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Wife of a Man with Asperger's Provides Some Pointers


"One of the things I have learned while married to my husband with Aspergers syndrome is that I have to allow for processing time. Robert needs longer processing time, particularly for verbal instruction. He can't instantly react to my requests.

For example, a few months ago, I came home from work and told Robert that I decided I'm taking him out for dinner. And he said, "No!" His response confused me and also kind of hurt my feelings because I was making a kind gesture. But in his mind, although he hadn't already cooked dinner (and he is the cook at our house), he had already decided what we would be doing for dinner, and to quickly change his internal plans was difficult for him to do. Situations similar to this one had occurred quite frequently.

I realized now that instead of throwing a last-minute change on my husband, I need to give him a heads-up. So, a better method for me has been to call him earlier in the day while I am at work, and ask him what he thinks about us going out to eat dinner that evening. Robert needs to adjust to the idea, and by the time I get home, he has warmed-up to it.

Time to adjust has proven to be even more critical when a serious decision has to be made (e.g., issues related to our children and financial considerations). My method now is to approach my husband, suggest my idea, and then leave it alone and wait for him to respond. Sometimes that may be days later, which in most cases is not a problem because it allows us to carefully consider the implications.

Over time, we have learned to trust that we will not be pressured into making a decision that we are not comfortable with. Taking a little extra time helps to ease tensions that used to result in heated arguments.

The other important thing I have discovered during my marriage is I need to avoid assuming Robert automatically knows my needs. For example, a while back I came home with two arms full of groceries and struggled to get in the front door. Robert could see me struggling but didn't get out of his chair to offer to help me. As I returned to the car for another armload, I became very frustrated. Robert continued to ignore what I considered to be obvious struggling. At my wits end, I screamed at him and asked why he didn't help. He reacted with shock and hurt and yelled back, "I didn't know you wanted my help!" (Then my thought: "WTF!")

I have since learned that people with Aspergers do not read body language that is obvious to people without the disorder. Robert didn't come to my aid because he couldn't read my body language that exuded frustration while struggling to carry groceries through the door.

Now when I need his help, I approach things differently. I often say, "Can you help me sweetheart?" This simple request has helped save a lot of frustration and tension in our relationship. I used to think that if he doesn't know, I shouldn't have to ask. That's not going to work in this kind of situation where one person cannot pick up on another person's needs without words. Over time, my husband and I have established a routine of clearly outlined expectations. I don't put him in a situation where he has to guess what I need in the moment.

In a nutshell, now that I give my husband some time to process things, and give him specific instructions on what I need him to do, things have gone much more smoothly. I wanted to share these revelations in the hope that other neurotypical wives may benefit from just two simple adjustments that can make such a huge difference."

==>  Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

5 Crucial Tips for How People with Asperger’s Can Make and Retain Friends

Regrettably, making and keeping friends isn’t always easy for people with Asperger’s (high-functioning autism). Meeting new people is often overwhelming for these individuals. But, with some effort and willingness to step outside of their comfort zone, “Aspies” can indeed make -  and keep - friends.

If you are confused about how to go about forging new friendships (or strengthening old ones), here are 5 simple – yet highly effective – ideas that are more creative and practical than the old “just be yourself” strategy:

1. For the Aspie who likes a specific topic, he/she should try searching for a location where he/she can meet people who share that interest (e.g., attending a church, Mosque, temple or other house of worship; joining a club, such as a science club; joining a band or choir; volunteering time at a local nursing home, hospital, or a non-profit organization).

2. Aspies can join a club or go to church, but they still won't make friends if they don't actually talk to others. By the same token, they don't have to be involved with an organization to be social.

As one 34-year-old male Aspie stated, “Any time I talk to someone, I have a chance at making a friend. Most conversations are a dead-end of sorts, and I may never run in to that person again. But, every once in a while, I actually make a friend. I make a point everyday to talk to several people, such as the clerk at the video store, the person sitting next to me on the bus, the person behind me at the checkout line at the grocery store - just to name a few.”

3. If Aspies have an unfriendly facial expression or body language, people are less likely to be receptive to their friendship. Squinting, looking bored, frowning, or folding one’s arms practically scream "don't talk to me." Such habits make Aspies look troubled or disinterested. Looking the person in the eye when he or she is speaking - and offering a warm, friendly smile - goes a long way in getting the other person to feel comfortable.

4. Learn a few “conversation-starters.” For example, give a compliment ("That's a nice car" or "I like your tennis shoes"), make a request for help ("If you have a minute, can you help me carry a few boxes?" or "Can you help me decide which one of these is a better gift for my girlfriend?"), or try making a comment about the weather ("At least it's not snowing like last week!").

5. Introducing one’s self at the end of a conversation is another great way to be friendly. It can be as simple as saying, "Oh, by the way, my name is John". Once one introduces himself or herself, the other person will usually do the same. Also, try to remember that person’s name.

As one 28-year-old female Aspies stated, “When I show that I remembered things from my past conversation with the other person, it kind of makes me look intelligent, and the other person knows that I was paying attention and am willing to be a friend.

Best of luck!


==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples