Question: I have a 34 year old daughter. She has a full-time job at a Equine Riding Therapy Farm. My daughter also drives and independently lives on her own. She has come a long way from when she was diagnosed at 5 years old! However, life pretty much only consists of work. She goes to work each morning and then comes directly home, never goes out. In the last two years she has gotten more and more depressed. My daughter really wants friends, but every time I suggest activities to meet friends she declines. She seems extremely anxious about this so I don’t push any further. I’m really at a loss right now, what should I do?
Autism Personal Coach: Thank you so much for your question. Does your daughter take any any medication to deal with her anxiety? If not, I think it would be a good idea to find a qualified psychiatrist in the area by contacting one of the local resource organizations such as Milestones. I have seen with our clients that taking proper medication can go a long way to reducing anxiety. If she is taking medication,then it is crucial that your daughter consistently take the medicine on a daily basis.
While the medication issue may or may not be need to be addressed, there is one issue that definitely needs an adjustment. That is the response that your daughter gives after you suggest activities. Based on the information you are giving me it sounds like you make suggestions, your daughter says no, and then it is the end of the story. Each time your daughter says no and you allow her to not pursue these new experiences you are reinforcing the behavior that you don’t want. We need to figure a way to break that behavior chain so that we can get the behavior you do want.
When your daughter says no, we need to figure out if it is because she is anxious about any new experiences. Fear of the unknown can be scary and we need to figure out the best way to support her so that she will be more willing to embrace these experiences. It could be that she hasn’t been given enough information and you just need to give her more details. If she is a visual learner showing her pictures of this new place may reduce her anxiety. There could also be sensory issues that she could be concerned with as well. Some individuals we work with are very sensitive to sounds and maybe she has concerns about that.
We are having an event that sounds like it would be a good match for your daughter. It is called Speed Friendships and it will take place on April 27th at 1-4pm at Mavis Winkles in Twinsburg. This event will pair two people with Aspergers syndrome and/or high-functioning autism. They will sit at a table assigned to them for 5 minutes and talk. The participants can discuss whatever they like. If they aren’t sure of what to talk about, a list of questions will be provided to prompt discussion. When 5 minutes are over they will move to another assigned table and talk to someone else who is also assigned to that table. We will do our best to pair people with similar interests based on their answers to our registration form. If you are interested contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a registration form. We hope to see your daughter there and start her on a path to developing friendships so she can fulfill her need to connect with peers.
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