Are you an adult with High-Functioning Autism or Asperger's? Are you in a relationship with someone on the autism spectrum? Are you struggling emotionally, socially, spiritually or otherwise? Then you've come to the right place. We are here to help you in any way we can. Kick off your shoes and stay awhile...

Why Your Aspie Husband Is So Inflexible

“Mark - my Aspie husband is the most inflexible person I have ever dealt with in the entire life. When his mind is made up, he is immoveable and totally closed to other suggestions on how to deal with issues (e.g., our kids, financial things that come up, chores that need to be done around the house, just to name a few). So, my question is: is this part of his aspergers, and why is he so closed to alternative ideas?”

Yes… it’s part of the disorder. And, there are several important reasons why people with Asperger’s and High-Functioning Autism are “inflexible” (to use your term). We call this “cognitive rigidity”:

Brain Dysregulation—

The brains of people on the spectrum are structurally normal, but “dysregulated” (i.e., there is an impaired regulation of a bundle of neurons in the brain stem that processes sensory signals from various areas of the body).

Cortisol Deficit—

Cortisol is a key factor in understanding Asperger’s. It is one of several stress hormones that acts similar to a red alert that is triggered by stressful circumstances, which helps the person to react quickly to changes. In neurotypical (non-Asperger's) people, there is a two-fold increase in levels of cortisol within 30 minutes of waking up – and levels gradually declining during the day as part of the internal body clock. People with Asperger’s don’t have this peak first thing in the morning, which is highly significant in explaining why people with Asperger’s are less able to react and cope with unexpected change (throughout the day, but especially in the morning).

They don’t adjust normally to the challenge of a new environment on waking, which may affect the way they subsequently engage with the world around them. By viewing your husband’s symptoms as a “stress response” rather than stubbornness may help you develop a few techniques for avoiding circumstances contribute to his anxiety.

Executive Dysfunction (more information here)—

This deals with impulse control, inhibition, mental flexibility, planning, the initiation/monitoring of action, and working memory. This explains some of the symptoms of Asperger’s (e.g., poor social interaction due to a defect in cognitive shifting, repetitive and restricted behavior).

Theory of Mind Deficit (more information here)—

Theory of mind is the intuitive understanding of one’s mental state -- and the mental state of others (i.e., emotions, thoughts, beliefs, perceptions, knowledge, intentions and desires – and of how those mental states influence behavior). Your husband most likely has great difficulty understanding others thoughts, feelings, and motivations, which is the core cognitive deficit.

Weak Central Coherence—

This is the inability to understand the context of a situation or to see the big picture. This explains common behaviors found Asperger’s (e.g., repetitiveness, focusing on parts of objects, persistence in behaviors related to details, etc.).

I hope that makes sense. Thanks for the question.

~ Mark

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples 

==> Online Counseling for Struggling Individuals & Couples Affected by Asperger's

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