Search This Blog
Resources for Neurodiverse Couples:
Resources for Neurodiverse Couples:
It is common for people with autism spectrum disorder to exhibit mood swings. (i.e., an emotional response that is poorly modulated and does not fall within the conventionally accepted range of emotive response). Overwhelming emotions can take over, and the affected individual will use some type of coping mechanism (at an unconscious level) to deal with them.
The trigger for a mood swing might be the result of a very minor incident (e.g., sensory sensitivity) or something much more upsetting (e.g., an argument with you). Also, many mood swings last until the person is completely drained of his negative emotions (in worst case scenarios, this could last for days in the form of a shutdown).
In my practice, one frequently asked question by NT partners is: “What do I do when my ASD partner can’t control his emotions?” When severe mood swings occur, the first response is to ensure the safety of all concerned.
Of course, mood swings are not planned, but instead are most often caused by elusive and puzzling environmental triggers. When the “shift in mood” happens, everyone in its path feels pain – including the ASD partner.
Let’s look at just three:
1. Don’t throw gas on the fire: Avoid confronting your boyfriend in the heat of the moment. The moment you attempt to control him with hopes of getting him to calm down quickly, you are raising his anxiety – not lowering it.
2. Give a signal: Ask him if he would be willing to respond to your "signal" (e.g., a hand motion) to stay composed. Give that signal as soon as he starts "fuming " about something.
3. This is not about you (the NT): As difficult as it may be in the heat of the moment, don’t take your boyfriend’s strong feelings personally. You may justifiably feel aggravated and personally attacked when he explodes. But, save discussion about your feelings on the matter for later (when he has calmed down).
More resources for Neurodiverse Couples:
Resources for Neurodiverse Couples:
RE: "How are the symptoms of autism spectrum disorder different in women as compared to men?"
While both men and women with ASD can camouflage their symptoms, it appears to be more common with the ladies. This could explain why they’re less likely to be diagnosed. Studies suggests that, compared to guys, ladies with ASD have less of a tendency to become hyper-focused on a subject or activity, but have more emotional problems (e.g., depression, anxiety).
Generally speaking, females who have ASD are different, not in the core traits of the disorder, but in how they react to the disorder. They tend to mask their social and communication problems in specific ways that are different from the guys on the spectrum. As a result, ladies are often under-diagnosed, or diagnosed with a different disorder. In either case, many of them struggle to cope with their symptoms without the benefit of needed resources and support.
Studies show that ladies with ASD are different from female NTs in how their brains analyze social information. Amazingly, the brain of a woman with ASD is more like the brain of an NT male than that of an autistic male.
Early in life, females with ASD show a greater desire to connect with others. Their interests are more similar to those of NTs. They are more likely to engage in pretend play (characteristic of girls, in general). Also, they are less drawn to repetitive behaviors. Even though they may not be as socially active as NT girls, they often have intense friendships with girls who provide compassion and guidance in social situations.
Girls, and later grown women, often develop coping strategies that cover-up the trouble they have “fitting-in.” They often use imitation or imagination, identifying with other female role-models in an effort to learn how to “act” socially. They figure out the best way to remain undetected by studying social situations and practicing appropriate ways of behaving.
Being well behaved and compliant at school furthers the development and refinement of social skills for these young girls. As a result, they stand out less than boys with ASD. Girls on the spectrum tend to overcome or hide their deficits. As they develop and mature, such deficits appear less pronounced and cause less difficulty for them, in general.
Unlike many autistic guys, ladies with ASD tend to prefer one-on-one social interactions and single friendships (often close and intimate). Although they may have difficulty in group situations, they can be very good at relating directly to one person. They tend to be less solitary than guys with ASD, and are more likely to seek out relationships with the opposite sex, moving towards long-term romantic relationships.
Women on the autism spectrum are more sensitive to emotions in others than guys with ASD. Ironically, the desire in autistic ladies to connect is frequently painful as they encounter ASD-related social and communication problems.
Loneliness is a common complaint amongst these women. More than 65% of adults with ASD report suicidal thoughts - of this percentage, 77% are females. Clearly, ladies on the spectrum think, feel and act differently than their male counterparts. But it’s different - not necessarily better.
Women are often under-represented in individuals who have a diagnosis of ASD when higher IQ is factored in. This means that of those with a higher intelligence level, women are less likely to be given a diagnosis of ASD. This may be because women with higher intelligence can use their intelligence to develop coping strategies and to learn ways to navigate their life experiences despite their ASD symptoms.
Even within the range of average intelligence, autistic women are often able to display more socially acceptable and functional skills in their social interactions as compared to autistic men. This may be due to how these women can learn to imitate those around them - even when social skills don’t come naturally.
One theory of the differences between autistic men and women (related to restrictive and repetitive behaviors) is that women often have “fewer” of these types of behaviors – and they have “different” types of these behaviors. The restrictive or repetitive behaviors of women may not be noticed as much – and may appear more “socially appropriate.” Autistic women also have limited interests, but these interests appear to be socially acceptable, and therefore are less noticed as a symptom of ASD.
In summary, men and women on the autism spectrum differ in the following areas:
- as IQ increases, women are less likely to be diagnosed with ASD, which may have to do with their ability to develop coping strategies to manage their life experiences despite having the disorder
- at a young age, women on the spectrum seem to have more motor deficits, but fewer communication deficits
- men are diagnosed at a 4:1 ratio when compared to women
- autistic women often display fewer - and different - types of restrictive or repetitive behaviors as compared to men, and these behaviors are less noticeable to others
Emotional, Social, Physical, Behavioral, and Cognitive Traits that Women with ASD May Exhibit:
1. Abused or taken advantage of as a little girl, but didn’t think to tell anyone
2. Allergies and food sensitivities
3. An emotional incident can determine the mood for the day
4. Analyze existence and the meaning of life
5. Appearance of hearing problems, but hearing has been checked and is fine
6. As a little girl, it was hard to know when it was her turn to talk
7. Aversion to answering questions about themselves
8. Becomes overwhelmed with too much verbal direction
9. Calmed by external stimulation (e.g., soothing sound, brushing, rotating object, constant pressure)
10. Can’t relax or rest without many thoughts
11. Chronic fatigue
12. Come across at times as narcissistic
13. Confused by tone of voice, proximity of body, body stance, the rules of accurate eye contact, posture in conversation, etc.
15. Conversations are often exhausting
16. Daydream a lot
17. Deep thinkers
18. Desires comfort items (e.g., blankets, teddy, rock, string)
19. Diagnosed with a mental illness
20. Didn’t participate in class
• filtering out background noise when talking to others
• making and keeping friends
• transitioning from one activity to another
• understanding directional terms (e.g., north, south)
• understanding group interactions
• with fine motor activities (e.g., coloring, printing, using scissors, gluing)
• with loud or sudden sounds
22. Dislike being in a crowded mall, crowded gym, and/or crowded theater
23. Don’t simplify
24. Don’t take things for granted
25. Dreams are anxiety-ridden and vivid
26. Easily fooled and conned
27. Eating disorders
28. Emotions can pass very suddenly or are drawn out for a long period of time
• by playing the same music over and over
• into other rooms at parties
• regularly through fixations and obsessions
• routinely through imagination, fantasy
• through a relationship (imagined or real)
• through counting, categorizing, organizing, etc.
• through mental processing
• through the rhythm of words
30. Everything has a purpose
31. Everything is complex
32. Excellent rote memory
33. Exceptionally high skills in some areas and very low in others
34. Experience multiple physical symptoms
35. Experience trouble with lying
36. Extreme anxiety for no apparent reason
37. Feel as if missing a thought-filter
38. Feel extreme relief when they don’t have to go anywhere or talk to anyone
• of being misplaced and/or from another planet
• of confusion and being overwhelmed
• of dread about upcoming events and appointments
• of isolation
• of polar extremes (e.g., sad/happy)
40. Feels the need to fix or rearrange things
41. Find it difficult to understand manipulation and disloyalty
42. Find it difficult to understand vindictive behavior and retaliation
43. Find norms of conversation confusing
44. Find unwritten and unspoken rules difficult to grasp, remember, and apply
45. Food obsessions
46. Frustration is expressed in unusual ways
47. Generalized Anxiety
48. Had imaginary friends as a little girl
49. Have a continuous dialogue in mind that tells them what to say and how to act when in a social situation
50. Have had bouts of depression
51. Highly intelligent
52. Hold a lot of thoughts, ideas, and feelings inside
54. Imitate friends or peers in style, dress, attitude, etc.
55. Imitate people on television or in movies
56. Immune challenges
57. Intolerance to certain food textures, colors or the way they are presented on the plate (e.g., one food can’t touch another)
58. Irregular sleep patterns
59. Irritable bowel
60. Knowing they have to leave the house causes anxiety
61. Lack in coordination
62. Little impulse control with speaking
63. Make friends with older or younger females
64. Many and varied collections
65. Mastered imitation
66. May have a very high vocabulary
67. May need to be left alone to release tension and frustration
69. Monopolize conversations
71. Numbers are calming (e.g., numbers associated with patterns, calculations, lists, etc.)
72. Obsess about the potentiality of a relationship with someone
73. Obsessively collect and organize objects
75. Often drop small objects
76. Often get lost in their own thoughts and “checks out”
77. Often sound eager and over-zealous or apathetic and disinterested
78. Often harbor guilt for “hibernating” and not doing “what everyone else is doing”
79. Over-interest in certain subjects
80. Perfectionism in certain areas
82. Poor muscle tone, double-jointed
83. Practice/rehearse in mind what they will say to another before entering the room
84. Prepares themselves mentally for outings and appointments, often days before a scheduled event
85. Prolific writers drawn to poetry
86. Question place in the world
87. Question the actions and behaviors of themselves and others
88. Reveals intimate details to strangers
89. Search for right and wrong
90. See things at multiple levels, including their own thinking processes
91. Sense of humor sometimes seems quirky, odd, or inappropriate
92. Sense of pending danger or doom
93. Sensory Issues
94. Serious and matter-of-fact in nature
95. Share in order to reach out
96. Survive overwhelming emotions and senses by escaping in thought or action
97. Tendency to overshare
98. Tends to either tune out or break down when being criticized
100. Trained themselves in social interactions through readings and studying of others
101. Transitioning from one activity to another is difficult
102. Uncomfortable in public bathrooms
103. Unusually high or low pain tolerance
104. Visualize and practice how they will act around others
105. Walks without swinging arms freely
106. Wonder who they are and what is expected of them
107. Worry about what is eaten
Resources for Neurodiverse Couples:
Resources for Neurodiverse Couples:
- appear clumsy
- follow repetitive routines
- have limited or unusual interests
- lack social skills
- lack the ability to read non-verbal cues
- seem egocentric
- use peculiar speech and language
- "black and white" thinking
- a tendency to be "in their own world"
- appear overly concerned with their own agenda
- difficulty managing appropriate social conduct
- difficulty regulating emotions
- follow strict routines
- great musical ability
- highly focused in specific fields of interest often to the exclusion of other pursuits
- inability to empathize
- inability to understand other perspectives
- intense interest in one or two subjects
- outstanding memory
Resources for Neurodiverse Couples:
• Anonymous said… Did you know your spouse had AS? In many of our cases we did not nor did they. It is a relatively new and ever expanding diagnosis and understanding and every case is slightly different. The things that drew me like a magnet to my husband were and still are the things that make him special. I am no slouch and at the time of meeting my husband I was dating several college young men and they pailed in comparison to his whit, intellect and attention to detail. I was also very glad he was not so stuck on himself like many of the people I was dating. he did not care if he wore the latest fashion, etc. I still am intrigued by his ability to comprehend complex thoughts and frankly living with a "normal" person must be quite boring. Marriage is a 2 way street but not every street has level surfaces and some roads have bumps and pot holes. I am not saying that life is easy living with a spouse with AS but it could be much worse. We have never been without a home, vehicles, jobs, or our needs met. He works hard to provide for his family and himself. He knows his limitations but also knows that he can try and make up for it in other ways. Keep researching and trying to find out if a life with your spouse is right for you. Not everyone can be the strong one or the one who has t take care of the finer details of life. But, be encouraged, at least you now know what is going on and can take whatever steps you both desire to achieve your outcome.
• Anonymous said… Good luck. Keep trying. Pregnancy was not a big deal for my ASH either. On the good side, It was all about me smile emoticon And... I took care of the children by myself and in my younger years I was resentful but when we had our son I actually was thankful. My children have wonderful memories I made for them. We had bonding time that was ours and ours alone and that is okay by me. My ASH could not nurse the babies anyway, LOL. One good thing is they take things literally. You can say exactly what you need. If I want to celebrate a holiday, I say, "it is important to me to celebrate. I want,,," and say specifically what I want, go out to dinner, gift, party, etc. I had a significant birthday last year. I got exactly what I asked for, like a hand written love note at least 3 sentences. It was beautiful!
• Anonymous said… I also feel like I'm nagging some, not as much as I used to. I finally got over having my house look a certain way. When I want it neat for more than a few minutes and get frustrated, I have to stop and think of all the things I love about him. We separated for about 9 months. It really helped us both see what was important, and he realized that making a habit of a few chores was important to me.
• Anonymous said… I find that it is really helpful to communicate with my partner with AS via emails and texts especially about important things to do with our relationship but even about things that I need help with for our baby daughter and around the house. It allows him the emotional and mental space he needs to absorb the information and takes away the feelings of frustration that usually arise for me when I can't seem to get through to him.
• Anonymous said… I simply can't imagine why anyone would knowingly marry into this. I felt conned. Bait and switch. Three years later and two kids later im so burnt out. All advice is for how the NT partner should walk on eggshells. This is BS. Marriage takes TWO. Where are the articles and advice for the work the aspie partner has to do?
• Anonymous said… I think my biggest challenge is that my spouse needs constant reminding of what needs to be done. He is not the orderly type of AS, but a really messy one. He just does not notice what needs to be done, because it is not important to him. I do have to state what I feel is the obvious, like please take out the trash, because it really does not bother him if it's setting in his path and he has to walk over it or around it. The constant reminding, which I feel is nagging, gets really old to me. I feel like I am the only responsible one a lot, although less than I used to feel. On the other hand, my husband is very honest and communicative. He does not like tension between us, so he makes sure that we are good and I am not upset with him. We have been married for 21 years and he has matured greatly. I have to say that at the time I married him, AS was not a term, he was just quirky. My friends and family were slow to warm to him, and he to them, so sometimes that was uncomfortable for me, too. He is much more social than he used to be. He has more of a sensor now, so he doesn't blurt out intimate details of our life to everybody anymore, which is nice. He has really great friends and is a really great friend. If you are his friend, he will be your friend for life. He is maybe the most caring individual I have ever met. I have to say that our first 5 years were very trying at times, but I had to change my mindset that an argument wasn't about winning, but it was about understanding where the other person is at. I guess we have both really matured over these years. Now we are parenting two kids, one with AS and the other NT. I am so glad that he is my partner for this ride because he really gets our AS child and is such a great dad to both of our children.
• Anonymous said… The AS realization came only about two months ago. It explains everything of the past three years. Truthfully, it has been terrible. He did enough at the beginning, and then switched off once I got pregnant. He's blowing off going to therapy of any kind. Thats what gets me most angry. He needs to try. And he should. What I liked about him at the beginning was like an illusion. He's not that person at all. Your words give a glimmer of hope though. Thank you again.
• Anonymous said… The non AS partner does often reach the point of feeling lonely and neglected, without their partner noticing, which adds to the downward spiral. I am looking forward to hearing of any strategies that couples have found helpful in addressing this. On a positive note, this is a second marriage for both of us, and it has lasted longer than both previous relationships partly because we are aware of AS!
• Anonymous said… This is so very new to me. I just found out my husband has aspergers and we just got married. I am really struggling with this. On one hand I am very glad I finally understand why I do not have this emotional connection with him but on the other hand I am a person who loves affection and I was just thinking if he could get some counceling from the abuse he had when he was a child then maybe I could get it and now I feel like I will never have it. Though my ex husband cheated on me left and right indo know for a fact my husband would never ever cheat so that is a relief. How did you deal w the loss of affection?
Post your comment below…
Below are THE TOP 10 most important things I do – or have done – that have helped me to lead a relatively ‘normal’ life. I trust that you will find something here that will help you, too.
Resources for Neurodiverse Couples:==> Online Group Therapy for Men with ASD
• Unknown …Hi Carlos, I am 53 years old, and want to thankyou for your tips and coping strategies. I concur with all but one, you may have guessed already that it is number 10. I would love to discuss/debate my most favourite of subjects with you. I understand if you are unable to do so though. When it comes to that particular subject it is like everything else in my life, subject to logic and reason, and evidence. I learn as I grow, and grow as I learn. I heard it said, "Life is for learning and learning is for Life." I believe it is my Autism that has caused me to be able to see the Truth amongst many lies. A good friend said "If you throw a straight stick in amongst a pile of twigs, it will be very easy to spot. (I don't normally do this by the way Carlos,) but I am intrigued by your being a man of mature years, Autistic, and 'Religious' Finally Carlos, did you know . . . . "Many say the etymology of religion lies with the Latin word religare which means “to tie, to bind.” This seems to be favoured on the assumption that it helps explain the power religion has. The Oxford English Dictionary points out, though, that the etymology of the word is doubtful." I think this is quite interesting for various different reasons, that I would explain in detail should we correspond in the future. Regards, Hendrow.
• CyndiL PhillyGirl…Dear Carlos, My name is Cyndi. I was diagnosed with Aspergers and anxiety disorder with mild OCD when I was in my 4os. I feel that the diagnosis has been a revelation to me. I now know why my mother, siblings, and were atypical but burdoned with other maladies like addiction disorders.
• Unknown… Dear Carlos, thank you for sharing this deep and thought provoking discussion. I have been learning more about the condition seeing that I work with so many people on the spectrum. Their brilliance and individually is extraordinary. A late diagnosis would certainly have been a great relief with so many things suddenly explained at last. kind regards and ongoing brilliance to you and your life.
• UKRonnie …Thank you for the tips. Number 2 is especially useful for me, not only in not offending others but also not constantly being used to fix things for others, to the point that I don't sort my own stuff, which I find hard enough. Also number 7 is intriguing. I suppose it is about who to trust although I am happy to tell people to jog on if they try using my difficulties against me and start spouting ableist claptrap.
• Jake … Wow! This helped me son much! I’m printing it out so I can memorize it. The social challenges have held me back so much! I’m a musician and people love my music. However, dealing with me is hard for people and I get shelved a lot because of it. Thank you for helping so many! I felt so alone and now I see I am not!
• ADIV123 …this was very helpful thank you i am an 11 year old boy named Aditya Vij and i too have Autism.
Points to consider:
1. Neurodiverse couples can use a visual system, such as a wipe off board to communicate their stress level at this time of day.
2. Each person with ASD presents differently with his or her challenges.
3. Encourage humor in your life together.
4. Executive function deficits may be mistakenly attributed to lack of motivation, and/or behavior or personality problems.
5. Executive function tasks include planning, organizing, prioritizing, time management, emotional regulation and impulse control.
6. Eye contact may be difficult and sometimes facial expressions may not reflect an individual’s true feelings.
7. Finding a path to a respectful, loving and fulfilling long lasting relationship is every committed couple’s desire.
8. In a relationship where one individual is on the autism spectrum, there are likely many more opportunities for misunderstandings and frustration.
9. Individuals on the autism spectrum are not sure how to connect with others.
10. Individuals on the autism spectrum can have both an impaired and an enhanced time perceiving their own bodily functions.
11. Inertia, both starting and stopping tasks, can be a challenge for people on the autism spectrum.
12. Information processed by the senses can easily overstimulate an individual on the autism spectrum.
13. It is a challenge for most couples to find a balance between their needs and expectations, and their partner’s needs and expectations.
14. It is important that you both learn your personal ways of de-stressing and express these needs to each other.
15. Just as in any relationship, individuals with ASD need partners who are understanding and respectful of their needs.
16. Leisure time together can be an important bonding opportunity.
17. Light touch may feel like pins yet actual pinpricks may not be felt at all.
18. Many people with autism crave intimacy and love, but they don't know how to achieve it in a romantic relationship.
19. NT partners are often relied upon to perform many executive function tasks within the relationship.
20. People on the autism spectrum suffer from anxiety.
21. People with ASD almost universally say it is difficult to process verbal information while maintaining eye contact.
22. Persons on the autism spectrum often have trouble staying on topic and maintaining a conversation.
23. Realize you might not understand your partner’s perspective.
24. Remembering the positive characteristics of both you and your partner will enhance your self-esteem and help motivate you as you work through your relationship challenges.
25. Senses may be overly sensitive (hypersensitive) and/or under sensitive (hyposensitive).
26. Sensory issues can impact just about all aspects of life from the selection of clothes, foods, bedding and furnishings that are comfortable for both partners to what environments and activities may be enjoyable for both partners.
27. Sensory issues very often affect individuals on the autism spectrum.
28. Sitting side by side might work best for communication.
29. Social cues are often missed or misread.
30. Social events are often difficult for a person with ASD and you will likely be the one arranging the social events.
31. Social skills are affected.
32. Some couples find that texting, emails and/or information written out on paper, sticky notes, calendars or wipe-off boards is very advantageous.
33. Some people with ASD are hypersensitive to various lighting.
34. They can feel blind to everyday subtle social cues from their partner, which can cause conflict and hurt feelings.
35. They may seem unaware of what is in plain sight and/or process words as “noise”.
36. Transitioning from work to home may be stressful for your partner on the autism spectrum.
37. Verbal communication is often processed more slowly and words interpreted literally.
38. You and your partner likely have different ways of alleviating stress.
39. You may need to give your partner with autism explicit information and practice on how to give hugs.
40. Your partner likely has executive function deficits.
Resources for ASD-NT Couples
“I am married to a man with Aspergers. I must say this has been the biggest challenge in my entire life. Although I do love my husband dea...
"Can an adult with Aspergers or High Functioning Autism have a meltdown just like a child with the same disorder?" Click here ...
A lot of men with ASD level 1 [“high functioning autism”] have never been diagnosed and are regarded as being eccentric, a little odd ...
You have a love Asperger's, and you don't understand him or her, so it's making you crazy? It doesn't have to be that wa...
Mark Hutten, M.A. [Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology] Are you experiencing relationship difficulties with your partner or ...
"Out of the clear blue, my boyfriend with Aspergers stated he's not in love with me anymore, but doesn't want to break up. We...
Comment: I've been married to a man with aspergers for 35 years and he has sucked the life from me. There is no cure for this co...
Men with Aspergers have many traits that can be attractive to a prospective partner. Click here for the full article... ==> Liv...
People with ASD [High Functioning Autism] often face challenges related to their ability to interpret certain social cues and skills. ...
As most of you may know, Cassandra Syndrome is basically a lack of adequate psychological nurturance from your significant other [in this c...