Asperger's Syndrome and anxiety disorders are not the same thing, but, an individual with Asperger's can experience Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Social Anxiety, or Generalized Anxiety Disorder as well. Due to the symptoms of Asperger's Syndrome, they may even experience increased levels of anxiety. A lack of social intelligence, part of Asperger's Syndrome, commonly contributates to that individual becoming overwhelmed by anxiety and experiencing meltdowns. Fortunately, anxiety in the Asperger's individual can not only be pointed out as a symptom of anxiety, but managed as well.
Anxiety can appear in many forms. Someone with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, like Asperger's, may avoid new situations and insist more and more on routines and familiarity. They may also withdraw from social situations altogether, even ones that they typically participated in. Other times, they may insist on following a strict routine and schedule including social situations that they are familiar with. An increase in repetitive behaviors can also occur, especially during meltdowns triggered by anxiety. During a meltdown, the Asperger's individual is experiencing a heightened sense of the fight or flight state and, while normally focused and mild tempered, inattention and irritability are common responses as well. Along with behavioral responses, someone with Asperger's Syndrome may also experience somatic symptoms. These can include, but are limited to, tightness in the chest, stomach pains, headaches, and insomnia.
An individual with Asperger's Syndrome does not always understand what they are feeling and as a result, they might not know that they are experiencing anxiety, Therefore, unsure what their emotions actually are, they do not understand how to cope with them. This could mean that when they say they wish not going somewhere that they normally would enjoy or a task they usually find interesting, it could be related to the unconscious anxiety that they are not able to identify and nothing to do with the task at hand. Helping that individual understand and identify their symptoms is the first step in enabling them to better cope with what is causing the anxiety and the effects that the anxiety is having on them.
If not established as anxiety, it can not be appreciated as such and can result in extended periods of distress. These extended periods of anxiety can result in exhaustion and the development of allergies or illnesses. Helping to individualize the causes and effects that anxiety has on someone with Asperger's Syndrome will be a huge asset in a fulfilling life. Feelings dictionaries, behavioral management, and group therapy sessions might be beneficial as well.