Young adults with Asperger Syndrome:
Psychosocial issues and interventions
Kevin P. Stoddart
Young adults with Asperger Syndrome (AS) and their families find themselves at the intersection of various potentially stressful developmental transitions and life decisions. The need to make necessary accommodations in this period may lead them to seek counselling or other types of clinical support. Unfortunately, “The majority of adults with Asperger syndrome receive no assistance from outside agencies; they feel isolated and singled out as people whose disability is deemed unworthy of assistance” (Powell 2002, p.7). Comprehensive community supports for this group are severely lacking, although there are interventions and support models that are now being reported or recommended (Macleod 1999; Powell 2002). The fact that many early case descriptions of AS are of young adults (Wolff and Chick 1980; Wing 1981) is easily overlooked. Fortunately, increased recognition of the psychosocial needs of adults with AS started to occur in the 1990s (Simblett and Wilson 1993; Hare 1997; Bankier et al. 1999; Engstrom, Ekstrom, and Emilsson 2003). Similarly, there are descriptions of psychosocial adjustment and mental health issues in this age group in personal accounts, such as those in this volume.
The aim of this chapter is to describe some of the presenting issues that clinicians may see in a young adult with AS. Specifically, transitional concerns and comorbid problems will be reviewed. Following this, interventions will be summarized and illustrated with a case example. In this chapter, the term “young adult” refers to those between roughly 18 and 30 years old. Although the specific diagnostic category of AS is the focus of this chapter, those with highfunctioning autism (HFA) or mild Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDDs) may also experience similar psychosocial issues at this juncture in their life and