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Asperger's Traits That Get Misinterpreted As "Inappropriate" Behavior



There is always some distress, anxiety, or obsession manifested in every “inappropriate” behavior that gets misinterpreted by others:

Misinterpretation #1 - A "low tolerance for boredom" disguised as laziness

Misinterpretation #2 - The inability to "read" others disguised as lack of empathy

Misinterpretation #3 - Poor "emotion regulation" disguised as psychological instability

Misinterpretation #4 - Detachment disguised as narcissism

Misinterpretation #5 - Social skills deficits disguised as abnormality

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

Men with Asperger's: Summary of Traits that Affect Relationships

Peculiar people have always been around, but Asperger's (AS) - also called high-functioning autism - isn't always recognized as a possible cause of odd behavior. The symptoms of AS can be mild (causing only somewhat unusual behavior), or severe (causing an inability to function in society without assistance).

For the "neurotypical" (i.e., non-autistic) women out there who are contemplating developing a relationship with a male "Aspie" - or for those who are already in such a relationship - below is a summary of the traits associated with the disorder that may be helpful in understanding your future boyfriend or husband.

Men with Asperger's:

1. have trouble deciphering the normal rules of society, which impacts their home, work and social lives

2. are often unable to understand other people's emotional states

3. often want to "fit in" with their peer group - but don't know how

4. think in "black and white" terms

5. tend to be in their own world

6. appear overly concerned with their own agenda

7. have difficulty managing appropriate social conduct and regulating emotions

8. follow strict routines

9. are highly focused in specific fields of interest often to the exclusion of other pursuits

10. have trouble empathizing and understand other perspectives

11. appear aloof, selfish or uncaring

12. have difficulties in their home life, often demanding little or no change in routines or schedules

13. behave at a younger developmental age in relationships

14. have difficulty understanding humor and may take what's said too literally

15. have obsessive tendencies (e.g., insisting all of their books be lined up in a certain order on the shelf or that the clothes in their closet are categorized by color, style or season)

16. lack the ability to display appropriate non-verbal behaviors, such as eye contact, facial expressions, body postures and gestures

17. have difficulties in initiating and maintaining friendships because of inappropriate social behaviors

18. tend to be literal thinkers

19. have trouble understanding social metaphors, teasing or irony

20. struggle to understand emotions in others

21. miss subtle cues such as facial expression, eye contact and body language

22. often avoid eye contact

23. may be unable to think in abstract ways

24. are preoccupied with something to the extreme level (e.g., if they like football, that is all they will talk about--all the time and with everyone)

25. may talk incessantly, often about topics that others have no interest in

26. are rigid and inflexible, making transitions of any type difficult

27. lack the social or empathetic skills to effectively manage romantic relationships

28. are often of high intelligence and may specialize in one area or interest, which leads to a lack of interest in alternate topics and the unwillingness to listen when others are speaking

29. need routines to help them function

30. experience poor communication skills which can lead to problems finding a job or interacting effectively in a workplace environment

31. are reliant on routine

32. have an obsession with categories and patterns

33. experience rigid thinking patterns that may make predicting outcomes of situations difficult

34. may have anger management problems and may lash out in a social setting without regard to another's feelings

35. may display highly developed vocabulary, often sounding overly formal and stilted

36. experience speech patterns that may have a strange cadence or lack the proper inflections

37. often memorize facts to the smallest detail

38. find the subtleties of courtship difficult

39. experience social and work-related difficulties which can cause anxiety, anger, low self-esteem, obsessive compulsive behaviors, and depression

40. have thought patterns that may be scattered and difficult for the listener to follow

41. are often obsessed with parts of objects

42. are often physically awkward and have a peculiar walk, poor posture, general clumsiness, or difficulty with physical tasks

43. may appear rude or obnoxious to others

44. can be inflexible in their thinking, unable to imagine a different outcome to a given situation than the one they perceive

45. may be reluctant to initiate conversation and may require prodding to talk

46. often choose inappropriate topics to discuss in a group setting or find making small talk difficult or even annoying

47. may demonstrate unusual non-verbal communication, such as limited facial expressions or awkward body posturing

48. develop strict lifestyle routines and experience anxiety and distress if that routine is disrupted

49. often engage in one-sided conversations without regard to whether anyone is listening to them

50. may feel disconnected and distant from the rest of the world, a feeling called "wrong planet" syndrome

51. may flap their hands or fingers, or make complex body movements

52. have difficulty interacting in social groups

53. have trouble with organization and seeing the "big picture," often focusing on one aspect of a project or task

54. may process information more slowly than normal, making it difficult to participate in discussions or activities that require quick thinking

55. may keep extensive written to-do lists or keep a mental checklist of their plans

Some may view the traits above as largely negative. Others may view them as simply a different way of viewing - and interacting with - the world. More on this topic can be found here ==> Aspergers: Disability or Unique Ability?


Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

Understanding the Mind of Your Aspie Partner

"I'm currently dating a guy who is diagnosed with Asperger’s. I don't know much about this condition. How can I understand the way he thinks? We are definitely not on the same page most of the time. I need to know more about this and how it could affect our relationship."

There are several traits associated with Asperger's (high functioning autism) that can have an effect on how the relationship develops (not all negative, of course). People with the disorder typically have underdeveloped areas in the brain that cause problems in 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.

They are often extremely 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 (e.g., they may not understand a joke or may take a sarcastic comment literally).

For some "Aspies," learning social skills is like learning a foreign language. They may have difficulty reading non-verbal communication that “typical” people learn without formal instruction (e.g., not understanding the appropriate distance to stand from another person when talking, how to tell when someone does not want to listen any longer, how to interpret facial expressions, etc.).

These individuals are usually highly aware of right and wrong - and will bluntly announce what is wrong. They tend to recognize others’ shortcomings, but not their own. Thus, they may come across as insensitive, selfish, or rude.

They tend to need routine and predictability, which gives them a sense of safety. Change often causes stress, and too much change can lead to a meltdown or shutdown. Changes that are stressful for them may include (a) starting a new routine (e.g., having to go a different route to work due to construction), (b) having a different supervisor at work, (c) having to do things in a different order, or (d) major changes to their environment (e.g., when a wife rearranges the furniture without consulting the Asperger's husband first).

Routines and predictability help them remain calm. Your boyfriend's thinking is likely to be totally focused on only one or two interests, about which he is very knowledgeable. Many people on the autism spectrum are interested in parts of a whole (e.g., space craft, computers, insects, drawing highly detailed scenes, designing houses, astronomy, and so on). Your boyfriend's brain is likely to be obsessed by his interest. Thus, he may talk only about it, even when others are carrying on a conversation on a different topic.

Aspies tend to 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. Also, multiple instructions are extremely difficult for these individuals to retain and follow.

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 has not been taught to them as a child, they won’t have it as an adult. Therefore, imagination, conversation, and other people’s points of view cause them great difficulty. They may be unable to realize consequences outside their way of thinking. Also, they may not be able to recognize when someone is lying to them or trying to take advantage of them.

Frustration and resultant anger often occurs due to over-stimulation of the senses or a change in routine. It is often the only response they know. Difficulty with anger-control can present problems in relationships. They tend to view things in black and white terms, which may result in angry outbursts when they don’t get their way, or when they feel threatened or overwhelmed. Some people with Asperger's bottle-up anger and turn it inward in the form of depression, never revealing where the problem is. Many are perfectionists, reacting with anger when things don’t go the way they had hoped.

One of the most difficult thinking patterns of people with Asperger's is mind-blindness, which is the lack of ability to understand the emotions, feelings, motivations and logic of others. Unfortunately, some of these individuals don't care that they don’t understand! Thus, they may behave without regard to the welfare of others. Many will only change their thinking or behavior if it is in their own interest to do so. Even then, convincing an Aspie to change his mind may be an uphill battle.

Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

Denying the Diagnosis of Asperger's

"My husband has an Aspergers diagnosis, but he still denies he has the disorder. The diagnosis came a year after we separated - following my son’s diagnosis. My husband no longer wants to work on our marriage and has given up. The divorce paperwork has been initiated. Is it common for a person with Aspergers to refuse to accept the diagnosis and its impact in the relationship?"

No one wants to accept the idea of a lifelong disorder that makes him or her "different." When a spouse (or girlfriend) suggests to her partner that he "may" have Asperger's, it is not uncommon for the man to deny the possibility - and to refuse to seek a formal diagnosis. Instead, he may blame his partner for the problems in the relationship.

Some men go through divorce, job loss, and years of anxiety and depression before they accept the possibility that there may be an underlying issue which explains why their life has taken the odd twists and turns it has. Then - and only then - will these "on the fence" individuals consider seeking a diagnosis. And even then, they may refuse treatment (e.g., counseling), assuming they can "wing it" on their own without any outside assistance.

The "Aspie" can have several reactions to the diagnosis:
  • He may react by minimizing it. In this case, he doesn't view Asperger's as something to be taken very seriously, and views himself as someone who  simply "thinks differently." 
  • He may react by emphasizing the diagnosis. Now, his disorder defines him as a person and becomes an uncontrollable force that dominates his entire life. He may even come to believe that his spouse or girlfriend must become his caretaker since he has a "disability." Rather than recognizing the many "positives" associated with the disorder, he instead focuses on the worst aspects.
  • He may respond positively, identifying the many constructive features of the disorder. Here, the individual embraces the diagnosis, is happy to finally find an explanation for the troubles he has endured, and attempts to take control of the challenges that arise along the way. Now that he has identified "the problem," he can work on his deficits AND capitalize on his strengths.

Many newly diagnosed individuals go through a wide range of emotions (e.g., disappointment, anger, fear, etc.). Some feel isolated, as if they are the only ones with the disorder. Still others are outraged that they have been singled out from the rest of the population.

The most common reaction to the diagnosis for the "neurotypical" partner is relief, because she finally and gratefully understands that she is not to blame for the relationship problems that have occurred. Also, she now has an explanation (not an excuse) for why her partner has said and done so many "hurtful" things in the past. She is grateful that it's "just" Asperger's, because she had come to believe that she was insane.

In any event, you really only have three choices: (1) continue to try to change your husband (good luck with that one), (2) take on more responsibility for the relationship than he does (not recommended), or (3) take care of your sanity in any way that seems appropriate to you.

Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

The Easily Frustrated Aspie

Is it common for people with Asperger's to become frequently overwhelmed and frustrated over seemingly insignificant matters -- that is, things that typically would not bother anyone else?

People with Asperger's are indeed easily frustrated by certain circumstances. They may become overwhelmed by minimal change and very reactive to unwanted environmental stimuli. They typically like everything to stay the same.

In addition, they tend to get anxious and worry obsessively when they don't know what to expect. Tension, exhaustion and sensory-overload often throw them off balance. Thus, they may seem to be disturbed about a lot of things

Some "Aspies" find work very stressful, but they tend to keep their emotions bottled-up until they get home. Most of these individuals don't display the body language and facial expressions you would expect to see when one is feeling anxious or upset. While they may appear relatively calm at work, they are often experiencing very different emotions under the surface – and may release those pent-up emotions in the safety of their home.

Due to difficulties with empathizing, many adults on the spectrum don't recognize the suffering of others. So, when they attack another person, they may not be able to fully comprehend the damage they inflict.

Low-frustration tolerance may occur due to any of the following:

Sensory integration dysfunctions
Rigid or inflexible thinking
Resistance to change
Hypersensitivity to sensory input
Executive functioning disruption 
Difficulty with social comprehension
Difficulty understanding cause and effect 
Difficulty identifying and controlling emotions 

Some of the traits associated with the disorder (e.g., mind-blindness, sensory sensitivities, literal thinking, social skills deficits, etc.) may result in the Aspie viewing the world as a cold and hostile place. They may develop a habit of attributing hostile intentions to others. More on this topic here ==> https://youtu.be/P1izup2uX3U

Those Aspies who have had some luck controlling their tendencies toward becoming easily frustrated have usually learned to do some of the following:
  • recognize angry feelings in themselves and others
  • self-calming techniques
  • how to remove themselves from a frustrating situation 
  • how to problem solve
  • how to control angry impulses
  • how to avoid being a victim of someone else's angry actions
  • express anger nonviolently
  • communicate angry feelings in a positive way

Many adults on the spectrum have been known to experience meltdowns. Think of a meltdown as an “escape mechanism.” If the Aspie has the means to get himself out of a highly frustrating situation before it becomes overwhelming, the cognitive and emotional pressure lessens. But, without these means of escape, the anxiety will escalate, and his body will begin to panic, propelling him toward a meltdown.

Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

How to Stay Out of the Doghouse with Your Neurotypical Wife

As married men with Asperger’s, we are often in the dog house with our wives. You’ve heard it all before – right?! We’re selfish, uncaring and insensitive… We don’t show enough affection… We’re self-absorbed and aloof… and the list goes on and on.

Even when our wives educate themselves about the disorder and why we do some of the things we do – we are still on the hook. We “should” be able to do better. We “should” try harder. We “should” be able to manage some of these pesky Asperger’s traits.

In any event, there are some things we can do to at least give the semblance of “normalcy.” I’m of the opinion that if you don’t “get it” (a popular term used by angry neurotypical wives), you can, in many cases, “act as if” you DO get it.

Through many years of trial and error, I’ve discovered a few tricks that tend to keep me out of the dog house (most of the time anyway). So, pay attention. Below are 7 simple things I do that help my wife extend a measure of grace and mercy such that I’m not perpetually in trouble with her. Take notes. You’re welcome.

1. I try to spend as much time with family as possible (although it still is not enough to totally satisfy her). The key though is to spend quality time (quantity doesn’t seem to matter as much). For example, my wife would rather have 20 minutes with me where I have my cell phone turned off than have me around for 2 hours while I’m distracted by something else. She says this makes her feel appreciated – and helps our kids feel special, too.

2. I’m not big on affection, but I know it’s very VERY important to my wife. So, I MAKE SURE to give her at least one hug and/or kiss each day. I will also make a point to hold her hand when we are shopping… put my arm around her while we’re watching TV… rub her shoulders while she is doing the dishes… and other things that involve physical touch.

3. I try to remember special occasions (they are entered into an app on my cell phone). Remembering her birthday, our anniversary, and other special dates has saved me a lot of heartache. I’ve missed a few of these important dates back in the day, and it resulted in holy hell.

4. Having fun and playing with the kids is a big marriage-saver. When my wife sees me playing with our kids, it is a big “turn on” for some reason. She is very conscience of the fact that our kids need attention from both parents for important emotional development.

5. Periodically, I will give my wife a small gift for no reason (other than for a random act of kindness). So, when I can afford a nice little gift here and there, I do it. This may sound like an odd gift, but she loves those huge garlic pickles that you can get at the state fair. You know -  those quarter-pounders?! So, I surprised her with a couple of those a few weeks ago (and definitely got some bonus points on her score card – LOL).

6. I make an effort to compliment her a few times a week. For example, she already knows that I think she is still beautiful, but she can never hear it enough.

7. Finally, I clean anything that needs to be cleaned. When I do any single chore that she doesn't have to do, she is less bogged down. Her “to do” lists are never ending. But when I help out with a couple of those items, she feels less stressed. Happy wife – happy life!

Making my wife happy has a lot more to do with performing in everyday life and less about performing in the bedroom. Showing her that I love her every day by touching her, relieving her of some of her duties, and spending some time with the kids has real dividends. Try it.

Mitch G. ~ York, Pennsylvania


Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

Discouraged "Neurotypical" Wife Speaks Out

My husband has Asperger’s. It's stressful and I'm exhausted. The 'support' groups I’ve joined basically say the same thing: 'It's not his fault, accept him for who he is.' He’s selfish, rude, and throws tantrums like a 3 year old to get his way. I feel like I’m raising a second child that will never grow up. I am worn out, sad, and lonely. 

I feel I’m losing my 'self' through all of this and I just don’t have any strength left to fight. I'm the one that has to handle everything, and there is never someone there to help me. I have pushed aside my friends when it comes to social gatherings because my husband always seems so disengaged at these events. He denies that anything is wrong and won’t seek help. 

An outsider looking in would see a man who is very smart, but emotionally flat. The outsider would probably feel sorry for him for having a fat, angry and horrified wife -- and have no idea that when she married him, she was pretty, healthy, funny and cheerful. He took all of these things from me. 

When at home, he is a 'cold fish' and seems resentful if family needs his help. As he has gotten older, he is more controlling. He rarely shows compassion for us, while claiming we are the center of his world.  I didn't realize what was happening to me because I loved him. It was like a slow leak that you don’t recognize until it is too late. 

I have blamed myself for everything – every blow up, every sigh he generates, every look of disgust, the fact we are not sexual or even affectionate. The fact he doesn’t 'get it' makes it all the more head-banging frustrating. I just started taking anxiety medication. I am literally going crazy. 

I'm so sick of hearing, ‘He can’t help it. He's unaware of it. He's wired different. Have more understanding. Imagine what it is like to be him.' I guess I'm a terrible wife for not being more understanding. 

I get tired of all those people saying how interesting, talented, and special people with Asperger's are. I’m sure they are in some situations. But, it simply does not work if you want an intimate and warm relationship. ~ The End




==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

Why I Am Glad I Got Diagnosed

Hey guys, my name is Matt and I have been diagnosed with AS. When I first started dating my current girlfriend, she suggested that I may have AS. She had pointed to certain behaviors of mine that drove her crazy, and said she would like me to get a professional opinion and, ideally, some help. 

I wondered, "Could she be right?" So I got online and did a bit of my own research. Almost immediately, I had the thought, "Hmm, I think I could have it – I've got a lot of those damn traits." So I set up an appointment for an assessment, and sure enough, I met enough of the criteria to receive the diagnosis.

Getting a diagnosis removed the mystery and diminished the shame I carried around for being "a bit weird.” I have begun the process of learning to live more adaptively with an AS brain. I have felt "different" my whole life. Now, I'm hoping to find a community of individuals who get who I am, how I think, and even how I feel. A diagnosis of AS has given me the push I needed to get in touch with support groups and connect with that community.

I've been called "obsessive," but I felt I was just very interested in one incredibly remarkable subject -- automation engineering. I wanted to figure out whether I was right or wrong, and make a good decision about whether to try to expand my interests. 

Now that I know I have AS, I don't feel the need to have a wide range of interests just to please other people. I've learned that people with AS typically only have one or two special interests. So, now I understand why I put so much attention on automation engineering.

I figure that if I didn't get the "AS" label, then I would be leaving it to everyone in the community to give me the label of their choice (e.g., odd, self-absorbed, rude, and so on). A diagnosis helps others in my life to understand me and respond differently to my “odd” behavior. It also has provided a framework for labeling, understanding and learning about behavioral and emotional challenges that have been baffling to me up to this point.

It’s never too late to increase self-awareness in order to capitalize on strengths and work around areas of challenge. Knowing about AS gives me an explanation, not an excuse, for why my life has taken the twists and turns that it has.

The bottom line for me is that I am tired of suffering the consequences of being constantly misunderstood. When the people close to me are able to understand that there is a reason for my quirks and difficulties, it's much easier for them to empathize with my situation.

I've pretty much done a life review. I've disclosed to a few family members, friends and co-workers that I have the disorder. Now I understand why certain careers and relationships have - and have not - been successful for me in the past. And I have tried to repair a few relationships that have been negatively affected by my disorder.

If you have AS and don’t know, it affects you anyway. But, if you do know, you can minimize the negative impact and leverage the positive. That's my current mission.

Matt

Living With An Aspergers Partner: eBook, Audio Instruction, and Couples Counseling

What I’ve Learned About Me: Self-Confessions of an Aspie

I’ve often been accused of being “unsociable.” I don’t mean in the sense that I’m “criminal-minded” or out to get people or do them harm. I mean I tend to feel awkward in social situations, and as a result, I try to avoid some interpersonal encounters.

I’ve discovered that my tendency to be unsociable is a form of extreme self-focus – a preoccupation with my thoughts, feelings and physical reactions. When I talk about being unsociable, I’m referring to three traits that involve a sense of self: self-consciousness, self-preoccupation, and self-evaluation.

I do indeed have difficulty meeting people, initiating and maintaining conversations, deepening intimacy, interacting in small groups and in authority situations, and with asserting myself. I don't take advantage of social situations, never go out on a date, am less expressive verbally and non-verbally, and have little interest in other people. If this makes me unsociable, then so be it.

Part of me truly wants to be more outgoing and approachable, but I’m slow to warm up in social situations. I may go to an event and stay 10 minutes, then leave. I know this is a mistake because I haven’t given myself enough time to “warm up.” If a party starts at 7 p.m., I’ll go at 8 p.m. But showing up late actually works to my disadvantage. I should show up early (maybe at 6:30 p.m.), get used to the surroundings and greet people one-on-one as they arrive, so that by 7 p.m., I’m comfortable.

I have what I call a “small comfort zone.” I have friends and a social network – but it’s a very small circle. I tend to do the same things with the same people again and again, because I feel at ease in a situation I know. I don’t like to try new situations, and I purposely restrict my contacts. I may be at a social function and see someone new I’d like to talk to, but I won’t step-out of my comfort zone.

One of the negative consequences of being this way is that I’m under-employed – stuck in a job that requires less skill than I truly have. I’ve tried to force myself to be more sociable, but I come off as so awkward that it usually backfires in some way. For example, if I’m at a party or event, I think all I have to do is initiate a conversation. But that’s just the first step. I have trouble taking the next steps (i.e., actively listening to the other person, responding to his or her comments, connecting their experience to mine, and so on).

People tend to think of my lack of sociability as a negative trait, but that’s because they don’t understand it. I talk about becoming “successfully unsociable.” It involves realizing that there’s nothing wrong with me. Most people don’t care about me, they care about themselves. It’s very liberating to realize this.

The fact that I’m not very outgoing doesn’t mean my personal achievements are limited. I’m good at what I do and do have a few close relationships. Staying mostly to oneself is not a disorder. I’m ok with me. If I come across as uncaring, selfish, or cold, it’s not my intent. I’m simply reducing my anxiety level. And as I mentioned, part of me does want to be more outgoing, and I’ll continue to work on that. But, in the meantime, I’ll do what I have to do to take care of me.  ~  Anthony

Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

Asperger's and Poor Time-Management Skills

"What can be done about an Asperger's partner who does not have any concept of time? He never estimates time correctly. Today he texted to tell me he would call me on my lunch break for our normal afternoon talk "in 10 minutes." That was an 45 minutes ago.  This happens several times a week! He could spend an hour at the grocery when it should only take 20 minutes. And when we have to leave the house to go somewhere, he's never ready when I am, so we end up late to most things."

Here are some tips for the "Aspie" with poor time-management skills:

1. Allow natural consequences to do their magic. For example, if you have two cars, tell your partner what time you plan to leave for whatever you're supposed to be leaving for, and when you're ready to go, gently say, "I'm ready to leave and you are welcome to meet me (wherever it is you're going), but I'm leaving with or without you." Do this in a non-confrontational manner -- just matter of fact and without emotion. Natural consequences often help Aspies learn better time-management.

2. Have clocks visibly placed throughout the house. Sometimes when Aspies are so engrossed in their "special interest" (e.g., surfing the Internet), they lose track of time. In this case, having a huge clock in front of his computer will keep him aware of the time at the moment.

3. Help your partner learn to be "early" to things. If he targets to be "on time," he will either be on time or late. Most of the time, he will be late. However, if he targets to be early, he will most likely be on time. 

4. Put alarms into his cell phone to tell him when to leave for important things (e.g., picking up the kids from school, going to an important meeting, etc.). 

5. Suggest to your partner that he create a daily plan. He can plan his day before it unfolds. He can do this in the morning -- or even better, the night before. The plan will give him a good overview of how the day will pan out. That way, he doesn’t get caught off guard. 

6. Aspies with poor time-management skills often have poor organization skills as well. So, here are some important tips to help in this area: Organization Skills for Autistic Adults 
7. Another area of challenge for Aspies that is also related to poor time-management is problems with executive function. Here are some suggestions to help in this area: Asperger's and Problems with Executive Function

Best of luck!

Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

How to Improve Relationships with Women: Help for Men with Asperger Syndrome

Hey guys,

My name is Rich. I'm 49 years old and have Asperger's.

Are you a man with Asperger's who would really like to date a member of the opposite sex, but simply cannot get even one lady to go out with you? Or perhaps you have been on a few dates, but they never resulted in a quality boyfriend/girlfriend relationship. Maybe you are in a relationship with a lady, but for multiple reasons, it's just not working out the way you had hoped. Or possibly you are a married, but your wife frequently complains about your attitude and behavior (some of which is purely the result of your disorder). Maybe your wife has become so unhappy that she is now considering divorce.

In any event, if you are frustrated with relationships because you can't seem to do anything right (at least according to your partner), then why go another day in this chronic misery. There are a lot of things that can be done to help your situation.

I thought I knew everything there was to know about my disorder. But when I read an e-book on the subject, I realized I only knew a fraction of what was really going on with me. I'm referring to the e-book entitled "Living with an Asperger's Partner." As I read through the material, it was as if the author had been following me around my entire life. There was so much of me described in the content. I finally realized why my life had taken so many odd twists and turns. I also realized why my wife of 15 years was so frustrated with me, to the point of threatening divorce (which was a wake-up call for me to do something about her complaints).

Of course, there are many traits associated with Asperger's that simply cannot be fixed (so to speak). But I learned that there are a lot of traits -- the negative ones that cause so many problems in relationships -- that I can do something about. I'm not a victim of my disorder. But I was one of those individuals that had to learn the needed changes. They never would have come naturally to me.

I was in denial for many years that I even had the disorder. And even when it was revealed that I indeed do have Asperger's, I still blamed my wife for many of the problems we had. This blaming part alone was perhaps the number one obstacle to a quality relationship with my wife. 

She has always been willing to work with me, but only up to a point. I would often cross the line (so to speak) and end up hurting her feelings (unintentionally) and making her feel like she was unloved and unappreciated. This is where some education about my disorder as it relates to relationships came in very handy. Because as you may know, one of the traits associated with Asperger's is "difficulty with empathy." I say "difficulty" not "inability." I've always had empathy, I just didn't show it, nor did I realize how important it was to show it. This is something that I had to learn, and that's okay.

My wife doesn't expect me to be perfect. She knows about the disorder and understands I have my limitations. But she does expect me to work harder than I did originally (on those areas where some improvements can be made). One of my online friends who also has Asperger's once stated, "The big problem for me is that I would have to work twice as hard as everybody else just to be 'average'." My reply: "Then work twice as hard!"

There are a lot of issues that we as men on the autism spectrum have to deal with. But if we do not educate ourselves about these issues, we are doomed to repeatedly make relationship mistakes, and thus experience relationship headaches.

Are you familiar with the "theory of mind" concept and how it affects relationships? Did you know that we, as men with Asperger's, have problems with executive functioning? Have you figured out that our issues with anxiety and depression also play a role in relationship problems? Do you understand "mind blindness" and how it can destroy a marriage? 

You can think of Asperger's as "a disorder that negatively affects relationships." Where do we have most of our problems? It's not with our special areas of interest. We are experts in those areas. It's not with our employment. Most of us are excellent employees and breadwinners. It's not with academics. Many people with Asperger's are the smartest students in the classroom. If we want to be honest with ourselves, the major problems have always been in social functioning. 

Many of us, when we were younger, had great difficulty finding and keeping friends. Some of us were a bit quirky as teenagers and got ostracized from the peer group. We may have been teased, bullied, and emotionally abused. And many of us have carried those scars into adulthood and into adult relationships. It's not fair, it's not right, but unfortunately those were the cards we were dealt. We have the regrettable task of trying to "fit in" and adjust to people who simply do not think the same way we do. 

If everyone on planet earth had Asperger's syndrome, then there wouldn't be much of a problem. Unfortunately, we are a minority. And we can either choose to (a) isolate as much as possible to avoid interaction with neurotypical people, (b) learn ways to interact with them that they view as mostly appropriate, or (c) continue to interact -- but in our own rather odd ways (the latter being the most stressful approach to existence). 

Some men with Asperger's tend to be closed-minded in that they believe they should not have to make any attitudinal or behavioral changes. They say something like: "The rest of the world can learn to deal with me as I am, or they can go f*** themselves." These are the men that are living alone. These are the men that have burned too many bridges. These are the men that struggle maintaining regular employment and quality relationships. Many spend most of their time on the computer (social media, online gaming, etc.)  in an artificial approach to human interaction. That's not the lifestyle I choose for myself.

My purpose here is to reach out to those precious few men with Asperger's who truly are desiring to improve their relationships. Some of you have no interest in doing that, and that is understandable. However, there are a few of us that need to have a "significant other" in our life. And the only way to keep this person in our life is to keep them happy. As the old saying goes, "happy wife, happy life." I have found this to be so true.

So what should our goal be? I believe we need to (a) change the things in ourselves that we can, (b) accept the things that we cannot change, and (c) learn to distinguish between the two. If you can do that, you are well on your way to repairing any damage to relationships. 

If you prefer not to live alone, then you will hopefully take my advice: learn about yourself, change the negative traits when possible, and definitely capitalize on your strengths.

Rich

Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

Men With Asperger's: What Potential Partners Need To Know

Should you date a guy with Asperger syndrome?

In no way am I suggesting that one should avoid having a relationship with an Asperger's man. However, if you are in the early stages of a relationship with one (or are contemplating getting into one), then you need to know a few things ahead of time.

Unconventional people have always existed, but Asperger's isn't always recognized as a possible cause of odd behavior in adults. Even though Asperger's is on the high end of the autism spectrum, it can be mild (causing only somewhat curious behavior) or severe (causing almost complete inability to function in society without some assistance). 

Adult "Aspies" (similar to children with the disorder) have trouble deciphering the normal rules of society, which impacts their home, work and social lives. They often have high intellectual functioning – but diminished social abilities (e.g., they may use peculiar speech and language, seem egocentric, lack the ability to read non-verbal cues, lack social skills, have limited or unusual interests, follow repetitive routines, appear clumsy, etc.).

Some of the things you can expect to see from a man with Asperger's may include the following:

1. He usually prefers a structured life with well-defined routines. He may become agitated or upset when these routines are broken. For example, if he normally eats breakfast at 8 a.m., he may become agitated when asked to eat at an earlier time. However, unlike a person with classic autism, the Aspie will probably be able to keep his frustration in check. 

2. The Asperger's individual may be reluctant to initiate conversation and require prodding to talk to you at all, especially if he is already engaged in a favored activity when you try to initiate conversation. 

3. Because a man with Asperger's typically struggles to understand emotions in others, he misses subtle cues (e.g., facial expression, eye contact, body language, etc.). As a result, he may appear aloof, selfish or uncaring. He may simply lack the social or empathetic skills to effectively manage romantic relationships. 

4. Because he tends to be a literal thinker, the Aspie may have trouble understanding social metaphors, teasing or irony. 

5. He may be unable to think in abstract ways. He may be inflexible in his thinking, unable to imagine a different outcome to a given situation than the one he perceives. This rigid thinking pattern makes predicting outcomes of situations difficult. He may develop strict lifestyle routines - and experience anxiety and distress if that routine is disrupted. To avoid such disruption, he may keep extensive written to-do lists or keep a mental checklist of his plans.

6. The Aspie may have difficulty interacting in social groups (e.g.,  he may choose inappropriate topics to discuss in a group setting or find making small talk difficult or even annoying).

7. The individual may demonstrate unusual non-verbal communication (e.g., lack of eye contact, limited facial expressions, awkward body posturing, etc.). He may speak in a voice that is monotonous or flat, and may engage in one-sided conversations without regard to whether anyone is actually listening. 

8. He may have obsessive tendencies that manifest in many different ways (e.g., insisting all of his books be lined up in a certain order on the shelf, or that the clothes in his closet are categorized by color, style or season). Obsession with categories and patterns is a common symptom of the disorder.

9. The man's focus on just one or two areas of special interest often leads to a lack of interest in alternate topics and the unwillingness to listen when his partner is speaking. Such poor communication skills can lead to problems in relationships. The Aspie may talk incessantly about topics that others have no interest in. His thought patterns may be scattered and difficult to follow and never come to a point. Speech patterns may have a strange cadence or lack the proper inflections. And, he may have difficulty understanding humor and may take what's said too literally.

10. Unlike an adult with classic autism, a person with Asperger's wants to fit in with others. However, social and work-related difficulties can cause anxiety, anger, low self-esteem, obsessive compulsive behaviors, and depression. He may feel disconnected and distant from the rest of the world.

11. While an Asperger's man often has above-average intelligence, he may process information more slowly than normal, making it difficult to participate in discussions or activities that require quick thinking. He may have trouble with organization and seeing the "big picture," often focusing on one aspect of a project or task. Also, he may be rigid and inflexible, making transitions of any type highly difficult.

12. Other symptoms of Asperger's include:
  • outstanding memory
  • inability to understand other perspectives
  • inability to empathize
  • highly focused in specific fields of interest often to the exclusion of other pursuits
  • great musical ability
  • follows strict routines
  • difficulty regulating emotions
  • difficulty managing appropriate social conduct
  • black and white thinking
  • appears overly concerned with his own agenda
  • a tendency to be "in his own little world"

Again, this is not an attempt to discourage anyone from developing a relationship with an Asperger's man. And it should be noted that, while this article focuses on the areas of potential problems for man-woman relationships, there are many more positives associated with the disorder than negative. Below are just a few examples.

Many men with Asperger's also demonstrate the following characteristics:
  • work hard
  • will not go along with the crowd if they know that something is wrong
  • talented 
  • smart
  • respect authority 
  • prefer talking about significant things that will enhance their knowledge-base rather than “shooting the bullshit”
  • perfectly capable of entertaining themselves
  • notice fine details that others miss
  • not inclined to steal
  • not bullies, con artists, or social manipulators
  • honest
  • have no interest in harming others
  • gentle and somewhat passive
  • exceptional memories
  • enjoy their own company and can spend time alone
  • don’t take advantage of other’s weaknesses
  • don’t play head games
  • don’t discriminate against anyone based on race, gender, age, etc.
  • child-like innocence 
  • amazingly loyal friends 
  • adhere unvaryingly to routines
  • accepting of others
  • able forgive others

Unfortunately, in counseling couples affected by Asperger's, I've discovered that in some cases, all the positive traits in the world do not make up for the Asperger's man's (a) difficulty in understanding his lady's emotions and (b) lack of displayed affection. If those two things are missing, it's usually a huge disappointment (and sometimes a deal-breaker) for his lady, regardless of all the assets associated with the disorder.

Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

How to Deal with Me: An Aspergers Man’s Note to His New Girlfriend

I understand that you are frustrated with me right now, and that I can ‘drive you crazy’ (as you say).  But I’m not a bad guy who is intentionally trying to be an asshole. Below are 10 things I would like for you to know about me. Maybe this will help you understand that I really am not a selfish or insensitive person.

1. Please don’t assume that I’m uninterested just because I’m not telling you on a daily basis that ‘I like you’ or ‘find you attractive’. Decide what you think of me and let me know. After I become aware of your attraction and am not confused about your nonverbal gestures and flirtation, it will be easier for me to decide if I feel the same way.

2. It would be helpful if you would ease me into large social situations (e.g., parties or group outings). Please understand if I am overwhelmed or decide not to go with you. There will be times when I prefer being alone or with less people.

3. If I talk in a confusing manner (e.g., use complex vocabulary or don’t answer your questions directly), please ask me for more clarification.

4. If I appear to have certain quirks (e.g., not wanting to talk on the phone), please understand that it is related to the disorder. But do feel free to confront me about any issues that bother you, and explain why it bothers you. I will try to understand.

5. Because my brain is wired differently, I have difficulty initiating interactions, maintaining eye contact, reading the non-verbal cues of others, responding to the initiations of others, sharing enjoyment, and taking another person’s perspective. These are the social skills that come naturally to most people. Not me. But feel free to help me in these areas. I consider myself to be a life-long learner and will always need to keep pushing myself to new levels.

6. It would be great if you would learn what my interests are, and try to engage in a few activities that focus on those interests. If we could go on a few dates where social interaction isn’t necessarily the focus, that will help me be more engaged and conversational.

7. You can always tell me how you are feeling, especially if you are angry, and why. I may not understand your emotions and why you are reacting a certain way, but I promise I will listen.

8. The long-held notion that people with Aspergers lack an interest in social interactions is inaccurate. I do indeed desire social involvement, But I lack some of the skills to interact effectively. This lack of “know-how” often leads to feelings of social anxiety for me. Social situations can evoke a great deal of stress, and I may need to take a time-out from whatever we are doing at the time to collect myself. When I do, please do not perceive it as me being antisocial.

9. As juvenile as it may sound, romance can be puzzling to me sometimes, but again, you will probably see improvement after explaining the meaning behind it, why it’s necessary, and that it makes you feel good.

10. Lastly, please don’t use riddles or sarcasm in the same way you would with someone who doesn’t have Aspergers. If you do, ask me if I understood and then explain what you meant. Otherwise, I may just be confused.

Like everyone on planet earth, we are people with a mix of strengths and weaknesses. I am different – but not defective. The world needs all different kinds of minds – including the Aspergers mind. The way I think should be regarded as a positive attribute, not a shortcoming. I speak for all people with Aspergers when I say this: When our differences are embraced, the positives definitely outweigh the negatives.

Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

Wife's Account of the Ups and Downs of an Asperger's Marriage

I'm a 'neurotypical' (as they say) wife of a man, David, with Asperger syndrome. We've been together for over 18 years. And I've learned a lot about him in that time period. Fortunately, we knew he had the disorder from the start. So, there were no shocking surprises along the way (although there was a steep learning curve for me). I think that for those who have already been diagnosed, they have a better chance at making the relationship work.

Life is like a complex puzzle for David. With time however, I was be able to see why his behavior (that often seems inappropriate to me) is the only right way for him to react.

Once we got married, the true traits of his disorder become more noticeable. His constant need to be reminded of things and the way he lost track of time was cute when we were dating, but not so much now. Sometimes I still get angry as I wonder why - after so many years of being together - he still can't understand what I am saying or understand my feelings.

At times David appears egotistical, selfish, and uncaring, but I've learned that this is not truly the case. He has a 'neurological' condition in which he is often unable to understand the emotions of others. He just has difficulty interpreting other people's feelings adequately or figuring out the sarcasm in their speech. And sometimes he is surprised and a bit embarrassed when he finds out his actions were perceived as rude and hurtful.

While it was nice to have David's unwavering attention when we were dating, a married couple needs the socialization of others. I am often surprised how unsociable he can be. But I understand he is not intentionally trying to frustrate me. And he is not trying to ignore me when he gets so wrapped up in his hobbies. 

David has certain rituals and routines. He hates surprises and not being able to handle changes. He has a hard time remembering 'the little things', and is easily distracted. All of these traits, though, are not meant to hurt anyone.

Accepting the differences that come with the disorder is crucial. No relationship is perfect, and neither is one with an Asperger's husband. Having a better understanding of Asperger's has been the 'saving point' in our marriage. I'd like to say thanks to Mark Hutten and his book on Living with an Aspergers Partner here. Things would have been much more difficult without his advice.

Together, couples can work out a better understanding of one another and learn how to better communicate and to send clearer messages to each other. For a successful relationship, knowing that their spouse with Asperger's really does care (just shows it differently) makes all the difference.

David is a very reliable and responsible person. He works hard and is a good provider for our family. He doesn't try to meet the obligations society has for men in general. For example, he is quite happy to help clean and cook. Most of the time when asked, he is more than willing to help out with whatever task is needed …all I have to do is ask.

Love you David. For now and forever!

Your wife,

Margaret

What I Do to Cope with Asperger's: My Personal Story

My name is Cal. I'm 52 and have been asked to share some of the things I do that help me with day-to-day functioning.  Each person with Asperger’s is unique, so what works for me may not necessarily work for you. I think that interventions definitely need to be individualized. Most of the Aspies I know come to this awareness at different ages and stages of their lives, which can influence the approaches they choose. 

Anyway, while there is nothing particularly profound about what I do, here are a few things that have helped me cope with life in general:

 About three years ago, I worked with a Job Coach (you can find them online) that really did help me with goal direction and employment-related skills. If you have a hard time sticking with a job for any length of time, you may want to enlist the help of one of these professionals.

I try to teach others about the "disorder." I don't provide a lot of detail though. I try to disclose strategically, only sharing the information that is required for that time and place. I mostly say that it's "just a different way of thinking." For example, I'll tell them that "typical" people can read facial cues and pretty much know exactly what the other person means when he or she is being purposely vague. But, I can't. So, I ask them to be direct with me in their statements.

I used to be very good at blaming other people for my issues. But, I discovered that "blaming others" is a trait of the disorder. SO, I've tried to stop the blame game. Blaming yourself or others is common -- but not helpful.

I've learned that sensory and social demands of daily life make more "down-time" indispensable for me. If I start to get overwhelmed, I remove a few things from my schedule for that day. I call it my mental health day. Basically, I just slow down, maybe allow myself to take a nap, do deep breathing, drink lots of water, and try to keep it simple.

I know my weaknesses, and work on those things (e.g., impatience in long lines). Also, I know my strengths and build on them. For example, I know a lot about how to lose body fat while maintaining muscle mass, and share that knowledge often. There's always somebody that asks me how I stay in such great shape for my age. So, I give them some good tips on what they can do in this regard. Honestly, I should be a trainer, because I'm running into people all the time at the gym that ask my advice.

While I do need some down-time to recuperate, I don't allow myself to isolation for lengthy periods of time. Each day, I make sure I'm out with people for a portion of the day, even if it's just a short casual conversation with someone at the grocery store. 

To reduce my stress, I hire people to do the things I'm not good at, such as housework (when my wife is out of town on business), organization, and bookkeeping.

Sensory sensitivities make some environments unpleasant for me. So when I can, I change the lighting (dimmer), decrease the noise as much as possible (even wearing earplugs in some cases), and I always wear comfortable clothing (unless it's something formal, like a wedding or funeral). Also, a slower-paced environment is usually more tolerable and allows for a greater sense of comfort and competence.

Lastly, Mark Hutten's ebook "Living With An Asperger's Partner" has helped me relate better to my wife. She has learned some things from the book that have helped her as well. Good read.

I hope something I said here can help you have a better quality of life.

Have a great day,

Cal

Understanding Your Asperger's Boyfriend: 12 Tips for Neurotypical Girlfriends

"I have a boyfriend with Asperger's and I don't understand him, so it's driving me crazy? I know it doesn't have to be this way. What advice do you have that can help us have a very rewarding relationship? Thanks in advance!"

I get variations of this question quite frequently. So, here are my "best of" tips (based on some of the most common traits of Asperger's) that may help you relate well to your "Aspie" boyfriend:

1. When your boyfriend looks away during a conversation, see it for what it is: reducing visual stimulus to be able to better process what is being heard, or to more clearly determine what he wants to say. Shifty eyes do not necessarily mean he's not listening.

2. Your boyfriend may listen to each word that you speak, and interpret your meaning based on his understanding of the definition of the words you use. You, as a neurotypical, are no doubt able to generalize a little better when someone says something like, "Put a pile of mashed potatoes on my plate -- I'm starving." Say this to your boyfriend, and you might get a blank look. When the message is in words, it pays to be as specific as possible. Doing so can save time in the long run, preventing repeat requests or lengthy explanations, when a more precise word or phrase is all that is really needed for your boyfriend to get your meaning.

3. The more comfortable your boyfriend is, the more likely he is to be relaxed in conversation and easier to communicate with, understand, and be understanding. Trust him when he demonstrates a wish to do something relaxing in the face of an important issue. Reduction of stress can be crucial in important situations, and should not be considered a "lack of understanding" about the urgency of the situation.

4. Stress increases behaviors you may find frustrating. Decrease the stressors, however small, and you will decrease behaviors that you find confusing or frustrating.

5. Put aside what you "think" you know. Communicating with your Asperger's boyfriend while holding on to what you think you know about how people on the autism spectrum relate to others can create unnecessary stress. Your boyfriend is an individual -- a person who thinks about things in a different way than you do.

6. Keep your eyes and ears open for signs that your boyfriend is trying to understand you. Communicating is not a one-way street, and the responsibility of connecting with information should not rest solely on your shoulders. Although it may seem like it sometimes, you may not be aware of what your boyfriend is doing to try to understand. You process information differently, so the things you would do to try to understand him may not be the same things he would do.

7. People with Asperger's don't respond well to criticism, threats, or manipulation the way "typical" people do. Even if you don't think you are being critical, if your interaction is perceived this way (even falsely), you are likely to get a defensive response.

8. Don't be afraid to ask questions. When your boyfriend's comment sounds confusing, it's perfectly fine to say, "What do you mean, exactly?" Aspies know that neurotypicals have a hard time understanding what they say. You are likely to raise more red flags if you DON'T ask questions about his meaning than if you DO.

9. Consider your verbal versus non-verbal communication. Most likely, your boyfriend either (a) relies more heavily on your words and less on body-language, or (b) he may rely more on body-language, which may result in a higher frequency of misinterpretation. Find out which method he uses predominantly. How? Listen. If you find that he is frequently misunderstanding you without stopping to consider that he is completely off base, he may be misinterpreting your body-language and otherwise non-verbal messages (e.g., expressions, tone of voice, conversational pauses, etc.). On the other hand, if he repeatedly asks questions about what you are saying, he is relying more heavily on your word usage.

10. Be aware of your boyfriend's personal space. He may have a space defined differently, spatially. If you see that he seems agitated or diverts gaze when you are within a certain distance, you will know that you are within his personal space.

11. Accept that you don't experience life the same way as your Asperger's boyfriend. So, his obstacles, interests, complaints, and frustrations are likely to seem illogical to you. There are many issues that contribute to the way he views the world -- communication issues, stigma, sensory, stereotypical interests, unique responses to social issues and stressors ...many more things than you may be able to imagine. If you look at it as if he is dodging paintballs all day long - every day (paintballs that are invisible to you), it may make a little more sense that he moves the way he does, talks the way he does, and makes the decisions he does.

12. When your boyfriend says or does something that seems hurtful, you can trust that it may not have been intended the way you thought, even if it seems very clear to you. When you say or do something that he takes offense at, you can trust that he is misunderstanding you honestly and not trying to be critical. If your family members or friends seem to be having a ''group opinion'' in the negative about your boyfriend, you can have the insight to be able to say, ''It may appear to be that way, but I think it's a big misunderstanding.''

This just scratches the surface, but these ideas should at least get you headed in the right direction with your relationship. Best of luck!

Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

Why Adults with Asperger's May Seem Inflexible

Would you, as a neurotypical woman, say that your Asperger's partner or spouse (a) thinks in terms of extremes (i.e., all or nothing, black or white), (b) reacts emotionally when things don't go right, (c) over-monitors his decisions as right or wrong, good or bad, (d) looks for too much certainty in a world full of uncertainty, or (e) judges himself as strong or weak, bright or stupid?

If so, then your man may be experiencing a “false dilemma." In other words, he believes he's stuck in a dreadful situation, when in reality he's not. When a person falls victim to a false dilemma, he has incorrectly condensed an entire spectrum of possibilities down to the two most extreme options, each the exact opposite of the other - without any shades of grey in between. Oftentimes, those options are of the person's own creation, and he is trying to force the world to conform to his preconceptions about what it should look like.

A false dilemma means viewing the world only in terms of extremes. If things aren't " great," then they must be "atrocious." If the Asperger's man isn't "exceptional," then he thinks he must be "dumb." In real-life, situations are usually shades of gray – not black or white. Falling victim to a false dilemma tends to worsen anxiety, depression, OCD, and a host of other issues.

Under intense pressure, the Asperger's man may retreat to a primitive way of thinking (i.e., a backsliding from age-appropriate thinking to a more immature way). He is most prone to regressing when he is having a hard time and feels besieged by his own negative emotions. For that one moment, when he starts relying on the words "never"  or "always," or views the world in black and white terms, he is slipping back to the way he viewed the world as a child.

When we only see things in black and white, we miss out on alternative ways of understanding the world. These alternative ways may be just as good - if not better - than our current way. A false dilemma often creates a false choice between “A” and “B,” when “C” is the more precise and helpful perspective. Sadly, if we only think in black and white terms, then we're not likely to even consider “C” as an option in the first place.

A false dilemma often creates “artificial needs” in the person's life that lead to discontent and despair. This is his tendency to think that life “must” be a certain way – otherwise it will be intolerable. The false dilemma doesn’t open the person up to the possibility that, even if life doesn’t work out exactly the way he thinks it should, he can still be content. A false dilemma makes the individual less adaptive to his surroundings, which hinders his social development. It’s also what keeps him stuck in old habits and thought patterns.

A false dilemma doesn’t just hurt the man on the spectrum, but also the relationship he tries to build with his significant other. When he sees the world in strict and over-simplistic terms, he is less likely to negotiate or cooperate with his partner or spouse to meet common interests. This is because he doesn’t see the grey areas in life (which is a mind-blindness issue that most people on the autism spectrum experience). He believes everything needs to be a specific way, and he is not willing to depart from this limited view of the world. This can make him inflexible - and annoying to live with.

Some adults on the spectrum simply do not have the vocabulary to describe the grey area. For example, the "Aspie" either considers his coworker to be a friend or not. The concept of different levels of friendship - and the gradual building of trust - may be unknown.

Perhaps worst of all for people on the spectrum is the fastidiousness that precedes a false dilemma – and the self-condemnation that follows. Some Asperger's men think they should be doing everything “perfectly,” because if it’s not perfect, it’s certainly flawed in a major way. As such, the false dilemma may underlie some of the stubbornness that neurotypical spouses/partners often see in these men. So, learning - which involves not knowing things, but gradually learning them while making mistakes along the way - can be an excruciating process. For example, starting a house repair (e.g., putting down new flooring in the kitchen) can be overwhelming to the point of paralysis.