Are you an adult with High-Functioning Autism or Asperger's? 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.

Search This Blog

The Dangers of Trying to “Fit-In” with a Neurotypical World

One of the reasons that adults with Asperger’s (high-functioning autism) do not make a strong effort to adapt to societal expectations is because – to one degree or another – they have been treated unfairly throughout their life. From a very young age – and even into adulthood – many have been rejected, teased, ridiculed, bullied, and in other ways discriminated against by “neurotypicals.”

Who in their right mind would want to participate in a “system” that only values a certain style of thinking – especially when you have a “disorder” that makes you a square peg that’s “supposed” to fit into a round hole. A valid argument could be made that, without the staunch non-conformists in the world, there would be no change within society.

On that note, here are some of the disadvantages of trying to “fit-in” with a neurotypical world:

1. Assuming you could if you wanted to, if you chose to conform to the neurotypical way of thinking, feeling and behaving, there would be a lack of diversity on this planet. If you – and all the other people on the autism spectrum – lived within the guidelines and belief systems of society, it would certainly be a very monotonous and unimaginative world.

2. Not all of society’s “rules” are just. If you try to follow every rule of society, you may actually be setting yourself up for failure. A blind belief in any system without question is a hazardous way to go through life – and is not even good for society as a whole. Some rules “should be” broken. If you refuse to break a rule just to “fit-in” and gain the acceptance of “the group,” you end up giving up too much of your own power to the *** powers in charge***.

3. Trying to fit-in means not questioning the status quo and putting a blind trust in how others think YOU should think and act. Giving over your power to others for the sake of conforming to their expectations can mean ignoring social justice issues – and can keep you from feelings of outrage and the need for action over social injustice (in this case, prejudice against people who “think differently”).

4. The neurotypical world is not always based on what is good for the “greater good.” Unjust actions by society is largely fueled by people who go to great lengths to “go with the flow.” It’s just plain dumb to go through life without questioning present circumstances that seem wrong or one-sided.

5. You may feel like a “cop-out” (i.e., feeling as though you’re grossly compromising your values and beliefs).  If you believe that you don't have the ability to go against the norm when you “know you should,” it’s a real self-esteem buster. How many times have you wanted to do something and felt afraid of what others would say about it? And when you kept your mouth shut in order to avoid “rocking the boat,” how did you feel about yourself? Conversely, when you stood up for yourself because in your gut you knew you were right, how did you feel? Enough said!

6. Your creativity will die a slow death. Look at all the famous artists that sold paintings worth thousands (if not millions) of dollars. If they operated by the “norms of artwork” (so to speak), they would never get outside the box to produce pioneering paintings, sculptures and drawings. Have you ever had a "crazy idea” – and you thought it was a good idea, but you didn’t pursue it for fear of ridicule and criticism from others? Have you ever wanted to suggest a risky idea to your employer that was against norms? How many times have you wanted to try something new - but bailed-out without even giving it a try?

7. As previously stated, conformists don’t make a difference in the world. Without people who “think differently,” there would never be change. People on the autism spectrum can offer a checks-and-balance system that can help to point out what is unjust in society. If you are a person with Asperger’s or high-functioning autism, you are indeed one of those who can improve the current state-of-affairs for the better.

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

The Link Between Anxiety and Aspergers

"Why does it seem that most people with AS also have a great deal of anxiety?"

One explanation (among several) may have to do with abnormal levels of cortisol. Cortisol (the body’s stress hormone) may be a key component to understanding Aspergers, according to researchers. It is one of a family of stress hormones that acts like a ‘red alert’ that is triggered by stressful situations, allowing a person to react quickly to changes around him or her.

In “typical” people, there is a 2-fold increase in levels of this hormone within 30 minutes of waking up, with levels gradually declining during the day as part of the internal body clock. One study found that people with Aspergers don’t have this peak.

This difference in stress hormone levels may be very significant in explaining why the “Aspie” is less able to react and cope with unexpected change. These findings are crucial, as they give us a better understanding about how some of the symptoms we see in Aspergers are linked to how the individual adapts to change at a chemical level.

The study suggests that a person with the disorder may not adjust normally to the challenge of a new environment on waking, and this may affect the way he or she subsequently engages with the world as the day wears on.

The researchers hope that by understanding the symptoms of Aspergers as a stress response (rather than a social-skills deficit or some type of behavioral problem), it could help therapists develop strategies for avoiding situations that can cause anxiety in people with the disorder.

The next step in the research will be to look at whether people with other types of autism also lack a peak of cortisol after waking.

==> www.livingwithaspergerspartner.com

15 Reasons to Stop Drinking: Tips for Adults with Asperger’s Who Self-Medicate

Over the years, I have had many adults with Asperger’s report that they drink alcohol on a regular basis to alleviate stress and boredom. Also, many use alcohol as their main coping mechanism for socializing and to feel less disconnected or awkward.

But, have you considered all the benefits to stopping drinking? By not drinking alcohol, you are able to improve your life in all kinds of ways. The advantages of quitting FAR outweigh the advantages of drinking.

Here’s a partial list of benefits worth looking at:

1.  After you stop drinking, your damaged liver will begin to regenerate itself.

2.  Stopping helps you look younger. Alcohol is bad for the skin, because it dehydrates the body and causes inflammation. Constant inflammation will damage your skin (it dries out and becomes less elastic). Also, alcohol lowers “collagen” levels, which is a protein that connects the skin cells and strengthens the tissue. When collagen breaks down, the skin sags and becomes loose.

3.  Your body won’t be required to work overtime to process the toxins in the alcohol, freeing up energy for more constructive activities.

4.  No more “moral hang-overs” (i.e., engaging in undesirable and regrettable behavior or decision-making that causes feelings of guilt, shame or embarrassment the next day).

5.  No more hang-overs, which translates into having more time to get shit done.

6.  Your brain won’t have to go haywire trying to recalibrate itself.

7.  No more heightened anxiety the following day due to psychological withdrawal.

8.  No more reduction in the lifespan of the cells in your heart, liver, pancreas, and other organs.

9.  Your heart and lungs won’t have to pump at irregular speeds.

10.  Stopping drinking saves you a bunch of money. Over time, those $5 mixed drinks at the bar really add up. Even if you only go to the bar once a week and have only two drinks, you will end up spending more than $500 per year.

11.  Those who quit drinking reap the benefit of living a longer and healthier life.

12.  Your liver won’t have to go into overdrive to metabolize the alcohol, which means it can spend its resources metabolizing macro and micro- nutrients.

13.  When others see you making an effort to stop drinking, a few of them will forgive you for the past shit you said or did to them while under the influence. One of the greatest advantages of sobriety is being able to start fresh with some family members and friends.

14.  You’ll be consuming way fewer calories, which translates into a huge fat loss.

15.  Your quality of sleep will improve dramatically.

The bottom line is this: Sobriety offers you a second chance at life. With the constant burdens of exhaustion, hangovers, and illness, you never have time to focus on your goals. What are some of your goals? Whatever they are, the best way to achieve them is to stop drinking alcohol. Sobriety opens up all kinds of physical, emotional, and financial doors that will NEVER exist otherwise.

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

Lack of “Demonstrated Empathy” Among Adults with Asperger’s

A lack of “demonstrated empathy” may be the most problematic Asperger’s trait that seriously affects social interactions. I use the term “demonstrated” empathy, because each person with the disorder certainly has empathy, but it is not conveyed to others through his or her words and expression of emotions to the degree that is “typical” or socially acceptable. This, in turn, often gives others the impression that the “Aspie” is insensitive, uncaring or selfish.

This empathy deficit can’t be “fixed” – and is not an intentional or malicious method of relating to others. Unfortunately, many “neurotypicals” believe that if the Aspie would just “try harder” or “do better,” then there wouldn’t be a problem. This is like saying to someone with dyslexia, “If you would just pay attention to what you’re reading, you would be able to read better” (and then get upset when they don’t). In fact, you could think of Asperger's as a form of social dyslexia.

In fact, sometimes “trying harder” makes a bad problem worse. For example, the more the Aspie tries to “fit in,” the more his or her anxiety rises, which in turn makes it even more difficult to have a relaxed, spontaneous conversation.

Due to high levels of anxiety in social interactions, a person with Asperger’s may engage in a one-sided, long-winded monologue about his or her favorite subject, while not recognizing the listener's reactions (e.g., a desire to change the topic or end the conversation). Such failures to react appropriately in social exchanges can appear as disregard for other's feelings and may be perceived as egoistical or self-centered.

The reality is that the cognitive ability of people with Asperger’s (and high-functioning autism) often allows them to articulate social norms in a laboratory context, in which they may be able to show a theoretical understanding of other's emotions – but have difficulty acting on this knowledge in fluid, real-life situations.

People with the disorder often analyze and distill their observations of social interaction into rigid behavioral guidelines and apply these rules in odd ways (e.g., forced eye contact), resulting in behavior that may seem rigid or socially naïve.

Furthermore, due to a history of failed social encounters, the Aspie’s desire for companionship can become numbed, causing damage to self-esteem and a strong desire to isolate from society in general.

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

Seeking a Diagnosis of Asperger's: How to Prepare for an Assessment

You or your partner/spouse believe you may have Asperger’s, and you want to get an assessment from a diagnostician to see. So, what can you do to prepare for an appointment. Here is some information to help you get ready for a doctor’s visit:

1.    Bring a few notes of any observations from other important people in your life that know you well (e.g., relatives, teachers, employer, etc.).

2.    Bring your partner/spouse or a friend with you to the appointment to help you remember information – and for emotional support.

3.    Make a list of any medications (including vitamins, herbs, and over-the-counter medicines) that you are taking – and their dosages.

4.    Make a list of questions to ask the diagnostician in order to make the most of your time.

5.    Don't hesitate to ask other questions that you may think of during your appointment.

6.    Write a brief description of how you interact with your partner/spouse, your children, friends, coworkers, etc.

7.    Have a list of questions to ask the diagnostician, for example:
  • How can I learn more about Asperger’s?
  • How much and what kinds of regular medical care might I need?
  • If I do have Asperger’s, is there a way to tell how severe it is?
  • Is there a way to confirm the diagnosis?
  • What changes can I expect to see in myself over time?
  • What kind of special therapies might I need?
  • What kind of support is available for adults with the disorder?
  • Why do you think I have the disorder?

Be prepared to answer some questions during the assessment. The diagnostician is likely to inquire about a number of things. Be ready to answer them to reserve time to go over any points you may want to focus on. He or she may ask:
  • Does anything seem to improve your symptoms?
  • Do you have a family history of Asperger’s, ADD, OCD, anxiety, depression, or other mood disorders?
  • Does your have any other symptoms that might seem unrelated to Asperger’s (e.g., stomach problems)?
  • Are your symptoms continuous or occasional?
  • How do you interact with your partner/spouse, other family members, coworkers, etc.?
  • Do you show a genuine interest in others, make eye contact, smile, or want to talk with others?
  • What are some of your favorite activities?
  • What specific problems prompted your visit today?
  • What, if anything, appears to worsen symptoms?
  • When did you first notice the signs of the disorder? 
  • Have others noticed signs?

Asperger’s is a disorder related to brain development that impacts how you perceive and socialize with others. People with the disorder often have problems in social interaction and communication. The disorder also includes limited and repetitive patterns of behavior. By seeking outside assistance with any problems related to the symptoms of the disorder, you should be able to function as well as anyone – with or without the disorder.


==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

Asperger's Men Who Are Highly Sexual - But Lack "Emotional Intimacy"

"Do you have any tips for dealing with a partner with Asperger who has a higher than average desire for physical intimacy and sex - and no problems with touch etc., but who doesn't understand the link between emotional and physical intimacy?"

One of the biggest differences between NT woman and Asperger's men (who are highly sexual) is the fact that they experiences sex as a valid physical need. Just as a person's body tells her when she is hungry, thirsty, or tired, your partner's body tells him when he needs a sexual release. His sexual desire is impacted by what's around him, but is ultimately determined by biological factors (e.g., the presence of testosterone). 

The same would be true for most men, whether or not they have Asperger's. But, men with the disorder may come across as particularly cold or emotionally distant due to their deficit in reciprocity (more on that topic can be found here).

Immediately after sexual release, your partner is probably physically satisfied. But as his 'sexual clock' ticks on, erotic thoughts become more prevalent, and he is more easily aroused. The physical need for sexual release increases as sperm builds-up in the testicles. The body continues to manufacture and store sperm, even though sperm production changes based on levels of testosterone and the frequency of sexual release.

The best way for you to understand this issue is to relate it to another physiological need. When a woman has a baby, she may have experienced breast milk building-up in her breasts a few days after giving birth. The build-up of milk can be irritating - and even painful - until the milk is discharged. She may have even had the uncomfortable experience of leaking milk when it was not discharged. 

The man's semen build-up is sometimes released through night-time emissions if it is not otherwise discharged. Just as with breast milk, sperm production keeps up with demand. The more often your partner has sex, the more semen his body will produce.

As a female, you don't experience the physiological drive for sex in this way. There is no build-up that demands discharge. Instead, hormonal fluctuations drive your sexuality. Your sexual hormones are largely determined by 2 factors: (a) the part of the brain called the hypothalamus, and (b) the female reproductive cycle (e.g., menstruation, ovulation, pregnancy, menopause, etc.).

Your sexual desire is far more connected to emotions than your partner's sex drive is. He is able to experience sexual arousal apart from any emotional attachment. For example, he may look at a naked woman and feel intense physical desire for her, but at the same time be completely devoted to - and in love with - you. For most females, this just doesn't make sense. 

A basic difference in the wiring of male and female sexuality is that males can separate sex from a relationship - while for a females, the two are usually closely connected (i.e., your desire for sex is linked to an emotional or relational need). 

Don't make the assumption that because sex is a physical need for your partner, it doesn't have an emotional or relational impact. This is simply not true. His sexuality has a tremendous impact on his emotional and spiritual well-being.

==> Relationship Skills for Couples Affected by Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism


COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said… This helps so much. My sex drive is pretty high, but his never seems to come off it’s peak. This makes so much sense now. Thank you
•    Anonymous said… Totally this. Kind of a relief to see
•    Anonymous said… No intimacy for over 2 years now. It would be nice to have had at least a middle ground instead of complete lack of it.
•    Anonymous said… This is MY experience. Every time I try to get help for it those who have no physical intimacy comment. It’s not v nice the other side either and it does exist and it’s validating just to have an article that says this. But I agree it doesn’t give any advice and does seem to justify it which is a shame.
•    Anonymous said… My guy is almost like this... but he is able to hug, kiss me etc
•    Anonymous said… No physical intimacy for 7.5 years.he switched it off when our child was born. I called him out recently and sggested that i was easy to switch off as the feelings he portrayed for me before our child was born were never really there in the first place. He agreed! All very sad but at least i no longer blame myself for not being thin/attractive enough/possible affairs/ homosexuality / narcassism on his part anymore. I am a means to an end for him and always was.
•    Anonymous said… total relate to this article
•    Anonymous said… I’d wonder about their porn use and an actual sexual dysfunction. Porn induced erectile dysfunction is rampant in men these days. Pornography use isn’t helpful at all. It’s likely hindering intimacy.
•    Anonymous said… My ex who had aspergers was asexual. I’m sure either way it’s hard but I was so frustrated.
•    Anonymous said… I've been wondering myself lately if my sex drive is affected by my diagnosis or not. I havent noticed any issues with understanding or showing intimacy with my past relationships. (I enjoy simple things like cuddling and holding someone very much)
•    Anonymous said… I'v managed to determine that ladies that wanna actually bang are never going to want to be with me, and that "getting ladies to wanna bang by winning their hearts first" is a hopeless case, as they always have No Interest in me....

Post your comment below…


What to Do When Your NT Partner Believes You’re a Grump: 4 Tips for Aspies

Did you ever notice that on the days you’re the grumpiest, your NT partner is the most difficult? And did you ever notice that on the days you’re feeling optimistic, he or she is fairly loving and cooperative? Sure, you have! It’s called “The Mirroring Rule.” In other words, the attitude you put out there is similar to the attitude you get back. 

If you are a true “grump,” then you probably have a hard time seeing yourself for who you really are. You may find it a lot easier to blame your partner for his or her discontent than look in the mirror. And without a precise self-perception, you may never see the need to change, which will eventually doom you to a lot less peace and joy than you could have in the relationship.

Obviously, I don’t know your exact situation, but I do know this: If you have Asperger’s, you’re probably grumpy and sarcastic at least once in a while. And if you want The Mirroring Rule to work for you rather than against you, you can’t afford to be a grump.

Here are a few ideas on how to “fix” this problem...

1. Ask yourself these questions:
  • If your partner acted just like you, would there be more kindness, empathy, peace and harmony in the relationship? Would there be a more positive spirit in the home?  Would he or she be better off?  If so, awesome!  If not, you have some negative traits you need to address.
  • If your partner treated you the same way you treated him or her (at your worst and at your best), would you have a stronger relationship?  If your answer is no, it’s time for a change. 
  • Do you honestly believe there’s no room for improvement in your behavior - and that you’re perfect just the way you are? If so, you lack insight into your own attitude, which is going to be a huge problem (and probably already is).

2. Don't lie to yourself:

If you’re a grump, say so.  You’ll can’t change what you refuse to recognize. Accept the fact that your grumpiness not only damages your relationship, it also gets in the way of almost everything you really desire in life. Obviously, it’s not always easy to see yourself as clearly as you should, but you can do some self-reflection, and you can ask your partner to point out those episodes where you get the label “grumpy.”

Recruit your man or woman as “a partner in problem-solving.” Tell him or her that you’re working on being more cheerful.  Tell your partner you’d appreciate his or her feedback. Ask him/her what you should start doing, stop doing, and continue doing to be more successful. Do this every few weeks, and you’ll be surprised at how fast you move ahead. 

3. Discover what your triggers are that move you toward negativity, for example:
  • Screaming children
  • Your partner talking while you’re trying to work or watch a movie
  • Not getting credit for the things you do that benefit the relationship
  • Being blamed for something you didn't do
  • Your partner’s “bad driving” habits

Then, when these triggers occur, it’s time for you to step back, collect yourself, take a deep breath, and bite your tongue.

4. Avoid negative people as much as possible:

Surround yourself with positive family members, friends, and colleagues. All of us are very susceptible individuals, and we tend to absorb the qualities of others to a large extent. Thus, find people who have positive attitudes and visibly cheerful behaviors.  You’ll become more like them and less like the grump you are accused of being.

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

How to Curb Insomnia: 20 Tips for Adults on the Autism Spectrum

Anxiety is a prominent trait of Asperger’s and High-Functioning Autism. As a result, many adults with the disorder struggle to get to sleep no matter how tired they are, or they wake up in the middle of the night and lie awake for an hour or more.

Symptoms of insomnia include: (a) daytime drowsiness, fatigue, or irritability; (b) difficulty concentrating during the day; (c) difficulty falling asleep despite being tired; (d) relying on sleeping pills or alcohol to fall asleep; (e) trouble getting back to sleep when awakened; (f) non-refreshing sleep; and (g) waking up frequently during the night or waking up too early in the morning.

Here is a sort of checklist to help you determine the cause of insomnia:
  • Is your sleep environment quiet and relaxing?
  • Have you recently gone through a disturbing experience?
  • Do you try to go to bed and get up around the same time every day?
  • Do you struggle with ongoing feelings of stress or worry?
  • Do you have any health problems that may be affecting your sleep?
  • Are you anxious most of the time?
  • Are you taking any medications that may be disturbing your sleep?
  • Are you sad or depressed? 
  • Do you feel hopeless or helpless on occasion?

Here are 20 quick ideas to curb insomnia:

1.    As odd as it sounds, rub your ears and roll your eyes before trying to fall asleep. This will promote calmness and relaxation.

2.    Avoid stimulating activities before bedtime (e.g., video games, the news, violent movies, etc.).

3.    Close your eyes and take deep, slow breaths, making each breath even deeper than the last.

4.    Consider using Melatonin and/or Valerian. These supplements help regulate your sleep-wake cycle.

5.    Do a quiet, relaxing activity (e.g., reading a book).

6.    Don’t take naps.

7.    If you can’t sleep, get out of bed and do something constructive rather than staying in bed and fighting to get back to sleep.

8.    Lie quietly and focus on your natural breathing and how your body feels in the moment.

9.    Make relaxation your goal – not sleep.

10.    Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet and cool.

11.    Move your bedroom clock out of view. 

12.    Postpone brainstorming and worrying. If you must worry, do it tomorrow after a full night’s rest.

13.    Starting with your feet, tense the muscles as tightly as you can. Hold for a count of 10, then relax. Continue this for every muscle in your body, working your way up from your feet to your head.

14.    Stay out of your head (i.e., don’t ruminate about what happened earlier in the day or what’s going to happen tomorrow).

15.    Stick to a consistent sleep schedule.

16.    Turn off the TV and cell phone at least an hour before bed.

17.    Use the bedroom only for sleeping – not as an entertainment room with a computer, TV, etc.).

18.    At least two hours before going to bed, be sure to avoid alcohol, a big evening meal, caffeine, and drinking too many liquids.

19.    For those of you who believe in God and who acknowledge your spiritual-being, prayer before bedtime can have a calming effect as well.

20.    Lastly, spend just a couple minutes each night reflecting on your blessings.

Insomnia is a very common problem for people on the autism spectrum. It takes a toll on one’s energy, mood, and ability to function. Don’t resign yourself to sleepless nights. By addressing the primary causes and making simple changes to your sleep environment and daily habits, you can put an end to the frustration of insomnia.

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

How to Handle Put-Downs: The DO’s and DON’Ts

So, what is the best way of dealing with put-downs (i.e., insults)? Here are the things to do – and the things to avoid:

DO REFLECT ON THE PERSON’S MOTIVES: Was the insult even intended to be a put-down, or was it a tongue-in-cheek comment meant to be taken lightly? The context can often help us determine whether an insulting statement is mean-spirited or just candid. Figuring out the person’s reasoning behind the comment will help guide our response.

DO REFLECT TO SEE IF THERE IS SOME TRUTH TO THE INSULT: Sometimes you may feel insulted by someone’s remark because there is some truth to it. When we feel a slight sting because of a person’s criticism, rather than taking it personally, we can choose to use the statement as constructive criticism. If the issue is something that we truly want to get better at, then we can pull the person aside and ask for ideas on how to improve.

DO TALK TO THE PERSON ONE-ON-ONE, IF NEEDED: If our feelings are truly hurt and we want to address the put-down, we can ask the individual (immediately or sometime later) if we could speak with him or her in private. Pulling the person aside shows some consideration (as opposed to calling him or her out in public). We can calmly tell the individual that we found his or her remarks to be insulting and that we would like them show some respect – and that we will return that respect.

____________________


DON’T SHOW ANGER: Getting angry shows that you take the insult, and therefore the insulter, seriously. It also suggests that there may be some truth to the put-down.

DON’T RETURN THE PUT-DOWN: Returning the insult, no matter how clever or well-timed, tends to equalize you with your insulter, raising him or her up to your level and bringing you down to his/hers. This gives the insulter too much believability.

DON’T BE CRITICAL OF YOURSELF AFTER BEING HURT BY A PUT-DOWN: Examples include “I shouldn’t let her get under my skin” or “Why can’t I stand up for myself better” or “Why am I being such a pussy about this?”

You need never take offense at a put-down. Put-downs exist not in the actual remarks made by the insulter, but in your reaction to it – and your reactions are completely within your control. It’s unreasonable to expect a rude loudmouth to be anything but a rude loudmouth. If you take offense at his or her boorish behavior, you have only yourself to blame.

Don’t give that person any of your energy. When you mostly ignore his or her comment – or better yet, laugh at it – you send the message that you don’t take that person seriously, and you’re not remotely affected by his or her opinion of you.


==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

The Gender Bias in the Diagnosis of Females with HFA and AS

High-Functioning Autism (HFA) is a neuro-developmental disorder characterized by difficulties with social reciprocity, flexibility, sensory processing, and social communication. People with HFA and Asperger’s (AS) are at risk of a range of emotional, occupational, economic, behavioral, and social problems.

The timely identification of the disorder can lessen some of these risks and improve quality of life (e.g., by reducing self-criticism, making others less judgmental of the person with the disorder, increasing access to services, helping to foster a positive sense of identity, and by identifying needs and appropriate interventions).

Compared to men, women are at considerably elevated risk of their HFA or AS going un-diagnosed, and in some cases, their problems are mislabeled or missed entirely. Many women who, if expertly assessed, would meet the full diagnostic criteria for the disorder, never receive a diagnosis and the help that can comes with it.

Even when women with HFA or AS are identified, they receive their diagnosis - and the associated support - later than men with the disorder. Also, compared to men, women require more severe symptoms and greater cognitive and behavioral difficulties to meet the criteria for the disorder. This gender bias has critical consequences for the health and well-being of these females – both young and old.

One explanation of the bias against women on the autism spectrum is that there is a female “phenotype” (i.e., a set of observable traits of an individual, or a female-specific presentation of strengths and deficits associated with the disorder) that fits poorly with the current, male-based ideas of HFA and AS.

There is emerging evidence to support the existence of this female phenotype. For example:
  • compared to males, females on the autism spectrum are more vulnerable to problems such as anxiety, depression, and eating disorders
  • compared to males, females are less likely to have hyperactivity, impulsiveness, and behavioral problems
  • females on the spectrum consistently score lower on measures of repetitive and stereotyped behavior 
  • there is evidence that females with HFA and AS show higher social motivation and a greater ability to maintain friendships than do males with the disorder
  • unlike most males with the disorder, females have a capacity to “camouflage” social difficulties in social situations

Further research is greatly needed so that we can fully understand: (a) the nature of the female phenotype; (b) how it impacts upon the risk of females with HFA or AS going unrecognized; (c) how the female phenotype influences their experiences of diagnosis, misdiagnosis, and missed diagnosis; and (d) how late-diagnosed females adapt in response to the challenges they must contend with.


==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

The Misdiagnosis and Non-Diagnosis of Females with Asperger’s

Many, if not most, females with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism “slip through the net” (i.e., go undiagnosed) because they camouflage their symptoms quite well. Often times, their difficulties are ignored and misunderstood. 

In addition, many of these women report having experienced one or more mental health issues (e.g., anxiety, depression, eating disorder) and have stated that mental health professionals treating them had not noticed that their symptoms could be related to Asperger’s or HFA.

Here are direct quotes from a few women on the autism spectrum:

• 5 years of depression and anxiety treatment, years of talk therapy, and not once did any therapist suggest I had anything other than depression.

• I went to my doctor for depression and got diagnosed with multiple personality disorder, which is completely opposite to what I am. 

• The reward for trying hard to be ‘normal’ was to be ignored. I read stories of children who are going off the rails, and I think: ‘I should have been more of a trouble-maker’. 

• Had I known about Asperger’s, I think I would have known that I’m more gullible - and I might not have ended up in the circumstances that I did. 

• A lot of my problems came about with my friends having other friends that I didn’t like or I didn’t get on with. I didn’t really want to share my friends.

• I don’t sense danger. Me not reading people to be able to tell if they’re being creepy, I was so desperate for friends and relationships that if someone showed an interest in me, I kind of went with it and tended not to learn from others’ safety skills.

• I feel pressured by society to have sex with my boyfriend because you get told this is what is expected of you to make to be a good girlfriend - and you think, ‘if I don’t do it, then I am not fulfilling my duties’.

• I robotically mimic what other people are doing, what they are saying, how they say things. Once I went to Girl Scout camp, and I would come back with strong accents. But I can’t consciously adopt an accent. My way of coping is that I mimic.

• I practiced something of a persona which was kind of cheerful and vivacious, because I had nothing to say other than adult novels. So, I cultivated a fake image.

• I honestly didn’t know I was doing ‘social mimicry’ until I was diagnosed. But when I read about it, it made perfect sense. I copy certain body language and speech patterns.

• I just feel so much more comfortable with men because they’re more, you can take them

• When you’re a child with AS, you don’t realize that you’re anxious and depressed. It feels familiar. If my parents had helped me from earlier on, then life would’ve been a whole lot easier - but they had no idea what was going on because I hid my feelings.

• I was often accused of being rude when I had absolutely no intention of being so. My 5th grade teacher told me I wasn’t trying and that I was a waste of her time.

•  I was very defiant with my mom, but had perfect conduct at school.

• I’ll always remember my teacher saying, “You’re too good at Math to be autistic.”

• I’ll mask if I act weird, which is typical of AS. I’ll make a joke about it.

• It’s very exhausting trying to figure out everything all the time. Everything is more like on a manual – you’ve got to use one of those computers where you have to type every command in.

•  Not knowing what was expected of me, not being able to pick up on when to provide support or how often to get in touch, this was my greatest source of stress.

• When I was being bullied, I was told not to antagonize these girls - and actually I was only antagonizing them by being myself.

==> Living with an Aspergers Partner: Help for Struggling Couples

==> Skype Counseling for Struggling Couples Affected by Asperger's and HFA

The Passive Aspie

Passive people with Asperger’s (high-functioning autism) tend to display the following behaviors:
  • Avoid Committing If They Possibly Can
  • Big Believers in Bad Luck
  • Do Anything for A Quiet Life
  • Leave Things Up to Fate
  • Stay in Their Comfort Zone at All Cost
  • Struggle to Make Big Life Decisions



==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

Aspergers Men and Intimacy Issues

"I hope this isn't a stupid question, but can men with Asperger's or HFA have normal intimate relationships? I want to know because I'm currently dating one and I'm wondering how far to let this relationship develop."

That would depend on one's definition of "normal." What's normal for one couple may be quite abnormal to another. In any event, it is very possible for men and women with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism to develop an intimate relationship WITH THE RIGHT PERSON (i.e., someone who will learn about the disorder and make any necessary adjustments in relating to the Asperger's partner).

In some cases, that “right person” may be another individual with the same disorder who understands and has the ability to cope with the idiosyncrasies of another person on the autism spectrum.

Some of the barriers to relationships include a sort of “extended adolescence” or maturity issue in adults with Asperger's. This can mean that the individual marries later in life and lacks the ability to have solid relationships until they are older.

One of my Asperger's clients recently stated that he feels that the relationship with his wife is challenging, in part due to his overwhelming need to focus on his obsession of choice. He feels that he lacks a strong interpersonal connection and has to make a conscious choice to put his focus on his wife, to the exclusion of his desired focus of choice. He is accustomed to being solitary, and he finds it difficult to concentrate with others around him, including his wife.

Relationships do take a lot of work when one partner is on the spectrum. The social skills required make relationships challenging for adults with Asperger's, particularly if diagnosed with it in adulthood.

Unfortunately, the divorce rate among couples affected by Asperger's (i.e., one partner is on the spectrum, and the other is not) is higher than in other groups of people. However, interventions (e.g., marital counseling) can work well if the therapist understands the unique features of Asperger's as it affects relationships.

We don't know statistically how many Asperger's men develop "normal" relationships or how many find themselves unable to relate to a partner in an interpersonal and intimate way, but we do know that those with good communication and social skills have a better chance to succeed in a relationship than others.

 

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

   
 

COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said... as in most relationships, you have to express your needs. but you also have to explain how those needs can be satisfied. you will need lots of initiative, and teach him how to take initiative.
•    Anonymous said... For 15 years I have an intimate relationship with a wonderful man, he got only a few years ago his diagnosis Asperger. We don't live together in the same flat or village, only every second night he stays in my place with me. He did not agree to marry or even have children with me. This was very hard for me, by now I can cope with this. I can understand now he needs to withdraw into his own walls, where he can "recover from my emotions" and the intimacy/closeness. This enables him, to cope with the relationship. Meanwhile I know of many As/Nt couples and with most of them I observe difficulties. The stress of unplanned or chaotic (from the view of the AS) situations especially with kids, which can't be avoided, enhances the troubles. So I realised after some difficult years, our way of living allows him, to be a loving and caring partner I keep forgetting he's on the spectrum. Also of other AS/NT couples I know, only in finding an unusual way of living together, they manage to be a couple.
•    Anonymous said... I have autism and am married and trying for a baby. Why would it be any different for a male?
•    Anonymous said... In reality I cannot answer this question with any great certainty, as it is dangerous to generalize with anything to do with autism. However like NTs some HFA/Aspergers are quite capable of maintaining close relationships with other people on the spectrum or even with NTs. Just like NTs some are better suited to this than others. People on the spectrum can vary enormously and some may have a higher emotional intelligence than others and allow for socializing and forming closer bonds. Others may just prefer to be alone and there is nothing wrong with that. I myself have two boys on the spectrum and of course am a fully fledged aspie, lol I have been married for 30 years to an NT. Like any other marriage we have had times when we have had to work hard, but generally we understand each other and support each other. I do know other autistic people who have children and have good, warm and loving relationships. Remember that autism does not define us, condemn or damage us and we are not diseased. So there is hope for many and especially for those who have a diagnosis and develop a sense of self awareness and acceptance. My advice to anyone in these mixed relationships of autistic/NT to be patient, accepting of each other and make adjustments if possible. Maybe it will be hard sometimes, but like with our kids, always rewarding in the long run. Good luck! Brian
•    Anonymous said... My husband has Aspergers and we have a great and intimate relationship. There are some differences: I typically drive, I typically talk to waiters, he often doesn't look me in the eyes, and sometimes I have to pose an important question to him and then walk away so he has time to think about it. He can't always just respond on the spot for important and/embarrassing topics. We'll have been married for five years this May!
•    Anonymous said… Of course they can develop an intimate relationship. Just know that there is no "normal" - for anyone! But it won't be bizarre or outrageous. My husband gets it (me being an aspie) and I'm mature enough to step out of my comfort zone to meet his needs when he gives me gentle reminders.
•    Anonymous said… I really like these articles. I'm fairly certain both me and my husband exhibit aspie like characteristics. We have worked hard to get to the level of intimacy that we have. I do have feeling of dread and worry about my Aspie son sometimes. He is so smart and funny. I hope he finds lasting relationship that builds him up and helps him succeed.
•    Anonymous said… There is nothing "normal". Everyone has some type of issues or needs. It is all about learning different tools and having patience. I really struggle with my husband sometimes and I constantly have to remind myself that his process isn't going to be the same as mine.
•    Anonymous said… I have AS and I was married for 13 years before getting the diagnosis. We have a happy marriage although it has become easier now that there are explanations for my sometimes eccentric behavior or unusual mood swings. However my non-AS hubby has many issues of his own. I know there are loads of undiagnosed AS people out there who are in relationships and I think they have the same chance of success as NT relationships provided you are with the right person.
•    Anonymous said… An article I wrote a while ago on the topic of Aspergers and marriage received a number of heated comments from people on the spectrum who felt that I focused too much on some of the challenges Aspergers presents in the relationship. It's important for anyone who is 'neurotypical' to be sensitive to how difficult it is for the person with AS to accept neurotypical thinking. Both partners have to study each other and be sensitive to each others' differences.
 
Please post your comment below… 

Why Some NT Women Refuse to Date Men with Asperger’s

There's nothing wrong with getting rejected by a woman you have an eye out for. It happens all the time. But some guys with Asperger’s seem to have a lot of difficulty in this area (i.e., winning and keeping a girlfriend).

Here are the top 15 reasons NT women turn down Aspie men:

1.  Due to a series of bad childhood experiences, many men with Asperger’s have very low self-esteem. As a result, their “relationship-building” confidence level is a 1 on a scale of 1 – 10, and the perceptive woman picks up on this.

2.  Due to past social failures, some of these men have an attitude towards dating that is generally very negative. This attitude gets conveyed at an almost unconscious level - and is a turn-off.

3.  Their approach throws the women off-guard (e.g., either came on too passively or too aggressively).

4.  Their conversational skills, displays of empathy, and eye-contact are lacking (in her estimation).

5.  Their looks don’t match the woman’s standards (e.g., too casual of clothing, disheveled hair, etc.).

6.  They (falsely) pretend to not to be interested in sex.

7.  They come off as either too independent or too needy.

8.  Some Asperger’s men don’t put themselves out there enough – not by a longshot. In other words, they’re impatient because the whole process is taking too long, and therefore, do not give the “law of averages” enough time to work.

9.  They have an attachment to being rejected. That is, they identify themselves with disappointment, disapproval, and rejection because it has happened so many times before (e.g., a self-fulling prophecy becomes manifest).

10.  They present themselves as “too nice,” which comes off as fake and disingenuous.

11.  They push for a “one-night stand.” This conveys that you are not really the committed type.

12.  Some Aspie men think that all they have to do to win her over is to be a gentleman. Unfortunately, it takes MUCH MORE than that.

13.  They try to be “friend.” She already has friends – she’s probably looking for a “lover.”

14.  The Aspie tries to get the woman to like him before she is attracted to him.

15.  Many of these men wait too long to “make a move.” So, she gets bored and bails out.

Here are some resources that may benefit the chronically rejected male Aspie:





















Raising an Adult Child: The NT Woman's Dilemma

The problem that some NT women encounter with their Aspergers (AS) man is that they find themselves raising an adult child rather than being in an equal relationship with a mutually-responsive partner. What has happened in these cases is the result of the following scenario, or scenarios similar to this:

As a child, the AS individual struggled in general, as many kids on the autism spectrum do. This hypothetical child was perhaps bullied at school, had few if any friends, was anxious about many things, and experienced meltdowns and shutdowns from time to time. He may have struggled in school academically and socially. And in too many cases, this child was ostracized from his peer group.

Long story short, the parents (who had good intentions) frequently made special accommodations for their “special needs” child. For example, allowing endless hours of video game-play, perhaps working with the schools to set up a deal where the child didn’t have to do homework, overlooking certain misbehavior in order to "keep the peace," etc. As an older teenager, this individual was still more concerned about isolating and playing video games than finding a part-time job.



He may have gone on to college, but after only one semester, he returned home and resumed life as a child due to the fact that he has very few emotional muscles to function out in the real world. This is the result of the parents’ over-assistance throughout the years. In many cases, this individual has lived with mom and dad well into his 20's, 30's, and even 40's.

Then when he does get in a romantic relationship, he is used to being taken care of. In the early stages of the relationship, the woman may be OK with that, and may even view it as a somewhat charming trait. But she soon comes to realize that she is taking on the lion’s share of responsibility - financially, emotionally, with chores around the house, etc. In many cases, the man seems indifferent to his partner’s concerns in this area.

The AS man is often so engulfed in his special interest, that the girlfriend or wife begins to feel like she is basically just living with him, but not in a mutually-responsive relationship. Over time, this creates a lot of hurt, confusion, and even resentment in the woman.

It is true that people with AS are emotionally immature compared to their peer group. For example, a man may be 35-years-old, but emotionally more like an18-year-old. After all, AS is a "developmental" disorder. Their chronological age never matches up with their emotional age no matter how old the individual is. And of course, this creates problems in the relationship with his NT partner because she wants a relationship with someone who takes equal responsibility. I have heard many NT women claim that, for example, if she has two kids and one husband, she feels like she’s raising three kids.

As one wife of an AS husband stated: “My soul has withered living in an NT-AS marriage for 24 years. I am drained of all life from within. I am exhausted (to say the least) from trying to figure out my husband, from being the social-interpreter for him (because he can be clueless here), from constantly protecting him from everyone who misunderstands his communications and facial expressions, from coaching him for 'normal' (neurotypical) behavior and interactions. I was literally losing my mind. It is somewhat a relief to know that experiences like mine are documented and studied and that help is available.”

This is a perfect example of the wife assuming a care-taking role. Of course, this is not the case with every AS man in a relationship. But this scenario does play out quite often (or scenarios similar to this).

NOTE: We would be interested in your experience with an AS man. Please use the comments section below. Does this somewhat describe your relationship? If so, what have you done to cope? 

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

The Deceptiveness of Anxiety

The reason that most people with Aspergers (AS) have chronic anxiety is because anxiety can be so deceptive. If you are the type of person with high-anxiety, you are constantly getting fooled into believing that there’s something to be afraid of in the absence of real danger. Fear is when you’re afraid of something and you know what it is, anxiety is when you’re afraid of something but you don’t know what it is.

A lot of people with AS have panic disorder, social phobia, a specific phobia, OCD, or generalized anxiety disorder.
  • Those who have generalized anxiety disorder get deceived into thinking they are about to be driven mad by constant worrying.
  • Those with OCD get deceived into believing that a terrible calamity is in the near future. 
  • Those with a specific phobia (e.g., the fear of elevators) get deceived into believing that they’re going to be trapped. 
  • For those with social phobia, they get deceived into thinking that other people are looking down on them and will humiliate them. 
  • Panic disorder causes people with AS to get deceived into thinking that they’re about to die or go crazy.



Anxiety is deceiving because when we feel discomfort we get tricked into treating it like a real threat. But as the rational part of your mind knows, discomfort is not dangerous. When there is true danger at hand, we either freeze up, run, or fight back. If the threat looks faster and stronger than you, you may freeze up. If the threat looks stronger than you - but slower - you may run away from it. If the threat looks weaker than you, you may fight back. If people are your source of major “discomfort” - but your body gets tricked into believing that certain individuals are truly “dangerous,” you will either argue with them (fight), avoid them (flight), or be intimidated by them (freeze).

Your natural instinct to protect yourself is what leads you to get deceived by anxiety. So, why haven’t you been able to see the pattern of repeated episodes of anxiety that never actually lead to the feared outcome? Since your worst-case scenarios never come to fruition, why don’t you gradually lose your unreasonable anxiety around those scenarios? There’s several reasons why.

You took protective steps - and there was no disaster. Therefore, you started believing that these steps that you took “saved” you from disaster. But these steps that you take that save you from disaster also cause you to worry more about the next dangerous episode. It convinces you that you were very vulnerable and must always protect yourself.

The real reason you didn’t experience a disaster is that such disasters are not part of fear or phobia. We are talking about anxiety disorders, not disaster disorders. You get through the experience because the experience isn’t actually life-threatening. But, it’s justifiably hard for you to recognize that at the time. You may be more likely to think that you just had a “narrow escape.” And this leads you to redouble your self-protection steps.

It’s the self-protection steps that actually maintain and strengthen the deceptiveness of anxiety. If, for example, we think we just escaped a disaster because we went back and checked the stove 10 times, then we’re going to continue to feel vulnerable and continue to feel the need for self-protection. When this happens over and over, we are going to get stuck in the habit of protecting ourselves by certain means. This is when chronic anxiety gets in entrenched into your life.

We think we’re actually helping ourselves, but we’re actually getting tricked into making things worse. That’s how deceptive anxiety is.

For those of us who have chronic anxiety, we have noticed that the harder we try to escape the anxiety - the worse it gets. Thus, if the harder we try the worse it gets, then what we need to do is take another look at the protective steps we’ve been using. With high-anxiety, we’ve been deceived into trying to protect ourselves against something that isn’t dangerous, and this makes our anxiety worse over time.

Let me repeat: the harder you try, the worse it gets. Thus, it would make sense to NOT try so hard to avoid anxiety when it comes. Instead, allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling, as uncomfortable as it is. Know that this feeling of "uncomfortable-ness" will be short-lived -- and it will not be life-threatening! Simply allow yourself to feel that emotional pain. Because running from it makes it worse -- it will chase after you and bring out even more fear as you “run for your life.”

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

Our Top 10 Picks for Books Related to Adult Relationships Affected by Asperger's

Here are our best picks for books that may help salvage - or improve - your relationship, whether you are the "neurotypical" partner or the "Aspie":























In addition, here is a program that includes an eBook, audio instruction, and consultation from a Counseling Psychologist via email correspondence:  Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

Popular Posts

Chat for Adults with HFA and Aspergers