Blog for Individuals and Neurodiverse Couples Affected by ASD
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...
"My partner and I have been together for going on 3 years now. She was originally diagnosed with ADD in college, but now after seeing a therapist for anxiety/depression issues, they say she has Aspergers (high functioning). What is the difference between these two …is it possible to have both?"
Diagnosticians make their diagnoses based on the person’s behaviors. Since people with ADD and Asperger’s share similar behaviors, the two can appear to overlap. But, there is an essential difference between the two.
Here are some important distinctions:
• The unfocused ADD individual is "nowhere," but the highly-focused or “fantasy-oriented" person with Asperger’s is “somewhere else.” “Fantasy people” retreat into their own little world, one in which everything goes the way they want it to. Their daydreaming and fantasizing resembles the behaviors of non-hyperactive people with ADD.
• The person with ADD knows what to do in social relationships – but forgets to do it. The person with Asperger’s doesn’t know what to do. The Asperger’s individual doesn’t fully understand that relationships are two-sided. If he talks on and on in an un-modulated voice about his special interest, he simply doesn’t understand that he may be boring the listener and showing disinterest in the other person’s side of the conversation. Conversely, the person with ADD can’t control himself from dominating the conversation.
• The Asperger’s individual can appear unfocused, forgetful and disorganized just like a person with ADD, but there is a difference. The ADD individual is easily distracted, whereas the Asperger’s individual has no "filter." She views everything in her environment as equally important (e.g., her college professor’s accent is as important as what he writes on the whiteboard). Asperger’s individuals tend to get anxious and stuck on small things and can’t see the "big picture." Conversely, people with ADD are not detailed-oriented. They understand the rules – but lack the self-control to follow them, whereas Asperger’s individuals don’t understand the rules.
• People with ADD respond to behavioral modification. With Asperger’s, the disorder is the behavior. Both types of people can have anger-control issues, talk too loud and too much, and have problems controlling their behaviors and making friends. Both have experienced “social failures” to one degree or another – but for different reasons.
• Obsessive-compulsive Asperger’s individuals live a world they create from rules and rituals. Like ADD individuals, they appear preoccupied and distracted – but for different reasons. Asperger’s individuals appear distracted because they are always thinking about their "rules" (e.g., Did I use my turn signal back there? Did I meditate for a full 10 minutes?).
• Asperger’s individuals lack what professionals call "social reciprocity" or “Theory of Mind” (i.e., the capacity to understand that other people have thoughts, feelings, motivations and desires that are different from our own). People with ADD have a Theory of Mind and understand other's motives and expectations. Also, they make appropriate eye contact and fully understand social cues, body language and hidden agendas in social interactions, whereas people on the autism spectrum don’t!
Some researchers estimate that 60% to 70% of people Asperger’s also have ADD, which is considered a common comorbidity of Asperger’s. A dual-diagnosis is based on observation of behaviors that are similar for a myriad of disorders. The misfortune is that the affected person often doesn’t receive the correct medications, educational and employment supports, and social-skills training that could help her or him function on a higher level.
“My aspie husband makes this kind of snorting noise all evening (I don’t really know how to describe it) which is so annoying and distracting. He does this while were watching TV, in the car, and it’s embarrassing to me when we have company over. No amount of pointing this out to him while he’s doing it gets him to stop (for very long anyway). He will make softer snorts for a few moments, but then starts snorting loudly again – and doesn’t even know he’s doing it until I tell him so. It seems to happen unconsciously. Is this part of his aspergers? Is it a separate issue? Am I making too much of this? Is there anything I can do to help him? Sorry for all the questions, but I need some solutions – please! It’s driving me nuts!!! It’s got to the point now where I have to go into the other room if I want to watch a movie or read a book. Otherwise, there’s no point in trying to focus on anything.”
Asperger’s can have many symptoms, such as tics. Tics are rapid, sudden movements of muscles in the body. Tics can be vocal as well. Vocal Tic Disorder (VTD) is characterized by sudden, rapid, recurrent vocal sounds (e.g., constant clearing of the throat, humming, grunting, saying curse words, sniffing, snorting, squealing, etc.). If a person has both motor and vocal tics, he is diagnosed with Tourette’s. If he has only vocal tics, he is diagnosed with VTD.
Vocal tics can be moderately controlled, usually for a short period of time during which the “Aspie” makes a major effort to control them. However, the vocal tic usually reoccurs – and may be even stronger due to the compensation attempt. Vocal tics often worsen as a result of stress, anxiety, or fatigue. They may also worsen due to positive feelings (e.g., excitement or anticipation). Whenever the person focuses his attention on something else (e.g., surfing the Internet), the tics often decrease due to distraction and relaxation.
There are a variety of medications that are prescribed to help control the symptoms of VTD. However, the best-known treatment is a form of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) called “habit reversal training.” If a person gets “the urge” before the oncoming vocal tic, he is taught to recognize it and identify the circumstances that trigger it. The Aspie and therapist develop a “competing response” (i.e., an action the person performs when he feels the urge that is incompatible with the vocal tic and less noticeable to others).
One of my male Asperger’s clients had a tic that involved sniffling his nose. So, I had him perform a breathing exercise as the “tic substitute.” In this way, he was actually still doing a tic, but in a less socially unacceptable way. This method – in combination with teaching him some relaxation techniques – decreased the frequency of the vocal tics significantly. One of my other clients was able to suppress a vocal tic by chewing gum (because it was “hard to chew and tic at the same time”).
Self-help strategies can help diminish vocal tics as well, for example:
Give yourself permission to tic. Holding back a vocal tic can turn it into a ticking bomb (no pun intended) waiting to explode. Have you ever felt a sneeze coming on and tried to avoid it? Didn't work out so well, did it? Chances are it was much worse. Vocal tics are very similar.
Get enough rest. Being drowsy throughout the day makes vocal tics worse. So make sure to get 8 hours of sleep every night (if possible).4
Don't focus on the tic. If you know you have vocal tics, try to forget about it. Focusing on it just makes it worse.
Avoid anxiety-filled situations as much as possible. Anxiety only makes vocal tics worse.
Don't let something as harmless as a vocal tic dictate who you are or how you behave. Sometimes, simply learning to live with – and not pay attention to – the tic is the best you can do.
Making those vocal sounds is comforting to your Aspie husband in some way (though I can see why it would be irritating to you). Aside from learning to ignore it or simply going into the other room, I suggest that you call your physician and see if she/he has an idea. Generally, a distraction of some kind will help (e.g., massaging his shoulders), but this will likely just be a temporary fix. So, you really do need some outside assistance – especially if this problem is affecting your marriage.
By the way, you’re not the only one dealing with this issue. I have had similar complaints from many “neurotypical” wives over the years. It’s just one of those quirky things that comes with the Asperger’s package.
• Anonymous said… Adjustment and acceptance in any relationship can be challenging and a daily effort. Sensory behaviors that are done to maintain (mental) arousal or to calm are not always conscious. I don't think women feel that their spouses are freaks, but idiosycrasies can be hard to live with, especially when your emotional/intimacy needs are not being met by the relationship over time. You can't solve the "problem" and that can be maddening. Scab picking, nose picking, nail biting, verbal tics, throat clearing, snorting, coughing, constant debating, excessive talking, not talking, etc., etc. are functions which draw attention and are also hard to overlook in social situations. Frustration comes, but it doesn't mean that there isn't deep love between those two people. If you didn't love that person, you wouldn't stay. The site is an excellent resource. I hope you find this to be true in your situation. • Anonymous said… Asperger folks are highly sensitive to sights, sounds, smells, light. They often have repetitive behaviors that some may find unusual or even offensive.....it goes with the territory. But for me, all the good traits make up for the ones you don't like. Of course, I'm biased because I live with one I love dearly. • Anonymous said… Film it on your I device and show it to him. • Anonymous said… Its anxiety. You get trapped into a stim behavior. Almost impossible to stop until you break the cycle. Possible medication? • Anonymous said… Maybe he's just allergic to the family pet or your new perfume. • Anonymous said… Question?.is this apart of touretts syndrome. I have a family member (teenager) that has Adhd. He was also diagnosed with a mild form of touretts. When he was younger he constantly blinked his eyes. On meds now. Under control. • Anonymous said… Some of the questions you get make me wonder how long these couples knew each other before getting married. Like the question yesterday about how the girlfriend was just diagnosed, and it's putting a strain on their relationship. Hi, let's explain something, just because you now have a word for how she is different, doesn't suddenly mean she is acting any different than she did before the diagnosis. And for this one.... No, there is no way to make that noise stop, it's an unconscious stimming mechanism. One that you had to have known about before marriage, unless you never spent any real time together before now. • Anonymous said… Sometimes my sinuses are so sensory distracting I can't help but snort. Gross, I know, but blowing your nose only goes so far
"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 with 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:
gentle and somewhat passive
especially talented in a particular area
amazingly loyal friends
able to adhere unvaryingly to routines
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's 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.
One husband of an Aspie states, "All Aspies are different. If you want to understand the real person you are married to you must work together to identify the way you both interact and communicate the specifics of your mental functioning and hers. It is not a one way street. Her Aspie traits are highly individual as your non-Aspie traits. Lots of reading and help from counsellors can help both of you work this out."
"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).
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. • Anonymous said...Hello my name is Davon and I am 26 years old I have come to realize that I am Aspergers and now the way I think is starting to make since now. I have not been diagnosed with Aspergers yet but sometimes I feel like It's me against the world and no one understands me. I go through horrible anxiety and depression. I attack myself all the time saying all sorts of mean thingscto myself. I have a social problem and I am a loner. Please help me understand how to fix this. • Anonymous said...I think reading Mark's blog And his books are a great way to begin to understand. I'm raising my 11 year old grandson who is genius IQ and very high-functioning Asperger's has total mind blindness I'm also married to an aspie man as well as my father being on the Spectrum especially with OCD over the top good luck to you and it's so great to reach out for help because you are certainly not alone�� • Anonymous said...The difference is ... I can learn French! I can't learn to speak Aspie. I wish I could. Post your comment below…
"I’ve got a question. Long story short. My wife (of 1 ½ years) and I were having some serious problems that resulted in us going to counseling. One of the things that came up was the counselor suggested I get tested for autism. I did. And I have it – Asperger syndrome that is. But I’m 38 years old and the diagnosis may change things (not necessarily in a positive way). I’m not sure how I feel about this or what to do about it if anything. This is my second marriage. My ex doesn’t know, neither do my kids (3). I’m self-employed so it obviously didn’t affect my work in any way. But my question is should I tell them about this new revelation or just keep it under wraps? So far the only person that knows is my wife."
Finding out that you have Asperger’s usually results in a mixed bag of emotions. You may feel relieved in a sense, because now there is a reasonable explanation for why your life has taken the twists and turns it has over the years. You could feel worried (e.g., “What are people going to think about me now?”). There might be feelings of sadness, because you hoped you were “normal.” Shame, anger, and a host of other emotions may be racing through your brain once you get “the news.” Through all of this may come the need for telling some “safe” people about your disorder and how it has affected you.
If you are faced with having to tell some important people in your life that you have Asperger’s, the first thing you need to do is educate yourself about the disorder so that you can answer questions. Start with those closest to you, beginning with trusted family members and close friends. These individuals may have already had their suspicions (i.e., they knew that something wasn’t quite right). So, advising them of your disorder may not be a shock at all. Instead, it saves them from filling in the blank with their own false assumptions regarding your past behaviors and attitude. Everybody is finally on the same page now. The confusion is lifted.
I recently counseled a father who was diagnosed later in life and divulged the diagnosis to his adult children. As it turned out, it was a very healing moment for them, because it gave them an explanation for why he was (in their words) “seemingly more interested in work than with the family.” They still harbor some resentment, but now they know it had more to do with the disorder rather than his “lack of love” for them.
Simply telling others that you have a brain problem that results in certain symptoms (e.g., problems relating to others, anxiety, obsessions, ritualistic behaviors, etc.) may be enough. Pick your top 3 to 5 symptoms (i.e., the ones you experience the most) to use in your descriptions, and just mention those. There’s no need to come up with a lengthy laundry list of symptoms – even if you experience all of them. This will just serve to increase – rather than diminish – the confusion.
After the people in your life that you trust become accustomed to the diagnosis, you may want to consider speaking to others about your disorder. There will probably be other people outside of your circle that will benefit from understanding Asperger’s and how it affects you (e.g., extended family, your employer, coworkers, etc.).
You don’t need to tell the entire world, especially if others don’t see much of a problem with your behavior. What you do eventually say can be as simple as “I have a brain disorder” or as complex as explaining the disorder to its fullest to those who are genuinely interested.
Certainly, the conversation needs to take place every time new and important people show up in your life (e.g., a boyfriend or girlfriend). Also, know that Asperger’s is more well-known and more easily understandable than it once was, and there are a lot of people that have been diagnosed in recent years. So, there’s no need to feel reluctant or embarrassed about sharing with others what is already a fairly common issue.
• Anonymous said… Any recommendations for a diagnosis in melbourne vic please Mr is a young man and i believe he is an aspie I am his mothee and he holds alot of grudges against me esp. Thanks • Anonymous said… For sure share all of your and her family. It will explain your life time of actions and behaviours that they probably triggered without knowing it. I'm 48 and was diagnosed 5-6 years ago. My Mother new something wasn't right but didn't make any efforts to find an answer. Although it was much harder diagnosis back then but impossible. Had a friend with Asperger. She made me stay away from him for five years until I was a teenager and started hanging out until many years later what he had. His parents new back when he was a child. I spent alot of my childhood being scolded for not making eye contact and told to let people see the hands a face moments. So I spent many hours a week in my bedroom trying desperately train myself to mask it. My meltdowns were just considered me just being a mean person by people who triggered it without knowing it. Luckily my wife stayed with me through it all and has lost most of her family because of it. Don't ever be ashamed of who you are! Hope my story helped at least some. • Anonymous said… Hi my partner and I have been going through the first steps towards a diagnosis for him we are at early days with the possibility he may be an Aspie but at 43 he now needs to know! Prior to this it's been hard on us both for the past two wks things have been calmer although he's apprehensive of getting a diagnosis! I can't say it will fix things but you will have answers as to why you are the way you are and I'm certainly more tolerant of the things he says and does now thank you for sharing this x • Anonymous said… I agree. Husband diagnosed after we had been married nearly 40 years. We are still processing the effects. Get comfortable in how it affects your life. Everyone is different in that. Once you discover that you will be more comfortable in explaining how you process every day events and how that translates to the people around you. You need to work on this together with your new spouse. • Anonymous said… I bet that the people around you already think that you are aspie anyway. It is so common these days. • Anonymous said… I should imagine this is why you excel at your job dear Kal xx • Anonymous said… I totally agree with this reply...felt like an elephant got off my back when I was diagnosed...I'm 68. • Anonymous said… I was diagnosed at age 44 during my 3rd marriage. I kept it to myself because I happen to be an autism specialist in a public school. But my co-workers already knew! • Anonymous said… Just do what feels right for you, if your still processing it all then wait till you are comfortable with telling people, no need to force it. • Anonymous said… My father was aspergers, his brother had aspergers. My 1st cousin on my dad's side has aspergers. My oldest daughter has aspergers. My son has, but refuses to speak about it. According to Dr. Tony Attwood, arguably the world's for most authority on autism, states that is is 90-95% Hereditable. That should be reason enough for you to be telling your kids; chances are it came to you from someone else in your genetics. • Anonymous said… Share after you, yourself, are comfortable with it. It took me about 3 years to really figure out what it meant to me. It was, however, a BIG relief because I could always "bear it in mind" and things made so much more sense. The release of pressure of "not understanding" why I was what I was actually helped me learn how to cope better and more effectively. BTW, welcome to the club - we're "not like the others" in both negative and positive ways. • Anonymous said… Well a late diagnosis is becoming more common. I was diagnosed in my 40s. I think you need to give yourself time to process it and what it means. A diagnosis for me means I can give my self permission to avoid things and places that stress me out. Not all family were supportive but that's ok. The main thing to remember is that this is nothing to be ashamed of. This is part of who you are but it's not all you are. Take time get comfortable with it and then see if you want to share or not. • Anonymous said… We're all different I've read a lot of books on the subject especially about adult males with it. I haven't been officially diagnosed but my daughter has and my wife knows that I am too. Probably most important is to to learn how to keep connected with your wife shes the glue that will hold you together generally aspies can come across as cold and uncaring (I do- cant get my head out of a computer) and I have had to work hard to try and see things as she does and really talk to her. Secondly to see if any of your kids are and decide whether you want an "official" diagnosis for them. Its tough on my wife having two of us in the household. My daughter and I understand each other in a non verbal way which drives my wife nuts but we also are both stubborn which leads to a lot of yelling when we both wont give way. Try not to regret too much as you learn about it the past lost opportunities or hurtful errors you may have caused I keep getting flash backs lately of things I know I screwed up 30 years ago and knowing now why doesn't help. Being self employed seems to be the only way many of us can make a living because we just cant go into work everyday and cope with other peoples.....sh*t. There are a lot of books on it out there but as I said it seems no two of us are alike. I can recomend "The journal of best practices" & "Odd girl out" which give two aspies different views on their worlds ( both are different to mine) also online "living with an Aspie partner". Finally repeating talk openly with your wife its tougher than you think.
"I’m a 60 y.o. male with Asperger syndrome (was diagnosed in my 40s), and I know there's no antidote for my disorder, but are there any medications that I could use that help treat some of the unwanted symptoms – for example anxiety and moodiness (just to name a couple)?"
True, there are no prescription medications that specifically treat Asperger’s, but there are many that may improve certain symptoms (e.g., anxiety, depression, etc.). There are also medications used to treat behavioral issues, (e.g., hyperactivity, aggression, self-injurious behavior, anger-control problems, meltdowns, etc.) that keep the “Aspie” from functioning more effectively at work or school (and in your relationships, in general).
Some of these medications are prescribed “off-label” (i.e., they have not been officially approved by the FDA, but the doctor prescribes them anyway if he or she feels they are appropriate).
Some examples of medications that target symptoms of Asperger’s include the following:
Abilify: Effective for treating irritability related to Asperger’s
Intuniv: Helpful for the problems of hyperactivity and inattention
Revia: Helps reduce repetitive behaviors
Risperdal: Prescribed for agitation and irritability
SSRIs: Used to treat depression (e.g., Fluoxetine and Sertraline)
Zyprexa: Prescribed to reduce repetitive behaviors
Olanzapine (Zyprexa): Used "off-label" for the treatment of aggression, agitation, and other serious behavioral disturbances
You may also want to consider complementary or alternative therapies. Some examples that have been used for Asperger’s include:
Omega-3 fatty acids
Vitamin C (usually in combination with other vitamins)
Gluten-free or casein-free diets
Other therapies that have been tried (but lack objective evidence to support their use) include:
hyperbaric oxygen therapy
massage and craniosacral massage
transcranial magnetic stimulation
Speak with your doctor and your local pharmacist about any medications you may want to try. Your local pharmacy will have a wealth of information about the medications they are dispensing and can be a valuable resource.
Preferably, work with a doctor who has experience with autism. The doctor will prescribe the lowest dose possible to be effective. Ask the doctor about any side effects the medication may have, and keep a record of how you respond to the medication. Read the “patient insert” that comes with your medication, and keep the inserts in a small notebook to be used as a reference. This is most useful when several medications are prescribed at one time.
• Anonymous said… check your local Autism society or a therapist competent in adult ASD diagnosis. • Anonymous said… Fluoxetin here • Anonymous said… How do you get a professional diagnosis as an adult ? I've tried to research it and there doesn't seem to be any specialists that I can find around here . • Anonymous said… I have carbamazepine 400mg venlafaxine 650mg and 80mg beta blockers • Anonymous said… I honestly didn't see it. But it sure explains a lot... basically explains my entire life! • Anonymous said… I taught 6 kids at a timewoth ASD for years. I knew...SD in 1997 but professionally Dx in 2010 • Anonymous said… I use ANIRACETAM Choline Bitartrate (need used together) NAC reduce anxiety. L Tyrosine and DL Phenyalaine are Dopamine Precosors - low mmod in those on spectrum usually low dopamine. • Anonymous said… I was also diagnosed at 44 (after several years of teaching as an autism specialist, go figure!) • Anonymous said… I was also going to suggest CBD oil and fish oil (the omega 3s also help regulate the endocannabinoid system). • Anonymous said… I'm 40, been diagnosed since I was 9, looooong before they knew anything in terms of coping strategies and early introvention. After MUCH trial and error (mostly errors) I have a combo of meds that help me function better. Zoloft (depression and anxiety med combo) -start with a low dose cuz too much will make you crazy mean- Geodon (mood stabilizer) -taken at night cuz it will zonk you, and it will flatline your emotions if you take it twice a day- and Adderall (ADD medicine) this helps with executive functioning for me. Also take into account, this is more meds than most on the spectrum need. I have low functioning autism and my meds bring me to moderate functioning level. • Anonymous said… It's VERY expensive and really not worth the "official" diagnoses unless there is a reason you need the "label." Like, to settle a family bet. • Anonymous said… My husband saw a psychiatrist with a special interest in autism spectrum • Anonymous said… Neuro Psych Evaluation, family's history • Anonymous said… Nice to see the awareness of how these issues effect not only self, but others. Best wishes. • Anonymous said… Prescription meds are a crap shoot.....scary to have a bad reaction. Most psychiatrists don't listen but just hand out pills from my experience. • Anonymous said… Rx meds are definitely a trial and error kind of thing . • Anonymous said… Sam E and or CBD oil for the depression and anxiety. You can legally get CBD oil online and at some health stores. • Anonymous said… This site has a great amino acids questionnaire that might give you some anxiety relief http://www.everywomanover29.com/.../amino-acids-mood.../
“As a young adult with ASD (high functioning), I know what it feels like to have a meltdown. It’s no fun. It turns my emotions and day upside down. Before a meltdown, I start to feel like something is wrong. Then, I quickly get anxious, and I tense up. I get so overcome by the stress that sometimes when I respond, I sound outraged, aggravated, and a bit mean. But it's one of those things I sometimes can't control. Sometimes I cry, sometimes I get mad and throw something. After the meltdown passes, I usually do something to help me get my mind off of what just happened (for example play games on my phone), because if I keep thinking about it, it only gets worse. My question is: what can I do to help myself avoid meltdowns or at least make them less intense?”
In order to understand what calming strategies will work for you, you first need to determine what things stress you and have some understanding of the context in which you “melt down.”
Here's a basic plan:
Recognize the physical signs (e.g., muscle tension) and the environmental triggers (e.g., transitioning from one activity to the next) that indicate you are becoming distressed, and intervene immediately. Redirect yourself to an alternative activity, something that you enjoy.
Remove yourself from the area where your meltdown is beginning to build-up steam and go to a “safe zone” (i.e., a place that feels calming to you). For example, if you begin tensing-up while sitting in the living room watching the news, go outside on the porch for a few minutes and breathe deeply 10 times while visualizing a pleasant scene or activity.
The main idea here is to:
(a) get your body in to a different location,
(b) get fresh oxygen to your brain (when we are anxious, our breathing becomes very shallow, which in turn sends a message to the brain that there really is something to be upset about),
and (c) get your mind on to pleasantly distracting thoughts (e.g., visualizing that Cancun vacation you took last year).
This may seem like an overly simple process in order to deal with what is a very challenging issue. The key is to be consistent so that you will always know what is coming. A meltdown usually takes several minutes to build-up. Use this to your advantage.
You don’t want to wait more than a few seconds to start your plan of action. Waiting just 3 minutes before intervening may be too long. Once a meltdown is up and running, the only option then is to simply ride out the storm.
You can (and may have) developed a habit of melting down. You can also develop a habit of initiating a relaxation response!
"My new boyfriend advised me he has autism (high functioning), which I have no problem with that (other than I don’t really know a lot about the ‘disorder’). I’m very interested in him …he’s a really nice guy, but I have one issue that puzzles me. He seems to pull back a bit when I make physical contact with him (lean against him, put my arm around him, for example). He says that sometimes it’s hard for him to be touched by others and stated that he never liked to be hugged by anyone as a child. This concerns me, because how can you have a close relationship with someone who is uncomfortable with physical touch… would be really hard to have a man that you can't hug, kiss or hold. Is it common for ASD?"
Although it can happen, it is rare for adults with ASD (and Asperger's) to "refuse" to be touched at all times - in all situations. However, it is fairly common for them to have tactile sensory issues, which may make them avoid certain types of physical contact with others on occasion.
BUT... this really has nothing at all to do with the inability - or lack of desire - to show or receive affection. I work with many adults on the spectrum, and they are the most kind and compassionate people I know! So please don't make the mistake of taking your boyfriend's lack of interest in physical contact as a personal insult.
One of the most pervasive myths that surrounds ASD is that a person who has it will never show affection and can’t accept receiving affection from others. ASD and the way it affects people really runs the gamut from mild to severe. An excellent point to remember when dealing with a person on the autism spectrum is that each one of them is different and will react to almost everything differently.
For a few adults on the spectrum, a simple, random hug can be sensory overload. They can become agitated if they are touched without prior warning. You will probably need to have a trial-and-error approach when it comes to hugging and touching your boyfriend. Some methods may be responded to in a positive way, other ways might not be. You just have to try and see.
When you want to give your boyfriend a hug, instead of rushing into his personal space and just taking one, approach him and open your arms. Smile and see how he responds. If he doesn't come leaning in for a hug, don’t feel snubbed. It just wasn’t the right time.
Let’s don’t sugar-coat things here, though. You need to know that trying to figure out a puzzling disorder like ASD can be a lifelong challenge, and for many partners and spouses, the affection issue may be the biggest. But with patience and learning to go by your boyfriend’s cues and not your own, you will be able to connect with him in a deep and satisfying way.
View the comments below for additional perspectives on this matter.
• Anonymous said… Been diagnosed at 44 with Asperger's officially this year (2017) I was and sometimes still am, "skittish" about people touching me. this is not just for personal relationships, also friendships, work etc. let him make the first move but let him know you want him to touch you or that you want to touch him. :-) takes some of the stress away. • Anonymous said… better to know it going into the relationship than finding out after 40 years of a " frustrating and rocky" marriage... • Anonymous said… hi i have aspergers and i am in a long term relationship and i dont have any pyysical contact at all, i find it to hard, becasue of sensry issues but we are still close • Anonymous said… I am very new to this topic, so please forgive me if this is an ignorant question. If I can't stand to be touched when I'm upset/mad due to the tenderness of the touch angering me even more, is that an autistic tendency? I get lost in so many articles I'm just hoping I can talk to other high-functioning folks and get some takes, personal stories, and opinions. 😊 • Anonymous said… I can ID with that poor chap; i think we can see what we miss out on due to our hypersensitivity. • Anonymous said… I don't mind being touched and I have Aspergers :) • Anonymous said… I sometimes have this issue as well. But it's more I don't want to be touched or held onto by certain people. My close friends or a girlfriend(intimacy is no problem for me)could grab on or hug or lean on me, but I'm uncomfortable with touching or being touched by certain family members or people who are effectively strangers to me. I definitely tense up when grabbed or touched by someone other than those truly close to me. • Anonymous said… I'm the same it took a while before I was comfortable with my boyfriend initiating contact, and even now if I'm out of sorts in any way or upset he know not to try to hug me, but hugging a person is his instinct when they are upset and it took him time to get used to not doing it to me. He does say that because I don't like contact that much, it makes it mean so much more to him when I do show affection and give him a hug or kiss. • Anonymous said… It can be VERY difficult if that's a true need for you. • Anonymous said… It takes awhile... I'm the same way... I don't like being touched until I'm VERY comfortable with the person... once I get comfortable though I tend to swing the opposite way... • Anonymous said… It's absolutely fantastic he told you up front!! Just know his love for you will be shown in different ways. You'll both have to make adjustments.... but isn't that true of any relationship? I've been with my asperger's husband for 10 years now. • Anonymous said… No, no we don't. It takes a very long time before I feel comfortable with someone even high fiving me. • Anonymous said… Phisical contact can happen for me but it takes a bit time to get used to the person been trying to • Anonymous said… That would be me and is why I have never had a girlfriend • Anonymous said… This is a common thing sign aspergics. I used to 'ball up' when ever some one Hugged me. • Anonymous said… This is a common thing sign aspergics. I used to 'ball up' when ever some one Hugged me. • Anonymous said… You might find it a bit ridiculous, but my husband sometimes ask before, like "hey can I hug you now and I find it much more easy because I know what's coming, and I'm really enjoying it. * Anonymous said… I am still learning myself, but from what I understand and have experienced personally, autism/aspergers is a disorder of the senses. Our minds are wired differently and how we perceive the world around us is different. Each person is different and how they perceive each sensation and which sensations they are more or less sensitive to varies. It’s like each of our senses is on a dial and the dials are either turned way up or turned way down. For example, my son has a sensitivity to sound. Whenever anything is too loud, he’ll place his hands over his ears and say, “Too loud! Too loud!” When he talks, he often mumbles or uses a high pitched voice. Because his perception is different, he hears sound much louder than it actually is and speaking at a higher pitch in a normal volume is easier for him to handle. Sound is one of my senses that seems to be turned down a bit. My hearing is fine, but in order for me to perceive what I’m hearing, the volume needs to be turned up a bit. I like my music loud to drown out all of the other noises and the voice in my head that goes non-stop. If I don’t focus on it, I talk very loudly. My whole life people have been asking me why I was yelling, and for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why. It’s because my perception of sound is different. Touch is tricky. Different textures and types of touch give different sensations, which can be perceived a lot of different ways. For me personally, it’s kind of all over the place. I find myself craving certain kinds of touch at times, because it helps me feel grounded or provides a sensation I am looking for at the time (such as holding my husband’s hand in a crowded place to give me something to focus on, so my anxieties don’t spin out of control). Other types of touch I find repulsive (like wool). Sometimes it’s the texture, while other times it might be the weight or pressure behind the touch that feels wrong or even just how/where they are touching me period. Hugs and affection has to be done in certain ways or I can’t stand it and will pull away. Even how our fingers intertwine when we hold hands has to be just right or I can’t do it. That being said, I am still a very affectionate person. My husband and I just had to learn what worked and what didn’t. It was difficult at times, especially in the beginning when we were both learning. But, we found our way. The key is open communication between the two of you. He needs to feel safe enough to let you know something is bothering him and you need to be able to not take it personally when he pulls away. If you are really interested in him, I recommend educating yourself. Life can be interesting and challenging when your perception of the world is different. Being with someone with a different perception of the world can be difficult at times. Even if it doesn’t work out, it won’t hurt to have the knowledge. You never know what might happen in the future. My husband and I had to figure it out without the knowledge or a diagnosis. We now know why we had the difficulties we did, but having a diagnosis and knowledge that comes with it back then would have been extremely helpful. We are now educated and learning to adapt to a whole new set of sensitivities with our son. Hope this helps some at least. Best of luck!
* Anonymous said... We're in our 5th year of marriage and I'm learning all the time, my Aspergers comes with hypersensitivity as well so some touch is actually physically unpleasant, (I couldn't bear being tickled as a child) but once we realised then my better half is a good deal firmer with touch, which itself has lead to some of the hypersensitivity being lessened.... No idea how or why but there you are... When we first got together I was only just learning about AS and together we worked with it. It's not been easy but is worth the endeavour. I guess it's best to lay it out there off the bat and let the early days play out as they will... Not everyone is willing to invest time and effort into a relationship, and to be honest, you don't really need a relationship like that...
Some adults have struggled emotionally, socially and vocationally their entire lives. They have always known there was something “not quite right” with themselves – and they may even suspect some form of autism – but they delay in seeking a formal diagnosis for fear that they will be “labeled” (e.g., “If I get labeled as having a ‘disorder', people will discriminate against me and treat me unfairly”).
Why would some people who suspect that they may have ASD (high-functioning autism) resist getting a diagnosis? Here are some possible reasons:
I don’t want to get lumped into a category.
I need to be “normal.”
I don’t want to believe it.
I don’t want to be perceived as a ‘flawed’ person.
It's not that bad - I can function just fine.
I don't have to know if I really have a disorder because it's not going to matter at this point.
I didn’t plan this into my life.
I don’t have time for this.
It can’t be true. It just can’t be.
The unknown is terrifying.
Autism doesn't run in my family, so I can't have it.
The stigma needs to go. ASD is not a appalling, hopeless diagnosis. And the longer you wait to seek and accept the diagnosis, the more precious time you lose. Early Intervention is KEY!
If you have an autism spectrum disorder and don't know, it affects you anyway. If you do know, you can learn to minimize the negative impact and leverage the positive. Without the knowledge that you have the disorder, you will likely fill that void with other, more damaging explanations as to why you think, feel and behave the way you do.
Wouldn't it be good to know why life didn't turn out the way you thought it would? It's not your fault! But without a diagnosis, you may be blaming yourself for all the past problematic issues that arose.
What are the benefits of getting the proper diagnosis?
If you don't get the “label," then you are leaving it up to everyone in the community to give you the label of their choice (e.g., weird, eccentric, rude, self-absorbed, etc.).
The sooner you get a proper diagnosis, the less valuable time you lose – time that you can never get back to help yourself.
You can’t treat it properly until you know what it is.
You may be eligible for appropriate services.
Some view the diagnosis of ASD as an untreatable, confusing disease caused by a bad childhood or defective genes. We now know that isn’t true at all. This disorder is treatable (but not curable). Recovery is happening – every day. So, don't despair or live in fear.
There is information, support, hope, treatment and recovery. There are already thousands of adults on the autism spectrum who are healing their past wounds and figuring out better ways to cope with life.