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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Q & A with Mark: Your Audio Messages + My Answer Posted on YouTube


 

Got a question? Simply do the following:

  1. Create a Skype account, if you haven't done so already - it's free! 
  2. Then click on this link ==> Mark's Q & A 
  3. Then click on Start Meeting 
  4. Then hang up because I probably won't be available at that exact time
  5. At that point, you will see the microphone icon to leave me a message (i.e., your question)

 

Need help? Email me: mbhutten@gmail.com

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

 


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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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


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

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

Mark Hutten, M.A. - Counseling Psychologist

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


A MESSAGE FOR Neurotypical + ASD Couples:



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



A MESSAGE FOR THE NEUROTYPICAL (NT) WOMEN:



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

OUR NEXT SCHEDULED GROUPS:

*** ASD/NT Couples only ***   
 
==> REGISTER NOW <==
 
Date: Meets on Mondays and runs from 4/5/21 to 4/26/21 - OPEN  
 
Time: 3 PM (Eastern Standard Time) 
 
Members: Attend with your ASD partner
 
NOTE: If this date/time doesn't work for you, no worries. I record these sessions and will send you the link to each one within 24 hours [includes all 4 sessions]. You can view the sessions at your convenience, and can view them multiple times! 
 
Simply register via the PayPal button above, then email me [mbhutten@yahoo.com] to let me know that you will NOT be attending the sessions live, and need the link to each one sent to you via email.
 
------------------------------------------------------------

*** NT Women only *** 
 
==> REGISTER NOW <==
  
Date: Meets on Tuesdays and runs from 4/6/21 to 4/27/21 - OPEN  
 
Time: 3 PM (Eastern Standard Time) 
 
Members: No ASD participants
 
NOTE: If this date/time doesn't work for you, no worries. I record these sessions and will send you the link to each one within 24 hours [includes all 4 sessions]. You can view the sessions at your convenience, and can view them multiple times! 
 
Simply register via the PayPal button above, then email me [mbhutten@yahoo.com] to let me know that you will NOT be attending the sessions live, and need the link to each one sent to you via email.

------------------------------------------------------------

*** ASD Men only *** 
 
==> REGISTER NOW <==
     
 
Date: Meets on Wednesdays and runs from 2/24/21 to 3/17/21 - OPEN  
 
Time: 3 PM (Eastern Standard Time) 
 
Members: No NT participants
 
 *** You do not have to have a formal diagnosis to attend. ***
 
NOTE: If this date/time doesn't work for you, no worries. I record these sessions and will send you the link to each one within 24 hours [includes all 4 sessions]. You can view the sessions at your convenience, and can view them multiple times! 
 
Simply register via the PayPal button above, then email me [mbhutten@yahoo.com] to let me know that you will NOT be attending the sessions live, and need the link to each one sent to you via email.


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







More audio clips from Mark's workshops:






 _________________________

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

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

WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW!


_________________________

Follow me on:

My Facebook support groups:

Brief biography:

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

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

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

I'm currently a practicing Counseling Psychologist and parent-coach with more than 25+ years of experience. I have worked with hundreds of children and teens with Autism and Asperger's. I have also worked with hundreds of couples (married or otherwise) affected by autism spectrum disorders. I present workshops and run training courses for parents and professionals who deal with Autism Spectrum Disorders, and am a prolific author of articles, Blogs, and Ebooks on the subject.

Why Your NT Wife Is So Unhappy: Message to Men on the Autism Spectrum

Your neurotypical (NT) wife is no doubt highly intelligent in the social and emotional sense. This, by default, means that she has a lot of social and emotional “needs.” You, the husband with ASD, are comparatively low in social and emotional intelligence, which in turn means that your social and emotional needs are low.

Because your wife’s social needs are high, she enjoys social contact and the sharing of emotions with those who are important to her. Because your social and emotional needs are low, you tend to prefer activities that do not involve feelings or socializing; you are highly task-oriented, and you favor things, projects, objects, and other non-social pursuits.

One of the main ways your wife gets her social and emotional needs met (or hopes to get met) involves her “significant other” – YOU, her soulmate and partner in life. When you are emotionally unavailable due to spending most of your time with your special interest or career, you are getting your task-oriented needs met. But your NT wife is not getting her relationship needs met, because you were busy doing things outside of the relationship.

It is often the case that the NT wife tries very hard to get her husband with ASD to be a “team player” in the relationship – that is, to express feelings, to make her feel important, to validate her, listen to her, show affection, and to be deeply intimate in as many ways as can be expressed. But when she doesn’t accomplish these important goals, she is (of course) going to be very discouraged and disappointed, and possibly harbor feelings of resentment that her emotional requirements are not getting fulfilled.

So, as the two of you grow further apart emotionally, you can continue to get YOUR task-oriented needs met, because they don’t involve feelings or socializing necessarily. But at the same time, she is getting less and less of her needs met (i.e., intimacy, sharing, togetherness).

This is why, in most cases, the NT wife is not only unhappy, but often depressed due to “emotional deprivation.” And, this is also why the ASD husband does not seem to be as negatively affected by the “distancing” that is occurring in the relationship, because he can continue to engage in his non-social activities regardless of how much the reciprocity and warmth that occurred in the early part of the marriage disappears.

Do you want to imagine how your NT wife might feel?

Imagine that you are a computer geek who loves computer-programming and doodling with digital devices, in general. But one day (for whatever reason), you get banished to a tropical island with NO ELECTRICITY!!!

So, now you are stuck there with no computer, iPhone or iPad – you have virtually lost ALL of your special interests. And to make matters worse, let’s assume you HATE idle chitchat, but there are other people on that island always talking about mundane, boring topics that disinterest you SO MUCH - that it’s painful to even listen to.

In this scenario, you’re not suffering from emotional deprivation, rather you’re suffering from “favorite-task deprivation.” Make sense?

 

More resources:

 


==> One-on-One Counseling for Struggling Individuals & Couples Affected by Asperger's
==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples [eBook and Audio]
==> Videos to help you understand your partner on the autism spectrum...

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.

More resources:

 

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

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

 

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.”

 

More resources:

 


==> One-on-One Counseling for Struggling Individuals & Couples Affected by Asperger's
==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples [eBook and Audio]
==> Videos to help you understand your partner on the autism spectrum...

Skype Support-Group for Neurotypical Ladies in ASD+NT Relationships


In counseling couples affected by autism spectrum disorder, it weighs heavy on my heart for both the spouse with the disorder and his or her NT partner. Both suffer in too many cases. 

Having said that, I think it’s important to have a support group other than Facebook where hurting partners can congregate and meet face-to-face rather than through texting and messaging in Facebook - sharing their stories, and possibly sharing some things that have made a bad situation less problematic. So, in the Spirit of providing a deeper level of support, I’ve created a Skype group. This one will be for NT ladies only

Click on the link below to join this group. You will need the Skype app on your device. I will be monitoring this group periodically. But for the most part, I will just stay out of the way [other than providing articles and videos that will hopefully be of some assistance]. 

My suggestion is to click on the link, join the group, then send out a message in the text area regarding your availability [i.e., days/times] to chat with others. Simply state that you have an interest in talking to other ladies in the group. Also, it would be helpful to provide your time zone so that others can coordinate with your availability. After you post your message in the Skype group, log-in periodically to see who saw your message and wants to set-up a time to meet with you.

SCHEDULED CALLS: We will have 2 to 3 scheduled calls per week as well. By clicking on the link below, you will be able to see the exact days/times of these meetings, and you can join one or both if it fits into your schedule.

Sometimes there’s nothing more healing than being with a group of others who are experiencing the same roller-coaster ride as you! And research shows that face-to-face contact [even via the Internet] provides many of the same emotional/social benefits as socializing with others offline.

If you are lonely, depressed and at your wits-end, this just may be something that can help pull you out of the doldrums - at least briefly. Members are free to meet as frequently as they want.

Email me ASAP if you experience any problems: mbhutten@gmail.com

NOTE: YOU WILL BE REQUIRED TO HAVE YOUR CAMERA ON SO MEMBERS WILL KNOW YOU ARE A FEMALE!!!

God bless!


Mark Hutten, M.A.

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