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I work with a broad range of clients and increasingly I am seeing more clients on the Autism spectrum. Today, when I heard about Susan Boyle’s admission of Aspergers, I was immediately excited that it might inspire others to be more open about their condition. There are so many gifted and talented people that have Aspergers and they worry about the stigma associated with the condition instead of being inspired to understand it. There are also many people who are not properly diagnosed. Having Susan Boyle admit her condition helps to inspire other people who may be on the spectrum to open their minds and possibly seek additional resources to help them make the most of their gifts.
Malcom Gladwell published the book “Outliers” and discusses what makes people famous and most successful. One of the big takeaways from the book and subsequent interviews that I have heard with him is the repetition of a task over 10,000 times is what makes people wildly successful. So, think about how this applies to people with Aspergers who are extraordinarily good at repeating tasks. The DSM describes it as “Highly restricted, fixated interests that are abnormal in intensity or focus.” Gladwell says, “Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.” I don’t know all of Susan Boyle’s story but I know she practiced her singing day and night to the point neighbors filed a noise complaint against her and she has become one of the best at her craft. It is speculated that many famous people have Aspergers like Bill Gates and I am positive it is the blend of Aspergers, repetition of their craft, and a supportive environment that helped them to find success.
What are the challenges for people with Aspergers?
- Communication: It can be a challenge for them to understand and interpret gestures, facial expressions, or tone of voice.
- Social interaction: They might struggle to maintain friendships and may also behave in what might seem to be an inappropriate manner.
- Social imagination: They may find it hard to understand what other people are thinking or predict the outcome of situations.
WebMD recently had an article stating: “Boyle has had depression, anxiety, and mood swings throughout her life. Until earlier this year, she’d never been able to perform a live solo tour. Her preparations for a series of U.K.-wide concerts in 2014 are the subject of an ITV documentary,There’s Something About Susan.”
Mark Lever, chief executive of the U.K.’s National Autistic Society, had a prepared statement which said: “Diagnosis can be a critical milestone for people with the condition, which, as Susan said, can be a relief, providing an explanation for years of feeling ‘different.’ It can also offer a gateway to identifying appropriate support, and without it many people may find it difficult to access the help they need.”
In my work with Aspergers, like a lot of other things, what is most important is to feel understood and supported. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses and properly understanding them is essential to working towards success. If you have every wondered if you or someone you know may have Aspergers, here is a simple test to gain a little more clarity. Also, take a look at our post on “Tips to Overcome Autism and ADHD.”
Additionally, if you or anyone you know is struggling with Aspergers/Autism, you can contact us to make a counseling appointment and one of our clinicians will be happy to help. If you are curious about what the counseling process entails, you can read about Aspergers counseling on our dedicated page.