9 Ways to Cope with Having a Mental Illness

The world is pretty much in the Stone Age when it comes to psychiatry. This makes it hard for people with any degree of mental illness. It's especially hard if you're not quite able to function like other people but you do well enough so that your problems don’t show every day.

That’s what it’s like for me on the autism spectrum. (Not everyone considers autism a mental illness. I consider it one for me because it affects my daily functioning and makes me depressed.) But I think it applies to most other disorders, too. Here are some tips that might help you keep a healthy perspective.
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Top 10 Asperger’s Blogs of 2015

Asperger’s is a curious syndrome, showing itself differently between individuals. One person may exhibit repetitive speech and one-sided conversations, while another will have challenges with nonverbal communication and have awkward mannerisms. Others may not engage appropriately in social interactions, may appear self-centered, lack empathy, or be obsessed with a particular topic. A person with AS will not usually show delays in language or cognitive development, and this is what sets it apart from autism.

There is heartfelt discussion of the impact of diagnosis in the AS blogosphere. The American Psychiatric Association's diagnostic reference book, the DSM, added Asperger Syndrome to its fourth edition in 1994. 
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4 Ways a Child with Autism Affects Family Life

An autism diagnosis not only changes the life of the child diagnosed, but also that of family members. Parents of an autistic child have to bear a lot of stress owing to complicated therapy schedules, home treatments, and juggling job responsibilities and family commitments. There is also financial stress coming from the expensive therapies and treatments.

Such stress may affect family life in various adverse ways. Parents of autistic children need to meet the needs of their children, as well as address the needs of their family. Coping with the stresses involved in being parents to an autistic child can strengthen families and marriages, but this requires a great support system and a lot of hard work.

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Helping Someone with Asperger Syndrome Bridge the Gap between Cognitive and Emotional Empathy

Empathy is a controversial subject in the field of Asperger Syndrome/neurotypical relationships. The theory of mind postulates that people with Asperger Syndrome have some degree of mind blindness, or an inability to fathom the motivations and feelings of others. Aspies don't seem to read the social clues that tell NTs (neurotypicals) what is going on.

For example, Aspies are notoriously poor at recognizing complex emotions in others. They struggle to understand that someone may be stretching the truth for emphasis or as the punch line to a joke. They are confused by irony, pretense, metaphor, deception, faux pas, white lies and so forth. This is why NTs find Aspies to be clueless in social situations and why there are all types of curricula on the subject of teaching Aspies how to navigate the social world.
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Free Webinar: Asperger’s in Love: From Helplessly Confused to Head-Over-Heels

Learn about the challenges of Aspergian relationships and find solutions with Alina Kislenko, an Aspie therapist who works with couples with at least one Aspergian partner.

People with Asperger's (AS) experience several common issues in relationships, including lack of demonstrated empathy at expected times, trouble integrating with in-law friends and family, unique needs that can be difficult to communicate/meet, blunt honesty, and missed or over-adherence to relationship norms.

In love, Aspies are typically late bloomers and may find it difficult to connect in healthy ways to their romantic partners. This may show itself through controlling, anxious, OCD, depressed, or helpless behaviors as the person with Asperger's tries to navigate their own and their partner's needs. Luckily, Aspies in relationships can be the most loving, loyal, helpful, creative, and resilient partners.

Tune in to this free webinar to figure out how to move your Aspergian relationship from helplessly confused to delightfully satisfying and head-over-heels in love.

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Why No One is Talking About the Possible Overdiagnosis of Autism

With the latest CDC figures out, it appears autism is now appearing in about 1 in 68 children in the United States. The disorder -- now officially known as autism spectrum disorder -- is being diagnosed at a rate that represents a 30 percent increase from 1 in 88 two years ago.

What's amazing to me is that I couldn't find a single media report that floated the idea that this increase represents an overdiagnosis of the disorder. While "overdiagnosis" seems to be the first thing suggested when the topic is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder's (ADHD) huge jump in diagnoses over the past two decades, it's not mentioned in any description of autism's increase.

Why the double-standard?

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Co-Parenting with a Partner on the Autism Spectrum

With as many as 1.5 million Americans having some form of autism, including milder variants such as what used to be called Asperger Syndrome, many of those on the autism spectrum are also parents. What are the challenges associated with co-parenting with an 'Aspie' partner?

When you have a family member on the Autism Spectrum Disorder, it can be the ordinary things that cause life to grind to a halt. Ordinary things, such as: getting enough sleep; asking your spouse to pick up a child from soccer practice; or having a little family chitchat at the dining table.

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Sandy Hook: Administration Promises $100 Million in Mental Health Funding, But There’s a Few Problems

From 2009 until 2013, states have cut more than $4.35 billion from mental health funding for treatment and related services for those most in need in America. Yes, you read that right -- $4.35 billion. In tough times, states always turn to cutting social services first.

The message states seem to be sending is, "Hey, we know you're already poor, so if we cut services to you, well, how much worse could your life be?"

So it comes as a relief -- well, a little relief -- that the White House announced the rejiggering of some budgets to free up $100 million in funding of mental health services to states.

Is this enough of a response -- or even the right response -- to the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre?

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Senator Roy Blunt: Would His Laws Really Help Mental Health?

Senator Roy Blunt from Missouri yesterday published an editorial in USA Today lamenting President Obama's lack of movement on mental health legislation after the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy.

And while Senator's Blunts concerns are perhaps well-intentioned, his invocation of Sandy Hook in relation to "mental health" is about as tenuous a connection one could make about two, largely unrelated subjects.

Because in his editorial, Senator Blunt glosses over one inconvenient fact -- Sandy Hook's perpetrator, Adam Lanza, had no diagnosed mental disorder, nor was he apparently ever seen by a mental health professional outside of school for specific learning-related issues.

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Has Asperger’s Gone Away?

With anything that changes, especially an important reference manual, people are going to be confused about what those changes actually mean. Nowhere is this more evident than in the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

As we noted yesterday, the final revision was approved for publication. The DSM-5 is how clinicians and researchers diagnose mental disorders in the United States. A common language is especially important when conducting research, to ensure treatments are actually working for the symptoms people have.

One of the changes getting a lot of attention is the "doing away" of Asperger's Syndrome. But to be clear -- Asperger's isn't being dropped from the DSM-5. It's simply being merged and renamed, to better reflect a consensus of our scientific knowledge on the disorder as one form of the new "autism spectrum disorder" diagnosis.

So while the term, "Asperger's" is going away, the actual diagnosis -- you know, the thing that actually matters -- is not.

But you wouldn't know it reading some of the mainstream media's reporting on this concern.

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An Early Start for Kids with Autism: 5 Tips for Parents

Children with autism are often remarkably unaware of the meaning of other people's nonverbal communications.

It is not uncommon to see a young child with ASD (autism spectrum disorder) who does not understand the "give me" gesture of an open hand or the meaning of a point. Your child may not understand the significance of an angry or sad face on another person.

Sometimes people interpret the child's lack of interest or response to others' expressions as a lack of cooperation, but children with ASD just don't understand. How can you teach your child to pay attention to people and recognize what their body language means?

Here are three easy steps:

Step 1: Exaggerate your gestures.
Step 2: Add predictable steps.
Step 3: Provide needed help.

And here are five simple exercises you and your young child can do today to help with paying attention to people and better understanding body language.

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Love Hormone Helps Kids With Autism

This guest article from YourTango was written by Frank Medlar.

Navigating social situations can be difficult for anyone, but for people on the autism spectrum, it's not just difficult -- it's a minefield.

People with autism or Asperger's don't pick up on social clues that seem obvious to most people. There are unwritten social rules that they can't fathom. Things blow up on them when they have no idea what they've done wrong.

More from YourTango: 7 Amazing Ways Love Transforms Your Brain

To put it mildly, that's stressful.

High anxiety is often the silent partner of people with autism, even those who are high-functioning. That anxiety can be paralyzing in social situations. Not just deer-in-the-headlights frozen, but full-on engulfed in fear. For people with autism, it compounds their already difficult challenges.

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