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...

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The NT’s Dilemma When She Finally Discovers Her Husband May Have Autism

Discovering a spouse’s “special needs” is often a puzzling and agonizing process for neurotypical (NT) wives. It’s no surprise that your husband [with suspected ASD] often mystifies you. 
 
As with all people on the autism spectrum, your husband has many skills – and deficits. Also, you may have great difficulty understanding how much of his behavior is the nature of the disorder, versus how much is just plain old insensitivity or lack of trying.

Due to the fact that being married to a “special needs” spouse can be so confusing at times, it’s easy for NTs to fall into the trap of feeling inadequate and discouraged (e.g., “My husband has so many unresolved problems, therefore, I must be a bad wife”). Most spouses in “typical” marriages do not realize how difficult it is to be the spouse of a person on the spectrum… until they become one of those spouses. 

==> Online Group Therapy for Couples and Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder

Since the symptoms of an autistic individual who is “high-functioning” can be so subtle, multiple, and difficult to pinpoint - it’s hard for an NT spouse to know whether things are normal or not. For example:

  • Are my expectations for my ASD spouse unreasonable?
  • What is the difference between a person who doesn’t understand emotions, and one who is narcissistic?
  • What are the indications of a person being off course in his ability to listen and follow directions?
  • What is the difference between a healthy, very active individual versus a hyperactive one with ASD?
  • What is the difference between the person who is a little clumsy and one who is having significant motor skills problems?


It will take some time for the NT to recognize and articulate concerns about such issues.

 


Even after a diagnosis, the NT spouse will face a multitude of feelings before she can grasp effectively with the glaring truth that her husband has a “developmental disorder.” The NT may even mourn over this new reality:

  • bargaining (e.g., thinking that seeing a typical marriage and family therapist will make the situation better)
  • blaming others for the difficult situation
  • dealing with the fear, anger and guilt of having a spouse who experiences many problems
  • denying there is a problem, as well as rationalizing why it’s not a problem
  • grieving for “what might have been”
  • perhaps eventually coming to acceptance regarding the spouse’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as trying to figure out an effective plan of action


 ==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

One of the biggest challenges NT spouses may face is the big gap between what their ASD husband can do – and what he can’t do. Oftentimes, the ASD spouse is very smart, can reason well, knows a great deal about his favorite subject, yet can’t follow through with the NT’s simple requests.

You may be telling your autistic spouse to “try harder.” But in many cases, he is trying his heart out. These individuals often have to work 10 times harder than their typical peers, but are still labelled as uncaring, selfish, insensitive and narcissistic.

Another piece of the puzzle for the NT spouse lies in how difficult it can be to differentiate between a spouse who “can’t” do something versus one who “won’t” do something. For example:

•    “How far should I ‘push’ my husband?”
•    “How much should I reduce my expectations?”
•    “How much ‘spousal control’ should I exert?”

In this uncertainty, the NT may even ask herself “what is wrong with me?” –  instead of asking “what trials and tribulations is my husband having to face?” Shifting this focus can be beneficial for both spouses.

==> One-on-One Counseling for Struggling Individuals & Couples Affected by Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

The partner with autism spectrum disorder may seem to be having behavior problems when, in fact, he is simply struggling to accomplish a social task. He may experience a meltdown or a shutdown when the social task is too demanding. When the ASD spouse says he hates something, it’s very difficult for the NT to know if he is being rude and disrespectful – or simply finds the task to difficult or impossible to engage in.

While a formal diagnosis can help, the task of sorting-out these problems on a day-to-day basis is quite a challenge. On a planning level, uncertainty can occur because friends and other family members may disagree not only on the diagnosis – but on the optimal coping strategies that “should be used” by the NT spouse.

This can be aggravating and stress-provoking for the NT who has to pull all the information together and decide what to do – right or wrong. In addition, she has to anticipate problems and sense when her husband is frustrated, tired, or about to explode. The NT has to trust her gut as to how long her spouse can last at a family get-together, be pleasant with visitors, or sit in a busy/noisy restaurant.

Neurotypical partners are continually trying to figure out what’s working, what’s not working, what causes her ASD partner’s aggravation, and what calms him down. The NT must:

  • come up with plans for dealing with his meltdowns and shutdowns
  • problem-solve to recognize her ASD spouse’s strengths, interests, and areas of difficulty
  • reflect on activities of each day
  • think carefully
  • …and analyze everything!


All of this takes time and energy that is exhausting!

 


 

8 Things Every NT Woman Should Know About Her Autistic Spouse’s Brain

An autistic man's brain varies tremendously over his life span, quickly contradicting the image of the emotionally-distant, self-absorbed “nerd” that circulates in mainstream consciousness. From his task-oriented personality to his “excessive” need for time alone, here's what women need to know about their partner's mind:

1. “Men with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or High-Functioning Autism (HFA) are non-committal,” the refrain usually goes. But this may be one of the largest misconceptions about these men. The “fear of commitment” is most likely to occur before men hit 30. After that, most ASD men focus mostly on providing for their families (of course, some have a harder time with commitment than others – a problem that could be genetic).

2. “Autistic fathers don’t really bond with their children.”  This is another myth. While many of these fathers may occasionally (and unintentionally) give the impression that they are not very interested in “bonding” or spending quality time with their kids (which is due to mind-blindness issues), most will tell you – categorically – that they love their kids more than anything or anyone else. They just have difficulty conveying that love in a meaningful way.

3. “Men on the spectrum embrace chain of command.” True! An unstable hierarchy can cause these men considerable anxiety. An established chain of command (such as that practiced by the military and many work places) gives them a sense of control in an otherwise chaotic world.
 

4. “Men with ASD have no empathy and are more focused on solutions than feelings.” Yes and no! While many studies suggest that females are more empathetic than males, this is not entirely true. The empathy system of the autistic male brain DOES respond when someone is stressed or expressing a problem – but the task-oriented, "fix-it" region quickly takes over.  As a result, these men tend to be more concerned with fixing a problem than showing solidarity in feeling.


5. “These men are hard-wired to check-out other women.” Maybe. While often linked to aggression and hostility, testosterone is also the hormone of the libido. And ALL men (not just those on the autism spectrum) have six times the amount surging through their veins as women. Testosterone impairs the impulse-control region of the brain. While it has yet to be studied, this may explain why men ogle women as if on "auto-pilot." However, most ASD men forget about the woman once she is out of their visual field.

6. “The ASD man is immature for his age.” Of course! He has a “developmental disorder” after all. This simply means he is emotionally and socially lagging behind his peers. But even “late-bloomers” develop a significant element of experience and wisdom over time.

7. “Men with ASD don’t show their emotions.” False. While women are usually considered the more emotional gender, infant boys are more emotionally reactive and expressive than infant girls. Adult men have slightly stronger emotional reactions, too – BUT ONLY BEFORE THEY ARE AWARE OF THEIR FEELINGS. Once the emotion reaches consciousness, most men adopt a poker face. When young, males likely learn to hide emotions that culture considers "unmanly."

8. “These men are vulnerable to loneliness and anxiety.” Unfortunately, this is spot on. While loneliness, depression and anxiety can take a toll on everyone's health and brain, Men on the spectrum seem particularly vulnerable. These males tend to “reach out” less than neurotypical males, which exacerbates the emotional problems and the toll it takes on their brains' social circuits. Living with women is particularly helpful for autistic men. Men in stable relationships tend to be healthier, live longer, and have hormone levels that decrease anxiety. Having “time alone” to de-stress is also especially beneficial for men on the spectrum.

How to Identify Your "Meltdown Triggers": Tips for People on the Autism Spectrum

"Is it possible to learn my 'triggers' that may cause meltdowns, and is there a way to intervene before the meltdowns happen?"

People with ASD tend to “act out” their uncomfortable emotions. This is how they communicate their discomfort. The message of a meltdown is: “I’m frustrated and upset, and I don’t know what lead up to it - or what to do about it.”

If you are prone to the periodic meltdown, know that it is very possible to find a way to understand your frustrations – and change the inappropriate expression of them!

 
 

 
Here are some important tips that will help you recognize your “meltdown triggers” so you can prevent the meltdown from happening in the first place:

1. Transitional experiences: When you move from a “desired” activity to one that is NOT desired – especially when the transition is unexpected (e.g., from playing a computer game to running an unexpected errand for your spouse), it’s a prime opportunity for a meltdown. Many transitional experiences can erupt into meltdowns, because you probably don’t like change. You find the transition difficult. It may not be that you don’t want to run an errand for your spouse, rather it could be that you are protesting at having to “switch gears”!

So, when possible, give yourself time to adjust when change occurs. Of course, this is easier said than done when we live in a rush. But you do need more time than “neurotypicals” (e.g., in the morning, you may need to stay in his pajamas for a little while before getting dressed). Also, ask your spouse to “prepare” you for transitions as often as possible. For example, she could say, “I may need you to run an errand for me later today around 3 PM.”
 
==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

2. Tiredness, hunger and sickness: When you are tired, hungry or sick, you are running on lower emotional resources to cope with normal expectations. This means that if tired or hungry or sick, where you would normally be happy to meet your spouse’s requests, you will likely be short-tempered. Thus, do what you can to deal with the primary issue – get some sleep, eat a meal, see the doctor etc. Try not to get hooked into power struggles when you are low on emotional resources.

3. Implement self-observation: When you are calm, ask your spouse to let you know what she observes regarding the connection between your triggers and your meltdowns. For example, she might say, “I’ve noticed that when you think something is unfair, you get upset and start yelling”). By using your spouse to help you to “connect the dots,” you are learning to identify your triggers. This technique should be part of a problem-solving discussion (that includes you and your spouse) for coming up with a plan for what you will do differently the next time you are in this dilemma.

4. Signaling: Signaling is a common behavior modification strategy for people on the autism spectrum. Choose one specific trigger to work on, and then come up with a phrase or hand signal that your spouse can use as an alert to you that the trigger is present. This allows your spouse to make you aware of the trigger subtly in social situations. Once she has alerted you, you will have the chance to self-correct.

5. Reliance on routine: People with ASD tend to rely heavily on routines to keep them comfortable and content. In fact, most are dependent on routines, because too much activity and change can overwhelm them. A change in routine is a major meltdown trigger that can easily set you off.

Thus, try sticking to daily routines as precisely as possible. If you do have to change the routine, make sure you are well-rested and content. If you notice you are starting to exhibit signs of a meltdown, try to find a quiet place to calm down.
 
==> One-on-One Counseling for Struggling Individuals & Couples Affected by Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

6. Over-stimulation: Although many people on the spectrum enjoy going out to eat, going to malls, attending parties, etc. – it can get quite overwhelming for them to the point they start reacting to these unfamiliar surroundings and faces. Many will exhibit frustration simply because “the unfamiliar” gets to them, especially if there are a lot of foreign noises and smells. Thus, if the environment seems too “sensory-unfriendly,” you may simply want to “bail out” and return home for a time out.

7. Internal frustration: Some people with autism tend to be perfectionistic and obsessive. The inability to do something right after several attempts, or the lack of conversational skills to get your point across can get the “meltdown engine” revving.


Observations from your spouse is the best tool for identifying “low frustration-tolerance” in yourself. Ask your spouse to pay attention and be aware of the warning signs. She can keep her eyes and ears open, and can help you to look for patterns and connections.

8.  Identifying physical symptoms: Often there are physical symptoms that go along with impending meltdowns. Your nervous system kicks into high gear when a trigger is present - and can cause several identifiable sensations (e.g., rapid heartbeat, flushed cheeks, rapid breathing, cold hands, muscle tension, etc.).

What do you feel in your body when the trigger you are experiencing is present? When you are aware of the warning signs your body gives you, it can serve as a natural cue to put the new plan you came up with during your problem-solving discussions into action.

9. Dealing with anger: Since “meltdown triggers” and “angry feelings” are directly related, having discussions with your spouse about anger (during those times when you are calm) can help you establish a foundation to build on when identifying your triggers. Ask yourself some important questions about emotions (e.g., what makes me angry, happy, sad, etc.).

The purpose of this is to learn how to identify various feelings, to learn what it means to feel angry, happy, sad, disappointed, etc. - but not to give you an excuse for “acting-out” behavior.  This also helps you to communicate your feelings to your spouse clearly so that she is in the best position to help you cope in high-anxiety situations.



How To Make Your NT Wife H A P P Y !!!

In multiple studies, females have been shown to be more intuitive, which makes them more sensitive than males. Studies also reveal that females show more empathy and patience, whereas males are inclined toward problem-solving and are more comfortable with the language of logic than of emotion.

In Western culture, especially, men are taught that it isn't macho to be sensitive and show emotion. Females are given more support to express their feelings than males are.

To men on the spectrum: No matter how macho you are or how lovey-dovey your NT wife or girlfriend can get, there's always more room for sensitivity and affection. So don't be too shy to break out the emergency “nice-guy kit” every now and then, and get to work.
 
25 relationship tips for men with ASD [High-Functioning Autism]:

1. Be interesting rather than glued to the TV with a beer in your hand.

2. Compliment her, and tell her you love her at least once a day.

3. Connect with her physically during the day. Kiss her when you wake up, hold her hand sometimes, touch her in non-sexual ways. She'll be nicer to you, and your sex life will improve.
 
==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

4. Do little day-to-day things that will make her feel taken care of, for example, fill her empty water glass, bring her coffee in bed, or turn down her side of the bed if you go to bed before she does.

5. Don't laugh at her television shows. For some women, watching Oprah or Dr. Phil may be the only “adult conversation” they have in a day.

6. In the course of disagreeing with your wife, what you may fail to realize is that, invariably, you’re wrong. You just are. You’re trying to be right — but failing. You can’t help it. It’s the nature of things. Husbands are bigger, hairier, stronger, and wronger. It’s just a fact that you should just get used to (your wife has!). Also, when you're angry or upset, tell her why. Don't make her guess.

7. Encourage her dreams and help make them come true if you can.

8. Give flowers for NO reason. Daisies picked from a neighboring field will put a smile on her face.

9. Have your own opinions. Females like males who are clear on what they think – and why they think it. Males, though, enjoy ever waffling. Well, waffles are for children. Stop it. Commit to thoughts, ideas, and decisions. Sure, you will be wrong about whatever it is you decide to think – but you’ll be attractively wrong (i.e., wrong, but manly).

10. Help around the house. These days, both partners are usually holding down an outside job. The home chores must be shared. Do so willingly.
 
==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

11. If your girlfriend comes in during halftime of the super bowl and says something like, “I’ve been thinking about our future together,” then you should turn down the volume on the TV and listen (really!). If anything involves you at a fairly high level and “the two of you” in the long-term, then STOP whatever you're doing and pay attention to the given matter. If you don't, you might unknowingly agree to move out to the country, get a couple goats and a horse, raise 3 kids, and start attending church. Then you'll be in for a long discussion, all because you were too busy watching the Colts lose another championship.

12. If your wife or girlfriend is happy so long as you listen (or pretend to) when she talks, then leave it at that. But if you see that she wants you to be interested and ask many questions, then doing so might save you a lot of future headaches.

13. It would be in your best interest to remember that women have very LONG memories and don't forget easily.

14. Know that if she is a "stay at home" mom, she is doing a huge job and one you would not want. Show appreciation.

15. Learning to be sensitive is something that improves with age. Some males are naturals, while others lack the suave, subtle ways needed to keep their woman happy. In any event, adapt your game plan based on how much affection your wife or girlfriend wants (or needs).
 
==> Online Group Therapy for Couples and Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder

16. Let the kids be your responsibility now and then. That way, she'll get some time for herself for a change.

17. Listen, listen, then listen some more! Put down that newspaper (or TV remote) and let her know your focus is on her. When she tells you her problems, try not to jump in with advice. A sympathetic ear may be all she needs.

18. Ok, this is huge---give her the remote!

19. Plan special evenings for no reason, AND schedule the babysitter.

20. PMS -- don't make light of it, they hate it as much as you hate the moods and outbursts.

21. Remember that your tone does too matter. You know how in arguments with your spouse, you keep
thinking that if she would just focus on “what” you are saying instead of on “how” you are saying it, then she would see how right you are? Yeah, well that is never going to happen. She needs to know you still love her as you are yelling at her. Women are weird like that.
 
==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

22. Stop fidgeting while your spouse is talking to you. It really is rude — and you know it. If you don’t stop doing that, then one day, when your spouse starts talking to you about her day, you’re going to start fiddling with the remote control or something else, and she’s going to suddenly scream and throw a cast iron pot your way.

23. Suggest a walking routine together, not to discuss heavy issues, but to simply spend some time together.

24. Take care of all vehicles. Some men feel if it's the wife's car, then she needs to schedule maintenance on it.

25. When buying gifts, make them special – no appliances unless she is asking for them.

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

==> One-on-One Counseling for Struggling Individuals & Couples Affected by Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

 

Comments:

•    Anonymous …Anyone have problems with their parents? My mother hates me and says I'm uncaring, unloving, and selfish and she doesn't want to see how I raise my children because they will be the same way. She also thinks I'm setting her up for failure when I ask her a question and then give her the correct scientific answer. When in my reality, all I'm doing is trying to update her info, so I think I'm helping her to gain better knowledge. The thing is, if I didn't say these things, we'd have nothing to talk about :/ It's sad really. I'm afraid our relationship is going to be over. She does not like the "real me." She prefers the quiet insecure teenager that I used to be years ago. According to her I've "gotten worse" but I'm really just discovering myself. Sorry for the rant, it's been an emotionally draining night and day. Has anyone experienced this?
 

•    Anonymous …Sounds like the problem is with your mom ...I wouldn't view this as your issue. It's hers. Does she understand Aspergers (High-Functioning Autism) at all?!
 

•    Anonymous …Only when it's convenient for her it seems. But she also thinks she may have passed it down to me. We will never know, she's not willing to get tested.
 

•    Anonymous …Sounds a lot like my mother. I ended up "timing" my visits to 15 mins unless things were going exceptionally well. I had a "pre-planned excuse" to leave if I didn't like the way conversations were heading. And, that 15 mins was exhausting! My mom had her own "issues" and sounds like your mom does too. Don't let her "issues" upset YOUR life. I found the key to surviving the relationship with her was to set some very strong boundaries.
 

•    Anonymous …I dont know if this will help... Im trying to suggest that you can remain hopeful about the future... I was estranged from my parents until a boyfriend both limited the length of each visit, but increased the number of visits. (like Lynn said). But really, It was strained until I had kids; bizarrely i then re-evaluated everything my parents had done/said, and through new understanding I forgave most of what had occurred. Parenthood is hard and many parents lack info and support to become better at parenting. Maybe it's also that you don't understand your mums fears and feelings (?) and that she's still trying to say how she feelsas a mum 'in general', rather than trying to be hurtful to you? Regardless- It sounds like you're in pain. Hang in there, and remember to treat yourself well."
 

•    Anonymous …"OMG! Someone recorded one of my many conversations with my mother! LMAO!! This is priceless! I too spent many years as an independent contractor and got the "why don't you get a real job" speech. My mother quit visiting me and I only saw her on holidays at her house after she came to my house many years ago when I was out working and CLEANED it! I asked her to never do that again and so she never came over again - which was actually totally fine with me! LOL"
 

•    Unknown…My son is going to be 21 years old and is going to be elaluated for Aspergers. He say it is too late for him at this age and his future is "F***ed". Any words of inspiration or later in life diagnosed people out there that have success stories? Thank you! Heartbroken.
 

Post your comment below…
 

How to "Chit Chat": Tips for People with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Chit chat and small talk is often seen as meaningless conversation by adults with ASD [High-Functioning Autism]. But silence isn't necessarily golden. Sometimes it's just plain uncomfortable to find yourself with strangers and nothing to say.

Here are some tips for people on the spectrum who hate chit chat – but feel they should be more conversational (if for no other reason than simply being polite):

1. Be a good listener. You can give visual clues that you are listening. You can nod your head, lean in towards the speaker to let them know you are paying attention.

2. Be a warehouse of information. This entails reading a lot and watching many documentaries on television. But information does not have to be encyclopedic or boring. Read and learn about things you are interested in, but take time as well to learn about things you think other people would be interested in. Knowing a few good facts that other people can relate to is better for chit chat purposes than having a head full of information that makes the eyes of other people glaze over.

3. Care about the “vibe” more than the topic. A conversation is much more than an exchange of facts and ideas. It is an exchange of energy. What many people miss is that when you know how to make chit chat, it means you can create a positive exchange of energy. The topic is just an excuse, so it doesn’t have to be a deep topic. When you’re making chit chat, you want to focus more on being friendly and positive than on picking the right topic or saying the right things. Smile, relax, joke around, be spontaneous and be silly. Remember that your vibe comes mainly from your attitude.
 

4. Don’t get “stuck” on the trivial stuff. Keep in mind that chit chat is not a destination. It’s just a temporary station. If an interaction with a person goes well, do move the conversation to deeper and more personal topics. You can talk about topics (e.g., family and relationships, career plans, life goals, challenges, etc.). You now find yourself in a new land: the land of bigger chit chat. Ultimately, a strong bond between two people is created when they talk about the most meaningful things, in the most meaningful way. Knowing how to make chit chat is one of the key people skills to master. From there, if you also know how to have charisma and engage others in more intimate conversation, you can get outstanding results with people and you can build a highly fulfilling social life for yourself.

5. Don't melt-away from conversations. Make a graceful exit. Try and shake the hand of the person you've been talking to. Show appreciation by saying, "It was interesting hearing about your job."

6. Greet warmly and use names. Make sure if you don't remember someone's name to ask. And, be prepared to introduce people to each other. It's also important to smile and be the first to say hello.

7. Get a life. It’s easy to make chit chat when you have a lot of things to chat about. People who know how to make chit chat well have a rich inner - and especially outer - life. Conversation is for them just a matter of expressing that. It’s much harder to make chit chat well when all you do is work a repetitive job or play on the computer all day. A rich lifestyle creates content and it helps you engage others. If you don’t have one, it’s time to create it (e.g., read, travel, try new things, take on various hobbies, do some charity work, socialize, etc.).

8. Keep a diary. This will serve as a repository of any information you feel is worth collecting. Anecdotes, important pieces of facts, names of people you need to remember - anything can go in that diary. The point is to read through the diary to bone up on the information that you feel is important to remember.

9. Keep it meaningful. Making chit chat makes a lot of sense with people you’ve just met. Imagine asking a person you know for 30 seconds: “So, how’s you sex life?” That is way too intrusive! Chit chat on the other hand provides a method to ease into the discussion. When you make chit chat, the subjects may be superficial for comfort, but they should be subjects you care about and approach in a straightforward manner, staying away from clichés. In this way, you can make the discussion meaningful for you – and for the other person. Focus on what is interesting as a topic and on what is real within you. You’ll make the talk fun even though you keep it small.

10. Learn to listen to what people around you are saying. Did your doctor just say he wants to go on vacation? Ask him when and where. Has your mother been telling you that she has back pains? Inquire whether they are getting worse. Did the cashier inform you that she is banking on being promoted soon? Congratulate her in advance. These are all opportunities to make chit chat, because you cared enough to listen to what they were telling you.
 

11. Make it a point to join groups of people anywhere just to make chit chat. Have you noticed that when many people are gathered together in one place, someone inevitably strikes up a conversation with another person there? Some people are quite shy though and leave it to other people to make the first move. That is okay, so long as you try to join in the conversation as well.

12. One of the best ways to learn about another person and help them feel as though you are interested in them is to ask questions and listen carefully to their responses. It may help you to prepare questions beforehand for the person you are meeting. Also, you can take a few minutes to learn something about the person you are going to meet before you meet.

13. Prepare for conversation. Before going anywhere, you need to make sure you have two or three things to talk about. It only takes a couple of minutes to prepare. The worst time to think of what to say is when you actually have to say something. You can talk about current events or what you already know about the person. But you have to be prepared.

14. Show an interest and dig deeper. Everybody should avoid clichéd questions that merely lead to clichéd answers that no one really cares about. "How was your day?" is one. You'll never know how someone's day was unless you dig deeper. You could say, "What went on at work today?" That kind of question will bring a more detailed, thoughtful answer, and you can follow up with another question. You have to actually be interested in the other person to have a good conversation.

15. Stop being an advisor. There's a real temptation in the course of conversation to respond to someone with advice. Resist that temptation. No one asked for advice. They just want to be heard. You don't have to solve people's problems in your conversations.
 

16. Treat chit chat with strangers as a skill you want to master. That means you need to have plenty of opportunity to make mistakes. Give yourself permission to make mistakes. That means you are experimenting and learning. Eventually you will become better at making conversation with new people.

17. Try talking to yourself in the mirror. This allows you to practice your chit chat skills in private. You can then catch any bad habits that you have, like pursing your lips or licking your lips when you speak.

18. Try to overcome any feelings of shyness or lack of self-confidence by participating in more opportunities to do chit chat. There's no getting around it - you learn how to make chit chat by doing chit chat whenever and wherever you can.

19. Practice your chit chat skills on people you encounter in your daily life such as the gasoline attendant who fills your car tank with gasoline every week, or the bus driver who accepts your fare for the daily commute to the office. Practicing hones your chit chat skills so that when you have to attend that important community function you will find chit chat to be easier (if not second nature by then.)

20. Be patient with yourself as you learn the fine art of chit chat. Start very small with small talk. Then move on to bigger small talk.
 

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

==> One-on-One Counseling for Struggling Individuals & Couples Affected by Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism


Comments:

•    Anonymous…This was very helpful. I'm really glad I found this page :-) Very nice. This "Chit Chat" issue is probably the main one that I struggle with. Other than that life is pretty great......but if I'm stuck in a social situation with a room full of people anticipating "chit chat"...well, I'd rather sit in a room all by myself curled up with a book than to while away time listening to someone's adventures in "shoe shopping". But I suppose I need to work on this. The article was quite good though....thanks :-)


•    Anonymous… I just found the page & I cant tell u how good it feels to know why I am the way I am & being able to find tools to understand, deal, & adjust are priceless to me. I never understood why I saw chit chat as either pointless or nothing I'd actually want to do & SO very stressful @ the mere thought of having to "Make conversation" especially w strangers. Thanks for the page


•    Anonymous …I honestly don't want nor do I feel the need to work on my problems with social chit chat. I like the way I am, I am an original...and those who love me and know of my mild autism know that that is how I am and find my quirks quite awesome. I like being a breath of fresh air in a world where people thrive on talking about meaningless things to strangers. I personally see nothing wrong with being aloof and keeping to myself.


•    Tiredasf##k …As I type this my husband is not home tonight. I am absolutely sick to death of feeling like I don't matter. I work my ass off. I do everything for us. I get no appreciation no love no sex no anything. I'm so emotionally exhausted I've come down with pneumonia. I am so sick. I absolutely lost it today when he got a phone call from a buddy at 5am asking him for a ride to work. His friend starts at 6am he starts at 7am. He jumped up like a super hero and was ready to go in no time. I was awake and coughing violently the whole time... He never asked me if I was ok. He never asked me if I needed anything... But his buddy calls and he runs to the rescue. So at 6am while dizzy and coughing up a lung I'm letting the dogs out trying to make some tea and I got so dizzy I almost pass out. Maybe it's the medication or maybe I'm at a breaking point because I laid into him like I was at war. I went off. I mean what kind of person doesn't make sure their sick wife is OK before leaving over an hour early for work? Am I supposed to believe he is incapable when he runs to his friends aide? What about me? I find myself saying that ever so often!!! At the end of the day and one of the biggest fights ever (mostly because I lost it big time) he says he doesn't want to be with me and leaves lol. LOL!!!! He doesn't want to be with me. I'm the bad guy again!!! I've tried it all nothing works. No matter how much I love the man he will never make me feel good about being his wife. I'll always be his caretaker. How did this happen? It seems like over time he got worse. Like in the beginning it was not so bad but now he's in lala land 90% of the time. What man doesn't want sex!!!!! He's like a robot! I'm losing my mind and pretty sure he's looking into divorce. Part of me is glad. The other part... Wishes he could see this and understand that he could make little changes and give himself reminders so that he could be a good husband to me. Did I also mention he's on his 7th job this year? I've carried him every way a person can. Now I lay in bed, alone. Sick as hell!!!! And where is my support? Somewhere else thinking I'm an a hole. My husband told me when I met him I was like a bright light that shined into his darkness. Well, he room that light and left me in the dark. God hell me 


•    Unknown …I appreciate your attempt to help those of us with HFA and Asperger's but the sad truth is that it will most likely go underappreciated. I, for one, find chit chat to be meaningless. I can not hold a real conversation without an NT deciding my tone and context, so I don't see the point to put myself out there. I mean, it will just give them more opportunities to victimize themselves and make me into the bad guy...Sadly, to do any one of these things is putting in more effort than any NT would be willing to show. Why do Aspies have to be the accommodating ones? Why are *we* considered the different ones? Honestly, we are just more logical. We are more effortless. We are more conservative of the energy we have (choosing to expend our energy by furthering our knowledge). We are more knowledgeable about most things. So, again, WHY do we make adjustments for those who are unwilling to do the same? I've been posting stories and news articles on my Facebook page about how to communicate with someone with Aspergers and even the NT PARENTS of HFA & ASPIE people don't bother with it. Such a shame really... What we really need is an NT/Aspie dream team to come up with a blog about mutual effort for understanding eachother. Cuz honestly? Most NTs just aren't worth my time and energy. I have things to learn, theories to test and conclusions to draw using evidence. (Ooh. Yeah... the neurotypical judgement of others gets me going too.... I know I sound judgemental in this comment, but towards individuals I am not judgemental. Towards the majority of society: well, they think there is something "wrong" with me. I believe I am a pioneer for the people of tomorrow. Why else is ASD and HFA becoming a more prevalent diagnosis?)


•    unknown …Aspies clearly spend to much time with their own thoughts they have a brain that does not switch off. My partner of six years will insist on me siting close to him but only wants me to speak to him when am spoken too. General chit chat may turn into a falling out causing him distraction of his thoughts. If I am not with him he becomes obsessed with every move interaction hassles me, in half an hour I get several calls text. Its easier to avoid seeing people. I have become as lonely as him. For a quite existence and to prevent escalation of any violent outbursts to himself,me my children, strangers the general public, property. My physical health suffers I constantly have chest pains stiff shoulder and neck pain.

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Difficulties with "Theory of Mind" in People on the Autism Spectrum

Research reveals that adults with ASD (High-Functioning Autism) appear to have trouble using theory of mind to make moral judgments in certain situations. Specifically, the study found that adults with autism spectrum disorder were more likely than neurotypical subjects to blame someone for accidentally causing harm to another person. 
 
This shows that the judgments of people with ASD rely more on the outcome of the incident than on an understanding of the person’s intentions.

For example, in one scenario, James and a friend are snowmobiling in an area known for loose snow. The friend asks James if he should take an easterly route around a row of pine trees. James has just read that avoiding the west slope is the safest way to go, and so he tells his friend that it should be O.K. to head east. 
 
The friend takes off in that direction and starts an avalanche which quickly overtakes him and buries him alive. In this scenario, the researchers found that adults on the spectrum are more likely than neurotypicals to blame James for his friend’s death – even though James believed the slope was harmless.

Most kids develop theory-of-mind ability around age 4 or 5, which can be demonstrated experimentally with “false-belief” tests. For example, a youngster is shown two dolls, “Jane” and “Barbara.” The experimenter puts on a skit in which Jane puts a marble in a basket and then leaves the scene. While Jane is away, Barbara moves the marble from the basket to a box. The experimenter asks the child where Jane will look for the marble when she returns. 
 
Giving the correct answer (that Jane will look in the basket) requires an understanding that others have beliefs that may differ from our own knowledge of the world – and from reality. Previous studies have shown that kids with ASD develop this ability later than neurotypical kids.
 

Individuals with autism often develop compensatory mechanisms to deal with their difficulties in understanding the thoughts of others. The details of these mechanisms are unknown, but they allow the person with the disorder to function in society and to pass simple experimental tests (e.g., determining whether someone has committed a societal “faux pas”). 
 
However, the scenarios used in the study were constructed in a way that there is no easy way to compensate for impaired theory of mind. The researchers tested 13 ASD adults and 13 non-ASD adults on about 50 scenarios similar to the snowmobiling example above.

On researcher used the same hypothetical scenarios to test the moral judgments of a group of patients with damage to the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VMPC), a part of the prefrontal cortex (where planning, decision-making, and other complex cognitive tasks occur). 
 
Those patients understand other people’s intentions, but they lack the emotional outrage that usually occurs in cases where someone tries (but fails) to harm someone else. For example, they would more easily forgive someone who offers mushrooms he believes to be poisonous to a friend, if the mushrooms turn out to be harmless. 
 

While some ASD adults are unable to process mental-state information and understand that other people can have innocent intentions, the issue with VMPC patients is that they could understand information but did not respond emotionally to that information. Putting these two pieces together could help neuroscientists come up with a more thorough picture of how the brain constructs morality.

Previous studies have shown that theory of mind appears to be seated in a brain region called the right temporoparietal junction (TPJ). In ongoing studies, the researchers are studying whether ASD patients have irregular activity in the right TPJ while performing the moral judgment tasks used in the study.
 
 



==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

==> One-on-One Counseling for Struggling Individuals & Couples Affected by Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

 

COMMENTS:

•    Jumpygran …I recently said to my AS husband that I didn't like the trousers he was wearing, particularly as he was wearing a shirt which clashed with the colour. He bit my head off, saying "well you bought them". Yes I did buy them but I now dislike them! He always seems to respond to such comments with a "blame", rather than a simple "Oh, why is that?", or similar. He is unable to explain why he does this ie does he feel under attack. Any other NT had this?
•    Unknown…Oh yes. It is the blaming. My aspiring always has to find someone or something to blame. My husband would see saying what he chose to wear unacceptable as an attack. He can not take criticism of any kind. He either gets mad and attacks back or feels so bad about his discision(i think) and leaves the area discouraged. Whatever happens it is a lose,lose situation. I guess we can only pick our battles wisely.
•    Jack …Oh yes, you're never allowed to change your mind!
•    Sushin …So true! You can't change your mind, they just don't understand if you do. You loved that dress when you bought it 3 years ago, didn't you? How come you don't love it anymore? It's still the same dress! Now that I found out about A/S I can understand that my husband and I are just wired differently. So, instead of yelling at him trying to explain that I just changed my mind about it, which he never understood anyway, I smile and say: you'll never understand women, sweetheart! That makes him laugh... although he'll never understand how it is possible for me to hate something that I once loved! Things have improved a lot since I know about his condition, but some days things are still really hard. He finds me fussy, which I am not, and hard to please, which I am not either. And I have to be extremely careful about what I tell him, and how I tell him, because he often feels under attack.
•    Unknown …OMG - this totally makes sense. My 17 yo son with A/S blames people ALL the time, and is always tattling on people. Now I know why the symbol for ASD is a puzzle piece... trying to understand him is like trying to put together a puzzle. It's nice to have one more piece in place.

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Do You Have Cassandra Syndrome? The Telltale Symptoms:


==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

==> One-on-One Counseling for Struggling Individuals & Couples Affected by Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

Helping Your ASD Spouse with Anger-Control: Tips for Neurotypical Partners

All of us exhibit some "signs" just as we begin to act-out in the form of anger. Thus, it is possible to identify the anger signs in your ASD spouse. For example, you may detect a certain look in the eye, the tone of voice, or the tightness in the body. NT partners can help their spouse observe these signs right at the onset of anger. Once he can identify the early signs, he can also learn to diffuse it.

Anger has 3 components—

1. The Emotional State of Anger: The first component is the emotion itself, defined as an affective or arousal state, or a feeling experienced when a goal is blocked or needs are frustrated.


2. Expression of Anger: The second component of anger is its expression. Some people on the spectrum are known to express anger through “shutting down” - but do little to try to solve a problem or constructively confront the NT. Others actively resist by verbally defending their positions – and may retaliate against the NT. 


3. An Understanding of Anger: The third component of the anger experience is understanding (i.e., interpreting and evaluating the emotion). Because the ability to self-regulate the expression of anger is linked to an understanding of the emotion – and because the ability to reflect on anger is somewhat limited in ASD – they may need guidance from their NT spouse in totally understanding and managing their feelings.

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples
 
Tips for NTs—

1.    Ask your ASD spouse if you can give him a "signal" (e.g., a hand motion) when he is starting to get “wound-up.” Give that signal as soon as he starts "stewing" about something.

2.    How about YOUR own anger in response to your ASD spouse's anger? You can set an example of “anger control” for him. No coaching technique is as effective as "modeling" with your own example.

3.    Some people on the autism spectrum get upset when they know they made a mistake. Instead of admitting their mistake, they act-out in anger to deflect the attention off them. If you realize that this may be the case, it's helpful to say to your ASD partner, "Everyone makes mistakes. Can we just focus on a possible solution for now?"

4.    The thought "you’re disrespecting me" …or “you’re treating me like a child” is a big anger-arouser for many people on the autism spectrum. If that is the case, ask him or her, "Do you feel you are being treated unfairly?" When your spouse answers the question, listen and don't rush to negate his/her feelings.

People on the spectrum guided toward responsible anger-management are more likely to understand and manage angry feelings directly and non-aggressively - and to avoid the anxiety that often accompanies poor anger-control. 

 



Some NT spouses will view "helping with anger-control" as micro-managing, and may even resent the notion - which is unfortunate! But if you are willing, you can take some of the bumps out of understanding and managing anger by working WITH your ASD spouse (e.g., providing signals, modeling anger-control, being-solution focused, validating, etc.) rather than AGAINST him (e.g., getting angry with him for being angry).

 

==> Additional articles on anger-control problems can be found here.

"Relationship-Strengthening" Tips for Guys on the Autism Spectrum

Tired of being in the dog house? Here are some simple, yet crucial interpersonal skills for husbands (partners) with ASD:

1. Be thoughtful. Do something thoughtful for your wife or partner every day. Whether it's making her a cup of coffee in the morning, sticking a surprise note in her bag, or leaving her a chocolate "kiss" on her pillow before bedtime, everyone loves a romantic surprise.

2. Create a photo album. Take pictures often; don't save the camera for holidays and special occasions. Create a visual scrapbook of your everyday life together. Better still, set the timer and pose together. You will both appreciate the warmth of the moment when you see these snapshots in an album down the road.
 
NOTE: JUST PICK 3 - 4 OF THE IDEAS ON THIS PAGE.  YOU NEED NOT DO ALL OF THEM.

3. Do the unexpected. If you are a homebody who loves to just sit on the couch watching ESPN or if you spend most weekends working out in the garage, surprise your wife by going against your nature and planning a night out with her. Or, on the flip side, if you and your wife spend most weekends going out and partying with friends, plan a romantic night in with just the two of you. The most important part of this is that you actually PLAN the entire night. Don’t simply say you are going out and then hit her with, “So, what do you want to do?”

4. Do what she asks you to do. Little things she asks you do like taking out the trash means so much to her. It’s not hard and it’s the least you can do. If she always has to remind you to do these things it can anger her. You may think these things are not a big thing to her, but they mean so much. It also proves to make her feel appreciated. Doing these things she asks lets her know you really do care. If you know something means a lot to her – then do it.

5. Honor and respect your partner. Be honoring all the time. That means no "my old lady" stories. And it also means a wife shouldn't be flirting with male co-workers or other men. You can have respect without love, but you cannot have love without respect. Respect means not undermining your partner in front of the children. And don't go outside the marriage when you are having a problem. Discuss it with your partner. Respect also means not criticizing your mate in front of others.



6. If your wife has to work late or if you know she will be working through lunch and eating a bland frozen entrée from home, bring her some take-out food. Most women love when their husband remembers small things like that.

7. If your wife loves to cook, book a cooking class that you two can take together. If she is into dancing, commit to learning her favorite dance with her.
 

8. If you're the wife, lower your expectations a bit – and if you're the husband, step up to the plate.

9. It’s Friday night and you are going to watch a movie. Think of all the times she has sat and watched the latest action-adventure movie with you (even though she didn’t necessarily want to). Watch the movie she wants to, even if it IS the latest tearjerker.

10. Keep up your appearance. Let her see you at your best. It's ironic that we dress up to meet total strangers but let ourselves go around our nearest and dearest. Most women love to see their men clean-shaven, in great clothes and perhaps wearing a hint of her favorite cologne.

11. Lavish her with gifts. Women feel loved when you prove she is worth something to you. There is a reason behind the cliché of flowers and chocolates: It makes women feel special and valued. It is important to lavish your significant other with gifts even when it is not necessary. You should send her flowers because you love her, not because it's Valentine's Day or her birthday. Buy her a piece of jewelry for no other reason than to help her get over a severe case of "the Monday blues."

12. Let her initiate sex sometimes. When she feels loved and respected, she will be the one to initiate sex. She will respond in love as she feels loved. It’s very natural for her to be that way. Just as it is natural for you to be the way you are. Just keep this in mind that she shows her love in responding sexually. So if you make her feel loved, you will not have a problem.

13. Listen to your wife and talk to her. Communication is the first thing to go when a marriage starts to breakdown. ASD men need to listen to their wives. Lots of times they just want to talk about anything and for you to listen to them. If she knows your listening this goes a long way. Listening is one of the most important aspects of communication.
 
NOTE: JUST PICK 3 - 4 OF THE IDEAS ON THIS PAGE.  YOU NEED NOT DO ALL OF THEM.

14. Make a list. Make a list of the special days on the calendar that you celebrate together, such as the day you met, your yearly anniversary, or even the anniversary of your first kiss. On these days make a point to spend some quality time together. Cook a special meal (or pick one up on the way home from work). Buy her a card or write her a short letter, and let her know that you didn't forget.

15. Maybe you don’t necessarily LIKE to play tennis or ride bikes, but she does. Without complaining, do one of her favorite activities with her.

16. Men may laugh about it and think it’s silly, but, yes, sometimes women really do like to just cuddle. Kiss and cuddle her to her heart’s content.

17. No woman can resist being catered to, so send your wife out for some quality time with her friends while you cook her favorite meal. Make sure you serve her meal and make sure to do the dishes afterward.

18. Reach out and touch her. Use the power of touch to make a lasting impression throughout the day. There is no such thing as not having time for a kiss goodbye in the morning or again upon reuniting at the end of the day. And an inviting warm hug or back rub at the end of a stressful day is always appreciated.

19. Stop trying to control your partner. It’s another one of those easier-said-than done relationship tips, of course. But trying to control each other — using a technique psychologists call "external control" — is the main source of marital unhappiness. In a happy marriage, partners know they cannot control each other. You have practiced this "external control" if you have ever told your partner they need to behave the way you want them to or that you know what is right. Learning not to control a partner can be a long process. Ask yourself: "If I can only control my own behavior, what can I do to help the marriage?" Then think of what you can change to make the problem better.

20. Take care of yourself. Take care of yourself physically and spiritually. That way, your stress will be down and your tolerance will be up. You'll be less likely to get on each others nerves — and to squabble. You're more likely to have a happy marriage.

21. Take note of significant things. Set something aside for her every day. It might be a newspaper article you read during your commute, a link to a website you came across, or even a story you heard by the office water cooler. She will appreciate that you took a moment to think of her during the course of your day.
 
NOTE: JUST PICK 3 - 4 OF THE IDEAS ON THIS PAGE.  YOU NEED NOT DO ALL OF THEM.

22. Tell her about your moods. Be honest if you are feeling stressed or under the weather. Your woman will appreciate your honesty and will know not to take it personally when you come home in a bad mood.

23. Never underestimate the “Little Things.” Women notice the little things much more often than men, and it's the "little things" that can lead to arguments and breakups. Be intentional about your actions; don't do things for her simply because she expects it or asks you to. Hold her hand. It sounds simple enough, but many men forget this one, simple action. Even though you might not think it is a big deal, she will notice and be thankful later. Be a gentleman, and open the door for her. On date night, her hands should not touch a door handle. Rush ahead to open the car door and restaurant door. Finally, touch her. Touching can be a very sensual experience for a woman. As you're walking together, wrap your arm around her. As you're standing next to her, rest your hand on the small of her back. These simple gestures will go a long way in making her know she is attractive to you.
 

24. There are fewer things better than a weekend away from it all. Plan an entire weekend for just you and her. This entails booking hotel or bed and breakfast reservations, deciding on a babysitter for the children and picking out activities for you and her to enjoy.

25. Don't forget those “Three Magic Words.” Say "I love you" every day. It seems simple enough, but men forget to say it. Many men simply assume that women realize how much they are loved because of the gifts, the touching and the gentlemanly acts, but women need to have vocal reinforcement. Say it, and say it often.

26. Toast to her. Toast each other when you sit down to dinner. It doesn't need to be over bubbly or wine, but even a glass of water or iced tea. Tell her something you love about her and then drink to it!

27. Volunteer to help her. Sometimes she would like to hear you say, “I’ll put the kids to bed tonight” … or “I will do the dishes.” It’s the small things that get her attention. If you never help her, she will feel you don't care. She would like to know you are in her corner.

28. Wake up early one weekend morning and make her favorite breakfast to serve her in bed. Pair this with her favorite magazine or book she is reading and give her some time to just relax. 
 
NOTE: JUST PICK 3 - 4 OF THE IDEAS ON THIS PAGE.  YOU NEED NOT DO ALL OF THEM.

29. When your wife gets out of work and wants to tell you about her day, actually turn away from the television, give her your full attention and really listen to what she has to say. Ask her questions about herself and how her day was. This is not the time to offer manly advice. Rather, act as her sounding board.

30. Wives must feel loved and appreciated. ASD men often take for granted the relationship they have with their wives. We sometimes fail to meet their needs. They must feel loved and appreciated. It’s not enough to just show them you love them, nor is it enough to say it. You must do both. Tell your wife that all the things she does is very much appreciated as well as show her. Don't wait for birthdays and Valentine’s Day to show her.

More resources for couples affected by ASD: 

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

==> One-on-One Counseling for Struggling Individuals & Couples Affected by Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

 


 

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