Help for Young Adults with Asperger's
Aug 15, 2017, 11:44

(This article originally appeared on the Optimum Performance Institute Blog. For more information on OPI, visit

By OPI Team

Many people wonder why young adults with Aspergerís often struggle when it is time to transition to adulthood and independent living. Is it due to their difficulties in the social world? Is it due to their thinking style? Is it due to their challenges with day to day independent living skills? At OPI, we believe that it is a combination of all three. We have been successfully helping young adults with Aspergerís on the path to independent living because of our unique approach and the incredible services we offer.

Life is pretty structured, planned out and predictable when you are a child. You live with your parents who take care of all your basic needs including housing, food, clothing, paying bills, doing laundry, and washing dishes. You get up and go to school every morning, come home and do your homework, eat dinner and go to sleep. You are surrounded by a group of peers that either your parents have selected for you or you interact with because you go to the same school, live in the same neighborhood, belong to the same club or play on the same sports team. Until you finish high school, there arenít a lot of decisions to be made.

However, once you approach the end of high school, graduate high school or start college, there is this big question that every young adult faces which is: WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO WITH THE REST OF YOUR LIFE?? For any young adult, this question can be challenging, confusing and overwhelming but for young adults with Aspergerís, this can be the question that stops them in their tracks. This is usually around the time when we begin our work with the young adult.

Challenges that Come with Asperger's
Young adults with Aspergerís are often challenged in social situations. They tend to miss social cues, have difficulty initiating and maintaining conversations and often present as awkward. How do young adults with these challenges all of the sudden go out in the world and make friends on their own?? It is not so uncommon for young adults with Aspergerís to begin isolating at this stage of life often through excessive computer use where they can escape face to face social interactions while still trying to socialize to some degree. As humans, we all desire relationships and connections with others so without a strong sense of social support, taking that next step in life can be very lonely and scary. We offer our In-Vivo socialization group to teach, practice and master socialization through education, role plays, and improv games. In conjunction, we offer our Unplugged group to help young adults explore and build a healthy relationship with technology. We also have social outings every weekend and in-house clubs every week for participants to connect with each other with common interests and practice their skills.

The thinking style of many young adults with Aspergerís presents in a very rigid, black and white way. They tend to view the world as if there are only two possible options. While this is often an attempt to bind and manage anxiety, it doesnít seem to fit in a world where possibilities are endless. How does a young adult with Aspergerís know how to choose the next step in their life when they are used to following a predetermined path that was chosen for them? And how do they decide when there are so many options and no right or wrong choice? This is another reason why we often see young adults with Aspergerís become stuck or have difficulty launching at this point in their lives. Through individual therapy, group therapy and our various departments (education, career/volunteer, extra-curricular etc) participants challenge their rigid thinking, find alternative options and then go out in the world to try new things with the hopes of creating a more balanced way of thinking and living.

Helping Young Adults with Asperger's Find Independence
One component of becoming an adult is independent living. This includes all of the day-to-day chores and responsibilities that one takes on in order to function and manage on his/her own. For many young adults with Aspergerís, these tasks can be overwhelming. Some common challenges for young adults with Aspergerís are time management and organization. If you struggle in these areas, how do you pay bills on time, show up to scheduled appointments when you are responsible for getting yourself there and maintain a living environment that is clean and organized? And who teaches you basic self-care skills like cooking, cleaning, personal hygiene, and budgeting. Without the knowledge or support in these areas, many young adults with Aspergerís will struggle to live independently adding more anxiety and feelings of ďstucknessĒ. We provide a 6-week Life Skills workshop in which we teach basic independent living skills and then we offer individual life coaching to hone in on each individualís specific needs and give them the opportunity to practice their independent living skills with the support of a life coach.

So, rather than asking why so many young adults with Aspergerís experience ďfailure to launch,Ē we, at OPI, help them get unstuck and move forward with their lives. We help them build social skills so that they can create a support social network of peers in which they feel accepted. We challenge their black and white thinking and help them explore various options so that rather than feeling scared and anxious, they can feel excited about all the possibilities out there. We teach them day to day living skills and continue to support them so that they can live on their own and feel a sense of pride and self-sufficiency.

At OPI, we understand and anticipate the challenges that young adults with Aspergerís face and we help them answer the million-dollar question of WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO WITH THE REST OF MY LIFE??

Optimum Performance Institute is an independent living and Residential Treatment Center for young adults, ages 17-28. They specialize in the treatment of ADD/HD, Addictions, Asperger's Syndrome, Bipolar Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) Depression and Anxiety, Eating Disorders, Failure to Launch, Learning Disabilities, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and more.

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