High Functioning Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome

High Functioning Autism and Gifted Child

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is diagnosed when a person, usually a young child, exhibits deficits in social skills, has restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior, and utilizes maladaptive coping skills.

ASD is a spectrum disorder, which means that there is a large range in functionality. It is typically diagnosed in early childhood, most commonly around the age of three, although sometimes later in life adults learn that they have high functioning Autism (sometimes called Asperger’s Syndrome). While people with high functioning Autism remain neuro-diverse, they typically have milder symptoms.

At TheraThrive, we support, accept and understand neurodiversity. We will help you to increase self-acceptance and self-understanding (or understanding of your child). We will also assist you to discover your strengths, and to learn ways to effectively manage the challenges associated with ASD.

Autism in Gifted or Highly Sensitive Populations

Sometimes gifted individuals are twice exceptional (2e) in that they are both gifted and have a particular challenge, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

It is also important to understand that in the gifted and highly sensitive populations, ASD can be misdiagnosed. This occurs when ASD-like symptoms can be explained better by something else, such as some gifted traits, sensory processing or sensory integration challenges, auditory processing disorders, very high sensitivity and/or anxiety. Likewise, sometimes an ASD diagnosis has been completely missed in the past, which means that ASD is present, yet no diagnosis has yet been given.

Common ASD symptoms include:

  • Infrequently making eye contact
  • Repetitive patterns of behaviors, such as lining up objects, echolalia, excessive repetition of certain phrases
  • Restricted and fixated interests
  • Self-injurious behaviors
  • Inflexibility and persistence on sameness (deep perseveration)
  • Tantrums, or excessive behavioral outbursts, including but not limited to physical and verbal aggression
  • Socially withdrawn
  • Difficulty identifying emotions
  • Hyper or hypo activity to sensory input

Assessment

We are experienced at assessing for an ASD diagnosis, as well as assessing for a misdiagnosis (mistaken diagnosis) of ASD, especially in those older than age 3.

We have heard from families and individuals that they feel immensely relieved after learning about a misdiagnosis, because then the real problem that had been erroneously mislabeled can be addressed.

Similarly, people report feeling relieved after learning about an ASD diagnosis, especially if it had formerly been missed, because it makes sense of their particular challenges.

We Can Help

Our knowledge and understanding about high sensitivity and gifted traits help us connect with those diagnosed with ASD (or Asperger’s Syndrome). We have insight into the intensity and sensitivity often found in neuro-atypical populations, and we understand how ASD works. We want to help you to gain understanding and acceptance, while learning skills of emotional regulation to feel better, get along better, and to reduce maladaptive behaviors. We also believe in the need for connection, and will support you to develop positive and effective communication and social skills.

With high functioning ASD, we help you to understand your emotions, and identify and manage feelings. We also support you to gain appropriate coping skills in order to best avoid emotional escalation.

We have found it beneficial to establish clear goals and to personalize each treatment plan, such that your specific and unique needs and challenges will be addressed. We will also support you in co-occurring concerns, such as depression, anxiety, or an overall sense of feeling misunderstood.

We come from a place of warmth and understanding, and we will work along side you, to support and guide you as you navigate the social world, working to build up your social support and coming to realize your contribution and value in social connection.

 

We Support Families

We also work with family members of those diagnosed with ASD, to help you successfully manage the myriad of challenges that can come with supporting your ASD-diagnosed family member.

  • We can help you understand the neuro-atypical differences
  • Introduce you to communication tools
  • Provide you with guidance when living with a person of neurodiversity
Girl with High Functioning Autism (Asperger's)

We work with parents, siblings, or other relatives, and with each specific relationship, individually and/or in family therapy. We understand the intensity in your household, and can empathize with feelings that come up as a result of your family member’s challenges, such as sadness, frustration, loss or intense worry. These are normal feelings that commonly come up when you love a neuro-atypical individual.

We Work Collaboratively

We collaborate with other professionals, so that your work is truly well-supported. If you are diagnosed with ASD, we will provide you a multitude of referrals for additional support, such as early intervention programs, social skills groups, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and so forth. We value your growth, and want the best for you, and we gladly collaborate with other professionals in order to best support you on your journey.