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 anxiety. Sort by relevance Show all posts

Why Your Spouse with ASD is Afraid of You

Your spouse on the autism spectrum may be afraid to discuss relationship difficulties with you. Why?

As you know, high-functioning autism is a “developmental” disorder, which means that developmentally, your spouse on the spectrum has a social-emotional brain that is under-developed
In other words, he is low in the social and emotional intelligence. This also means that his social and emotional needs are significantly lower than his NT wife’s needs.

So, when she wants to discuss relationship issues with her ASD spouse, she is, of course, going to be using her highly developed social and emotional intelligence as she tries to make her points.

However, the ASD husband is listening with a highly logical brain that is also low in social and emotional competency. Therefore, he is not “tracking” her important message. It’s like she is very fluent in German, but he just speaks a tiny bit of German. So, as she is talking, he’s only understanding and retaining about 10% of the total information – and he knows it!

The typical partner on the autism spectrum knows that he is not fully understanding what his NT wife is thinking and feeling – and this makes him feel stupid. The NT wife eventually realizes that her husband does not “get it.” 
She feels as though she has wasted her time and energy in trying to make him understand what she needs. So, she understandably complains that he doesn’t “get it” - and may even accuse him of “not caring” and/or “not listening.”

This complaint downloads in the autistic brain as criticism, disrespect and ridicule. This is why the man with ASD hates having difficult conversations with his wife. Now he feels stupid AND chastised. He thinks, “I don’t understand what she is saying or feeling, which makes me feel dumb, and then I get in trouble for being dumb.”

So, you can see why difficult conversations about relationship problems would be something he dreads. And when she says something along the lines of “WE NEED TO TALK” - his anxiety instantly increases as he forecasts yet another bad outcome [i.e., a heated argument that yields no solution].
Many men on the autism spectrum have reported that they are afraid of their NT wife. They know that when there has to be a discussion on relationship problems, they are not going to grasp her perspective very well, and they also know they’re going to be in trouble for not being able to grasp it.

Thus, most often, the ASD man will try to avoid these difficult conversations - and if that’s not possible, he will hurry up and agree to whatever she says purely to get the conversation over with as soon as possible, which instantly reduces his fear and associated anxiety.


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

Lying or Fantasizing in Your ASD Spouse - Which Is It?


"Mark, I've watched many of your videos but haven't seen one that addresses the lying. My husband verbally manufactures whatever he thinks makes him look good in any given situation. But I'm aware 50% of it, didn't actually happen. It's compensation and excuse and falsehoods to make himself look like he took action - when it's obvious he didn't."

People with High-Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger’s (AS) often confuse their spouse/partner by the quantity/quality of their dishonesty and by the fact that the usual chastisement for “getting caught” dooen't change the behavior. It will be helpful for NT partners to think less in terms of “dishonesty” and more in terms of "fantasizing" (i.e., the ASD guy will say what he wants to be true, rather than what is really true).

Fantasizing that “looks like” lying happens for several reasons. Here are just a few:

1. The “partner-pleaser” factor: The HFA or AS spouse knows that the truth may make his partner angry, and he wants to please her. If he has done something wrong (e.g., due to impulsivity, compulsive behavior, self-protective behavior, language processing problems, etc.), he may try to make it right by telling his partner what he thinks she wants to hear.

2. The “lack of awareness” factor: The ASD guy simply doesn't know what is true. If he behaves impulsively, he may not have an awareness of what he has done. Also, if he has problems with language processing, he may not understand what was asked or expected.

3. The “confusing reality with fiction” factor: The ASD partner can’t distinguish between wishful thinking and reality. What is objective to the NT spouse may be subjective to him. If one truth is as good as another, he may select the one that seems (in his mind) to best fit the situation.

4. The “inability to predict cause-and-effect” factor: The HFA or AS partner can't forecast the outcomes of his behavior. To use a ridiculous example:

He throws a rock and breaks a window. His blameworthiness in the act seems clear-cut to you. However, if he has trouble with the relationship between cause-and-effect, he may not be able to make the connection between throwing a rock and breaking a window. In his mind, intentionality is a factor. In other words, if he didn't intend to do it, he didn't do it!

5. The “it’s true for me” factor: HE is telling “HIS” truth. Due to his disorder, he often experiences the world very differently as compared to you, the NT. But that does not make his experience “false.” If he persistently, frantically clings to an assertion that you feel is false (e.g., the water is too hot, this chore is too hard, talking about the relationship problems is too difficult, etc.), you should ask yourself if it might be only false to you.

6. The “anxiety” factor: The ASD man is stressed. If the NT knows that her man can't think calmly and clearly when stress levels are high, then she shouldn’t be surprised if she sees a lot of senseless, immovable dishonesty in that situation.

7. The “it’s my way to contribute to the conversation” factor: The person on the spectrum may be simply trying to join in the discussion. If he has limited life experiences or a limited emotions-vocabulary, he may want to have something to say, but no real contribution to make. Coming up with a tale (however imaginary or fabricated) may seem to him like the only way to participate.

If the HFA or AS individual has genuine “special needs” that leads him to tell “wishful half-truths” rather than the real truth, NTs should think carefully before handing out lectures and scolding for “dishonesty.” Of course, the ASD husband needs to know that he should be honest at all times, but if the dishonesty is not deliberate, chastisement teaches NOTHING!

When you catch your ASD partner being “dishonest” (in your mind), you should ask yourself if he is doing so with malice and intent. If not, you should try putting more honesty in your man’s fantasizing. Tell him what you think happened instead of demanding an explanation. If he says, "I don't know," then take that as an honest answer. Stay as composed and rational as possible when getting to the truth of the situation. Respect his reality, and be open to negotiation. Also, tell more truth than fiction yourself.

NOTE: Having said all of this, I’m NOT saying that people with ASD “never lie under any circumstances.”


Resources for Neurodiverse Couples:

 ==> Cassandra Syndrome Recovery for NT Wives

==> 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

How To Tell Your Partner That They May Have An Autism Spectrum Disorder: Comprehensive List of Strengths & Challenges

To the NTs: Pick the “strengths” that apply to your ASD partner, then use the suggestion in the video above to broach the topic of ASD. Also, pick which “challenges” listed below that apply as well.

Possible strengths of ASD:

•    Tendency to relate to and defend animals.
•    Tendency to be unconventional, open-minded, and tolerant.
•    Take an interest in arcane or off-beat fields of knowledge.
•    Strong work ethic; commitment to quality and accuracy of work.
•    Some special interests can be channeled into productive hobbies or even careers, where the person may be creative or make new discoveries.

•    Avoid wasting time in some activities that appeal to neurotypical people.
•    Average to very high intelligence.
•    Advocate for the underdog, victims of bullying or member of an oppressed group.
•    Accept quirkiness or imperfection in others, and become a loyal friend.
•    Ability to think in visual images.

•    Ability to perform repetitive tasks where accuracy, rules  and routine are important.
•    Some people may show a strong aptitude for a particular field of study or topic.
•    See through empty rhetoric or conventional pieties.
•    Relish life’s absurd, dark, or incongruous side.
•    Propensity to think outside the box and generate novel solutions to problems.

•    Propensity to express caring in non-traditional ways.
•    Play with language and create puns.
•    Persevere in the face of rejection, confusion or frustration.
•    Intensely responsive when made aware of injustice.
•    Good verbal skills; rich vocabulary.

•    Expend effort and energy to learn social skills that do not come naturally.
•    Enjoy sarcasm and satire.
•    Desire and tendency to follow rules.
•    Concentrate for long periods of time on reading, experimenting, writing,
•    Believe the best of everyone (sometimes naively).

•    Be self-motivated, independent learners.
•    Ability to notice small details of an idea, theory, number pattern, book, film, object or visual image.
•    Ability to absorb and retain large amounts of information, especially about topics of special interest.
•    Ability and tendency to tell the truth—even if it’s not tactful or in one’s self-interest.
•    Ability (in some cases a preference) for spending time alone.


Possible challenges of ASD:

•    Written expression.
•    Vulnerability to stress, sometimes escalating to psychological or emotional problems including low self-esteem, depression, anxiety or obsessive-compulsive behaviors.
•    Using humor and sarcasm appropriately; understanding other people’s use of sarcasm and humor.
•    Understanding/accepting one’s own strengths and weaknesses.
•    Understanding the unwritten or implied social rules.

•    Understanding gradations of emotion; matching emotional response to people, activities and settings.
•    Understanding complex or abstract concepts.
•    Time management
•    Switching attention from one thing to another.
•    Sustaining attention to relevant information.

•    Seeing more than one way to accomplish a task/solve a problem.
•    Seeing “the forest for the trees.” Seeing the big picture due to a tendency to focus on the details of a given situation.
•    Recognizing what emotions feel like and look like in self and others.
•    Recognizing and understanding other people’s thoughts, feelings, and intentions due to a tendency to ignore or misinterpret such cues as facial expression, body language  and vocal intonation.
•    Recognizing and protecting oneself from bullies.

•    Recognizing and categorizing information.
•    Feeling somehow different and disconnected from the rest of the world and not “fitting in” — sometimes called “Wrong Planet” Syndrome.
•    Fatigue due to sensory stimulation in certain environments.
•    Fatigue due to conscious mental processing of information that others might process intuitively.
•    Exhaustion due to easily-triggered nervous system (active “Fight or Flight” response).

•    Difficulties with sleep patterns.
•    Developing strategies to offset weaknesses and build on strengths.
•    Coping with changes in familiar routines.
•    Controlling flight or fight response when anxious.
•    Change may trigger anxiety, while familiar objects, settings, and routines offer reassurance. One result is difficulty transitioning from one activity to another: from one class to another, from work-time to lunch or from talking to listening.

•    Realizing there are exceptions to rules; tolerating when other people bend rules.
•    Processing social information quickly and efficiently.
•    Prioritizing, initiating, and completing tasks.
•    Perceiving and expressing one’s own feelings.
•    Organizing thoughts and materials.

•    Noticing and correctly interpreting other people’s nonverbal communication (gestures, body position, facial expression and tone of voice).
•    Motor planning (using the body to accomplish a task).
•    Modulating one’s own nonverbal communication.
•    Knowing where one’s body is in space; avoiding bumping into people or objects.
•    Knowing when one needs help; asking for help.
•    Knowing what to do or say in various social situations.

•    Intense, narrow, time-consuming personal interest(s) — sometimes eccentric in nature — that may result in social isolation, or interfere with the completion of everyday tasks.
•    Integrating multiple sensations and responding appropriately.
•    Initiating, joining, and maintaining conversation.
•    Generating novel or alternative solutions.

•    Generalizing skills from one setting to another.
•    Filtering out extraneous stimuli.
•    Being tactful; being able to tell “white lies.”
•    Aversion to or craving for certain types/intensities of sensory input. Extreme sensitivity — or relative insensitivity — to sights, sounds, smells, tastes, or textures. Many people outgrow these sensory issues at least to some extent as they mature.

•    Auditory, visual, or intellectual processing, which can contribute to difficulties keeping up in a range of social settings.
•    Appearing awkward or rude, and unintentionally upset others.
•    Analyzing relevant vs. irrelevant information.
•    Accepting feedback, advice, suggestions or help from others.
•    Abstracting the main idea from text or conversation.

 ==> Cassandra Syndrome Recovery for NT Wives

==> Videos to help you understand your partner on the autism spectrum... 

Recovery from Cassandra Syndrome: Tips for Neurotypical Partners

As most of you may know, Cassandra Syndrome is basically a lack of adequate psychological nurturance from your significant other [in this case, your spouse on the autism spectrum]. If you have developed this syndrome, you probably gave up hope of having your emotional needs met a long time ago.

Emotional neglect is a failure of your ASD partner to respond to your emotional needs, which occurs as a result of his or her traits associated with the disorder [e.g., alexithymia, mind-blindness].  This neglect can have long-term consequences, as well as short-term, almost immediate ones.

Neurotypical [NT] spouses who chronically feel “affection-deprived” may exhibit the following symptoms:

  • are easily overwhelmed or discouraged
  • are generally in worse health
  • are more lonely
  • feel hollow inside
  • feel like there’s something missing
  • have a feeling of being “numbed out” or being cut off from one’s feelings
  • have a lack of clarity regarding others’ expectations and their own expectations for themselves
  • have a pronounced sensitivity to rejection
  • are less happy
  • are more likely to experience depression and anxiety
  • have less social support and lower relationship satisfaction
  • have low self-esteem
  • experience a loss of “self”
  • have thoughts of “going crazy”
  • feel like they are on the outside, looking in
  • feel empty inside
  • secretly feel that there is something deeply wrong with themselves
  • have difficulty managing their emotions
  • have difficulty finding ways to “self-soothe”

Cassandra Syndrome often occurs because the ASD spouse has a low “emotional-empathic quotient” [i.e., alexithymia]. In other words, the NT frequently finds that her ASD partner is often unable to fully engage with her feelings - and his own feelings!

Due to low social-emotional intelligence, the ASD partner is “psychologically stunted” [i.e., his social-emotional age is significantly younger than his chronological age]. In other words, your ASD spouse may be, for example, 45-years-old but have a maturity-level of a young teenager. As a result, the NT may experience that her partner:

  • views neutral comments as criticism
  • only focuses on his needs
  • can become quickly defensive when she tries to “work” on the relationship problems
  • doesn’t own his mistakes
  • has commitment issues
  • has severe communication problems
  • won't go deep into conversations that involve emotions
  • prefers spending more time with his “special interest” than with her

The effects of chronic and long-lasting “affectional neglect” may have devastating consequences [e.g., failure to thrive, hyperactivity, aggression, depression, low self-esteem, substance abuse, and a host of other emotional issues]. In some cases, Cassandra Syndrome can lead to PTSD. While not everyone who experiences emotional neglect suffers from PTSD, those who do are by no means weak. PTSD is not a sign of weakness.

Often, the ASD husband’s lack of intimacy is the reason the NT partner feels emotionally abandoned and loses interest or desire for sex. The NT may then develop a “fear of intimacy” herself, which can cause her to be emotionally unavailable – just like the ASD partner has been in the past. An endless dance of pursuit-and-distancing can then occur between both partners – along with a significant degree of resentment.

A marriage can survive without intimacy, but it will become a real struggle for both spouses as time goes on. Neither spouse will be happy or feel secure in the relationship. Without happiness and security, both parties become more like roommates rather than soulmates.

So, what can the NT do if she thinks she may have Cassandra Syndrome? Here are a few ideas:

1.    The NT should be gentle with - and take good care of - herself, starting with small steps. Spouses who experience emotional neglect often have difficulty with self-care. Unaware of their feelings and needs, they frequently don’t know where to start. So, the NT should try treating herself with the same care and tenderness she would give a child who wasn’t able to take care of himself/herself.  The NT should be especially tender and compassionate with herself, especially if she tends to be self-critical or judgmental [i.e., at some level, blames herself for the failures in the marriage]

2.    The NT can begin to identify her needs, and take steps to meet them. Many spouses who experience emotional neglect over the years are often unaware of what they need - and typically don’t feel deserving of getting their needs met.

3.    If the NT truly believes she doesn’t deserve to have her needs met, she should acknowledge that belief, and see it as just that - a “belief” and not a “fact.” Begin to deconstruct old beliefs you’ve held for a long time that may no longer hold true.

4.    Remember that recovery from emotional deprivation is a process. For example, if you skin your knee, you need to clean out the wound and expose it to the light of day – right!? The same holds true for emotional injuries. Bring the injury out of hiding, give it some light and air, and then you’ll be on the road to recovery.

5.    Recovery from Cassandra Syndrome is a gradual, ongoing process. The memories of the emotional neglect that you have experienced will never disappear completely. This can make life seem difficult at times. But, there are steps you can take to cope with the residual symptoms and reduce your anxiety and distress. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy [CBT] is a type of psychotherapy that has consistently been found to be the most effective treatment for emotional trauma, both in the short-term and the long-term. “Grief counseling” is also high effective. And don’t forget the NT support groups that are available online.

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

Crucial Interventions for Couples Affected by Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

Here you will find important information (in alphabetical order) for those experiencing relationship problems associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder:


§  Anger to Meltdown to Guilt to Self-Punishment: An ...

§  Anger-Control Problems in Adults on the Autism Spe...

§  Asperger’s Adults and Blue Mood

§  Asperger’s Adults and Problems with Social Imagina...

§  AS and Attention Deficit Disorder

§  Asperger's and Problems with Prediction

§  Asperger's and That Damn Anxiety Problem

§  Boyfriend Doesn't Like To Be Touched?

§  Boyfriend Has a Computer Addiction?

§  Challenges Facing Wives Who Are Married to Asperge...

§  Conversation Starters: Advice from a Guy with Aspe...

§  Denying the Diagnosis of Asperger's

§  Discouraged "Neurotypical" Wife Speaks Out

§  Does My New "Friend" Have Asperger’s?

§  Does Your Man Have Asperger’s?

§  Drug/Alcohol Abuse and Asperger Syndrome

§   Feeling "Out of Place" in the World

§  Feeling Like a “Bad” Partner or Spouse in a Relati...

§  Having a Positive Attitude with Asperger's

§  Help for Adults with Asperger's (high-functioning ...

§  How Aspie Husbands Can Avoid Arguments With NT Wives

§  How I Live with Asperger’s: Tips from a 52-Year-Ol...

§  How to Avoid Meltdowns: Calming Strategies for Adu...

§  How to Deal with Me: An Aspergers Man’s Note to Hi...

§  How to Improve Relationships with Women: Help for ...

§  How to Make it Through the Holiday Season: Tips fo...

§  How to Stay Out of the Doghouse with Your Neurotyp...

§  Inflexibility

§  Is it Sadness or Full-Blown Depression: Tips for A...

§  Is Your Asperger’s Partner a Jerk – or is it a Def...

§  It’s Asperger’s! Should You Share the News?

§  Lack of "Displays of Affection" in Adults with Asp...

§  Making Sense of “Odd” Asperger’s Behavior

§  Medications That Help with Asperger’s Symptoms

§  Men Who Won't "Work" On Their Relations...

§  Men with Asperger's: Summary of Traits that Affect...

§  Men With Asperger's: What Potential Partners Need ...

§  Message to Aspies: Are you afraid to take an hones...

§   Poor Time-Management Skills

§  Positive Traits of Asperger’s Men as Reported by T...

§  Problems with Empathy

§  Relationship Difficulties Due to Deficits in "Theo...

§  Resentment in the Neurotypical Wife

§  Rituals and Obsessions in Adults with Aspergers an...

§  Rules of Effective Listening: Tips for Men on the ...

§  Ruminations in People with Asperger's and High-Fun...

§  Self-Management of Angry Outbursts for Men with As...

§  Should You Disclose Your Diagnosis to Others?

§  Should You Try to Act "Normal?" – Tips for People ...

§  Shutdowns in Spouses/Partners with Asperger’s

§  Signs That Your Neurotypical Wife Is Becoming Bitt...

§  Social Skills 101: Tips for Aspies

§  Suicidal Thinking in People with Asperger's and Hi...

§  Taking Things Too Personally: Tips for Adults on t...

§  Telling Others That You Have Asperger's

§  The 3 Anger Styles of Adults with Asperger’s and HFA

§  The 3 Types of Aspies

§  The Angry Aspie: Tips for Adults on the Autism Spe...

§  The Bullying of People with Asperger’s: Long-Term ...

§  The Easily Frustrated Aspie

§  The Fear of Being Diagnosed with an Autism Spectru...

§  The Hidden Curriculum: Tips for Dummies

§  The Risks Associated with an “Asperger’s” Label

§  Tics in Adults with Asperger Syndrome

§  Tips for Discouraged Neurotypical Spouses: Are You...

§  Traits That Contribute to Relationship ...

§  Traits That Get Misinterpreted As "Inap...

§  Understanding the Mind of Your Asperger’s Mate

§  Understanding the Mind of Your Partner with Asperg...

§  Understanding Your Asperger's Boyfriend: 12 Tips f...

§  What I Do to Cope with Asperger's: My Personal Story

§  What I’ve Learned About Me: Self-Confessions of an...

§  What To Do After a Big Fight With Your Neurotypica...

§  What To Do When Your "Aspie" Man Fails To Empathize

§  What To Do When Your "Neurotypical" Wife Resents You

§  When Your Asperger's Man is a Reluctant Talker: Ti...

§  Why “Neurotypical” Wives Are Unhappy in Their Marr...

§  Why Adults with Asperger’s Are Prone to "Meltdowns"

§  Why Adults with Asperger's May Seem Inflexible

§  Why Do Some Adults with Asperger’s Get Labeled as ...

§  Why I Am Glad I Got Diagnosed

§  Why Some Asperger's Men Fall Out of Love - Seeming...

§  Why the NT Partner's Attempts to Fix the Relations...

§  Why Your Asperger's Husband or Partner Refuses to ...

§  Wife's Account of the Ups and Downs of an Asperger...

§  Women in Relationships with Asperger's Men -- Our ...

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