The Characteristics Of High Functioning Anxiety
Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital.
High functioning anxiety is not a recognized mental health diagnosis. Rather, it’s evolved as a catch-all term that refers to people who live with anxiety but identify as functioning reasonably well in different aspects of their life.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health , around 19% of adults in the United States have an anxiety disorder.
Some people may consider themselves to be in the “high functioning” category, but it’s difficult to know exactly how many have this type of anxiety.
If you have high functioning anxiety, you probably notice that your anxiety propels you forward rather than leaves you frozen in fear.
On the surface, you appear to be successful, together, and calmthe typical Type A personality who excels at work and life. However, the way you feel on the inside may be very different.
Talents In Kids With Asd
Many students on the spectrum demonstrate exceptional abilities in a vast array of skills and talents. Sometimes the interests and/or talents of the individual may become quite specific and somewhat obsessive. Others students may not demonstrate exceptional skills. Whenever these talents or interests seem obsessive, use them to widen the students learning adventures into other subjects.
Explaining Autism To Children: 8 Tips For Parents And Teachers
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Whether your child has high-functioning autism or requires one-on-one help from a classroom aide, there will come a time when her peers recognize shes different, and with 1 in 68 American children being diagnosed with autism each year , we need to do a better job of explaining autism in a positive, non-threatening way so our children are accepted despite their differences.
But before we can do that, its essential that parents find acceptance from within first.;As scary, intense, ambiguous, frustrating, and exhausting as autism can be, finding a way to accept a child on the autism spectrum for who they are, rather than focusing on who they may never become, can be extremely freeing. And while its completely normal to go through a period of denial after an autism diagnosis, parents must find a way to accept the cards they were dealt with, fight for the needs of their children, accept the help that is offered, and raise awareness so their child can excel.
So, how do we do it? How do we remove the stigma around autism and show the world what children on the autism spectrum are made of? How do we explain the pain they feel on a daily basis in the face of sensory processing challenges and gastrointestinal issues? How do we explain why they may be on their best behavior at school, but meltdown the moment they walk through the front door every afternoon?
The answer is quite simple.
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Research Into Positive Traits
Possible positive traits of ADHD are a new avenue of research, and therefore limited. Studies are being done on whether ADHD symptoms could potentially be beneficial.
A 2020 review found that creativity may be associated with ADHD symptoms, particularly and quantity of creative achievements, but not with the disorder of ADHD itself â i.e. it has not been found in patients diagnosed with the disorder, only in patients with subclinical symptoms or those that possess traits associated with the disorder. Divergent thinking is the ability to produce creative solutions which differ significantly from each other and consider the issue from multiple perspectives. Those with ADHD symptoms could be advantaged in this form of creativity as they tend to have diffuse attention, allowing rapid switching between aspects of the task under consideration; flexible , allowing them to remember and use more distantly-related ideas which is associated with creativity; and impulsivity, which causes people with ADHD symptoms to consider ideas which others may not have. However, people with ADHD may struggle with , which is a process of creativity that requires sustained effort and consistent use of executive functions to weed out solutions which aren’t creative from a single area of inquiry. People with the actual disorder often struggle with executive functioning.
Paradoxical Reactions To Chemical Substances
An additional sign of a structural altered signal processing in the are the more frequently observed in patients with ADD. This are unexpected opposite reactions to what would usually be expected, or other deviating reactions. Substances which play hereby a role are neuroactive substances like local anesthesia , tranquilizers, caffeine, antihistamine, low-potency neuroleptic as well as central and peripheral pain killers. Due to that paradoxical reactions may at least partly have a genetical cause, it may be reasonable to ask in a critical situation, like a surgery, if such reactions occurred in the patient or relatives.
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Asd Diagnosis: What Do We Tell The Kids
A childs diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder often comes after months or years of worry and a long and painful search for answers. Receiving that final, official word can be very hard, even if a parent expected the diagnosis, or fought fiercely for the evaluation that led to it. Parents may grieve over the loss of the child and family they envisioned and worry about their childs future. 1As they begin to regroup, learning how to navigate education, medical, and insurance systems, they may also wonder: When will;we tell;our child about this diagnosis? When will;we tell his brothers and sisters? How; will we tell them?
Diagnostic Criteria For Aspergers Syndrome
Heres a brief summary of the from the previous version of the DSM :
- having difficulty with verbal or nonverbal communication, such as eye contact or sarcasm
- having few or no long-term social relationships with peers
- lack of interest in taking part in activities or interests with others
- showing little to no response to social or emotional experiences
- having a sustained interest in a single special topic or very few topics
- strict adherence to routine or ritual behaviors
- repetitive behaviors or movements
- intense interest in specific aspects of objects
- experiencing difficulty in maintaining relationships, jobs, or other aspects of daily life because of these previously listed signs
- not having any delay in language learning or cognitive development typical of other, similar neurodevelopmental conditions
As of 2013, Aspergers is now considered part of the autism spectrum and is no longer diagnosed as a separate condition.
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How To Explain Autism To Kids
If the past year has taught us anything,;talking to children about diversity;is vital in helping to raise thoughtful, sensitive kids. And those discussions should also expand to include conversations around neurodiversity, including autism.
The Center for Disease Control defines autism as âa developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication, and behavioral challenges.â It estimates that about one in 54 kids are autistic and explains that autismâs found in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups.
Whether your child is autistic or not, you shouldnât ignore the subject. Talking about autism normalizes it. âWhen parents donât talk about disability to their children, they reinforce the idea that disability is shameful or scary or bad,â says Lydia X.Z. Brown, an autistic attorney.
Brown was diagnosed with autism when they were 13.
âI didnât know really what autism was. I donât think most young children tend to,â says Brown. âThe only ideas of autism that I had were very stereotypicalâ¦so even to the extent that I knew what autism was or that it existed, I wouldnât have been aware that it might have applied to me.â
Mashable spoke with Brown and experts who study autism and work with autistic children to learn about how you can navigate conversations about autism with your kids.
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What Is Executive Functioning
“If you think of your brain as an orchestra, executive functioning is the conductor, making sure all the parts are working together and working properly,” explained neuropsychologist Michael Rosenthal of the Child Mind Institute. Dr. Rosenthal is an author of a new study on executive function problems in teens with ASD and intelligence quotient scores of 70 or above.
People use executive skills when they make plans, keep track of time, remember past experiences and relate them to the present, change course if they hit a roadblock, ask for help, maintain self-control and work successfully in a group.11
Something as mundane as food shopping requires multiple executive skills, Dr. Rosenthal said.
“First you need ‘initiation’ skills to get yourself off the couch. The next step is to ‘plan and organize’ a list of the items you need to get. You need to think about how many meals you need to make and how much money you have in the bank. Let’s imagine the first thing on your list is pears, but when you go to the produce section, the pears are all bruised. You have to have the ‘cognitive flexibility’ to say, ‘Instead of pears, I will buy apples.’ You need ‘inhibition’ to keep from going to the candy aisle, and your ‘working memory’ will help you keep track of the items you’ve purchased,” he said.
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Limited Yet Focused Interests
Persons with high-functioning autism can handle various daily tasks on their own. Nonetheless, they display signs like excessive preoccupation within specific areas of interest. This sign is one of the markers of a person with high-functioning autism.
For instance, they may have the habit of constantly talking about one topic. Or, they might read articles or collect many items related to the topic. Others might also listen to a song or part of a movie over and over again without tiring.
When unbalanced, this fixation can be quite disruptive to an individuals life. But at the same time, this intense focused interest can lead to creative ideas and innovation. This is why many excel in areas such as art, science, and technology.
Dr Temple Grandin Says:
I want to emphasize that Aspergers and Autism are not separate conditions. Aspergers is just the milder end of the continuum. Theres no black and white dividing line between a mild case of Autism and geek or nerd. They are the same thing. It is a continuum of traits. The mind can either develop to be more thinking and cognitive or it can be developed to be more social. Theres a point where it just merges into part of your personality.
The two conditions have very few differences, and research proves which treatments are relevant to High Functioning Autism and also applicable to Aspergers Syndrome. Thus both disorders are combined and the treatments suggested should serve your child well.
Aspergers;is a lifelong condition. It occurs in boys four times as often as girls. Because Aspie children do not demonstrate developmental delays in their mental capacity, doctors usually do not diagnose them until they are in the early elementary school grades.
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Disclosing Your Child’s Autism To Others
There’s always the possibility that a coach, club leader, or other adult will have reservations about including a child with a disability; many adults have very little experience with autism and may feel they can’t offer appropriate support. Should a parent explain their child’s autism up front? Or should they take a wait-and-see approach?
One approach is a “partial disclosure.” For example, if a child is taking part in a karate class, they may do well most of the time but react strongly if there’s a change in the routine. In that case, it might be useful to explain to the instructor that they might need to warn the child before class about any changes. In this way, you are addressing the issue without revealing the diagnosis.
If you choose to reveal your child’s diagnosis, make sure to point out that, like all people, they have strengths and challenges. Then talk about the accommodations and types of support that can be implemented to help your child succeed and even thrive.
The Positive Impact Of The Neurodiversity Movement:
Most of the neurodiverse clients I have worked with have felt shame about being different. You can feel both the shame and blame Judy Singer must have encountered as a child just by reading the title of her chapter, Why Cant You Be Normal for Once in Your Life? published in the book Disability Discourse in 1999.;
Shame usually stems from others not understanding an autistic persons neurological differences. Unfortunately, its all too common for a young autistic person to be criticized, dismissed, or invalidated by family, teachers, and others. They are often told that they shouldnt feel that way. Or they are told that they are weird or abnormal. Often, they experience gaslighting and are shamed for feeling certain emotions or thoughts that are very real to them.
But, the neurodiversity movement is an important step in embracing differences. It reduces the stigma that someone with autism has something wrong with them. Feeling supported helps reduce autistic individuals feelings of depression and anxiety and promotes resiliency.;
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How Is Autism Spectrum Disorder Treated
There is no cure for autism, but treatment can make a big difference. The younger kids are when they start treatment, the better.
Doctors, therapists, and special education teachers can help kids learn to talk, play, and learn. Therapists also help kids learn about making friends, taking turns, and getting along.
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What Should Julie Do
Four-year-old John flings himself on the floor, screaming and flailing his arms, as his 5-year-old brother Tim stands watching. Worried hes going to be blamed again he is about to bolt out of the living room as his mother, Julie, catches him by the arm on her way in.
I didnt do anything! Tim exclaims before his mom even asks, stamping his foot. Hes near tears himself. This always happens when I play with John, he thinks. Hes such a baby! Im never playing with him again!
Julie sighs. Thats what Tim always says. I know John is over-sensitive but why cant Tim just leave him alone? What am I supposed to do? I cant watch them all the time. You know John likes to play by himself. Why do you keep bothering him?
John has autism, and while Julie wants her kids to get along she would do anything to stop the tantrums. When she and her husband Dave decided to have a second child they had no idea what challenges they would face. Each day is a constant struggle to manage Johns needs, and Tim just wont listen.
After making sure John isnt going to hurt himself, Julie crouches down in front of Tim. ;She notes his tears and realizes her anger with her son has as much to do with her frazzled nerves as his lack of understanding. ;
You always yell at me when he cries, her son sobs. ;
She hugs the little boy. ;Hes right, she thinks. ;I do get mad at Tim. ;I know I do. ;Why dont we think about what we can both do differently?
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What Is Aspergers Autism
To make what you discuss with your child meaningful, you can begin by talking about any questions that s/he has asked. You may want to write down key points and tell him or her that others with this diagnosis/disability also have some of the same questions and experiences Teenagers with mild, high functioning aspergers often have highly preferred activities and interests. Their ability to hyper-focus on their preferred interests may be used as a bridge to learn and master new skills. Using their strengths, such as an acute knowledge of certain topics, could help with other, non-preferred subjects Rigid Thinking in Teens with Asperger’s Syndrome. by Eileen Bailey Health Writer. September 8, 2011. September 8, 2011. Explain that sometimes rules change depending on the situation
Challenges Of Secondary Settings
Educators and other key stakeholders in the student’s life must understand how characteristics of HFA may be manifested in inclusive classroom settings, in order to design and implement instruction to maximize student success.
An additional consideration is the reduced special education support available to students with HFA because of the need to take classes associated with graduation requirements and preparing for high-stakes testing. In most cases, secondary settings do not have enough special education teachers available to support students in all classes . Knowledge of the evidence-based practices recommended for students with HFA can help Individualized Education Program teams make informed decisions about instruction, behavior management and support needed for students with HFA.8
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Getting Started: Introducing Your Child To His Or Her Diagnosis Of Autism
;Marci Wheeler, MSW
Many parents are fearful that labeling their child as having an autism spectrum disorder will make him or her feel broken, or that they may use their label as an excuse to give up and not try. Adults on the autism spectrum have found the opposite to be true. Giving your child information on the nature of his/her differences will give them a better understanding and the motivation that is needed to drive through challenges.
Discussing an autism spectrum diagnosis with your child is an important issue and one for which many parents seek advice. This article will focus on aspects of explaining your childs diagnosis to him or her, and provide resources that can assist and guide you.
Different Types Of Autism
No two people with autism have the same symptoms and behavior. And because there are so many variables involved in autism diagnosis, the way each person experiences and exhibits autism can be very different.;
There are varying diagnoses within the category of autism, and under the umbrella of high functioning autism subtypes include aspergers syndrome, pathological demand avoidance, Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified also known as atypical autism. Sometimes doctors will indicate a child has mild or severe autism or even mention Broad Autism Phenotype.;
For the purpose of this article, we will focus on defining what high functioning autism is, and how it is expressed.
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