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

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

How to Tell the Difference Between a Meltdown and an Adult Tantrum: Tips for NT Spouses

“I know that people with autism spectrum disorder have their meltdowns, but I’m having a hard time distinguishing the difference between my ASD husband’s meltdowns versus the adult version of a tantrum. These two look the same to me, but I don’t want to confront him if he is legitimately having a ‘meltdown’ because I know that he’s not able to control some of that.”


A key difference to remember is that tantrums usually have a purpose. The person who is "acting out" in the moment is looking for a certain reaction from you (e.g., to push YOUR anger button in order to piss you off). On the other hand, a meltdown is a reaction to something that short circuits the reasoning part of the brain (e.g., sensory overload, anxiety overload, unexpected and troubling change in the person's routine or structure, feeling overwhelmed by one's emotions, etc.), and has nothing to do with your response to it.

ASD is often referred to as the "invisible disorder" because of the internal struggles these individuals have without outwardly demonstrating any real noticeable symptoms (when they are calm anyway). People with this disorder struggle with a stressful problem, but “internalize” their feelings until their emotions boil over, leading to a complete meltdown. These outbursts are not a typical tantrum.

Some meltdowns are worse than others, but all leave both spouses exhausted. Unlike tantrums, meltdowns can last anywhere from ten minutes to over a day – or more. When it ends, both partners are emotionally drained. But, don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet. At the least provocation, for the remainder of that day, and sometimes into the next, the meltdown can return full force.

Meltdowns are overwhelming emotions and quite common in people on the spectrum. They can be caused by a very minor incident to something more traumatic. They last until the individual with ASD is either completely exhausted, or he gains control of his emotions (which is not easy for him to do). Most autistics have “emotional-regulation” difficulties!

Your spouse with ASD may experience both minor and major meltdowns over incidents that are part of daily life. He may have a major meltdown over something that you view as a very small incident, or he may have absolutely NO REACTION to something that you view as a very troubling incident.

When your husband is calm and relaxed, talk to him about his meltdowns. Then, tell him that sometimes he “reacts” to (i.e., is startled by) certain problems in a way that is disproportionate to the actual severity of the problem. Have him talk to you about a sign you can give him to let him know when he is starting to get revved-up.  Overwhelming emotions are part of the traits associated with the disorder, but if you work with your spouse, he will eventually learn to control them somewhat (try to catch them in the “escalation phase” rather than after that bomb has already ignited).

People with ASD usually like to be left alone to cope with negative emotions. If your husband says something like, “I just want to be left alone,” respect his wishes for at least a while. You can always go back in 30 minutes and ask if you can help. Do not be hurt if he refuses.

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

 


 

Traits of ASD that “Soon-to-be” Neurotypical Spouses Need to Be Aware Of

“Would there be a list of traits associated with autism spectrum disorder that I could share with my sister (engaged to a man w/ASD) to help her understand him more? He really is a good guy, but sometimes he’s ‘difficult’ to understand.”  


Below are some of the most prevalent features of ASD observed in relationships and other social situations. These traits are just that – TRAITS. They are not “personality flaws” or behavior designed to be purposefully offensive.

The following are traits that can cause confusion for the NT partner. The individual with ASD:

  • may have only one approach to a problem
  • may have signs of Tourette syndrome (motor, vocal or behavioral)
  • can be confused by the emotions of others and have difficulty expressing their own feelings
  • can be very sensitive to particular sounds and forms of touch, yet lack sensitivity to low levels of pain
  • may have difficulty conceptualizing and appreciating the thoughts and feelings of others
  • may have difficulty establishing and coping with the changing patterns and expectations in daily life
  • may not seem to be aware of the unwritten rules of social conduct, and will inadvertently say or do things that may offend or annoy other people
  • may find that eye contact breaks their concentration
  • often fails to comprehend that the eyes convey information on a person’s mental state or feelings
  • may exhibit inappropriate laughter 
  • lacks ‘central drive for coherence’ (i.e., an inability to see the relevance of different types of knowledge to a particular problem)
  • lacks subtlety in retaliating when threatened; may not have sufficient empathy and self-control to moderate the degree of expressed anger
  • may be less able to learn from mistakes
  • is less aware of the concept of personal space
  • may be lost for words due to a high level of anxiety 
  • may become aware of their isolation and, in time, are genuinely motivated to socialize with others, but their social skills are immature and rigid - and others often reject them
  • may talk to themselves or “vocalize their thoughts” 
  • may talk too much or too little, lack cohesion to the conversation, and have an idiosyncratic use of words and patterns of speech
  • is often aware of the poor quality of their handwriting and may be reluctant to engage in activities that involve extensive writing
  • often has the inability to ‘give messages with their eyes’
  • is often very stoic, enduring pain with little evidence in their body language and speech that they may actually be experience agony
  • once their mind is on a particular track, they appear unable to change (even if the track is clearly wrong or going nowhere)
  • uses predominantly a visual style of thinking (and learning)
  • prefers factual, nonfiction reading
  • prefers to be left alone to continue their activity uninterrupted
  • routine is imposed to make life predictable and to impose order, because novelty, chaos or uncertainty are intolerable 
  • may seem to evoke the maternal or predatory instinct in others
  • social contact is tolerated as long as the other people talk about facts and figures – and not emotions
  • has a strong desire not to appear ‘stupid’
  • has a strong preference to interact with people who are far more interesting, knowledgeable, and more tolerant and accommodating of their lack of social awareness
  • has a tendency to interrupt; has difficulty identifying the cues for when to start talking
  • exhibits the tendency to make irrelevant comments
  • may appear “lost in their own little world” – staring off into space
  • may avoid “team playing” at work or in the marriage because they know they lack competence, or are deliberately excluded because they are a liability 
  • may be detached from - or having difficulty sensing - the feelings of others


ASD is primarily characterized by impaired social interaction and limited social-emotional reciprocity. This impairment may go well beyond poor social skills and being socially awkward, depending on the individual’s current anxiety-level. Partners of the autism spectrum tend to have a disconnection in their responses to others if a high-level of emotional intelligence is needed for the interactions. However, as stated previously, this tendency has no malicious intent.


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 to Avoid Meltdowns and Shutdowns in Conversations with Your NT Spouse


Your NT spouse has always wanted “intimacy,” and she got it from you in the early part of the relationship. What you needed more than anything was to be “appreciated” in the early going of the relationship. She appreciated you - and she showed it.

Neither one of you had the thought of this intimacy and appreciation business, but that's what was going on. She got her intimacy in the early days when you first got together. You got your appreciation.

What happens most often in the early going of the relationship: The NT spouse IS his special interest, but after the newness of the relationship wears off, he often reverts back to his original special interest. And she notices that he is slowly detaching [but this occurs at an unconscious level for both parties, initially].

He's not purposely trying to do this, but he's disengaging from the intimacy that was established in the beginning; he separates somewhat, and she notices that - and she starts becoming the “pursuer.” But, the more she pursues, the more he distances himself, because her effort to get him to reconnect [even though her intentions are pure] downloads in his mind as criticism [e.g., I’m not good enough. I’m not measuring up. I’m not meeting her expectations.].

 ==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

The more that she pushes to get him back into the relationship, the more that causes anxiety for him, and he continues to distance and distance - and she continues to pursue and pursue. Finally, she gets tired of pursuing - and may become resentful for “wasting” so many years.

So, she's no longer getting her intimacy needs met, and you certainly are not getting your appreciation needs met. But the marriage difficulties affect her more profoundly, because one of her main passions is social and emotional things. So, when you disconnected, she lost one of her main interests. You didn't lose much though! You still have your main interest, whether that's a hobby, your work, or whatever.

When this disengagement occurred, she lost more than you did, and so that's why she is the one that's more distraught - and therefore the one that's more resentful …the one that's angrier and more verbal about the “disconnect” than you. You were more connected with her back in the day, but that has disappeared.

She might say something like, “When we first started dating, things were pretty good. He was sweet and nice and affectionate, but he changed. He changed, and it's not like it used to be anymore.”  In a nutshell, she needs you to give her more of a sense that she's getting some of her intimacy needs met - and in return, you will get more of your appreciation needs met. There are many ways to get intimacy needs met, and one of the main ways is through effective communication.

When she has broached some difficult topics, what typically happens? Your anxiety comes up, of course, because now she's talking about a heavy topic, and you may tend to either meltdown or shutdown, or just stand there and act as if you’re listening and agree with her [e.g., “Yeah, sure, okay, I’ll do it. Whatever you say.”] – just to hurry up and get the conversation over with.

The ASD man’s typical reaction [when his NT wife is trying to talk about some heavy topics about relationship problems] is to either do some version of a shutdown or some version of a meltdown. This is what we want to get rid of guys! We want to stop the propensity to react with meltdowns and shutdowns [i.e., a response that has been either aggressive or passive]. We want to avoid those two ends of the extreme, and what would be in the middle is “assertiveness.”

Passivity could be: “I’m afraid that I’m going to say or do something wrong. So, I try to say and do as little as possible - anything to keep the peace” [an example of when he just avoids the conversations entirely]. Aggressiveness could be: “She has made me very anxious when she talks about these relationship problems, and my anxiety sometimes expresses itself as anger and rage.” So, we're trying to avoid those two extremes and come into the middle, which is assertiveness. 

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

She wants you to be more empathic, but empathy is going to be incompatible with passivity or aggressiveness. You can't be empathic and passive. At the same time, you can't be empathic and aggressive. So, we must learn assertiveness before we can practice empathy, and what we're ultimately trying to achieve here is the business of getting some of her intimacies needs met.

One version of assertiveness would be to face the music when she wants to talk about heavy topics - and to sit there and practice dealing with uncomfortable emotions in the moment. For example: As she is talking, I'm going to look in her direction. I’m going to nod while she's talking. I’m not defending myself, and I’m not leaving. I’m staying right there and facing the issue in question.

Her message may not necessarily be the way that I see things, but I’m not here to defend my perspective or to offer my opinion. I’m here to listen to her opinion. So, the goal here guys is listen to understand rather than listen to “mount a defense” - and that sounds like a tall order, and some of you guys will be thinking, “I don't know how the hell I’m going to tolerate that.”

I know it's going to feel very uncomfortable at first, and your anxiety is going to come up, especially if she's complaining - yet again - about what you're doing wrong …or what you're not doing right …or things that you're saying that are upsetting …or things that you're not saying that you're supposed to be saying, etc.

I’m sure you've been in the “dog house” so much that you've taken up residence in there, because it's safer to be in in the doghouse than to face the music and have her talking to you about difficult problems. So, let me remind us of what we're doing here. My goal is to help you reduce your relationship stress, and one of the ways that I can approach that goal is to help you guys avoid taking either the passive reaction or the aggressive reaction to her difficult conversations.

How do we do that? We get to assertiveness rather than being passive or aggressive. What does that look like? We stay right there when she's talking, rather than talking over her or getting angry with her - or leaving. You say, “I’m here to understand your point of view, rather than listen to defend myself.”

So in this scenario, there's no defense …you're not going to feed your pride or ego. If you make the mistake of trying to squeeze-in your defense or try to prove her wrong – you've just SCREWED yourself out of a golden opportunity to give her some display of empathy.

In this instance, it's active listening, which will directly give her the impression that she's finally getting some understanding from you. That’s the whole goal here. When she's wanting to talk to me, I’m not going to leave …I’m not going to get mad. Instead, I’m going to listen, and I’m going to paraphrase what I heard, and I’m going to validate that she just spoke “her truth” to me. That is a form of assertiveness!


More resources:

 

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

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

Anxiety and Associated Obsessive-Compulsive Behaviors in People on the Autism Spectrum

 


“Can anxiety and/or OCD be the cause for my (ASD) husband's shutdowns?" 

 

Obsessive-compulsive issues (e.g., rituals, rigidity, perseverations, creating rules, black-and-white thinking, etc.) originate in the ASD person’s difficulty understanding the social world. This creates anxiety, which is the underlying cause for obsessive-compulsive behaviors. You, the NT wife, will see anxiety in many different ways depending on how your husband manifests it. 

 

Some people on the autism spectrum will show anxiety in obvious ways (e.g., frustration, anger, isolation). Others show it by trying to control the situation and bossing people around. Some may throw an adult temper tantrum. No matter how your husband displays his anxiety, you need to recognize that it’s there and not assume it’s due to some other cause (e.g., insensitivity, narcissism, not caring about the relationship, etc.).

 

Anxiety can occur for the smallest reason. Don't judge anxiety-producing situations by your own reaction to an event. Your husband may be much more sensitive to situations than you will be, and you may often have the thought that “there is no logical reason for his anxiety.” On the other hand, something that you would be highly anxious about may cause no anxiety in your husband. 

 

Your husband's first reaction to marital conflict is to try to reduce - or eliminate - his anxiety. He MUST do something, and one of the most effective means is to take all changes, uncertainty, and variability out of the equation. This can be accomplished by obsessions. 

 

If everything is done a certain way, if there is a definite and unbreakable rule for every event, and if everyone does as he wishes – everything will be fine. Anxiety is then diminished or reduced, and no meltdowns or shutdowns occur. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to do this in the real world.  

 

Behavioral manifestations of anxiety in your spouse may include the following:

 

  • Wanting things to go his way, when he wants them to - no matter what anyone else may want.
  • Tending to conserve energy and put forth the least effort he can (except with highly-preferred activities).
  • Remaining in his “fantasy world” a good deal of the time - and appearing unaware of events around him.
  • Reacting poorly to new events, transitions, or changes.
  • Preferring to do the same things over and over.
  • Lecturing others or engaging in a monologue rather than having a reciprocal conversation.
  • Intensely disliking loud noises and crowds.
  • Insisting on having things and events occur in a certain way.
  • Having trouble socializing - or avoiding socializing altogether. 
  • Having a narrow range of interests, and becoming fixated on certain topics or routines.
  • Eating a narrow range of foods.
  • Displaying some odd behaviors because he is anxious or does not know what to do in a particular situation.
  • Demonstrating unusual fears, and showing resistance to directions from others.
  • Demanding unrealistic perfection in himself – and others.
  • Creating his own set of rules for doing something.
  • Becoming easily overwhelmed and having difficulty calming down.


  
 
 
==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples [eBook and Audio]

Online Group Therapy for Couples & Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder

Mark Hutten, M.A. - Counseling Psychologist

Are you experiencing relationship difficulties with your partner or spouse who is on the autism spectrum (ASD)? Are you on the autism spectrum and struggle to meet your neurotypical (NT) partner's needs and expectations? Has separation or divorce crossed your mind? Are the two of you already in the process of breaking up? If so, then this is your opportunity to receive group therapy via Skype with me, Mark Hutten, M.A.


A MESSAGE FOR Neurotypical + ASD Couples:



A MESSAGE FOR THE ASD MEN (diagnosed or otherwise):



A MESSAGE FOR THE NEUROTYPICAL (NT) WOMEN:



If you're interested, please read the following:
  1. Create a Skype account, if you haven't done so already - it's free!
  2. Cost: $99.00 for the 4-week class (1 hour per week). Click on the "register now" link below to receive your group access link, or simply send $99. using PayPal to mbhutten@yahoo.com   (How to Send Money with Your PayPal Account)
  3. Email me (mbhutten@yahoo.com) after purchase and tell me which group you're registering for so I can send you the access link to that group. (Note: Please give me up to 24 hrs. to send you the link).
  4. Bonus: Get my $19.00 eBook (see below) for FREE! When you register for the class, I'll email you the link to the eBook along with your access link.

OUR NEXT SCHEDULED GROUPS:

*** ASD/NT Couples only ***   
 
==> REGISTER NOW <==
 
Date: Meets on Mondays and runs from 8/15/22 to 9/5/22 - OPEN  
Time: 3 PM (Eastern Standard Time)  
Members: Attend with or without your ASD partner
 
NOTE: If this date/time doesn't work for you, no worries. I record these sessions and will send you the link to each one within 24 hours [includes all 4 sessions]. You can view the sessions at your convenience, and can view them multiple times! 
 
Simply register via the PayPal button above, then email me [mbhutten@yahoo.com] to let me know that you will NOT be attending the sessions live, and will need the videos-link sent to you via email.
 
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*** NT Women only *** 
 
==> REGISTER NOW <==
  
Date: Meets on Tuesdays and runs from 8/16/22 to 9/6/22 - OPEN  
Time: 3 PM (Eastern Standard Time)  
Members: No ASD participants
 
NOTE: If this date/time doesn't work for you, no worries. I record these sessions and will send you the link to each one within 24 hours [includes all 4 sessions]. You can view the sessions at your convenience, and can view them multiple times! 
 
Simply register via the PayPal button above, then email me [mbhutten@yahoo.com] to let me know that you will NOT be attending the sessions live, and will need the videos-link sent to you via email.

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*** ASD Men only *** 
 
==> REGISTER NOW <==
     
Date: Meets on Wednesdays and runs from 8/17/22 to 9/7/22 - OPEN  
Time: 3 PM (Eastern Standard Time) 
Members: No NT participants  
 *** You do not have to have a formal diagnosis to attend. ***
 
NOTE: If this date/time doesn't work for you, no worries. I record these sessions and will send you the link to each one within 24 hours [includes all 4 sessions]. You can view the sessions at your convenience, and can view them multiple times! 
 
Simply register via the PayPal button above, then email me [mbhutten@yahoo.com] to let me know that you will NOT be attending the sessions live, and will need the videos-link sent to you via email.


Got questions? Email: mbhutten@yahoo.com
Crucial information to get you started with healing your relationship:







More audio clips from Mark's workshops:






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Not ready to do group therapy yet? Try my program first then:

==> Living with an Aspergers Partner ...is a downloadable eBook designed to help couples who are experiencing relationship difficulties related to Aspergers (high-functioning autism).

WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW!


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Brief biography:

Educational-
  • Bachelors Degree; Psychology - Anderson University, Anderson, IN
  • Masters Degree; Counseling Psychology - Vermont College of Norwich University, Montpelier, VT

Employment history-
  • Madison County Juvenile Probation: SHOCAP Program
  • Madison County Community Justice Center
  • Madison County Correctional Complex
  • Sowers of Seeds Counseling
  • Indiana Juvenile Justice Task Force
  • The Anderson Center 
  • The Center for Mental Health

I'm a retired Family Therapist who performed home-based counseling/supervision for families experiencing difficulty with their children's emotional and behavioral problems, and conducted the following group therapies:
  • Parent-Education Training
  • Anger-Management Groups
  • Relapse Prevention Groups
  • Drug/Alcohol Workshops
  • Sex Offender Groups

I'm currently a practicing Counseling Psychologist and parent-coach with more than 25+ years of experience. I have worked with hundreds of children and teens with Autism and Asperger's. I have also worked with hundreds of couples (married or otherwise) affected by autism spectrum disorders. I present workshops and run training courses for parents and professionals who deal with Autism Spectrum Disorders, and am a prolific author of articles, Blogs, and Ebooks on the subject.
 
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Ivory Esther at 5:17 PMThis is the most helpful site I have ever encountered. I have a wonderful husband who drives me crazy as I now realise he is moderately autistic. I have never heard anyone describe our relationship so accurately as you have, and your hints for short conversations etc. are spot on. His lack of interest in the mundane tasks of everyday life, which as we get older (married for 44 years) I really need him to share more and more. Thank you so much. I am very grateful. I live in Ireland but plan on participating in one of your online courses for NT wives.

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