Navigating the "neurotypical" world with Asperger syndrome or high-functioning autism (AS/HFA) can be extremely stressful. But by understanding the specific ways your brain works differently—and how to tap into your personal strengths—you can greatly enhance your well-being. In this wise and practical book, experienced therapist Valerie L. Gaus helps you identify goals that will make your life better and take concrete steps to achieve them. Grounded in psychological science, the techniques in this book help you:
• Learn the unspoken rules of social situations.
Improve your communication skills.
• Get organized at home and at work.
• Manage anxiety and depression.
• Strengthen your relationships with family and friends.
• Live more successfully on your own or with others.
A wealth of stories, questionnaires, worksheets, and concrete examples help you find personalized solutions to problems you are likely to encounter. You can download and print additional copies of the worksheets for repeated use. Of special note, the Introduction was updated in 2017 with the latest information on how autism spectrum disorder is defined in DSM-5. Finally, a compassionate, knowledgeable, positive guide to living well on the spectrum.
Mental health professionals, see also the author's Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Second Edition .
“On a daily basis, adults on the spectrum face stressful, frustrating, and sometimes debilitating roadblocks that most neurotypical individuals don't appreciate or understand. Author Valerie Gaus, a psychologist who has been immersed in working with spectrum adults for more than 15 years, 'gets it.' Her newest book...is a straight-talking roadmap that will provide both wind and rudder to help adults navigate daily life and meet long-term goals. Filled with practical strategies to minimize stress and maximize progress toward individual goals, this book exudes an unwavering strength-based, can-do attitude. Dr. Gaus reinterprets what could be
considered deficits and weaknesses of AS/HFA into distinctive strengths that can be used to one's advantage throughout life. She infuses this attitude with candor and sensitivity...She combines an uncanny understanding of the challenges ASD presents with an array of practical, problem-solving tactics. What's different about this book is the methodical, concrete way she helps the spectrum adult assess his or her current way of thinking and functioning, recognize the patterns that are interfering with personal and professional success, and then create a customized step-by-step personal solution plan. Living Well is a powerful guide for achieving well-being in all areas of life.”
—Autism Asperger's Digest
“Dr. Gaus presents her ideas clearly and effectively and makes terrific use of practical examples. She offers great ideas to help those on the spectrum decrease stress and maximize their progress toward life goals by understanding, fully utilizing, and celebrating their special qualities. -Gary B. Mesibov, PhD, coauthor of Understanding Asperger Syndrome and High”
“Gaus directly targets what adults and young adults with AS/HFA struggle with daily. Worksheets written in plain language will assist readers in discovering problem areas, strengths, goals, and more; recommended for ASD patients and their families.”
“Dr. Valerie L. Gaus delivers on her intent to make a user-friendly guidebook to assist with the challenges common to individuals on the autism spectrum. She directs the reader to turn such challenges into accompanying strengths in order to cope with activities of daily living....This book can be described as practical. While it is best used with high-functioning older adolescent and young adult populations, it is very easy to read and can be assigned as homework for the client to work through on his or her own. Accompanying graphics, parallel language structure, and organization reinforce concepts throughout the book....A valuable resource. If used as a reference, especially the first section can be extremely helpful in better understanding, operationalizing, and reframing the deficit areas often associated with individuals on the spectrum.”
—School Social Work Journal
“If I was asked to define Living Well on the Spectrum in one word, the first one that comes to mind is: Pragmatic….Unlike some other books and material available, this book specifically address and opens up a dialogue on the issue of quality of life and the difference between being alive and living….The pragmatic approach within this book is commendable and most certainly one that is off the beaten path.”
—Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
“As an Aspie, I found this an excellent and readable guide. The book gives readers a better understanding of their social, intellectual, and physical strengths and weaknesses, and provides strategies for improving communication and social skills. It includes helpful techniques for choosing goals and setting course toward them. Kudos to Dr. Gaus for creating this manual—I hope it will be much read.”
—Eric Schissel, Ithaca, New York
“Dr. Gaus presents her ideas clearly and effectively and makes terrific use of practical examples. She offers great ideas to help those on the spectrum decrease stress and maximize their progress toward life goals by understanding, fully utilizing, and celebrating their special qualities.”
—Gary B. Mesibov, PhD, coauthor of Understanding Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism
“A marvelous book with extremely helpful and practical advice. This book will be of tremendous help to individuals with AS/HFA.”
—Fred R. Volkmar, MD, coauthor of A Practical Guide to Autism; Child Study Center, Yale University
“Valerie Gaus offers readers on the autism spectrum a positive, powerful plan for living life to the fullest. Presenting autism as a different rather than a disordered way of being, Dr. Gaus personally guides readers toward self-discovery and then shows practical ways to address challenges. As a person on the spectrum, I find Dr. Gaus’s examples, ideas, and approaches ring true with my own life experiences....More than just a 'must read'; this book is a 'must experience' for everyone on the autism spectrum, as well as those who support them.”
—from the Foreword by Stephen Shore, author of Beyond the Wall: Personal Experiences with Autism and Asperger Syndrome
Table of Contents:
Foreword, Stephen Shore
Introduction. How to Get the Most Out of This Book
I. Life on the Spectrum
1. A Typical Day in Your Life: Problems and Solutions [ pdf sample chapter ]
2. A Unique Brain: How Thinking Differences Can Affect Your Daily Life
3. How Social Differences Can Be Vulnerabilities and Strengths
4. The Role of Your Emotional Differences
5. How Sensory and Movement Differences Can Affect Your Interactions with Your Environment
II. Positive Solutions for a Quality Life
6. Positive Solutions: Your Bag of Tricks
7. At Home
8. At Work
9. At School
10. In the Community
11. Building Friendships
12. Dating, Sex, and Marriage
14. Putting Yourself in Charge of Your Life and Finding Help When You Need It
Appendix: Problem-Solving Worksheet
About the Author:
Valerie L. Gaus, PhD, is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Long Island and New York City. Her focus is treating mental health problems in adults with autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disability, and other learning and developmental disorders. Since receiving her doctorate in 1992, she has approached her work with a cognitive-behavioral orientation. Dr. Gaus serves on the advisory board of the Asperger Syndrome and High Functioning Autism Association and the grant review committee of the Organization for Autism Research, and instructs an advanced training course through the Swedish Psychological Association. Dr. Gaus has written numerous articles and chapters on mental health issues in developmental disabilities and has lectured extensively in the United States and internationally. She is the author of the self-help resource Living Well on the Spectrum as well as a book for therapists, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Second Edition.