Living Well on the Spectrum: How to Use Your Strengths to Meet the Challenges of Asperger Syndrome/High-Functioning Autism

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Being "different" is old news for adults with asperger syndrome and high-functioning autism (AS/HFA), whether they were diagnosed as children or only recently. Meeting a huge demand and providing indispensable practical guidance, prominent therapist Valerie Gaus shows how difference can be a strength. By mastering specific coping and problem-solving skills that "neurotypical" folks take for granted, people with AS/HFA can achieve greater success in everything from dealing with daily routines and social interactions to building a career and negotiating intimate relationships. The straight-talking, methodical writing style is expressly tailored to this audience's preferences and needs. The book is packed with questionnaires and worksheets that help readers pinpoint their areas of greatest concern and develop personalized action plans to build the life they want.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"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

Autism Asperger's Digest

"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 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
Functioning Autism

"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
School Social Work Journal

"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
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

“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
Library Journal
Gaus, a clinical psychologist with 15 years' experience working with adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), has developed a how-to book for adults with Asperger's syndrome (AS) and high-functioning autism (HFA). Her goal is to help them use their autistic characteristics by turning them into positive traits through enhanced self-knowledge and awareness. By using this workbook, ASD patients are said to gain control over daily situations and tasks that normally cause great stress. The first section concentrates on strengths and weaknesses and accepting these differences to begin building self-confidence and developing coping strategies. The second section is a detailed explanation of the eight-step problem-solving process, with additional chapters on the most common areas in which ASD people struggle—home life, work, school, community, friendship, intimate relationships, and health. VERDICT While her text is very dense and involved, 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.—Lisa M. Jordan, Johnson Cty. Lib., KS
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781606236345
  • Publisher: Guilford Publications, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/21/2011
  • Pages: 383
  • Sales rank: 417,690
  • Product dimensions: 7.90 (w) x 10.40 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Valerie L. Gaus, PhD, is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Long Island, New York, where she lives with her husband and two children. With more than 15 years of experience providing mental health services to people with autism spectrum disorders, Dr. Gaus serves on the advisory board of the Asperger Syndrome and High Functioning Autism Association and has lectured internationally on Asperger syndrome and related topics. She is the author of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Adult Asperger Syndrome, a bestselling book for therapists.

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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
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
13. Health
14. Putting Yourself in Charge of Your Life and Finding Help When You Need It
Appendix: Problem-Solving Worksheet

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2012

    I received this book from my local library and began to read it

    I received this book from my local library and began to read it immediately when I got home. As a person who possibly has Asperger's, I found the first few chapters very interesting. However, as someone who is studying neuroscience, I didn't really enjoy the dumbed-down version of how the brain works in ASD people vs. neurotypical person. I got SO frustrated reading things that seemed like common sense to me, that I stopped reading the book and returned it to the library.

    If you're not studying neuroscience and don't have a complex knowledge of how the brain works, then this book can be very helpful to you. However, if you do study neuroscience, it doesn't really do enough justice to all the research that's been done on the brain. I would've liked to see more concrete, complex explanations of how the brain works.

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