As a researcher there have been key moments throughout my life where I have felt amazement and joy at what has been uncovered. Research that is both joyful and inspires new thinking and new behaviours. The most memorable investigation that I was privileged to lead on was one researching the proposal for a theory of wellbeing and wellness for adults diagnosed with autism spectrum condition (ASC) or Asperger’s Syndrome.
Why was this so memorable? Let’s look at some of the impact of having ASC and Asperger’s –
- Those with ASC or Asperger’s die on average 10-15 years before neuro-typicals.
- At least one in three adults with ASC or Asperger’s has sever mental health difficulties due to a lack of support.
- 70% of adults with ASC or Asperger’s report that with more support they would feel less isolated and lonely.
- 48% of children with ASC or Asperger’s has been suspended 3 or more times from school.
- 70% of adults with ASC or Asperger’s say that they are not getting the help that they need.
So, as you can see the whole world of wellbeing and wellness is as essential if not more so as it is to neuro-typicals.
The key messages from the research, which was the most rewarding, most challenging, most eventful and most heart-breaking that I have ever conducted, showed quite clearly that in order to be well those diagnosed with ASC or Asperger’s needed the following –
- To find meaning or purpose in their life – to be able to understand their place and feel value for their contribution to their world and the world at large
- To accept themselves and all that they were as well as to find acceptance from those within their
- To have an environment that didn’t contain pollutants that would overwhelm or over stimulate which included chemicals, emotions as well as other environmental considerations
One of the most important messages that I received from the many conversations and interviews that I held with the many amazing people with ASC and Asperger’s that were willing and wanted to be part of the research was one of the need for kindness. The need to be kind in approaching adults with ASC and Asperger’s, kindness in accepting that social etiquette may not always be observed in quite the right way, kindness in that some human beings need more kindness than others, kindness and understanding. The overwhelming desire to have a role or a part to play in the world and the trauma and anxiety that arises when that isn’t allowed or is so hard that it causes isolation and distress. Think about it.
When the theory of wellbeing for adults diagnosed with ASC or Asperger’s was spoke about at conferences, those with ASC or Asperger’s were so welcoming and excited about the findings. So much so that they believed, and, wanted it to be true that I also had ASC or Asperger’s as I had managed to develop something that meant so much to them, and, described exactly what they needed to find wellness, be well and maintain wellness. Remember the key points – wellness is illusive and needs to be worked at and cherished in order to have any quality of life. Meaning and purpose is essential as is acceptance and knowing that they will be accepted. The right environment makes a huge difference, sensitivities to pollutants are huge and should be taken into consideration.
So please get in touch if this resonates with you or with someone in your world. Find the support that you need, and commit to a quality of life and longevity of life that everyone deserves.
Dr Rachel Taylor
ASC and Asperger’s support bundle designed by Dr Rachel which includes her (well) being in neurodiversity workbook, available here