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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Showing posts sorted by date for query anger. Sort by relevance Show all posts

Understanding Emotions-blindness in Your Autistic Spouse

Emotions-blindness can be described as a deficit in understanding, processing, or describing emotions, and is defined by (a) difficulty identifying emotions and distinguishing between emotions and the bodily sensations of emotional arousal and (b) difficulty explaining emotions to other people.

There are 2 kinds of emotions-blindness: (1) primary (i.e., an enduring psychological trait that does not alter over time, and (2) secondary (i.e., is state-dependent and disappears after the evoking stressful situation has changed.

Typical limitations that result from emotions-blindness include:

  • very logical and realistic dreams (e.g., going to the store or eating a meal)
  • problems identifying, describing, and working with one's own emotions 
  • oriented toward things rather than people
  • may treat themselves as robots
  • lack of understanding of the emotions of others
  • lack imagination, intuition, empathy, and drive-fulfillment fantasy, especially in relation to objects
  • few dreams or fantasies due to restricted imagination
  • difficulty distinguishing between emotions and the bodily sensations of emotional arousal
  • confusion of physical sensations often associated with emotions
  • concrete, realistic, logical thinking, often to the exclusion of emotional responses to problems


Emotions-blindness creates interpersonal problems because these individuals avoid emotionally close relationships – or if they do form relationships with others, they tend to position themselves as either dependent, dominant, or impersonal (such that the relationship remains superficial).

Emotions-blindness frequently co-occurs with other disorders, with a representative prevalence of:

• 85% in autism spectrum disorders
• 63% in anorexia nervosa
• 56% in bulimia
• 50% in substance abusers
• 45% in major depressive disorder
• 40% in post-traumatic stress disorder
• 34% in panic disorder

Emotions-blindness also occurs in people with traumatic brain injury.
 
A second issue related to emotions-blindness involves the inability to identify and modulate strong emotions (e.g., sadness or anger), which leaves the autistic person prone to sudden outbursts, such rage. The inability to express emotions using words may also predispose the person to use physical acts to articulate the mood and release the emotional energy.

Many adults on the autism spectrum report a feeling of being unwillingly detached from the world around them. They may have difficulty resolving marital conflict due to poor social skills. The complexity and inconsistency of the social world can pose an extreme challenge for people with ASD.

 


 

Resources for Neurodiverse Couples:

==> Online Group Therapy for Men with ASD

==> Online Group Therapy for NT Wives

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples 

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

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

Adults with ASD: What Other Family Members Need To Know

ASD level 1 (high functioning autism) is typically first diagnosed in children. In contrast to those with ASD level 3, people at level 1 acquire language skills normally, develop appropriately in cognitive abilities, and tend to have higher-than-average verbal skills. The most significant feature of ASD is the inability to interact appropriately on a social basis. If untreated, many difficulties continue into adulthood.

Eccentric people have always existed, but ASD isn't always recognized as a possible cause of strange adult behavior. ASD level 1, one of the neurological disorders on the autism spectrum, can be mild, causing only somewhat unusual behavior - or severe, causing an inability to function in society without some assistance (e.g., from a neurotypical spouse). Adults with ASD, like kids with the disorder, have trouble deciphering the normal rules of society, which impacts their home, work and social lives.

Grown-ups on the autism spectrum have high intellectual functioning, but diminished social abilities. An adult on the spectrum may:
  • appear clumsy
  • follow repetitive routines
  • have limited or unusual interests
  • lack social skills
  • lack the ability to read non-verbal cues
  • seem egocentric
  • use peculiar speech and language

Typical adult symptoms include:
  • "black and white" thinking
  • a tendency to be "in their own world"
  • appear overly concerned with their own agenda
  • difficulty managing appropriate social conduct
  • difficulty regulating emotions
  • follow strict routines
  • great musical ability
  • highly focused in specific fields of interest often to the exclusion of other pursuits
  • inability to empathize
  • inability to understand other perspectives
  • intense interest in one or two subjects
  • outstanding memory

Let’s go into greater detail regarding ASD in adults:

1. Assessment—ASD is a clinical diagnosis versus medical. Neurological and organic causes remain mostly unknown. Psychological interviewing that includes medical, psychiatric and childhood history contributes to an ASD diagnosis, which may coexist with other mood and behavior disorders.

2. Behavior— Grown-ups on the spectrum usually prefer structured lives with well-defined routines and may become agitated or upset when these routines are broken. If, for example, your spouse normally eats breakfast at 9 a.m. and becomes stressed out when asked to eat at an earlier time, this may be indicative of ASD. Unlike adults with level 3 autism, however, an individual at level 1 will probably be able to keep his frustration in check. 
 
Grown-ups with ASD may also be reluctant to initiate conversation and require prodding to talk to you at all, especially if that individual is already engaged in a favored activity when you try to initiate conversation. Eye contact may be rare. An individual with ASD may have obsessive tendencies that manifest in such ways as insisting all of his books be lined up in a certain order on the shelf or that the clothes in his closet are categorized by color, style or season. Reliance on routine, obsession with categories and patterns and limited conversation are all symptoms of ASD that may be observed at home.

3. Cognitive Symptoms— While grown-ups with ASD are often of above-average intelligence, they may process information more slowly than normal, making it difficult to participate in discussions or activities that require quick thinking. These individuals may have trouble with organization and seeing the "big picture," often focusing on one aspect of a project or task. Most are rigid and inflexible, making transitions of any type difficult.
 

4. Common Careers— Adults on the spectrum have sophisticated skills in certain areas, such as those dealing with numbers or art. Most often, these skills do not exist together. Careers that do not rely on short-term memory are better suited for an individual on the spectrum. Appropriate careers include computer and video game design, drafting, commercial art, photography, mechanic, appliance repair, handcraft artisan, engineering and journalism.

5. Communication— Grown-ups with ASD may demonstrate unusual non-verbal communication, such as lack of eye contact, limited facial expressions or awkward body posturing. They may speak in a voice that is monotonous or flat. They may engage in one-sided conversations without regard to whether anyone is listening to them. They are often of high intelligence and may specialize in one area or interest. This leads to a lack of interest in alternate topics and the unwillingness to listen when others are speaking. 
 
Such poor communication skills can lead to problems finding a job or interacting effectively in a workplace environment. Grown-ups with ASD often communicate poorly with others. Many talk incessantly, often about topics that others have no interest in. Their thought patterns may be scattered and difficult to follow and never come to a point. Speech patterns may have a strange cadence or lack the proper inflections. An individual on the spectrum may have difficulty understanding humor and may take what's said too literally.

6. Diagnosis— Most grown-ups with ASD are able to live relatively normal lives. They are often regarded as shy, reserved or even snobbish by others. As these are not considered abnormal behaviors, a real diagnosis may come late in life, or not at all. You can get a more accurate picture of whether your partner has ASD by talking to the people who know him, such as co-workers, college professors, other relatives and friends (though an individual with ASD may have a very limited social circle). 
 
Ask whether your partner initiates conversation, if he seems awkward and unsure of himself during social interactions, and whether he has any strange behaviors his peers may have noticed. If the answers you get make you suspect ASD, you can encourage your partner to seek therapeutic attention to manage the condition better.

7. Emotional Symptoms— Unlike adults with autism level 3, people at level 1 want to fit in with others. Their social and work-related difficulties can cause anxiety, anger, low self-esteem, obsessive compulsive behaviors and depression. They may feel disconnected and distant from the rest of the world, a feeling called "wrong planet" syndrome.

8. Imagination— Grown-ups with ASD may be unable to think in abstract ways. They may be inflexible in their thinking, unable to imagine a different outcome to a given situation than the one they perceive. Such rigid thinking patterns may make predicting outcomes of situations difficult. These individuals may develop strict lifestyle routines and experience anxiety and distress if that routine is disrupted. To avoid such disruption, some adults may keep extensive written to-do lists or keep a mental checklist of their plans.

9. Physical Symptoms— Grown-ups with ASD are often physically awkward. Many have a peculiar walk, poor posture or general clumsiness or difficulty with physical tasks.
 

10. Preoccupations and Obsessions— One of the diagnostic criteria for ASD is an "encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus." A grown-up with the disorder may obsessively latch on to a single hobby or area of interest, often memorizing facts to the smallest detail. Some individuals are successful in their work environment because of their attention to detail and ability to retain information. An inability to be flexible or to deal with changes in routine is also a trait. An adult with the disorder may have difficulties in his home life, often demanding little or no change in routines or schedules.

11. Prognosis— ASD is a continuous and lifelong condition. Individuals on the spectrum should be able to function with the disorder with proper coping skills in place. Adapting their environment to their condition is especially critical. Finding a work environment that de-emphasizes social interactions may be appropriate. In addition, having a regular work routine and schedule may be beneficial. Interventions, such as social skills training, education and/or psychotherapy, may be necessary to better manage symptoms.

12. Relationships— Because grown-ups with ASD struggle to understand emotions in others, they miss subtle cues such as facial expression, eye contact and body language. As a result, an adult on the spectrum appears aloof, selfish or uncaring. Neurologically, adults with ASD are unable to understand other people's emotional states. They are usually surprised, upset and show remorse when informed of the hurtful or inappropriate effect of their actions. 
 
Affected adults show as much interest as others do in intimate relationships. However, most ASD adults lack the social or empathetic skills to effectively manage romantic relationships. An individual with the disorder behaves at younger developmental age in relationships. The subtleties of courtship are unfamiliar and sometimes inappropriate physical contact results.
 

13. Social Interaction— Grown-ups with ASD may have difficulty interacting in social groups. For example, they may choose inappropriate topics to discuss in a group setting or find making small talk difficult or even annoying. As they tend to be literal thinkers, they may have trouble understanding social metaphors, teasing or irony. They may lack empathy or find it hard to relate to other people. Some adults on the spectrum have anger management problems and may lash out in a social setting without regard to another's feelings. They may report feeling detached from the world and having trouble finding and maintaining relationships.

An individual with the disorder lacks the ability to display appropriate non-verbal behaviors, such as eye contact, facial expressions, body postures and gestures. He may have difficulties in initiating and maintaining friendships because of inappropriate social behaviors. He may appear rude or obnoxious to others and at times is left out of social encounters. Unlike adults with autism level 3, who withdraw from other people, adults level 1 often want to fit in but don't know how. The inability to "read" other people's social signals or to display empathy for other's problems leads to awkward social encounters.

14. Speech Patterns— Another feature of ASD is impaired speech. The individual with this disorder may speak in a monotone voice or may speak too loudly and out of place. He may interpret everyday phrases literally. The commonly used phrase "break a leg" will be taken literally to injure one's self. Subtle humor or sarcasm may not be understood or may be misinterpreted. Some individuals display highly developed vocabulary, often sounding overly formal and stilted.

15. Stereotypical Behavior— Grown-ups with this condition often are preoccupied with something to the extreme level. For example, if he likes football, that is all he will talk about--all the time and with everyone. These individuals are also often obsessed with parts of objects. 
 
On another note, they need routines to help them function. They do not like changes in routines, and find them difficult. Other stereotypical behavior in which they engage is body movements; they often flap their fingers, or make complex body movements (e.g., tics).





COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said… Did you know your spouse had AS? In many of our cases we did not nor did they. It is a relatively new and ever expanding diagnosis and understanding and every case is slightly different. The things that drew me like a magnet to my husband were and still are the things that make him special. I am no slouch and at the time of meeting my husband I was dating several college young men and they pailed in comparison to his whit, intellect and attention to detail. I was also very glad he was not so stuck on himself like many of the people I was dating. he did not care if he wore the latest fashion, etc. I still am intrigued by his ability to comprehend complex thoughts and frankly living with a "normal" person must be quite boring. Marriage is a 2 way street but not every street has level surfaces and some roads have bumps and pot holes. I am not saying that life is easy living with a spouse with AS but it could be much worse. We have never been without a home, vehicles, jobs, or our needs met. He works hard to provide for his family and himself. He knows his limitations but also knows that he can try and make up for it in other ways. Keep researching and trying to find out if a life with your spouse is right for you. Not everyone can be the strong one or the one who has t take care of the finer details of life. But, be encouraged, at least you now know what is going on and can take whatever steps you both desire to achieve your outcome.
•    Anonymous said… Good luck. Keep trying. Pregnancy was not a big deal for my ASH either. On the good side, It was all about me smile emoticon And... I took care of the children by myself and in my younger years I was resentful but when we had our son I actually was thankful. My children have wonderful memories I made for them. We had bonding time that was ours and ours alone and that is okay by me. My ASH could not nurse the babies anyway, LOL. One good thing is they take things literally. You can say exactly what you need. If I want to celebrate a holiday, I say, "it is important to me to celebrate. I want,,," and say specifically what I want, go out to dinner, gift, party, etc. I had a significant birthday last year. I got exactly what I asked for, like a hand written love note at least 3 sentences. It was beautiful!
•    Anonymous said… I also feel like I'm nagging some, not as much as I used to. I finally got over having my house look a certain way. When I want it neat for more than a few minutes and get frustrated, I have to stop and think of all the things I love about him. We separated for about 9 months. It really helped us both see what was important, and he realized that making a habit of a few chores was important to me.
•    Anonymous said… I find that it is really helpful to communicate with my partner with AS via emails and texts especially about important things to do with our relationship but even about things that I need help with for our baby daughter and around the house. It allows him the emotional and mental space he needs to absorb the information and takes away the feelings of frustration that usually arise for me when I can't seem to get through to him.
•    Anonymous said… I simply can't imagine why anyone would knowingly marry into this. I felt conned. Bait and switch. Three years later and two kids later im so burnt out. All advice is for how the NT partner should walk on eggshells. This is BS. Marriage takes TWO. Where are the articles and advice for the work the aspie partner has to do?
•    Anonymous said… I think my biggest challenge is that my spouse needs constant reminding of what needs to be done. He is not the orderly type of AS, but a really messy one. He just does not notice what needs to be done, because it is not important to him. I do have to state what I feel is the obvious, like please take out the trash, because it really does not bother him if it's setting in his path and he has to walk over it or around it. The constant reminding, which I feel is nagging, gets really old to me. I feel like I am the only responsible one a lot, although less than I used to feel. On the other hand, my husband is very honest and communicative. He does not like tension between us, so he makes sure that we are good and I am not upset with him. We have been married for 21 years and he has matured greatly. I have to say that at the time I married him, AS was not a term, he was just quirky. My friends and family were slow to warm to him, and he to them, so sometimes that was uncomfortable for me, too. He is much more social than he used to be. He has more of a sensor now, so he doesn't blurt out intimate details of our life to everybody anymore, which is nice. He has really great friends and is a really great friend. If you are his friend, he will be your friend for life. He is maybe the most caring individual I have ever met. I have to say that our first 5 years were very trying at times, but I had to change my mindset that an argument wasn't about winning, but it was about understanding where the other person is at. I guess we have both really matured over these years. Now we are parenting two kids, one with AS and the other NT. I am so glad that he is my partner for this ride because he really gets our AS child and is such a great dad to both of our children.
•    Anonymous said… The AS realization came only about two months ago. It explains everything of the past three years. Truthfully, it has been terrible. He did enough at the beginning, and then switched off once I got pregnant. He's blowing off going to therapy of any kind. Thats what gets me most angry. He needs to try. And he should. What I liked about him at the beginning was like an illusion. He's not that person at all. Your words give a glimmer of hope though. Thank you again.
•    Anonymous said… The non AS partner does often reach the point of feeling lonely and neglected, without their partner noticing, which adds to the downward spiral. I am looking forward to hearing of any strategies that couples have found helpful in addressing this. On a positive note, this is a second marriage for both of us, and it has lasted longer than both previous relationships partly because we are aware of AS!
•    Anonymous said… This is so very new to me. I just found out my husband has aspergers and we just got married. I am really struggling with this. On one hand I am very glad I finally understand why I do not have this emotional connection with him but on the other hand I am a person who loves affection and I was just thinking if he could get some counceling from the abuse he had when he was a child then maybe I could get it and now I feel like I will never have it. Though my ex husband cheated on me left and right indo know for a fact my husband would never ever cheat so that is a relief. How did you deal w the loss of affection?

Post your comment below…

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!

 


 

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.



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

 


 

Will Your ASD Partner's Anger-Control Issues Be a Life-Long Problem?

 “Are people on the autism spectrum usually prone to angry outbursts? I recently discovered that my boyfriend has traits of ASD and need to know if his ‘anger control’ issue is going to be an ongoing problem for us.”

 


People with ASD are prone to anger, which can be made worse by difficulty in communicating feelings of anxiety. Anger is often a common reaction experienced when coming to terms with problems in relationships (i.e., things that occur that raise the ASD individual’s stress level).

There can be an ‘on-off’ quality to this anger where the individual is calm minutes later after an angry outburst (e.g., meltdown), while those around are stunned and may feel hurt or shocked for hours, if not days, afterward.

The NT partner often struggles to understand these angry outbursts, with resentment and bitterness building up over time. Once the NT understands that her ASD partner has trouble controlling his anger - or understanding its effects on others - she can learn ways to respond that will help to manage these outbursts (i.e., to keep them from escalating).

In some cases, the person on the spectrum may not acknowledge that he has trouble with his anger - and will blame his NT partner for provoking him. Again, this can create enormous conflict within the relationship. It will take carefully phrased feedback and plenty of time for the ASD partner to gradually realize he has a problem with how he expresses his anger and frustration.

A good place to start is identifying a pattern in how the outbursts are related to specific frustrations. Such triggers may originate from the environment, specific individuals, or internal thoughts. Common causes of anger in people with ASD include: other people’s behavior (e.g., critical comments); intolerance of imperfections in others; having routines and order disrupted; anxiety; being swamped by multiple tasks or sensory stimulation.

Identifying the cause of anger can be a challenge.  It is important to consider all possible influences relating to one’s physical state (e.g., pain, tiredness), mental state (e.g., existing frustration, confusion), the environment (e.g., too much stimulation, lack of structure, change of routine), and how well the ASD individual can regulate difficult emotions. Life-coaching and Neurodiverse Couples Counseling can help in this area.

 

 


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

How Alexithymia Affects Relationships: Tips for People with ASD

“Could you please go into greater detail regarding Alexithymia? I’m diagnosed with ASD and believe that I also have this comorbid condition.”

Alexithymia can be described as a deficit in understanding, processing, or describing emotions - and is defined by: (a) difficulty identifying emotions and distinguishing between emotions and the bodily sensations of emotional arousal; (b) difficulty describing emotions to other people; (c) constricted imaginal processes: and (d) a stimulus-bound, externally oriented cognitive style.

There are two kinds of alexithymia: (a) primary alexithymia, which is an enduring psychological trait that does not alter over time; and (b) secondary alexithymia, which is state-dependent and disappears after the evoking stressful situation has changed.


Typical aspects that result from Alexithymia can include:

  • very logical and realistic dreams
  • problems identifying, describing, and working with one's own emotions
  • oriented toward things rather than people
  • may treat themselves as robots
  • few dreams or fantasies due to restricted imagination
  • difficulty distinguishing between emotions and the bodily sensations of emotional arousal
  • confusion of physical sensations often associated with emotions
  • concrete, realistic, logical thinking, often to the exclusion of emotional responses to problems
  • lack of understanding of the emotions of others
  • lack intuition and empathy


Alexithymia creates interpersonal problems because the affected individual avoids emotionally close relationships, or if he does form relationships with others, he tends to position himself as either dependent, dominant, or “impersonal” (i.e., the relationship remains superficial).

Another issue related to Alexithymia involves the inability to identify and control strong emotions (e.g., sadness or anger), which leaves people with ASD prone to sudden emotional outbursts (e.g., rage, meltdowns). The inability to express emotions using a “feelings vocabulary” predisposes them to use physical acts to articulate the mood and release negative pent-up emotional energy.

Many people on the autism spectrum report a feeling of being unwillingly detached from the world around them. The affected individual may have difficulty finding a life partner or getting married due to low emotional intelligence and weak social skills. The complexity and inconsistency of the social world poses an extreme challenge, but the good news is that emotional competencies can be increased - and social skills can be learned. Finding a therapist who specializes in ASD can be helpful.

 



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

 


 

Is Your Partner or Spouse on the Autism Spectrum? - Comprehensive List of Traits Associated with ASD


You think your partner or spouse may have autism? This comprehensive list will give you a better clue. Here you will find the majority of symptoms associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) – level 1. The individual will not usually have ALL of these traits, however:


1.    An awkward gait when walking or running
2.    Anxiety
3.    Averts eye contact, or keeps it fleeting or limited
4.    Avoids eye contact altogether
5.    Benefits from schedules, signs, cue cards
6.    Can only focus on one way to solve a problem, though this solution may be ineffective
7.    Can recognize smells before others
8.    Can’t allow foods to touch each other on the plate
9.    Can't extend the allotted time for an activity; activities must start and end at the times specified
10.    Carries a specific object
11.    Complains of a small amount of wetness (e.g., from the water fountain, a small spill)
12.    Complains of clothing feeling like sandpaper
13.    Compromises interactions by rigidity, inability to shift attention or “go with the flow,” being rule bound
14.    Confronts another person without changing her face or voice
15.    Continues to engage in an ineffective behavior rather than thinking of alternatives

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

16.    Covers ears when certain sounds are made
17.    Creates jokes that make no sense
18.    Creates own words, using them with great pleasure in social situations
19.    Difficulties with fine motor skills
20.    Difficulties with gross motor skills
21.    Difficulty accepting new clothing (including for change of seasons)
22.    Difficulty applying sufficient pressure when writing, drawing
23.    Difficulty coordinating different extremities, motor planning
24.    Difficulty discriminating between fact and fantasy
25.    Difficulty in auditory areas

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

26.    Difficulty in gustatory areas
27.    Difficulty in olfactory areas
28.    Difficulty in tactile areas
29.    Difficulty in visual areas
30.    Difficulty incorporating new information with previously acquired information (i.e., information processing, concept formation, analyzing/ synthesizing information), is unable to generalize learning from one situation to another, may behave quite differently in different settings and with different individuals
31.    Difficulty initiating, maintaining, and ending conversations with others
32.    Difficulty maintaining the conversation topic
33.    Difficulty understanding the meaning conveyed by others when they vary their pitch, rhythm, or tone
34.    Difficulty using particular materials (e.g., glue, paint, clay)
35.    Difficulty when novel material is presented without visual support
36.    Difficulty when throwing or catching a ball
37.    Difficulty when touched by others, even lightly (especially shoulders and head)
38.    Difficulty with any changes in the established routine
39.    Difficulty with clothing seams or tags

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples


40.    Difficulty with direction following
41.    Difficulty with handwriting
42.    Difficulty with independently seeing sequential steps to complete finished product
43.    Difficulty with motor imitation skills
44.    Difficulty with organizational skills (e.g., What do I need to do, and how do I go about implementing it?)
45.    Difficulty with Reciprocal Social Interactions
46.    Difficulty with rhythm copying
47.    Difficulty with sequencing (e.g., What is the order used to complete a particular task?)
48.    Difficulty with task completion
49.    Difficulty with task initiation
50.    Difficulty with transitions

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

51.    Displays a delay when answering questions
52.    Displays a lack of desire to interact
53.    Displays a lack of empathy for others and their emotions (e.g., takes another person’s belongings)
54.    Displays a limited awareness of current fashion, slang, topics, activities, and accessories
55.    Displays a limited awareness of the emotions of others and/or how to respond to them
56.    Displays a strong need for perfection, wants to complete activities/assignments perfectly (e.g., his standards are very high and noncompliance may stem from avoidance of a task he feels he can't complete perfectly)
57.    Displays a strong olfactory memory
58.    Displays abnormal gestures/facial expressions/body posture when communicating
59.    Displays an inability to focus when surrounded by multiple sounds (e.g., shopping mall, airport, party)
60.    Displays anxiety when touched unexpectedly
61.    Displays average or above average intellectual ability
62.    Displays average or above average receptive and expressive language skills
63.    Displays difficulty analyzing and synthesizing information presented
64.    Displays difficulty as language moves from a literal to a more abstract level
65.    Displays difficulty monitoring own behavior
66.    Displays difficulty sustaining attention and is easily distracted 

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

 
67.    Displays difficulty understanding not only individual words, but conversations
68.    Displays difficulty with inferential thinking and problem solving (e.g., completing a multi-step task that is novel)
69.    Displays difficulty with problem solving
70.    Displays difficulty with volume control (i.e., too loud or too soft)
71.    Displays discomfort/anxiety when looking at certain pictures (e.g., the person feels as if the visual experience is closing in on him)
72.    Displays extreme fear when unexpected noises occur
73.    Displays high moral standard
74.    Displays rigid behavior
75.    Displays rigidity in thoughts and actions
76.    Displays strong letter recognition skills
77.    Displays strong number recognition skills
78.    Displays strong oral reading skills, though expression and comprehension are limited
79.    Displays strong spelling skills
80.    Displays strong word recognition skills
81.    Displays unusual chewing and swallowing behaviors
82.    Distractable and has difficulty sustaining attention
83.    Does not appear to comprehend the facial expressions of others
84.    Does not appear to comprehend the gestures/body language of others
85.    Does not ask for help with a problem
86.    Does not ask for the meaning of an unknown word

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

 
87.    Does not inquire about others when conversing
88.    Does not make conversations reciprocal (i.e., has great difficulty with the back-and-forth aspect), attempts to control the language exchange, may leave a conversation before it is concluded
89.    Does not observe personal space (is too close or too far)
90.    Does not respond to temperature appropriately
91.    Does not turn to face the person he is talking to
92.    Does not use gestures/body language when communicating
93.    Easily activated gag/vomit reflex
94.    Emotional responses out of proportion to the situation, emotional responses that are more intense and tend to be negative (e.g., glass half-empty)
95.    Engages in competing behaviors (e.g., vocalizations, noises, plays with an object, sits incorrectly, looks in wrong direction)
96.    Engages in intense staring
97.    Engages in obsessive questioning or talking in one area, lacks interest in the topics of others
98.    Engages in repetitive/stereotypical behaviors
99.    Engages in self-stimulatory behaviors (e.g., hand movements, facial grimaces)
100.    Engages in self-stimulatory or odd behaviors (rocking, tics, finger posturing, eye blinking, noises — humming/clicking/talking to self)

 

 

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

101.    Excellent rote memory
102.    Fails to assist someone with an obvious need for help (not holding a door for someone carrying many items or assisting someone who falls or drops their belongings)
103.    Fails to inquire regarding others
104.    Failure to follow rules and routines results in behavioral difficulties

105.    Fearful of the sounds particular objects make (e.g., vacuum, blender)
106.    Feels need to complete projects in one sitting, has difficulty with projects completed over time
107.    Few interests, but those present are unusual and treated as obsessions
108.    Finds some smells so overpowering or unpleasant that he becomes nauseated
109.    Focuses conversations on one narrow topic, with too many details given, or moves from one seemingly unrelated topic to the next
110.    Focuses on special interests
111.    Frustration if writing samples are not perfectly identical to the presented model
112.    Has a large vocabulary consisting mainly of nouns and verbs
113.    Has a set routine for how activities are to be done
114.    Has a voice pattern that is often described as robotic
115.    Has an extensive fund of factual information
116.    Has an unusual pencil/pen grasp
117.    Has developed narrow and specific interests; the interests tend to be atypical (note: this gives a feeling of competence and order; involvement with the area of special interest becomes all-consuming)
118.    Has difficulty shifting from one channel to another; processing is slow and easily interrupted by any environmental stimulation (i.e., seen as difficulty with topic maintenance). This will appear as distractibility or inattentiveness

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


119.    Has difficulty with feelings of empathy for others. Interactions with others remain on one level, with one message
120.    Has rules for most activities, which must be followed (this can be extended to all involved)
121.    Has specific strengths in cognitive areas
122.    Has tics or facial grimaces
123.    Has unusual fears
124.    Ignores an individual’s appearance of sadness, anger, boredom, etc.
125.    Impaired reading comprehension; word recognition is more advanced (e.g., difficulty understanding characters in stories, why they do or do not do something)
126.    Impairment in prosody
127.    Impairment in the pragmatic use of language
128.    Impairment in the processing of language
129.    Impairment in the semantic use of language
130.    Inability to prevent or lessen extreme behavioral reactions, inability to use coping or calming techniques
131.    Increase in perseverative/obsessive/rigid/ritualistic behaviors or preoccupation with area of special interest, engaging in nonsense talk
132.    Inflexible thinking, not learning from past mistakes (note: this is why consequences often appear ineffective)
133.    Insistence on Set Routines
134.    Interprets known words on a literal level (i.e., concrete thinking)
135.    Interrupts others
136.    Is not aware of the consequences of his “hurtful” behavior
137.    Is oversensitive to environmental stimulation (e.g., changes in light, sound, smell, location of objects)
138.    Is unable to accept environmental changes (e.g., must always go to the same restaurant, same vacation spot)
139.    Is unable to change the way he has been taught to complete a task

140.    Is unable to focus on group goals when he is a member of the group
141.    Is unable to make or understand jokes/teasing
142.    Is unable to select activities that are of interest to others (unaware or unconcerned that others do not share the same interest or level of interest, unable to compromise)
143.    Is unaware he can say something that will hurt someone's feelings or that an apology would make the person "feel better" (e.g., tells another person their story is boring)
144.    Is unaware of unspoken or “hidden” rules — may “tell” on peers, breaking the “code of silence” that exists. He will then be unaware why others are angry with him
145.    Is unaware that others have intentions or viewpoints different from his own; when engaging in off-topic conversation, does not realize the listener is having great difficulty following the conversation
146.    Is unaware that others have thoughts, beliefs, and desires that influence their behavior
147.    Is under-sensitive to environmental stimulation (e.g., changes in light, sound, smell, location of objects)
148.    Knows how to make a greeting, but has no idea how to continue the conversation; the next comment may be one that is totally irrelevant
149.    Lack of appreciation of social cues
150.    Lack of cognitive flexibility
 

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


151.    Lacks awareness if someone appears bored, upset, angry, scared, and so forth. Therefore, she does not comment in a socially appropriate manner or respond by modifying the interaction
152.    Lacks awareness of the facial expressions and body language of others, so these conversational cues are missed. He is also unable to use gestures or facial expressions to convey meaning when conversing. You will see fleeting, averted, or a lack of eye contact. He will fail to gain another person's attention before conversing with her. He may stand too far away from or too close to the person he is conversing with. His body posture may appear unusual
153.    Lacks conversational language for a social purpose, does not know what to say — this could be no conversation, monopolizing the conversation, lack of ability to initiate conversation, obsessive conversation in one area, conversation not on topic or conversation that is not of interest to others
154.    Lacks facial expressions when communicating

155.    Lacks the ability to understand, attend to, maintain, or repair a conversational flow or exchange — this causes miscommunication and inappropriate responses (unable to use the back-and-forth aspect of communication)
156.    Laughs at something that is sad, asks questions that are too personal
157.    Limited or abnormal use of nonverbal communication
158.    Looks to the left or right of the person she is talking to
159.    Makes comments that may embarrass others
160.    Makes limited food choices
161.    Makes rude comments (tells someone they are fat, bald, old, have yellow teeth)
162.    Meltdowns (e.g., crying, aggression, property destruction, screaming)
163.    Must eat each individual food in its entirety before the next
164.    Narrow clothing preferences
165.    Narrow food preferences
166.    Narrow Range of Interests

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

 
167.    Needs to smell foods before eating them
168.    Needs to smell materials before using them
169.    Needs to touch foods before eating them
170.    Non-compliant behaviors
171.    Observes or stays on the periphery of a group rather than joining in
172.    Once a discussion begins, it is as if there is no “stop” button; must complete a predetermined dialogue
173.    Only sits in one specific chair or one specific location
174.    Overreacts to pain
175.    Patterns, routines, and rituals are evident and interfere with daily functioning
176.    Plays games or completes activities in a repetitive manner or makes own rules for them
177.    Poor balance
178.    Poor impulse control
179.    Prefers factual reading materials rather than fiction
180.    Prefers structured over non-structured activities
181.    Purposely withdraws to avoid noises

182.    Rarely varies the pitch, stress, rhythm, or melody of his speech. Does not realize this can convey meaning
183.    Responds with anger when he feels others are not following the rules, will discipline others or reprimand them for their actions
184.    Rigidity issues tied in with limited food preferences (e.g., this is the food he always has, it is always this brand, and it is always prepared and presented in this way)
185.    Rules are very important as the world is seen as black or white
186.    Rushes through fine motor tasks
187.    Shows a strong desire to control the environment
188.    Sits apart from others, avoids situations where involvement with others is expected
189.    Smiles when someone shares sad news
190.     Socially and emotionally inappropriate behaviors
191.    Stands too close or too far away from another person
192.    Stands too close to objects or people
193.    Stares intensely at people or objects
194.    Takes perfectionism to an extreme
195.    Talks on and on about a special interest while unaware that the other person is no longer paying attention, talks to someone who is obviously engaged in another activity, talks to someone who isn’t even there
196.    Touches, hugs, or kisses others without realizing that it is inappropriate
197.    Under-reacts to pain
198.    Unsure how to ask for help, make requests, or make comments
199.    Uses conversation to convey facts and information about special interests, rather than to convey thoughts, emotions, or feelings
200.    Uses facial expressions that do not match the emotion being expressed

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

201.    Uses gestures/body language, but in an unusual manner
202.    Uses language scripts or verbal rituals in conversation, often described as “nonsense talk” by others (scripts may be made up or taken from movies/books/TV)
203.    Uses the voice of a movie or cartoon character conversationally and is unaware that this is inappropriate
204.    Uses visual information as a “backup” (e.g., I have something to look at when I forget), especially when new information is presented
205.    Uses visual information as a prompt
206.    Uses visual information to help focus attention (e.g., I know what to look at)
207.    Uses visual information to make concepts more concrete
208.    Uses visual information to provide external organization and structure, replacing the person’s lack of internal structure (e.g., I know how it is done, I know the sequence)
209.    Uses words in a peculiar manner
210.    Views the world in black and white (e.g., admits to breaking a rule even when there is no chance of getting caught)
211.    Visual learning strength
212.    When processing language (which requires multiple channels working together), has difficulty regulating just one channel, difficulty discriminating between relevant and irrelevant information
213.    When questioned regarding what could be learned from another person's facial expression, says, “Nothing.” Faces do not provide him with information. Unable to read these “messages,” he is unable to respond to them
214.    Will only tolerate foods of a particular texture or color



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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