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 empathy. Sort by relevance Show all posts

Post Traumatic Growth in the Neurodiverse Marriage: Message of Hope for the NT and ASD Spouse

Post traumatic growth is a phenomenon where individuals experience positive changes and personal growth as a result of a traumatic event. It's a concept that emphasizes the potential for growth and resilience in the face of adversity, and it can manifest in a variety of ways, such as increased empathy, greater appreciation of life, and a stronger sense of purpose. 

While it's important to acknowledge the pain and difficulty of traumatic events, post traumatic growth offers a hopeful perspective that highlights the possibility of positive changes and personal transformation.

"Strength through adversity" is a powerful phrase that reminds us that we can become stronger and more resilient in the face of challenges and obstacles. When we are faced with difficult situations, it can be easy to feel defeated and overwhelmed, but by persevering and maintaining a positive mindset, we can emerge from adversity even stronger than before. It's important to remember that setbacks and struggles are a natural part of life, and by facing them head-on, we can learn important lessons and develop the strength and resilience to handle whatever comes our way.

Dealing with difficult people can be a challenging task, but it can also be a valuable learning experience. It can help you develop skills such as patience, communication, and conflict resolution. By working through challenging situations, you can become a stronger and more resilient person. So, in a way, difficult people can actually help you grow and improve yourself.

Developing emotional muscles is an important aspect of personal growth and self-improvement. Just like physical muscles, emotional muscles can be trained and strengthened through regular practice and effort. This involves learning to identify and manage our emotions in a healthy and productive way, as well as building resilience and mental toughness to handle life's challenges.

Some effective ways to develop emotional muscles include practicing mindfulness, seeking therapy or counseling, cultivating positive relationships, and engaging in activities that promote self-care and self-reflection. By investing in our emotional well-being, we can improve our overall quality of life and become more resilient, compassionate, and empathetic individuals.

Going through tough times can be incredibly challenging, but it's important to remember that these experiences can also be opportunities for growth. When we face difficulties, we are forced to confront our weaknesses and develop new strengths. It's not always easy, but with perseverance and a positive attitude, we can emerge from tough times stronger and more resilient than ever before. So, if you're going through a difficult period in your life, try to stay focused on the lessons you can learn and the growth you can achieve.

Overcoming challenges in life is an essential part of personal growth and development. Life is full of ups and downs, and we all face challenges that test our strength and resilience. However, it's important to remember that challenges can also be opportunities for growth and learning.

One way to overcome challenges is to stay positive and maintain a growth mindset. Instead of dwelling on the problem, try to focus on finding solutions and taking action. It's also helpful to seek support from friends, family, or professionals if needed.

Another way to overcome challenges is to break them down into smaller, manageable steps. This can help to make the problem feel less overwhelming and more achievable. Celebrate each small victory along the way to stay motivated and build momentum.

Marital struggles in the ND marriage can be challenging to go through, but they can also help us build resilience and strength. When we face difficulties and overcome them, we learn that we are capable of handling tough situations. This self-assurance helps us become more resilient and better equipped to handle future challenges. In fact, it is often through the struggles we face that we discover our own inner strength and develop a greater sense of perseverance.

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 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

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

==> Pressed for time? Watch these "less-than-one-minute" videos for on the go.

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Parenting resources:

ASD and Problems with Imagination, Prediction, and Empathy



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 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

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

==> Pressed for time? Watch these "less-than-one-minute" videos for on the go.

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Parenting resources:

"My husband was recently diagnosed with ASD. Now what?"

Many "newbie” neurotypical (NT) spouses can learn to cope with the demands of being married to a spouse with autism once they learn about the emotions with which they are dealing with – and how to address them. Not all NTs experience all of the feelings listed below. However, it is helpful for them to be aware of the various emotions involved – and to realize that their experiences and feelings are normal.

Sorrow:

Loss of hopes and plans for the future

Loss of the "perfect marriage" that was anticipated prior to meeting her autistic spouse

Resentment:

Long-standing lack of emotional reciprocity from the autistic spouse

Long-standing lack of empathy 

Remorse:

Over her autistic husband's suffering

Less focus on self

Unable to help her autistic spouse in the social and emotional sense

Feelings of Loneliness:

No one else understands what the NT wife  is going through

Avoids having to explain the disorder and answer questions

Can sense that others are uncomfortable around her husband at times

Depressed

Not wanting to interact with others as a couple

Resentment toward others with "typical husbands"

Worries:

The children's future

The children's emotional safety

Keeping a stable relationship with her spouse

Her own mental health

Next crisis

Anxiety:

Advocating for accommodations

Attempting to do all the relationship work

Balancing career and family

Dealing with other's reactions and opinions

Lack of exercise

Lack of prior medical or advocacy experiences

Learning details of spouse's disorder and about related treatment

Making choices regarding treatment

Managing time

Poor eating habits

Sleep deprivation

Feeling Isolated:

Detachment in other areas of life due to focus on the autistic spouse's needs

Feelings of despair and hopelessness


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

==> Pressed for time? Watch these "less-than-one-minute" videos for on the go.

Question from a Husband with ASD: "What social skills should I be focusing on, and why?”

“Mark, you say social skills can be taught to people with ASD. As a person on the spectrum, what social skills should I be focusing on, and why?”


It’s true that social skills can be taught. It’s never too soon to start learning how to get along with others - and it’s never too late to sharpen your skills. Start with the most basic ones first, and keep sharpening these skills over time. 

The main ones would be as follows:

  1. Active listening
  2. Asking for help
  3. Beginning a conversation
  4. Conflict management (e.g., the ability to resolve arguments and disagreements effectively) 
  5. Cooperation (e.g., sticking to rules and going about activities without disturbing others)
  6. Empathy (e.g., resonating with the feelings of others and trying to make others feel better)
  7. Engagement (e.g., making friends and actively including others in activities)
  8. Giving Constructive Criticism in a Positive manner
  9. Intimacy (e.g., developing emotional closeness with others)
  10. Inviting people to things
  11. Paying attention to tone of voice and speed of talking during conversations
  12. Responding positively to negative feedback rather than viewing it as criticism
  13. Responsibility (e.g., good behavior in the absence of supervision)
  14. Saying ‘no’ (e.g., setting limits with your time and energy without being rude)
  15. Self-control (e.g., regulating emotions in difficult or upsetting social situations)
  16. Small Talk to Build Connection
  17. Social confidence (e.g., asserting yourself in social situations)
  18. Using eye contact 

Here are some ways we benefit from having the social skills listed above:
 
1. Close relationships-- The most important benefit of being socially skilled over time is the development of meaningful relationships, which drives many other positive outcomes.

2. Decrease loneliness-- People who are more likely to take social risks (e.g., introducing themselves to a stranger or initiating conversation with people) report lower levels of loneliness.

3. Job performance-- Social skills positively predict job performance in workplaces where individuals experience low levels of support from their organization. Social skills are believed to be especially useful for people who need to seek cooperation and resources to perform well.

4. Mental well-being-- Socially withdrawn behavior and social skills problems have been linked to symptoms of depression.

5. Physical health-- Having solid social skills increases your chances of having more high-quality relationships, which benefits your physical health in many ways (e.g., reducing your risk of heart disease and cancer).

6. Reduce victimization-- People with social skill deficits are more likely to experience peer victimization (e.g., in the workplace). Conversely, people who are more cooperative and prosocial are more likely to step in and help others who are being mistreated.

Every social situation is different, and there is not just one “right” way to handle any of them. But, when viewed through the lens of these core competencies, most social situations become a lot more adaptable – and enjoyable.

Great question,

Mark Hutten, M.A.

 

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

PODCASTS with Mark Hutten, M.A. and Dr. Stephanie C. Holmes

Mind-Blindness and its Effect on Marital Relationships

Mind-blindness is a cognitive divergence where the person with ASD is unable to attribute mental states to others. As a result, of this social and empathetic cognitive occurrence, the person has great difficulty putting themselves "into someone else's shoes" and can’t conceptualize, understand, or predict certain aspects of others  (e.g., their behaviors, beliefs, desires, emotions, intentions, and thoughts).

==> Click here for the podcast (part 1).


Mind Blindness and Remorse and Repair

This podcast looks at false apologies that result from mind-blindness and emotions-blindness. We also look at the difference between empathy and compassion - and which one the ASD spouse can act on.

==> Click here for the podcast (part 2).

 

More 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

Understanding Emotions-blindness in Your Autistic Spouse

Emotions-blindness can be described as a deficit in understanding, processing, or describing emotions, and is defined by (a) difficulty identifying emotions and distinguishing between emotions and the bodily sensations of emotional arousal and (b) difficulty explaining emotions to other people.

There are 2 kinds of emotions-blindness: (1) primary (i.e., an enduring psychological trait that does not alter over time, and (2) secondary (i.e., is state-dependent and disappears after the evoking stressful situation has changed.

Typical limitations that result from emotions-blindness include:

  • very logical and realistic dreams (e.g., going to the store or eating a meal)
  • problems identifying, describing, and working with one's own emotions 
  • oriented toward things rather than people
  • may treat themselves as robots
  • lack of understanding of the emotions of others
  • lack imagination, intuition, empathy, and drive-fulfillment fantasy, especially in relation to objects
  • few dreams or fantasies due to restricted imagination
  • difficulty distinguishing between emotions and the bodily sensations of emotional arousal
  • confusion of physical sensations often associated with emotions
  • concrete, realistic, logical thinking, often to the exclusion of emotional responses to problems


Emotions-blindness creates interpersonal problems because these individuals avoid emotionally close relationships – or if they do form relationships with others, they tend to position themselves as either dependent, dominant, or impersonal (such that the relationship remains superficial).

Emotions-blindness frequently co-occurs with other disorders, with a representative prevalence of:

• 85% in autism spectrum disorders
• 63% in anorexia nervosa
• 56% in bulimia
• 50% in substance abusers
• 45% in major depressive disorder
• 40% in post-traumatic stress disorder
• 34% in panic disorder

Emotions-blindness also occurs in people with traumatic brain injury.
 
A second issue related to emotions-blindness involves the inability to identify and modulate strong emotions (e.g., sadness or anger), which leaves the autistic person prone to sudden outbursts, such rage. The inability to express emotions using words may also predispose the person to use physical acts to articulate the mood and release the emotional energy.

Many adults on the autism spectrum report a feeling of being unwillingly detached from the world around them. They may have difficulty resolving marital conflict due to poor social skills. The complexity and inconsistency of the social world can pose an extreme challenge for people with ASD.

 


 

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

Adults with ASD: What Other Family Members Need To Know

ASD level 1 (high functioning autism) is typically first diagnosed in children. In contrast to those with ASD level 3, people at level 1 acquire language skills normally, develop appropriately in cognitive abilities, and tend to have higher-than-average verbal skills. The most significant feature of ASD is the inability to interact appropriately on a social basis. If untreated, many difficulties continue into adulthood.

Eccentric people have always existed, but ASD isn't always recognized as a possible cause of strange adult behavior. ASD level 1, one of the neurological disorders on the autism spectrum, can be mild, causing only somewhat unusual behavior - or severe, causing an inability to function in society without some assistance (e.g., from a neurotypical spouse). Adults with ASD, like kids with the disorder, have trouble deciphering the normal rules of society, which impacts their home, work and social lives.

Grown-ups on the autism spectrum have high intellectual functioning, but diminished social abilities. An adult on the spectrum may:
  • 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

Typical adult symptoms include:
  • "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

Let’s go into greater detail regarding ASD in adults:

1. Assessment—ASD is a clinical diagnosis versus medical. Neurological and organic causes remain mostly unknown. Psychological interviewing that includes medical, psychiatric and childhood history contributes to an ASD diagnosis, which may coexist with other mood and behavior disorders.

2. Behavior— Grown-ups on the spectrum usually prefer structured lives with well-defined routines and may become agitated or upset when these routines are broken. If, for example, your spouse normally eats breakfast at 9 a.m. and becomes stressed out when asked to eat at an earlier time, this may be indicative of ASD. Unlike adults with level 3 autism, however, an individual at level 1 will probably be able to keep his frustration in check. 
 
Grown-ups with ASD may also be reluctant to initiate conversation and require prodding to talk to you at all, especially if that individual is already engaged in a favored activity when you try to initiate conversation. Eye contact may be rare. An individual with ASD may have obsessive tendencies that manifest in such ways as insisting all of his books be lined up in a certain order on the shelf or that the clothes in his closet are categorized by color, style or season. Reliance on routine, obsession with categories and patterns and limited conversation are all symptoms of ASD that may be observed at home.

3. Cognitive Symptoms— While grown-ups with ASD are often of above-average intelligence, they may process information more slowly than normal, making it difficult to participate in discussions or activities that require quick thinking. These individuals may have trouble with organization and seeing the "big picture," often focusing on one aspect of a project or task. Most are rigid and inflexible, making transitions of any type difficult.
 

4. Common Careers— Adults on the spectrum have sophisticated skills in certain areas, such as those dealing with numbers or art. Most often, these skills do not exist together. Careers that do not rely on short-term memory are better suited for an individual on the spectrum. Appropriate careers include computer and video game design, drafting, commercial art, photography, mechanic, appliance repair, handcraft artisan, engineering and journalism.

5. Communication— Grown-ups with ASD may demonstrate unusual non-verbal communication, such as lack of eye contact, limited facial expressions or awkward body posturing. They may speak in a voice that is monotonous or flat. They may engage in one-sided conversations without regard to whether anyone is listening to them. They are often of high intelligence and may specialize in one area or interest. This leads to a lack of interest in alternate topics and the unwillingness to listen when others are speaking. 
 
Such poor communication skills can lead to problems finding a job or interacting effectively in a workplace environment. Grown-ups with ASD often communicate poorly with others. Many talk incessantly, often about topics that others have no interest in. Their thought patterns may be scattered and difficult to follow and never come to a point. Speech patterns may have a strange cadence or lack the proper inflections. An individual on the spectrum may have difficulty understanding humor and may take what's said too literally.

6. Diagnosis— Most grown-ups with ASD are able to live relatively normal lives. They are often regarded as shy, reserved or even snobbish by others. As these are not considered abnormal behaviors, a real diagnosis may come late in life, or not at all. You can get a more accurate picture of whether your partner has ASD by talking to the people who know him, such as co-workers, college professors, other relatives and friends (though an individual with ASD may have a very limited social circle). 
 
Ask whether your partner initiates conversation, if he seems awkward and unsure of himself during social interactions, and whether he has any strange behaviors his peers may have noticed. If the answers you get make you suspect ASD, you can encourage your partner to seek therapeutic attention to manage the condition better.

7. Emotional Symptoms— Unlike adults with autism level 3, people at level 1 want to fit in with others. Their social and work-related difficulties can cause anxiety, anger, low self-esteem, obsessive compulsive behaviors and depression. They may feel disconnected and distant from the rest of the world, a feeling called "wrong planet" syndrome.

8. Imagination— Grown-ups with ASD may be unable to think in abstract ways. They may be inflexible in their thinking, unable to imagine a different outcome to a given situation than the one they perceive. Such rigid thinking patterns may make predicting outcomes of situations difficult. These individuals may develop strict lifestyle routines and experience anxiety and distress if that routine is disrupted. To avoid such disruption, some adults may keep extensive written to-do lists or keep a mental checklist of their plans.

9. Physical Symptoms— Grown-ups with ASD are often physically awkward. Many have a peculiar walk, poor posture or general clumsiness or difficulty with physical tasks.
 

10. Preoccupations and Obsessions— One of the diagnostic criteria for ASD is an "encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus." A grown-up with the disorder may obsessively latch on to a single hobby or area of interest, often memorizing facts to the smallest detail. Some individuals are successful in their work environment because of their attention to detail and ability to retain information. An inability to be flexible or to deal with changes in routine is also a trait. An adult with the disorder may have difficulties in his home life, often demanding little or no change in routines or schedules.

11. Prognosis— ASD is a continuous and lifelong condition. Individuals on the spectrum should be able to function with the disorder with proper coping skills in place. Adapting their environment to their condition is especially critical. Finding a work environment that de-emphasizes social interactions may be appropriate. In addition, having a regular work routine and schedule may be beneficial. Interventions, such as social skills training, education and/or psychotherapy, may be necessary to better manage symptoms.

12. Relationships— Because grown-ups with ASD struggle to understand emotions in others, they miss subtle cues such as facial expression, eye contact and body language. As a result, an adult on the spectrum appears aloof, selfish or uncaring. Neurologically, adults with ASD are unable to understand other people's emotional states. They are usually surprised, upset and show remorse when informed of the hurtful or inappropriate effect of their actions. 
 
Affected adults show as much interest as others do in intimate relationships. However, most ASD adults lack the social or empathetic skills to effectively manage romantic relationships. An individual with the disorder behaves at younger developmental age in relationships. The subtleties of courtship are unfamiliar and sometimes inappropriate physical contact results.
 

13. Social Interaction— Grown-ups with ASD may have difficulty interacting in social groups. For example, they may choose inappropriate topics to discuss in a group setting or find making small talk difficult or even annoying. As they tend to be literal thinkers, they may have trouble understanding social metaphors, teasing or irony. They may lack empathy or find it hard to relate to other people. Some adults on the spectrum have anger management problems and may lash out in a social setting without regard to another's feelings. They may report feeling detached from the world and having trouble finding and maintaining relationships.

An individual with the disorder lacks the ability to display appropriate non-verbal behaviors, such as eye contact, facial expressions, body postures and gestures. He may have difficulties in initiating and maintaining friendships because of inappropriate social behaviors. He may appear rude or obnoxious to others and at times is left out of social encounters. Unlike adults with autism level 3, who withdraw from other people, adults level 1 often want to fit in but don't know how. The inability to "read" other people's social signals or to display empathy for other's problems leads to awkward social encounters.

14. Speech Patterns— Another feature of ASD is impaired speech. The individual with this disorder may speak in a monotone voice or may speak too loudly and out of place. He may interpret everyday phrases literally. The commonly used phrase "break a leg" will be taken literally to injure one's self. Subtle humor or sarcasm may not be understood or may be misinterpreted. Some individuals display highly developed vocabulary, often sounding overly formal and stilted.

15. Stereotypical Behavior— Grown-ups with this condition often are preoccupied with something to the extreme level. For example, if he likes football, that is all he will talk about--all the time and with everyone. These individuals are also often obsessed with parts of objects. 
 
On another note, they need routines to help them function. They do not like changes in routines, and find them difficult. Other stereotypical behavior in which they engage is body movements; they often flap their fingers, or make complex body movements (e.g., tics).





COMMENTS:

•    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…

How I Live with Asperger’s: Tips from a 52-Year-Old Man on the Spectrum

My name is Carlos and I’m 52 years old. I was diagnosed with Asperger’s back in 1997 at the age of 32. Through many years of painful trial-and-error, I learned a few things that have helped me cope with my disorder. 
 
I tried to be proactive from the very beginning of my Asperger’s journey –  learning about the disorder, being honest with myself regarding my challenges, and finding the areas where I had strengths so I could become even stronger in those areas. I also give presentations in some schools here in my community to educate children about autism spectrum disorders.

I was asked to share my coping tips with the readers of this blog. So, here goes…



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.

How to live with Asperger’s:

1. When I first learned that I was on the autism spectrum, I consulted Mark Hutten, M.A. to learn more about Asperger’s. He developed a treatment plan to assist me with daily living skills, and he helped me to develop a few crucial social skills. For example, how to converse with people in different social situations, how to engage in small talk, how to show an interest in the other person’s area of interest instead of droning on about my favorite topic, just to name a few.

2. I learned that when someone is talking about a problem in their life, they are not necessarily asking me how to solve it (even if I have the answer). As an alternative to offering solutions, I simply ask them how they feel about the issue or what they have already tried – or are considering trying – to solve the problem. This lets them know I do have empathy, and respect their ability to solve their own difficulties.
 

3. I try to talk “with” people rather than "talking at" them. I used to go on and on about one topic until the listener simply excused himself/herself. I think a good ratio in a one-on-one conversation is to talk about 30% of the time and listen about 70% of the time. I try not to talk for more than a few minutes at a time, and I let the other person set the pace of the conversation.

4. Since I don't always pick up nonverbal cues about other people's feelings, I simply ask if they are interested or have time to listen before I launch into an elaborate conversation on my favorite topic.

5. I’ve learned the importance of maintaining eye contact, but without staring. The best way I achieve this is to look at the person’s right eye briefly, and then shift to their left eye. This is followed by a few seconds of no eye contact.

6. I’m a member of several clubs that feature activities of interest to me (I’m a big civil war history buff).

7. I don’t discuss sensitive topics. For example, if someone wants to know about my disorder, I keep my explanations rather short and sweet without revealing the areas I struggle in. I’ve discovered that some people will use the information against you. If you self-disclose too much regarding the deficits associated with the disorder, some people may feel they have license to correct or berate you.

8. I’ve learned to pay attention to the “anxiety-triggers” that often launch me into a meltdown. For example, bright lights, crowded stores, loud sounds, unexpected changes in routine, just to name a few. I avoid – or at least minimize – these situations.

9. In addition to knowing my triggers, I also have learned to pay attention to the behaviors I exhibit when I am in the process of “flipping-out” (sometimes I start to pace, talk more rapidly or less coherently, fidget, or rock back and forth). When these signs appear, I try to find a quiet spot, breathe regularly and deeply, relax, and focus on pleasant thoughts. This usually prevents – or at least minimizes – my meltdowns.

10. I’ve saved the best for last: Prayer and a strong Faith. Honestly, I don’t know how people who don’t have God in their life cope in this crazy-ass world we live in today. The world is going to hell in a hand basket as far as I’m concerned. Country music singer Billy Currington said it best: "God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy."

Peace to all my ASD brothers and sisters out there,

Carlos

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

 
Comments:

•    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.

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