Are you an adult with High-Functioning Autism or Asperger's? Are you struggling emotionally, socially, spiritually or otherwise?
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Understanding the Mind of Your Asperger’s Mate

"My 29-year-old wife was recently diagnosed with Asperger syndrome. This is all relatively new to me (although I have recognized some behavior that seemed rather odd to me over the 2 years we have been married). They say that Asperger syndrome is just 'a different way of thinking'. How can I understand the way she thinks? I love her dearly, but we are definitely not on the same page much of the time!"

People Asperger’s and High-Functioning Autism have some deficits in the brain that cause problems in certain areas. For example, communication, focusing on “the real world” as opposed to becoming absorbed in their own thoughts and obsessions, learning appropriate social skills and responses, and understanding the thoughts and feelings of others. In addition, they are very literal in their interpretation of others’ conversations, and have difficulty recognizing differences in speech tone, pitch, and accent that alter the meaning of what others’ say.

Non-verbal communication is particularly problematic in that these individuals have difficulty understanding the appropriate distance to stand from another person when talking, how to tell when someone does not want to listen any longer, and how to interpret facial expressions. Also, they tend to be highly aware of right and wrong – and will bluntly announce what is wrong. They often recognize the shortcomings of others, but not their own. Thus, some of their behavior seems rude or inappropriate (through no fault of their own, in most cases).

Most people on the autism spectrum need routine and predictability, which gives them a sense of safety. Change often causes anxiety, and too much change can lead to a meltdown or shutdown. Routines and predictability help these individuals remain calm.

Other interesting (and sometimes problematic) features of Asperger’s include the following:
  • “Aspies” notice details, rather than the “whole” picture. The importance of the detail prevents them from understanding the bigger picture, so instructions may get lost in their focus on a single detail.
  • They are not able to access their frontal cortex or prefrontal lobe efficiently, so they must call on social skills from their memories. If a particular social skill was not taught when they were younger, they won’t have it. Thus, imagination, conversation, and other people’s points of view cause great difficulty. 
  • Anger in Aspies often occurs due to over-stimulation of the senses or a change in routine. It is often the only response they know. Anger-control presents problems, because these individuals only see things in black and white, which can result in offensive behavior when they don’t get their own way or when they feel threatened or overwhelmed. Some Aspies bottle-up anger and turn it inward, never revealing where the trouble is. 
  • One of the most difficult thinking patterns for people with Asperger’s is mind-blindness, which is the lack of ability to understand the emotions, feelings, motivations, and logic of others – and not care that they don’t understand! Therefore, they sometimes behave without regard to the welfare of others. The only way some Aspies will ever change their thinking or behavior is if it is in their own interest to do so. Even then, convincing them to change their mind may turn out to be an uphill battle.

But, so much for the “bad” news. People on the spectrum also have many positive qualities, for example, most are:
  • smart
  • respect authority 
  • gentle and somewhat passive
  • especially talented in a particular area 
  • amazingly loyal friends 
  • able to adhere unvaryingly to routines
  • honest
  • perfectly capable of entertaining themselves
  • able to remember a lot of information and facts
  • able to notice fine details that others miss

…just to name a few.

Everyone has a mixed bag of strengths and weaknesses. People with Asperger' are different – but they are not flawed. We need all different kinds of minds – including the Aspie mind. The way a person on the autism spectrum thinks should be viewed as a positive trait, which the rest of us can learn from. When our differences are embraced, the positives definitely outweigh the negatives.

Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

Asperger's Adults and Inflexibility

"My husband has asperger syndrome. We've been married for 3 years, and we work out most of our issues related to the disorder. But I must say he is THE MOST stubborn person I know. He always HAS to be right. How can I break through his rigid way of thinking so that he can see the other side of issues? My opinions are of absolutely no value to him. Once he gets an idea in his mind, no amount of evidence to the contrary will convince him."

One big challenge for people with Asperger's is "mind-blindness," which refers to the inability to understand the needs, beliefs, and intentions that drive other people’s behavior. Without this ability, they have great difficulty making sense of the world.

People, in general, often confuse the "Aspie" because he has  a hard time connecting his own needs, beliefs, and intentions to experiences -- and the positive or negative consequences associated with those experiences. He may even be unaware that he have this problem, even if he knows he has the diagnosis.

In any event, people on the autism spectrum can learn to compensate for mind-blindness through cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).  As therapy progresses, they will learn to use logic to make sense of the world and the people in it, one personal situation at a time. And, they will understand that all human behavior has a reason behind it -- even if they don’t see it.

The mysteries of human behavior disappear when Aspies can understand the appropriate states of mind behind such mysteries. Also, once the state of mind is understood, other people’s future behavior can be anticipated. Then, and only then, will Aspies be able to (a) see another person's point of view and (b) objectively look at their own point of view to see whether or not it is truly accurate.

Think of it like this: The fact that your husband currently has difficulty understanding your point of view is no different than having a language barrier. He can't see your side of things due to mind-blindness issues in the same way he wouldn't be able to see your side of things if you spoke only French, yet he spoke only English. It's not that he doesn't want to understand you, he simply hasn't learned the language yet (i.e., he hasn't learned that other people have their own needs, beliefs and intentions that drive their behavior).

Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples


COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said…  I dont mind the wanting to be right, but its the belittling of my view or opinion that bothers me....Then if i try to explain i am told im arguing.
•    Anonymous said… After 22 years with my Aspie husband, he's learned to do better at listening to my opinions and taking them into consideration, but I very rarely get an apology (almost never). I've learned to live with it. What I dislike most is his tone of voice and the look that goes with it when I say something he considers to be a "stupid question". I'm like, look man, I have the same IQ as you, so put your disdain away and answer my question  😂
•    Anonymous said… Aspergers doesn't make a man a jerk. It just makes him not want to change.
•    Anonymous said… I can still be the same way most of the time but my obsession with science and logic override my syndrome.
•    Anonymous said… I just let my 26 year old fly the nest... they can't help how they are and we have to be willing and able to let it all go and love them for who they are...marriage is a whole different ball game... good luck to you.
•    Anonymous said… I'm an Aspie on his third marriage. I hear you.
•    Anonymous said… I'm still on my first. My NT husband can be so difficult to deal with.  🤣
•    Anonymous said… Its only a syndrome if you all say its a syndrome. I see it as a evolution of soul and mind, most of you ladies might be looking in to deep of things. Thing's that may have never been their until you heard the name Asperger's.
•    Anonymous said… i've been married to one almost 49 years...learned about Aspergers about 7 years ago ... I'm sorry but some things don't change
•    Anonymous said… My husband and I have been together for 20 years. Thanks to our daughters diagnosis, we found his as well. How I communicate to my husband is calmly voice your side, if that doesn't work find a different approach. I either have to word it differently, ask him to explain in detail why my idea won't work, come up with a visual of some sort. They function on a totally different wave sometimes, so even thought we are speaking their language, they aren't understanding it. Also, if it's something out of his comfort zone, it takes longer. It can be so frustrating and hard, I know!! My 2 communicate on 2 different ends of the spectrum. Most of the time I'm the interpreter!!  ☺️
•    Anonymous said… NOT GOING TO HAPPEN UNLESS YOU BELIEVE IN MIRACULOUS INTERVENTION.
•    Anonymous said… The rigidity of thinking is to do with them trying to control their environment, which in turn comes from anxiety. I know because I have the condition too. It's not a deliberate attempt to be unpleasant. Being wrong would create a whirlpool of emotions that would be hard to deal with. We are very complicated people!
•    Anonymous said… Unless for some reason he wants to change it will not happen.....
•    Anonymous said… we're doing behavioral therapy and these are some of the things he's working on so that he doesn't appear rude to clients, etc so it's helpful to point it out when he does it. For the record I have Asperger's as well so I have a good idea how he thinks and we've done wonderfully well adapting to each other over the years (22 years married). For the most part I don't get offended about it any more. I say something to bring his attention to it and we talk about it.
•    Anonymous said… What goes on in his mind when he says those things is different to how you are taking it. His instruction manual is different to yours. He can change to suit you but he would be acting a part and it would appear false. You have to learn that when he says things in a certain way you consider rude or out of line it is your problem not his. Try speaking autism. It's really easy. Just put your ability to be offended on hold.

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