universal issue that affects all humans.
However, as I was looking through stresstherapist.net considering the information, I got from the training, I realised that I have not considered how having aspergers/ mild autism might affect an individual's experience of stress.
But since my knowledge in this area was very limited I decided to ask Robyn to allow me to interview her online so that she could share some of her thoughts with stresstherapist.net readers. I was eagerly awaiting a response and was trilled when she consented to this interview.
I believe she has a lot of things to say that will be of great benefit to you.
Adewale says: - Hello Robyn, would you mind telling my readers a bit about yourself and what your connections with aspergers and autism are?
Robyn says: - I am a 24 year old woman. I have aspergers syndrome.
Through many years of unsuccessful employment I became self employed and now teach people about Autism ( of which aspergers is a form increasingly referred to as mild autism however this does not mean someone does not experience a massive effect on their life due to Autism).
I used to mentor people and do this a little, but have now started providing non clinical consultancy, I am also an artist.
Adewale says: - Forgive me for asking a question that may seem so obvious to some people, but do people who experience difficulties with aspergers or autism get stressed. If your answer is yes, would you mind giving us some examples of things or situations that would lead to stress for such an individual.
Robyn says: - Yes people on the autistic spectrum do get stressed. triggers would include the same things neurotypical (NT) ( non autistic people) experience, but there are some autism specific triggers such as being unable to interpret others intentions.
This quite often leads to being targeted, bullied, taken advantage of, laughed at and teased. Hence any situation with new people or people who might have an agenda can cause great stress and sensory issues.
People with autism may be hyper or hypo ( over or under) sensitive to stimuli such as loud sounds colours and fabrics in clothing. If something such as work or a situation requires them to do something involving stimuli that are painful, this can cause much stress particularly if you are unable to articulate it.
For example a wedding or birthday party might require you to wear a suit this could be painful or uncomfortable due to the fabric.
The majority of people with aspergers become aware they are different to others particularly if you don't know you have aspergers and you see others finding everything so easy ( in reality everyone isn't but due to lack of theory of mind this is often not apparent)
Adewale says: - In your Opinion, what are some of the barriers that people suffering with aspergers have when trying to communicate that they are stressed.
Robyn says: - Firstly its not the done thing to say suffers from aspergers, its better to say someone with aspergers or someone on the autistic spectrum.
The biggest barrier is converting emotional experience into words.
So in a therapeutic setting tools like art therapy may be useful. Additionally people with aspergers are often told to forget about an incident weather it be a nasty word in the playground or longer events.
People with Autism almost always cant forget. Its like a scar. This is because people with an ASD think associatively as opposed to in context as NT's do every time a situation comes up- i.e. a party
If you imagine how many situations a person navigates a day you can understand how often theses associations can happen,
Stress can also build up without you noticing
Adewale says: - How might a person diagnosed with aspergers express that he or she is stressed.
Robyn says: - This is dependent in the person. If I'm stressed, my voice goes up in tone, my feet move a lot, I take my glasses off and fiddle with them. Other behaviours for someone else might include stimming ( an often unconscious behaviour which creates stimulation the person is in control of).
This could be rocking, flapping, twirling, etc. NT's do this by fiddling with their hair or clicking their pens
Adewale says: - In relation to the impact of stress on the individual, what advice do you have for any of my readers who might be currently caring for a son/ daughter or relative with a diagnosis of aspergers?
Robyn says: - Stress is a normal part of everyday life, to be successful in the world one must be able to shop for oneself, eat, clean,cook, travel,work,have interests, feel safe, speaking up for yourself.
To learn to do theses thing can be uncomfortable but necessary. However other things like university, a particular chain of supermarket, a particular type of work, mode of transport, or living conditions can be avoided. Pick your battles make sure he or she is as able to do as much as possible.
Adewale says: - As I understand it, a mix of flashy colours can be really uncomfortable for people with aspergers. Is this true? If true, in what sort of environments should this issue be considered.
Robyn says: - It is true for some people, as is any stimuli. A coffee machine high pitched squeals etc. It's due to people with autism processing stimuli differently. You need to not only ask are you hyper or hypo sensitive, but listen to the person describe particular scenarios.
Unless you are able to imagine how someone else experiences the world, how would you know you were hyper or hypo sensitive? The sensitivity is only apparent when compared to others, all situations even websites and computers must be taken into account.
Adewale says: - When trying to build websites that are intended to be friendly toward people with aspergers, what things should be considered?
Robyn says: -
Clear menu structure
Ability to change colour contrasts
Information in clear language no metaphors idioms etc where possible
Adewale says: - Finally do you have any links to any reading material that might help my readers who wish to explore aspergers further?
Robyn says: - Yes
Tony Attwoods book a guide to aspergers
Girls and Aspergers
Aspergirls Rudy simone
Some other Useful ebooks on aspergers and autism are
Parents and Carers: You too can learn to
WORK BETTER with symptoms of autism.
As well as first person accounts
Daneil Tammets born on a blue day
Send in the idiots
These are two of my favourites
Adewale says: - Thanks you so much for your time Robyn, I know you are very busy.
Do you have aspergers, autism or you are a relative of someone with aspergers or autism? Are you struggling with stress related issues? Why don't you post your questions and experiences here and let the stresstherapist.net community support you.
Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...
my son who has aspergers has just started a temporary job he is 17 when he finishes work and gets home he says he feels stressed
my son has started a temporary job in a factory environment the job includes counting and packing,the problem is he gets home and tells us he is stressed …