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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Drug/Alcohol Abuse: A Comorbidity in Autism Spectrum Disorder?

“I heard that people with ASD use drugs more than the general population. They say because it helps them with their anxiety issues. Is this true?”

Actually, a remarkably low occurrence of drug abuse has been reported in this population [1] (research results involving 122 patients). Additionally, other research [2] stated that teens with high-functioning autism had a fairly low risk of drug abuse. 
This may be due to the fact that these young people do not typically display sensation-seeking traits and have an introverted personality in general.

Another study [3] showed higher rates of drug abuse in people with ADHD compared with those with an autism spectrum disorder (58 % versus 30 %). However, alcohol abuse may be a different story.

Matthew Tinsley (an adult with high-functioning autism and alcohol dependency) stated in his book that alcohol abuse in this population may be a way for them “to cope with their anxiety, to maintain friendships, to give access to a whole host of relationships, and even to sustain careers” [4]. Adults on the autism spectrum may display a ‘normal’ façade when they drink, which might explain why their alcohol abuse is not better diagnosed.

On a neuropsychological level, alcohol abuse (which is probably underestimated in this population) may be connected with the “Aspies” social skills deficits (e.g., difficulty empathizing with others, and impaired ability to recognize the emotions of others) [5].

In addition to anxiety (which is typical of Asperger’s and high functioning autism), the main traits are:
  • a weak central coherence (i.e., an inability to bring together various details from perception to make a meaningful whole),
  • social cognition impairments (i.e., an inability to process, store, and apply information about other people in social situations),
  • and executive dysfunction (i.e., deficits in the higher-order processes that enable us to plan, sequence, initiate, and sustain our behavior towards some goal, incorporating feedback and making adjustments along the way) [6]. 


•    Anonymous said… Being ASD or ADHD does increase your chances of using alcohol and or drugs. Also increases the chance of having suicidal thoughts. Lots of things for us to watch out for as our kiddos get older...
•    Anonymous said… Cannabis have helped me (for 30 years). Alcohool no.
•    Anonymous said… For me I disagree. Ian very much anti drugs
•    Anonymous said… For some yes. I don't abuse alcohol but drinking in a social situation makes a world of difference for me (a BBQ or hanging around the house with a friend, acceptable drinking situations  đŸ€·‍♀️). I am however a VERY heavy smoker and have used it as a coping mechanism for years.
•    Anonymous said… Have Aspergers and ADHD, had to stop drinking lately as I've been worried about the amount. Definitely helps when I go out if I have drinks but it can get out of hand.
•    Anonymous said… Hell yes for me it was. I drank like a fish to deal with humans. It covered up social anxiety and made humans more palatable and easier to understand.
•    Anonymous said… I had to stop drinking and smoking because I used to be a drug addict and was addicted to cannabis by 15 I was diagnosed at 20. I have a very addictive nature and I still 2 years later I still get urges to smoke and drink. But i would neber touch drugs again. I've had no help from organisations or counciling. I over came it all alone. I how ever very much believe in medical uses for cannabis and other drugs for the help of mental health issues and cancers. I won't even take medicines now due to my past addictions. I do everything herbally or dietary now.
•    Anonymous said… I had to stop drinking due to health issues and that is what lead me to discovering my place on the spectrum. I had no idea how much I was using alcohol as a coping mechanism for my social anxiety. I'm a musician and I stopped performing all together because I couldn't handle being around people. It not only eliminates my anxiety but it makes me more interactive. Without it I'm sitting in the corner pinching the crap out of pressure points and avoiding eye contact.
•    Anonymous said… I have never drank, smoked or taken a illegal drug in my life and pretty sure I never will.
•    Anonymous said… I never drank more than a sip at thanksgiving a few times, never done any illegal drugs. I have smoked 6 cigars and 1 gasping puff off a Marlboro red. And I accidentally got drunk as a skunk at 9 on chocolate rum balls my dad made and told me to stay out of..... couldn't comprehend what alcohol was at the time and I love chocolate. Which brings me to my only real addiction.... chocolate. I'm a bonafide chocoholic. Like dayyyymmn if there is chocolate in the house, no matter what quantity.... I have no willpower to resist it. When I was younger, my mom bought chocolate bars and stuck them in the freezer thinking I would not eat them frozen...... wrong. I ate them frozen. My only way of dealing with this is to use what will power I have while shopping. I bar a week.
•    Anonymous said… In my case, no. I avoid anything that alters my ability to think clearly and accurately, because I always want to be at my best and I understand that there is a lot I can do personally to maintain holistic health.
•    Anonymous said… I've never drank, smoked or taken illegal drugs and never want to ever
•    Anonymous said… Most of the time it makes my symptoms worse so no. However I do consider myself a psychedelic artist, and I am in a scene where drugs are plentiful. For me however my main inspiration comes from my experience living with autism and naturally being psychedelic from birth. I always saw things and felt things that no one else did or could relate to at all. I have lived a very introverted and isolated life. I did find a scene that embraced me and my art, so what I do is help those on psychedelics or on spiritual paths to facilitate their journey with my art by live painting and performing at events. It is my passion and gives me a purpose that is true to my core being as an aspie artist.
•    Anonymous said… My autistic friend loves to smoke cannabis multiple times a day. He says it makes life worth living.
•    Anonymous said… No, I have never drank, smoked, or abused drugs. However I do have a eating disorder and I self harmed in the past.
•    Anonymous said… No. I take caffeine from coffee or tea(lipton) only, which is natural. Helps my co-ordination in studies, and conversation. Am okay with that. Don't want any drug. I love me like that.
•    Anonymous said… Not all substances are equal. Some drugs affect the mind; some affect the body. Rather than exploring something as ridiculous as whether usage statistics are in line with what’s “normal”, I’d be more interested to know what substances appeal to people on the spectrum.
•    Anonymous said… Nothing wrong with me..I just need a drink?
•    Anonymous said… They do try to self medicate
•    Anonymous said… True for me. I developed a huge drink problem due to using it to alleviate social anxiety.
I'm ok now since I gave up my career.
•    Anonymous said… True here, or it used to be.... alcohol is my best friend and my worst enemy. It's slowly killing me but I wouldn't want to live without it  😔
•    Anonymous said… Yep- makes you feel "normal" and social, reduces sensory overload, and quiets ruminating in the brain. It alleviates the "raw" feeling I have almost all the time as an Aspie. Huge struggle.
•    Anonymous said… was there all along!.. Now ya making progress!
•    Anonymous said… Yes. Working in a bar, things are loud and overstimulating, plus fitting in and being social is difficult and exhausting.
•    Anonymous said… Yup. Makes social interaction easier. Also, at an early age allowed me to form closer bonds with others. I don't abuse it either since i'm aware it can be crutch. It can be a tool if used wisely and with caution -- sometimes easier said than done. Not encouraging alcohol use by any means.

Post your comment below…
  1. Hofvander B, Delorme R, Chaste P, NydĂ©n A, Wentz E, StĂ„hlberg O, Herbrecht E, Stopin A, AnckarsĂ€ter H, Gillberg C, RĂ„stam M, Leboyer M. Psychiatric and psychosocial problems in adults with normal-intelligence autism spectrum disorders. BMC Psychiatry. 2009;10:9–35.
  2. Ramos M, Boada L, Moreno C, Llorente C, Romo J, Parellada M. Attitude and risk of substance use in adolescents diagnosed with Asperger syndrome. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2013;133(2):535–540. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2013.07.022. 
  3. Sizoo B, van den Brink W, Koeter M, van Gorissen Eenige M, van Wijngaarden-Cremers P, van der Gaag RJ. Treatment seeking adults with autism or ADHD and co-morbid substance use disorder: prevalence, risk factors and functional disability. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2010;107(1):44–50. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2009.09.003. 
  4. Tinsley M, Hendrickx S. Asperger Syndrome and Alcohol: Drinking to Cope? In: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, editor. London; 2008. p. 9.
  5. Thoma P, Friedmann C, Suchan B. Empathy and social problem solving in alcohol dependence, mood disorders and selected personality disorders. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2013;37(3):448–470. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2013.01.024. 
  6. Baron-Cohen S, Wheelwright S, Robinson J, Woodbury-Smith M. The Adult Asperger Assessment (AAA): a diagnostic method. J Autism Dev Disord. 2005;35(6):807–819. doi: 10.1007/s10803-005-0026-5.

Medications That Help with the Symptoms of ASD

"I’m a 60 y.o. male with Asperger syndrome (was diagnosed in my 40s), and I know there's no antidote for my disorder, but are there any medications that I could use that help treat some of the unwanted symptoms – for example anxiety and moodiness (just to name a couple)?"

True, there are no prescription medications that specifically treat ASD [or Asperger’s], but there are many that may improve certain symptoms (e.g., anxiety, depression, etc.). 
There are also medications used to treat behavioral issues, (e.g., hyperactivity, aggression, self-injurious behavior, anger-control problems, meltdowns, etc.) that keep the individual from functioning more effectively at work or school (and in your relationships, in general).

Some of these medications are prescribed “off-label” (i.e., they have not been officially approved by the FDA, but the doctor prescribes them anyway if he or she feels they are appropriate).

Some examples of medications that target symptoms of Asperger’s include the following: 
  • Abilify: Effective for treating irritability related to Asperger’s
  • Intuniv: Helpful for the problems of hyperactivity and inattention
  • Revia: Helps reduce repetitive behaviors
  • Risperdal: Prescribed for agitation and irritability
  • SSRIs: Used to treat depression (e.g., Fluoxetine and Sertraline)
  • Zyprexa: Prescribed to reduce repetitive behaviors
  • Olanzapine (Zyprexa): Used "off-label" for the treatment of aggression, agitation, and other serious behavioral disturbances

You may also want to consider complementary or alternative therapies. Some examples that have been used for ASD include: 
  • Secretin
  • Carnosine
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Vitamin B-6
  • Magnesium
  • Vitamin C (usually in combination with other vitamins)
  • Melatonin
  • Gluten-free or casein-free diets

Other therapies that have been tried (but lack objective evidence to support their use) include:
  • chiropractic manipulations
  • hyperbaric oxygen therapy
  • immune therapies
  • massage and craniosacral massage
  • transcranial magnetic stimulation

Speak with your doctor and your local pharmacist about any medications you may want to try. Your local pharmacy will have a wealth of information about the medications they are dispensing and can be a valuable resource.

Preferably, work with a doctor who has experience with autism. The doctor will prescribe the lowest dose possible to be effective. Ask the doctor about any side effects the medication may have, and keep a record of how you respond to the medication. Read the “patient insert” that comes with your medication, and keep the inserts in a small notebook to be used as a reference. This is most useful when several medications are prescribed at one time.

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

 ==> Cassandra Syndrome Recovery for NT Wives


•    Anonymous said… check your local Autism society or a therapist competent in adult ASD diagnosis.
•    Anonymous said… Fluoxetin here
•    Anonymous said… How do you get a professional diagnosis as an adult ? I've tried to research it and there doesn't seem to be any specialists that I can find around here .
•    Anonymous said… I have carbamazepine 400mg venlafaxine 650mg and 80mg beta blockers
•    Anonymous said… I honestly didn't see it. But it sure explains a lot... basically explains my entire life!
•    Anonymous said… I taught 6 kids at a timewoth ASD for years. I knew...SD in 1997 but professionally Dx in 2010
•    Anonymous said… I use ANIRACETAM Choline Bitartrate (need used together) NAC reduce anxiety. L Tyrosine and DL Phenyalaine are Dopamine Precosors - low mmod in those on spectrum usually low dopamine.
•    Anonymous said… I was also diagnosed at 44 (after several years of teaching as an autism specialist, go figure!)
•    Anonymous said… I was also going to suggest CBD oil and fish oil (the omega 3s also help regulate the endocannabinoid system).
•    Anonymous said… I'm 40, been diagnosed since I was 9, looooong before they knew anything in terms of coping strategies and early introvention. After MUCH trial and error (mostly errors) I have a combo of meds that help me function better. Zoloft (depression and anxiety med combo) -start with a low dose cuz too much will make you crazy mean- Geodon (mood stabilizer) -taken at night cuz it will zonk you, and it will flatline your emotions if you take it twice a day- and Adderall (ADD medicine) this helps with executive functioning for me. Also take into account, this is more meds than most on the spectrum need. I have low functioning autism and my meds bring me to moderate functioning level.
•    Anonymous said… It's VERY expensive and really not worth the "official" diagnoses unless there is a reason you need the "label."  Like, to settle a family bet.
•    Anonymous said… My husband saw a psychiatrist with a special interest in autism spectrum
•    Anonymous said… Neuro Psych Evaluation, family's history
•    Anonymous said… Nice to see the awareness of how these issues effect not only self, but others. Best wishes.
•    Anonymous said… Prescription meds are a crap shoot.....scary to have a bad reaction. Most psychiatrists don't listen but just hand out pills from my experience.
•    Anonymous said… Rx meds are definitely a trial and error kind of thing .
•    Anonymous said… Sam E and or CBD oil for the depression and anxiety. You can legally get CBD oil online and at some health stores.
•    Anonymous said… This site has a great amino acids questionnaire that might give you some anxiety relief

Post your comment below…

25 Self-Help Tactics for Adults on the Autism Spectrum

“Any suggestions on what a person with AS can do to stop beating up on oneself. I berate myself often for not measuring up. I feel like I let people down a lot. I would also say I have a lot of anger built up inside (which I am forever trying to keep in check). Some of this can’t be helped, I know, based on AS (I’m on meds for anxiety and depression). But, I still feel like I should be doing better in my relationships with other people.”

So you frequently criticize yourself (internally)? If so, you're definitely not alone. As a man or woman with Asperger’s (high functioning autism), you've weathered a lot of storms in life. And as you dealt with all the difficulties that come with the disorder, your image of yourself changed. Lots of people on the spectrum have trouble coping, and this affects their sense of self-worth. Being bullied as a child, social problems on the job, relationship break-ups, anxiety, depression, and meltdowns – they all take a toll on a person over time.

Here are some self-help tactics to help you rid yourself of disapproving, defeating self-talk:

1. You would be surprised at how many “Aspies” suffer from anxiety and depression. You are in good company, and your discouraging, negative emotions are not a hopeless case. Even though it can feel like your unwanted feelings will never leave, they eventually will when you learn to talk to yourself (about yourself) differently.

2. Avoid 'should' and ‘should not’ statements. If you find that your thoughts are full of “I should do this” … or “I should not do that” … then you are putting unreasonable demands on yourself — or on others. Getting rid of these kinds of statement from your thoughts will lead to more realistic expectations.

3. Many Aspies are tempted to drink or use drugs in an effort to escape negative feelings and get a "mood boost" – even if just for a short time. But, chemical abuse not only makes anxiety and depression worse, it causes you to become even more anxious and depressed over time. Substance abuse can also increase suicidal feelings. Look diligently for another source to boost your mood!

4. Aspies can create change in their life just like anyone else. Change for some people on the spectrum means personal growth and evolution in understanding and learning. For others, it may be more about finding productive and workable “compensatory strategies.”

5. When you hear a destructive comment coming from within yourself, tell yourself to stop. Then immediately replace it with 3 compliments about yourself (e.g., “I’m smart” … “I’m strong” … “I’m a hard worker”). While you're at it, think of 3 things that really give you pleasure (e.g., the way the sun felt on your shoulders, the taste of your favorite food, the way you laughed at that joke you heard earlier, etc.). By focusing on the positive things you do and the good aspects of your life, you WILL change how you feel about yourself.

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

6. Reassure yourself. Give yourself credit for the positive changes you have already made (e.g., "My presentation wasn’t perfect, but my associates asked questions and remained engaged, which means that I accomplished what I set out to do").

7. What “typical” people call “dysfunction” can be turned into your own understanding of numerous ways that you actually DO function.

8. Understand that self-worth is all about how much you value yourself, the pride you feel in yourself, and how worthwhile you feel. Self-worth is important, because feeling good about you affects how you act. An individual who has high self-worth will make friends easily, is more in control of his or her emotions and behavior, and will enjoy life more.

9. Always remember that you are NOT disabled – you are “differently abled.” The key is changing the way you think about difference and being the one that is different.

10. Stay optimistic. Think about the good things that are going on in your life. Remind yourself of the things that have turned out O.K. recently. Consider the talents you've used to cope with demanding circumstances.

11. Anxiety and depression can take a big toll – even leading to suicidal thoughts. Talk to a counselor if life becomes too overwhelming.

12. Spend time with a friend who is active, upbeat, and makes you feel good about yourself. Avoid hanging out with those who make you feel insecure.

13. Try to limit the time you spend playing video games or surfing online. Instead, seek real-life, face-to-face connections with trusted individuals.

14. Many people with Asperger’s possess extensive knowledge of a specific interest, and therefore are capable of major accomplishments. Consider taking your area of expertise to a new level (e.g., sharing your knowledge on a blog, writing a book, uploading informative YouTube videos, etc.).

15. Forgive yourself. We all make mistakes, and mistakes are not permanent reflections on you as an individual. They are simply isolated moments in time. When you make a mistake, say to yourself, "Yes, I made a mistake, but that doesn't make me a failure."

16. Making healthy lifestyle choices does wonders for your mood. For example, diet and exercise have been shown to help anxiety and depression. You actually get a rush of endorphins from aerobics or lifting weights, which makes you feel instantly happier. Exercise can be as effective as medications or therapy for anxiety and depression. Any physical activity helps – even a short walk.

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

17. Knowing what brings you happiness and how to meet your goals will help you feel adept, resilient, and in control of your life. A positive frame-of-mind and a healthy lifestyle (e.g., exercising and eating right) are a great combination for building good self-worth.

18. Relabel troubling thoughts. You don't need to react negatively to troubling thoughts. Rather, think of these thoughts as signals to try new, healthy patterns. Ask yourself, "What can I think and do to make this situation less nerve-racking?"

19. Remember that a lot of what people on the spectrum do differently – or the ways in which they think differently – can be positively framed in realizing their ability to function in - and through - what is a different capability.

20. If your emotions are overwhelming, tell yourself to wait 24 hours before you take any course of action. This will give you time to really think things through and give yourself some distance from the intense feelings that are troubling you. During this 24-hour period, talk to someone—anyone (e.g., a parent or a friend).

21. When you’re depressed, you probably don’t feel like seeing anyone or doing anything. Just getting out of bed in the morning is a problem, but isolating yourself will make depression even worse. Stay social – even if that’s the last thing you want to do. As you get out into the community, you may find yourself feeling better.

22. If there are aspects about yourself that you want to change, make goals for yourself. For instance, if you want to get in great shape, make a plan to exercise every day and eat healthy foods. Then track your progress until you reach your goal. Meeting a challenge you set for yourself is perhaps the best method for boosting self-worth!

23. For many Asperger’s adults, common assets include high intelligence and a robust interest in at least one area of narrow focus. While this narrow focus can have its downsides, it can also be harnessed as a strength in many ways (e.g., a lover of gardening may write a “best-selling” eBook on the subject someday).

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

24. Married life can sometimes influence self-worth. For example, your spouse/partner may spend more time criticizing you and the way you behave (possibly through no fault of your own due to the symptoms of Asperger’s) than complementing you, which can reduce your ability to develop a healthy sense of self-worth. So, if your spouse/partner is overly critical, tell them that you need some encouragement from time to time. They may not realize they have been coming down hard on you. As one Aspie husband stated, "My wife just doesn’t understand. She thinks I should ‘try harder’. But trying harder to re-wire my brain hasn’t worked so far.”

It may seem like there’s no way your spouse/partner will be able to help, especially if they are always nagging you or getting hurt over your behavior. The truth is that they hate to see their “significant other” suffering. They may feel frustrated, because they don’t understand what is going on with you or know how to help. Some don’t know enough about Asperger’s to know how to deal with it. Thus, it’s up to you to educate them.

25.    Employ hopeful statements in your self-talk. Treat yourself with compassion and encouragement. Negativity can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. For instance, if you think your presentation is going to suck, you may indeed fumble through it and fall flat on your face. Tell yourself things like, "Even though it's rough, I can handle this issue."

People who think negatively of themselves tend to view the world as a hostile place and themselves as its victim. Therefore, they are hesitant to express and assert themselves, miss out on experiences and opportunities, and feel incapable of changing things. All this creates even more negative self-talk, pulling them into a downward spiral.

If you feel that you are overly critical of yourself, use the suggestions listed above so that you can boost yourself and, hopefully, break out of the downward spiral. You may already be using some of these ideas, and you definitely don’t need to be doing them all. Simply do those that you feel most comfortable with.

==> Need some crucial self-help strategies for reducing and eliminating anxiety? You'll find them here...

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

Avoidant Personality: Why Your Spouse with ASD Can’t Handle Constructive Criticism

If your partner on the autism spectrum is offended whenever you wage a complaint or offer some advice, then he or she may have avoidant personality traits. Avoidant personality is characterized by a pattern of feelings of inadequacy and hypersensitivity to negative evaluation. 
The individual is fearful of disapproval and social rejection. In many cases, this is the result of peer-rejection that occurred during childhood. Avoidant personality becomes a major component of this person’s overall character - and a central theme in how he or she relates to others.

ASD individuals with avoidant personality tend exhibit the following traits:

  • Avoids social situation and activities that involve significant interpersonal contact because of fears of criticism, disapproval, or rejection
  • Drinks before social situations in order to soothe nerves
  • Is inhibited in new interpersonal situations because of feelings of inadequacy
  • Has very low self-esteem due to a long history of making “social mistakes” (usually unintentionally)
  • Is unusually reluctant to take personal risks or to engage in any new activities because they may prove embarrassing
  • Tends to be easily offended by even "neutral" comments from others (especially his/her spouse)
  • Is unwilling to get involved with people unless certain of being liked
  • Shows restraint within intimate relationships because of the fear of being shamed or ridiculed
  • Stays quiet or hides in the background in order to escape notice and avoid chit chat
  • Views self as socially inept, personally unappealing, or inferior to others
  • Has intense worry before an upcoming social event (e.g., a large family gathering)

For people on the autism spectrum with avoidant personality, evaluating for the presence of psychiatric disorders (e.g., depression, drug/alcohol abuse, anxiety disorders) is extremely important. Also, because “anxiety tendencies” are often found in other family members, a family psychiatric history is beneficial. 


A cycle for the individual with avoidant tendencies looks like this:

==> low social/emotional intelligence due to ASD ==> results in poor social skills ==> results in social mistakes/failures ==> results in teasing, rejection, ridicule by others ==> results in avoiding social situations as much as possible


Quick tips for people with ASD & Avoidant Personality—

•    Work on your communication skills. Good relationships depend on clear, emotionally-intelligent communication. If you find that you have trouble connecting to others, learning the basic skills of emotional competency can help.

•    Take a social skills class or an assertiveness training class. These classes may be offered at your nearest community college.

•    Learn how to control the physical symptoms of social anxiety through relaxation techniques and breathing exercises.

•    Get adequate sleep. When you’re sleep deprived, you’re more vulnerable to anxiety. Being well rested will help you stay calm in social situations.

•    Face the social situations you fear in a gradual, systematic way, rather than avoiding them.

•    Challenge negative, unhelpful thoughts that trigger and fuel social anxiety, replacing them with more balanced views.


More resources:


==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

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

Mood Swings in Adults on the Autism Spectrum

Mood swings can be described as “a mental health condition that results in significant emotional instability.” This can lead to a variety of other stressful mental and behavioral problems. 
With mood swings, a person may have a severely distorted self-image and feel worthless and fundamentally flawed. Anger, impulsiveness and frequent anxiety may push others away, even though the person may desire to have loving and lasting relationships.

If you have Asperger’s (AS) or High-Functioning Autism (HFA), and you experience frequent mood swings – don't get discouraged. Many adults on the autism spectrum have some degree of moodiness, but they get better with treatment and can live satisfying lives. Mood swings affect how you feel about yourself, how you relate to others, and how you behave.

Signs and symptoms of excessive moodiness may include:
  • Awareness of destructive behavior (e.g., self-injury), but sometimes feeling unable to change it
  • Difficulty controlling emotions or impulses
  • Fear of being around crowds
  • Feeling misunderstood, neglected, empty or hopeless
  • Feelings of self-hate and self-loathing
  • Inappropriate anger and antagonistic behavior (sometimes escalating into physical fights)
  • Short but intense episodes of anxiety or depression
  • Suicidal thoughts

When AS and HFA adults have severe mood swings, they often have an insecure sense of who they are. Their self-image or self-identity often changes rapidly. They may view themselves as “bad,” and sometimes they may feel as if they don't exist at all. An unstable self-image often leads to frequent changes in jobs, friendships, goals and values.

When AS and HFA adults experience frequent and severe mood swings, their relationships are usually in turmoil. They may idealize their spouse or partner one moment, and then quickly shift to anger and resentment over perceived slights (or even minor misunderstandings). This is because people on the autism spectrum often have difficulty accepting gray areas. In other words, things seem to be either black or white.

Wild mood swings (which some people call ‘meltdowns’) can damage many areas of a person’s life. It can negatively affect intimate relationships, jobs, school, social activities and self-image. Repeated job losses and broken marriages are common. Self-injury (e.g., cutting, burning) and suicidal thoughts can occur. Also, the individual may have other mental health disorders (e.g., alcohol or substance abuse and dependency, anxiety disorder, depression, and eating disorders).

Treatment for mood swings may include psychotherapy and/or medications:

1. Psychotherapy is a fundamental treatment approach for mood swings. Types of psychotherapy that may be effective include:
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). With CBT, you work with a mental health counselor to (a) become aware of inaccurate, negative or ineffective thinking; (b) view challenging situations more clearly and objectively; and (c) search for and put into practice alternative solution strategies.
  • Mentalization-based therapy (MBT). MBT is a type of therapy that helps you identify and separate your own thoughts and feelings from those of people around you. MBT emphasizes thinking before reacting.
  • Schema-focused therapy (SFT). SFT combines therapy approaches to help you evaluate repetitive life patterns and life themes (schema) so that you can identify positive patterns and change negative ones.
  • Transference-focused psychotherapy (TFP). TFP aims to help you understand your emotions and interpersonal difficulties through the developing relationship between you and your therapist. You then apply these insights to ongoing situations.
2. Medication can help with co-occurring clinical problems, such as depression, impulsiveness and anxiety. Medications may include antidepressants, antipsychotics and anti-anxiety drugs.

Living with frequent and severe mood swings is difficult. You may realize your behaviors and thoughts are self-destructive or damaging, yet you feel unable to control them. Treatment can help you learn skills to manage and cope with your moods.

You can help manage your moods and feel better about yourself if you do the following:
  • Attend all therapy sessions if you are in counseling
  • Don't blame yourself for being chronically “moody,” but do recognize your responsibility to get it treated
  • Get treatment for related problems (e.g., substance abuse)
  • Keep up a healthy lifestyle (e.g., eating a healthy diet, being physically active, engaging in social activities)
  • Learn about mood disorders so that you understand their causes and treatments
  • Learn what may trigger angry outbursts or impulsive behavior
  • Practice healthy ways to ease painful emotions and prevent impulsive behaviors (e.g., self-inflicted injuries)
  • Reach out to other AS and HFA adults to share insights and experiences
  • Stick to your treatment plan if attending counseling
  • If you are on medication, take it as directed and report to your doctor the benefits and side-effects that you experience

Remember, there's no one right path to recovery from wild mood swings. Usually, the best results come from a combination of treatment strategies. Excessive moodiness seems to be worse in older adolescence and young adulthood, and may gradually get better with age. 
Many AS and HFA adults with this condition find greater stability in their lives during their 30s and 40s. As the individual’s inner distress and sense of misery decreases, he or she can go on to maintain loving relationships and enjoy meaningful careers.

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

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

Introduction to Understanding “Spousal ASD”: Summary for Neurotypicals

Here's a good synopsis of what you can expect to witness in your spouse who has autism spectrum disorder (ASD):

Reasons for Rigidity in ASD—

  • the misunderstanding or misinterpretation of your feelings, thoughts, and actions
  • the violation of a rule or ritual (i.e., you, the NT, changing something from the way it is “supposed to be” … you violating a rule, and this is unacceptable to him)
  • anxiety about a current or upcoming event (no matter how trivial it might appear to you)
  • the need for immediate gratification of a need
  • lack of knowledge about how something with social/emotional components is done (by not knowing how the world works with regard to specific social situations and events, he will become anxious and try to reduce his anxiety, which often results in shutdowns or meltdowns)
  • sensory sensitivities
  • the need to avoid or escape from a non-preferred activity (often something difficult or undesirable) 
  • perfectionism
  • OCD tendencies
  • the need to control people for anxiety-reduction reasons
  • the need to engage in - or continue - a preferred activity (usually an obsessive action or fantasy)
  • transitioning from one activity to another (this is usually a problem because it may mean ending an activity before he is finished with it)

Black-and-White Thinking and Mind-blindness—

  • an obsessive-compulsive approach to life that results in the narrow range of interests and insistence on set routines
  • the inability to take your perspective (i.e., mind-blindness)
  • the lack of cognitive flexibility (i.e., black-and-white thinking)
  • there is always some distress, anxiety, or obsession manifested in every “inappropriate” behavior that you, the NT, may witness
  • cognitive difficulties that lead to inaccurate interpretations and understanding of the emotional world (how he interprets a situation determines how he will respond to it, but many times the interpretation of an event is not an accurate one)

Behavioral Manifestations of Anxiety—

  • wanting things to go his way, when he wants them to, no matter what you may want (he may argue, ignore you, refuse to yield, etc.)
  • tending to conserve energy and put forth the least effort he can, except with highly preferred activities
  • remaining in a fantasy world a good deal of the time
  • appearing unaware of events around him
  • reacting poorly to new events, transitions, or changes
  • preferring to do the same things over and over
  • lecturing or scolding you rather than having a reciprocal conversation
  • intensely disliking loud noises and crowds
  • insisting on having things and/or events occur in a certain way
  • having trouble socializing well with you, or avoiding you altogether (he prefers to be alone, because you do not do things exactly as he does)
  • having a narrow range of interests
  • becoming fixated on certain topics and/or routines
  • eating a narrow range of foods
  • demonstrating unusual worries
  • showing resistance to directions from you, the NT
  • creating his own set of rules for doing something
  • becoming easily overwhelmed
  • having difficulty calming down

Questions NTs Should Ask Themselves Regarding Their ASD Spouse’s Behavior—

To help you determine the reasons why your ASD spouse acts the way he does, you should ask yourself the following questions:

1.  Is he misunderstanding what is happening and assuming something that isn't true? (Misinterpretation)

2.  Is he expecting perfection in himself? (Black-and-white thinking)

3.  Is he blaming me for something that is beyond my control? (He feels that you must solve the problem for him even when it involves issues you have no control over.)

4.  Is he stuck on an idea and can't let it go? (He does not know how to let go and move on when there is a problem.)

5.  Is he exaggerating the importance of an event? There are no small events, everything that goes wrong is a catastrophe. (Black-and-white thinking)

6.  Has he made a rule that can't be followed? (He sees only one way to solve a problem. He can’t see alternatives.)

7.  Does he see only two choices to a situation rather than many options? (Black-and-white thinking)

8.  Does he need to be shown a better way to deal with a problem? (He does not understand the way the social world works.)

9.  Because a situation was one way the first time, does he feel it has to be that way always? (Being rule bound)

More Resources:

==> 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 

==> Online Group Therapy for NT Wives

==> Online Group Therapy for Men with ASD


Why Do Some Adults with ASD Get Labeled as “Stubborn”?

"My ASH is a very controlling rigid person. Has to have things his way, or he meltdowns, in which case I have hell to pay. Help me understand this stubbornness please."
One frequently observed trait of ASD (high functioning autism) is inflexibility in thought and behavior. Inflexibility seems to pervade so many areas of the lives of people on the autism spectrum. As a result, many get labeled as “stubborn” by their significant others (e.g., family members, partners, spouses, co-workers, etc.).

Here are some of the reason why people with ASD may come across as stubborn:

1. Some people with ASD can be moralistic (i.e., a self-righteous and inflexible adherence to nonnegotiable moral principles that is usually out of context with practical reality). An example might be the AS individual who criticizes his wife who has run a yellow traffic light when she is on the way to the emergency room for treatment of a burn or cut.

2. Novel situations often produce anxiety for these individuals. They may be uncomfortable with change in general, which can result in behavior that may be viewed as rude and insensitive.

3. Routines and rules are very important to people with Asperger’s in providing a sense of needed order and structure, and thus, predictability about the world. When routines or rules are disrupted, anxiety often follows.

4. People with ASD may have some fears in addition to those related to unexpected changes in schedules (e.g., large groups of people, complex open environments such as bus stations, an unexpected academic challenge, having too many things to remember or too many tasks to perform, etc.).  Such highly-stimulating situations tend to overwhelm these individuals.

5. Many people with ASD have sensory sensitivities, and therefore may refuse to do certain things or go certain places (e.g., refusing to go with his or her spouse to a family function in order to avoid the over-stimulation of a large group of a people – all talking at the same time).

==> Living With ASD: Help for Couples

More reasons behind perceived stubbornness may include:
  • the misunderstanding or misinterpretation of another's action
  • other people changing something from the way it is “supposed to be”
  • anxiety about a current or upcoming event )no matter how trivial it might appear to others)
  • lack of knowledge about how something is done
  • the need to avoid or escape from a non-preferred activity
  • transitioning from one activity to another (often a problem because it may mean ending an activity before he or she is finished with it)
  • the reluctance to participate in an activity he or she can’t do perfectly or an activity that is too difficult 
  • difficulty “taking in” what is going on around him or her
  • problems “reading between the lines”
  • the inability to fully understand social cues

“Facts” are what people with ASD learn and feel less anxious about. Since they have a hard time with all the normal rules of society, having strict rules and routines has a calming effect on them. Unfortunately, this coping strategy can be perceived by others as severe inflexibility.

Understanding what causes so much anxiety and inflexible behavior may help “neurotypical” partners and spouses to know where their "spectrumite" is coming from. In other words, his or her “stubbornness” can be viewed (at least some of the time) as a coping mechanism to reduce anxiety rather than willful and malicious conduct.

Resources for Neurodiverse Couples:

==> Online Group Therapy for Men with ASD

==> Online Group Therapy for NT Wives

==> Living with ASD: eBook and Audio Instruction for Neurodiverse Couples 

==> One-on-One Counseling for Struggling Individuals & Couples Affected by ASD

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

==> Cassandra Syndrome Recovery for NT Wives

==> ASD Men's MasterClass: Social-Skills Training and Emotional-Literacy Development

The Wounded Aspie

This post describes an unfortunate phenomenon involving individuals who think and behave differently (i.e., people with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism), and as a result, have been misunderstood and mistreated to one degree or another throughout their life. 
The mistreatment started as bullying in school, and continues in the workplace (perhaps to a lesser degree). Through years of perceived rejection and ridicule, the Aspergers adult may now feel permanently damaged - psychologically, socially, emotionally and spiritually (which is not the case at all).

Evidence of Being Wounded—

Traits of Aspergers adults who have been wounded by past experiences include the following:
  • acting or feeling as if the abuse is happening all over again
  • angry outbursts
  • decreased interest or participation in certain activities
  • difficulty concentrating
  • difficulty falling and/or staying asleep
  • avoiding activities, places, or people that might be emotionally threatening
  • avoiding thoughts, feelings, or conversations associated with past abuse
  • feelings of detachment or estrangement from others
  • inability to have certain feelings
  • intense distress related to internal or external events that remind one of the perceived abuse
  • meltdowns
  • persistent recollections of past abuse
  • recurrent dreams of past abuse
  • thinking that time is short and there is no future

Traits of the Wounded Aspie—

The wounded Aspie:
  • believes that he is misunderstood and unappreciated, a view that is exacerbated by the negative responses he receives from others for his consistent defeatist stance
  • believes that other people interfere with his freedom
  • expects the worst in most things, even situations that are going well
  • experiences control by others as intolerable
  • has a basic conflict concerning his self-worth
  • has to do things his own way
  • is inclined toward anger and irritability
  • is often disgruntled and declares that he is not treated as he should be, yet he is just as likely to express feeling unworthy of good fortune
  • oscillates between self-loathing and entitlement or moral superiority; either side of this oscillation can be projected onto the environment, and the chaotic nature of this experience of self and others often leads other people to avoid or minimize contact with the Aspie
  • views himself as self-sufficient, but feels vulnerable to control and interference from others
  • views others as intrusive, demanding, interfering, controlling, and dominating

How Relationships Go For the Wounded Aspie—

The wounded Aspie is ambivalent within his relationships and conflicted between his dependency needs and his desire for self-assertion. He wavers between expressing hostile defiance toward people he views as causing his problems and attempting to mollify these people by asking forgiveness or promising to do better in the future.

The wounded Aspie is noted for the stormy nature of his interpersonal relationships. He engages in a combination of quarrelsomeness and submissiveness. His affect is sullen, and he engages in both unintentional – and intentional – rudeness. He is resentfully quarrelsome and irritable. He often feels like a victim. 

Wounded Aspies inflict a great deal of discomfort on others through the use of their anxiety and emotional symptoms. They can become so destructive in their attitudes and so unable to provide rewards to others that they become socially isolated.

These individuals struggle between their desire to act out defiantly and their awareness that they must curtail their resentment. They engage in grumbling, moody complaints, and sour pessimism. These behaviors serve as both a vehicle for tension discharge (i.e., relieving them of mounting anger) and as a means of intimidating others and inducing guilt (i.e., providing them with a sense of retribution for the wrongs they believe they have experienced). These socially maladaptive behaviors result in inevitable interpersonal conflict and frustration. After a time, the sullen moodiness and complaining alienates others. These individuals are able to sense the exasperation and growing animosity that others feel toward them, and they use their awareness to become even more aggrieved (without corresponding acceptance that their behavior has contributed to the situation).

For these individuals, being difficult, unpredictable, and discontent produces certain rewards and avoids certain discomforts. They can control others by forcing them into an uncomfortable anticipatory stance. People in relationships with wounded Aspies are perpetually waiting for the next struggle, the next grievance, the next round of volatility and carping criticism. Wounded Aspies are able, within their relationships, to trap people into situations wherein whatever they do is wrong. Relating to Aspergers adults who are “wounded” becomes a tense, edgy experience where great caution must be employed to avoid precipitating an angry incident.

Ambivalence in the Wounded Aspie—

Ambivalence is expressed behaviorally by vacillation between negativism/autonomy and dependency/conformity. However, even when conforming, the wounded Aspie tends to be contrary, unaccommodating, sulking, pessimistic, and complaining. Aspies who are wounded will behave obediently one time – and defiantly the next. They will be self-deprecating and express guilt for failing to meet expectations in one situation – and express stubborn negativism and resistance in another. They fluctuate between deference and defiance, between obedience and an aggressive negative attitude. Their behavior will go from explosive anger or stubbornness to periods of guilt and shame.

Anger in the Wounded Aspie—

Anger may be expressed directly or indirectly. Indirect expression of anger can take the form of chronic, seething hostility or sadistic carping criticism. Irritating, oppositional, and resentful behavior can be demonstrative of a pervasive pattern of passive resistance. If there is a pattern of chronic hostility and resistance, no situational provocation may be needed for these individuals to engage in preaching behavior, excusing self by accusing others, bumbling behaviors when competence is actually possible, and using a positive gesture as a vehicle for a negative message (e.g., including relationship grievances in a birthday card).

Anger expressed by commission is usually justified by laudable motives (e.g., concern for the well-being of the victim). The expression of the anger is dictated by the desire to wound while concealing the intention to wound – and even the existence of anger. This is not to spare the feelings of the victim, but to wound them more effectively. The intent is to provoke counter-anger with such subtlety that the victim blames herself and believes her anger is not justified. That way, the wounded Aspie can assume the role of innocent victim.

Affective Issues in the Wounded Aspie—

The wounded Aspie is vulnerable to anxiety, somatoform disorders, and depression. Major depressive episodes are not uncommon. In depressive cycles, there is evidence of a tendency to blame others, a demanding and complaining attitude, and low self-confidence.

Wounded Aspies experience an undercurrent of perpetual inner turmoil and anxiety. They appear unable to manage their moods, thoughts and needs internally, which results in emotional instability. They suffer a range of intense and conflicting emotions that surge quickly to the surface due to weak controls and lack of self-discipline.

Co-occurring Substance Abuse in the Wounded Aspie—

The incidence of co-occurring substance abuse with the wounded Aspie is high. He is prone to use drugs to regulate mood states. It is consistent with his general attitude and belief that he views himself as entitled to an external solution to problems. The drug of choice is a pharmacologic defense mechanism chosen by how well it fits with the Aspie’s usual style of coping and how effectively it bolsters already established patterns for managing psychological threat. Prescribed pain killers, anti-anxiety agents, marijuana, and alcohol are the most commonly used drugs by these individuals.

Self-Fulfilling Prophecies in the Wounded Aspie—

Due to mind-blindness, the Aspergers adult does not always understand the motives of others. Unfortunately, when he is impacted negatively by another person’s words or actions (and doesn’t understand why that person would say or do such a thing), he tends to fill in the void with a “negative” (e.g., “she said that to hurt me” …or “he did that because he doesn’t like me”).

Thus, since the Aspie is pretty much in a constant state of “misunderstanding others motives” and subsequently “filling in the void with a negative,” he often perceives himself as being on the receiving end of criticism, disrespect, and downright emotional abuse.

Now that the wounded Aspie feels like a victim, he responds at times with retaliatory techniques, and at other times with isolation and avoidance – both of which often elicit a negative response from others. This negative feedback from others serves to provide proof (in the Aspie’s mind) that “others are out to get me.”

Treatment for the Wounded Aspie—

There are two major ways for the wounded Aspie to enter treatment. The first is externally leveraged treatment for those Aspies who do not see themselves as having a problem. Someone forced them into treatment (e.g., parent, spouse, employer, the legal system). These clients have minimal insight and often fail to admit that they are a major factor in the problems they have.

The second method is to enter treatment via self-referral for vague complaints (e.g., "I'm just not getting anywhere").

When assessing Aspergers adults who are psychologically injured, the following areas should be explored:
  • coexisting anxiety disorders
  • medication evaluations for antidepressants
  • mental status
  • psychosocial and AOD history
  • self-care skills
  • social skills
  • survival skills
  • use of illegal drugs
  • use of OTC drugs

Treatment for these individuals involves openly exploring the ways they express aggression and neediness toward others by being contrary. Understanding this aggression can allow discovery of the depressive and invalidating experiences underneath, which lead to a fear of loss of autonomy when others want to be close and a fear of loss of connectedness when others want to be alone. 

Determine which situations or experiences are most difficult for these individuals in the direct expression of their feelings or beliefs. Identify all avoidance and anxiety-arousing situations. Address these issues with anxiety-management behavioral intervention techniques. Cognitive therapy can help these individuals understand that they expect the worst from others and then proceed to behave in such a way that brings out the worst from these same people.

Group therapy provides an opportunity to learn how to manage their hostility. When their hostility emerges, group leaders can comment on hostile behavior and encourage other group members to respond. The group leader can assist these individuals to process what it is they want or need at that moment and to rehearse appropriate behavior within the group context. However, these clients will not do well in group if they refuse to accept responsibility for their hostility and alienate the other group members. When that happens, these individuals often leave or become isolated within the group.

Whether the client is in group or individual treatment, it is important to identify and highlight examples of destructive behavior. Reflect on how the behavior is more maladaptive than adaptive. Give examples of how it creates more problems than it solves. Use illustrations from within the immediate treatment process as these individuals will use oppositional techniques and devalue treatment providers in response to real or perceived criticism.

Self-Healing for the Wounded Aspie—

Psychological healing refers to positive psychological change experienced as a result of the struggle with highly challenging life circumstances. These sets of circumstances represent significant challenges to the adaptive resources of the Aspie, and pose significant challenges to his way of understanding the world and his place in it.

The general understanding that suffering and distress can potentially yield positive change is thousands of years old. For example, some of the early ideas and writing of the ancient Hebrews, Greeks, and early Christians, as well as some of the teachings of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam contain elements of the potentially "transformative" power of suffering.

Psychological healing occurs with the attempts to adapt to highly negative sets of circumstances that can engender high levels of psychological distress, which typically engender unpleasant psychological reactions. Healing does not occur as a direct result of past abuse, rather it is the individual’s struggle with the new reality in the aftermath of the abuse that is crucial in determining the extent to which healing occurs.

People who can heal past wounds, either through formal treatment or self-help strategies, often experience the following:
  • changed sense of priorities
  • greater appreciation of life
  • greater sense of personal strength
  • recognition of new possibilities or paths for one’s life and spiritual development
  • warmer, more intimate relationships

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples


•    Anonymous said... My son is experiencing this at 12 and I am doing everything I can to make things better for him. School does not seem to be doing enough or even understand. He complains of being bullied daily (part is him not understanding when kids joke with him and feels bullied). He states he has no friends and upset often, hates school wants to be home schooled. I am looking into trying to get him in autism school. Any suggestions from anyone?

•    Anonymous said... I too have been exploring various schooling options for my 11 year old with AS. I can tell you that multiple sources within the AS support community have told me to try to keep him integrated within a mainstream school population if at all possible rather than moving him to a special needs school. Their rationale was that the real and not insulated like these specialized schools, so the transition is that much more difficult. I get the logic...but allowing my child to be bullied and have his self-esteem suffer as a result is not an option. We are currently trying a small private (regular Ed) school...and so far so good. No IEPs...but a kind, tolerant, creative environment. This decision/dilemma is a complicated thing for sure.

• Anonymous...Wow, this article describes one of my Aspies to a "T", and she is only 11 years old. We have struggled for 2 years to get her out of this hole she is in, even with professional help. It is almost like she has PTSD. Any advice for treating a child?

• Anonymous...This article sounds a lot like my 20-year-old Aspie son. We have been trying to teach him to be more independent for the past two years. He simultaneously fights us tooth & nail, refusing to work toward independence, while declaring that he already knows all this stuff and accuses us of thinking he is stupid for thinking he needs to learn it. He is brilliant, but very naive and awkward socially. Despite his declarations to the contrary, he could not take care of himself if he were on his own. He doesn't want a job because "stupid people" with "stupid policies" are everywhere, and he doesn't think he could take working with either. He sees a counselor twice a month and works (begrudgingly) with a state agency to find employment. They have suggested that we should look into applying for SSI for him. I don't want to throw in the towel, but he could get into an independent living program if he had their funding. His father & I are in our fifties and won't be around forever to support him. The longer we wait, the harder the transition will be for him. We ultimately don't want him to arrive at fifty years old, having never left his parents home and having never learned to live without us, and suddenly we are gone and he is left to fend for himself. We wouldn't really be good parents if we let that happen. Any advice from parents who've been through this transition to adulthood with their Aspie children, or from others who have helped Aspies make this transition would be greatly appreciated.

• Anonymous...There is a great deal of overlap between the Wounded Aspie and the narcissist.

• Anonymous...This is has made my jaw drop..its my husband. I've forwarded it to his/our psychologist, my famuly that are personally impacted and worried for me. Thank you so much.
*  Anonymous ...This is an absolutely spot on description of our future daughter-in-law and future mother to our grandchild. Our son's 1st wife passed away. She has painted my wife and I as monsters and is causing a lot of division in our family. We don't get to see our grandchild and we hear from others that he is showing signs of depression and that he is even malnourished. Our son just doesn't want to lose another companion. We feel completely helpless.

*   Anonymous... My partner is like what is said here but I do not believe it is because he was wounded. I believe it is because he has autism and they are traits of having autism and NOT from being wounded. I think the person that wrote this has autism. 

Post your comment below…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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