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 relevance for query empathy. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query empathy. Sort by date Show all posts

Relationship Difficulties Due to Deficits in "Theory of Mind"

"I have been married to my Aspergers husband for 17 years of emotional hell. I have not had any physical touch for 10 years, no hugs, kisses, hand holding. I am completely alone in this marriage. No emotional support and raised 2 kids who felt completely rejected because of him. He doesn't support his family because he is a droid …looks like a regular person on the outside but empty on the emotional scale, it just doesn't exist. 
 
I now understand that what I have called "socially inappropriate behavior" has a name called Aspergers. I now understand that his brother and mother also share this diagnosis. The behavior I have been exposed to during our relationship has been devastating and painful. I have come to believe that my husband does not love me. I began drinking to be comfortably numb and what he did and said and didn't do didn't hurt so much. I entered AA over a year ago and believed him when he said I was an alcoholic. I thought it would solve all of our problems – but it hasn’t. Still at square one."

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I'm not sticking up for your husband here. He will have to face the consequences of his behavior just like everyone else does. But, you need to understand the difference between (a) blatant, intentional disregard for others' feeling versus (b) difficulty empathizing.

Empathy can be defined as understanding the emotional makeup of other people. It is a core component of emotional intelligence and helps us to develop deep levels of trust. Unfortunately, many adults with Asperger’s (AS) or High-Functioning Autism (HFA) do not seem to resonate very well with the experiences of others.  While they may understand others’ circumstances, they may not have the necessary emotional response.



The Aspies' solitary lack of engagement with others may develop to some degree into what can be described as apparent selfishness. Your husband may seem narcissistically concerned only with his own needs. However, what is really going on has more to do with deficits in “theory of mind.” Theory of mind involves the ability to attribute mental states to others, and to be able to describe what others may be feeling in a given situation.

Theory of mind is the capacity we have to understand mental states (e.g., feelings, desires, intentions, etc.). It’s the way we imagine others’ feelings or thoughts. Theory of mind enables us to understand that the behavior other people display is caused by their inner feelings, beliefs or intentions. We can predict some of those behaviors and anticipate them. Whatever goes on in the mind of others is not visible, so it will remain a “theory” we create for ourselves. However, most people on the autism spectrum lack this ability to “theorize.”

What if one is unable to link the behavior of others to their inner feelings? Answer: the person can’t understand or predict the behavior of others. How can the Aspie make sense of the behavior of others around him if he doesn’t understand why others are feeling sad, angry, resentful, etc.? And to make matters worse, the person with AS or HFA can’t link his own behavior to the feelings of others so he can be unable to anticipate or predict their response.

Sadly, the absence of the ability to understand what others think or feel is at the root of most difficulties people on the spectrum have in communication and social interaction. As one husband with Asperger’s stated, “Never knowing how my wife feels or why she reacts the way she does makes me feel stupid. I’m like a blind man that keeps running face first into the same wall over and over again.”

This is a man who has given up on himself, as so many other autistic men have. If these men could “fix” their theory of mind deficits, most - if not all - would have done so long ago. Instead, they continue to be misunderstood and labeled insensitive, selfish, and uncaring. Oftentimes, the result is serious relationship difficulties and divorce.

 
GREAT COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said…  i have feels for you and completely understand. I have been married 14 years to my aspie husband. First time i did not aware of his condition, ( and even have specific name for it) even himself not aware of. But last year he figure out himself (no clinical diagnosis) and as years goes by, our relationship is not easy, lot of negativity, criticism, unsuportive behaviour from him for me. I feel so lonely have to cope things on my own, and raise my kids who seems have same behaviour. His family knew this from long time but they ignore it and defend him. I have no emotional support at all. My family is overseas and my husband and i hardly visit them as it is expensive. I have no permanent job, and my husband not even help me to find one for me. He does his own business and i only help when he needs me and he is so perfectionist and fuss, particular on his own way to do things. If i talk like this to others, then they will direct me to the questions: how did we met ? I am not trying to deny this question, but even him self not aware that he has this condition. Same like other people who have illness or disorder, do they always aware of their condition until someone else can notice it ? Or until they can feels themself are having lot of trouble (uneasy) specially in their social life.
•    Anonymous said…  I'm afraid I'm on the opposite end of this dialog. I'm a recently diagnosed Aspie who has been the callous, melt-down prone, controlling, ice queen that destroyed several very important relationships (one of which still haunts me with regret). I had no idea that I was on the spectrum and I'm sure most folks just thought I was bat-guano crazy. Heck, I even thought so for years. I began to have suspicions at the late age of 53 that something about me was intrinsically different from other people, and I took the initiative to consult a specialist. Now that I have a "label" for the indescribable chaos I have unwittingly inflicted on the world, myself and my near and dears, it has helped me to monitor my responses to the world more carefully and hopefully function a bit more adroitly. I will not, however, EVER be able to make amends for the hurt and destruction I have caused along the way. Believe me, we DO feel, and VERY deeply--but sometimes, we just have no idea how to express it. It's almost as if by simply feeling, I've assumed that the significant person at the time knew. They didn't. I am sorry for all of us, Autistic and NT alike. Our struggles to understand each other do leave casualties. ( ; _ ; )
•    Anonymous said…  Just putting it out there, but narcissism can get confused for Aspergers.
•    Anonymous said… Aspergers is something you must read about and study to understand. It is a higher form of Austism.
•    Anonymous said… Being married to an aspie is very hard. I can relate to the woman who wrote this letter.
•    Anonymous said… Everyone is our mirror and we can learn from looking into that mirror. Calling him a droid breaks my heart for him. He may not be able to feel her feelings or understand what she needs in a given situation, but as someone else pointed out, he can learn to give this woman what she needs. He can learn to give their children what they need. And the children can learn to understand him better, as well. Understanding others is something people with abilities take for granted. It's able privilege. Our abilities can do us a disservice by allowing us to ignore the plight and the pain of people who are unable to do what we can do. She needs to stop blaming him and learn some empathy herself. She needs to make sure her children become intimately acquainted with empathy, as well. She does her children just as much harm as she believes his Aspergers has done. She chose to stay, she chose to let her children live this way, and apparently she did nothing to learn about or teach her children about Aspergers. She chose to drink. Blaming him for her own choices is just plain silly. This is my opinion based on this woman's very harsh words, but I realize that others will disagree with me.
•    Anonymous said… Have you been to marriage counseling? Or therapy just for yourself? Honestly, it might help.
•    Anonymous said… Honestly my hubby is the same way, but marriage to my hubby has been very fulfilling. He may not be physically or emotionally available but he says he loves me in other ways. In his own ways, the world is not made up of ALL the same kinds of ppl *emotionally available*. And also what is it you want them to do? They can't just like a switch turn on emotions. We've been married 21 yrs and I don't expect things from my hubby that he just can't give. Because he just can't feel emotions, and he falls into his own depression because he doesn't know why or how he just can't feel,and he struggles himself with feeling like I need or want more, but Blaming him isn't the way to go about it, I find fulfillment in other things, we are best friends,we go on long rides on our harley, he buys me those stupid little things he knows I love *my favorite granola* he's always home and comes to bed every night, he shares his food with me and let's me steal drinks from his cup, he gives hugs on occasions and kisses. I find it horrible that anyone could blame someone who can't help who they are, because it's just who they are. And you either love them or you don't, you either stay or you leave. My wonderful hubby is the best part of me because he loves me out of the box.
•    Anonymous said… HOw bloody rude some other people have been. Its never just as simple as that, especially when you have spent 17 years with someone and have children with them. OP- there is a huge difference between him having AS and him being abusive. I believe his behaviour in regards to him blaming your alcohol usage is abusive. My advice? You deserve to be happy, as do your children. Leave him and find someone who will care for you and demonstrate that love.
•    Anonymous said… I feel so sad for the woman in the op, but she has one thing wrong-- aspergers does not mean a person is 'emotionally empty'. He may not love her, but that does not mean he is incapable of love. I'm sorry for the awful marriage, but it's untrue to equate someone not loving you or not being able to show you love to them not being capable of it
•    Anonymous said… I find this society difficult because we have it drummed into us that we shouldn't treat people differently because they have a disability however you can't leave an unhappy relationship because they can't help it. I feel that more people will feel stuck unhappy because of this in between mentality. OP he may not be able to help it, but your expectations when you married him are not being met, and it's ok not to be ok with that. You don't have to blame him or yourself but whether he had a diagnosis or not, sometimes people don't grow together the way they expect to and you're allowed to feel unfulfilled.
•    Anonymous said… I was thinking the same thing, Jennifer. I have a son who is an Aspie and I would think she would have noticed his behavior before she chose to say, "I do".
•    Anonymous said… if he did used to hold her hand and kiss etc and then stopped it is not his aspergers at fault, he may be falling out of love with her
•    Anonymous said… I'm confused, do people with Aspergers just suddenly become emotionally absent? I guess I'm confused as to how people wouldn't notice this when they are dating and considering marriage. I'm not trying to be snarky in my comment I really just simply don't know.
•    Anonymous said… It is a very, very difficult problem sometimes... Not all people with Aspergus are difficult... But my life has been hard due to my Father having this... He is 92 and was never given any help throughout his life.
•    Anonymous said… mine never says 'i love you' but he shows me every day in his actions we have been together 12 years
•    Anonymous said… most people with aspergers are not this way
•    Anonymous said… My Aspie hubby is very loving and giving, his main differences is logical order, sensory sensitive, and can seem aggressive due to these. My Aspie neighbour is very affectionate and appreciative gentlemen, his differences is mainly understanding life skills. Everyone is different, but there is always some level of affection given. Get counselling.
•    Anonymous said… My son is 12 and is Aspergers, I worry on a daily basis that he will grow to be an emotionally abusive partner but then I remember that nurture trumps nature. We will ensure he has the upbringing he needs to navigate life and treasure family above all else. I am sorry for all you have been through but do not be na├»ve and write people off because of a condition.
•    Anonymous said… No, this is wrong. Many people with Aspergers display emotions and empathy for others.
•    Anonymous said… She said that in the last 10 years she's not had any physical touch but has been married for 17. I've heard of many occasions when Aspies have said they could only pretend for so long so perhaps he began shutting down. I feel for both parties involved.
•    Anonymous said… So you married him because you thought you would 'fix' him or 'cure' him? What you describe is not typical of autism. I think there are issues other than autism. Seek counseling together.
•    Anonymous said… The emotions are very limited. The mind works different. It is very difficult to deal with Aspergers. Doesn't mean he don't love you. When they reject you can be long term. I worry about my teen and relationships. It is definitely a challenge because of social skills, limited emotionals, obsessions, rituals, or daily habits. Sometimes, they can not help the things that they do. They just do things that we don't understand. Please understand that he will likely never change, even if her desires to. Ladies, know who you are getting involve with pertaining to a relationship. Aspergers is not a bed of Roses and it will never be.
•    Anonymous said… The one person with Asperger is not the other person. What works in one marriage, and how the husband/wife with the Asperger is in that marriage cannot be compared to how other people are in other mariages because everyone has an own character. My exhusband does not feel a thing inside. He says it every time again. He simply does not feel, except for who he choses to feel and for himself. So when my youngest daughter cries for her daddy, calls him and asks him to please come by he just says, sorry, no can do. He says he has learned how to act by looking at the reactions of other people but when I would lay on the street through an heartattac/accident he would not help me and would just drive further. He has said it time after time, sorry, I know it is very hard for you but when I walk out of the door I do not miss you or the children, I do not think about you at all, no matter the time. And he has proven it time and time again, that he cannot feel much. Like an empty shell, who acts automatic. He falls asleep while talking to me, he does very strange things, he is not capable to care for our children and told me that he only wants to be part when the happy things are happening and does not want to be a parent. And the happy things only before a certain time. His parents and brother are the same, no emotions, except for themselves and for the ones they chose too. For the outside world they seem very nice but inside the house it is cold. It is hard to live with someone like that and I have made the choice to leave him after trying it over and over again because I wanted my kids to have their daddy and I wanted to not leave him alone because he has not chosen to have Asperger. Now he tells me that it is better this way, that I have made the good choice, that he is happy. And I try to have some kind of friendship with him so that my kids can have both parents. I really try. But one thing I have learned is that one can have Asperger and still care about his or hers family. So I will never judge other families cause I do not know a single thing about their life except what I have read which can be read or felt in more than one way. Drinking is not the solution though but I think you allready know that. I feel with, and give you a big hug!
•    Anonymous said… This poor woman. I can completely relate. Here's a couple thoughts. 1. I think this lady is expecting too much from her husband. He cannot make her complete. He isn't capable and even if they attend counseling, she will still feel like a checklist. BUT counseling will at least give give an answer of where his heart is and if he does love her, he can learn how. My theory is that this cannot happen without a counselor because although she is the expert on herself, he may now be aware of his social shortcomings unless an expert in Asperger's tells him. 2. It's not fair to blame him for the drinking. She made the choice to start (not knowing she was an alcoholic) and from there, her brain took over. 3. Her "emotional numbness" sounds like textbook depression. I want her to know that neither the alcoholism nor the depression was her choice. Why would anybody choose that? Her brain lacks the ability to make the hormone for happiness (the drinking replaces the hormone). It is treatable. I would advise her to start with counseling for herself only and regular exercise and planning some regular fun. She needs to love herself instead of expect her husband to do it for her. I think that once she's done these things, she'll be able to think more clearly and make a good decision to either accept her husband as he is, or leave. There is no right or wrong choice. It's her life, it's her choice. I just want to make sure she's able to think and feel clearly before doing something she regrets.
•    Anonymous said… This will sound judgemental and I apologise. You've made the way he is turn you into an alcoholic?!! You should have left him years ago. I'm sorry but you should have protected YOUR kids! They are the ones that are COMPLETELY innocent!
•    Anonymous said… this would have shown through before she married him....so why did she marry him in the first place???
•    Anonymous said… We have been martied for 18 yrs there are struggles. He doesnt get some ques but we work together on it. That doesnt mean i dint have days i want to bop him and say really??
•    Anonymous said… well as an aspie/autistic myself, this makes me incredibly depressed for my future...
 •    Jane said... I have a teenage son who was diagnosed by a highly recommended neurologist with HFA when he was 10 years old. There are times me and his teenage brother have grown frustrated by his apathy, and hurt by the way he has expressed himself, but that was before we came to an understanding. My son has autism, which is a neurological disorder of which there is no treatment or cure, therefore, expecting him to change is an expectation held in vain. He CANNOT change, he can merely adapt. He is NOT a robot, nor is he emotionless, he just has a different way. He is different, he will always be different, and expecting HIM to overcome a disorder of which there is no cure, like somehow he will eventually learn to communicate like we do is a dangerous thought pattern. It NEVER goes away, it DOES NOT "get better" and it is selfish to expect him to overcome something he truly cannot help because my feelings get hurt. he has come a long way, but the autism will always be there. WE needed to learn how to communicate his way, in a way that HE understands, and because I love him, I took the time to research autism and find ways to bridge that gap and have a close relationship with my son. You have NO IDEA what the world is like in his head, and how each day is a struggle for him. There is no "fixing" him. learn to adapt to HIS needs (because they will never change) or move on and let him have the chance at love with someone who is unselfish and willing to make the effort to love him the way he deserves.
•    Naynay … For the person who said "why did you marry them in the first place?" As for me I had no idea about aspergers, I just thought I can change him and make him love me and make him more affectionate!! I didn't know what it was until I was completely broken and thought there was something wrong with me!!! You feel so unloved and so unwanted!!! It's devastating!! We have been married for 3 years and I'm at a point of can I live with begging for affection for the rest of my life or moving on from a man I really love with all my heart. It's torture.
•    Wyldkat …Wow. I'm sorry, but really? Why on earth would anyone marry anyone with the plan to change them into something else? That is about the most self-destructive and, well sorry about this, but abusive thing I've heard in a long time. If you didn't love your husband the way he was, then you didn't love him and that is completely your failing, not his. I know this sounds mean, but your reply really turned my stomach. I feel very sorry for your husband.
•    Unknown …The comments posted so far seem to fall into two camps. The first are those who have lived with an Aspie and sympathize with this woman's anger, grief, and exasperation. The other camp are those who think she is being too harsh because she feels angry, sad, and exasperated. These folks insist that the Aspie husband does indeed love her but just doesn't know how to express it because he can't feel empathy. He just needs to learn how, and she has no right to feel what she feels. But there lies the rub: Aspies often don't see why they have to learn how to show love and care. From inside, it seems that other people are just over-reacting or making incomprehensible and unfair emotional demands on them. Change occurs when Aspies acknowledge that their behavior elicits these responses from the world, and that it is incumbent on them to learn how to interact with those who love them in ways that nurture rather than enrage. There is a saying from AA that is particularly appropriate here: It's not your fault, but it is your responsibility.
•    Dishodiwaba …WTF, all these women married to these off the scale autistic men...I cannot get a date. I have been diagnosed with each of a, but I am nothing like what these article describe! I have plenty of problems with communication but it's all subtle and most people I know don't even realize I am on the Spectrum. Your husband treats you like shit? Give me a chance. I'll treat you like gold. What the hell is this come out I'm reading about these fucking monsters, and they're all married; and I cannot get a date! This is insanity!
•    oliveyew…I've been married to an Aspie for 13 years and just recently figured out what was going on thanks to my therapist. We've been to over 8 therapists, trying to make our marriage work. When she recognized some of his behaviors as matching those of people on the spectrum she gently asked me and blew my mind. I feel so stupid after all of these years. To those asking how we married men who are emotionally unavailable, I can only speak for myself. I never really thought I could change him but I was a workaholic when we met climbing the corporate ladder. The space he gave me worked at the time in many ways. I accepted or chose to not look at the ways our miscommunication could be to the detriment of our relationship. I was also raised in a non-nurturing home (by a non Aspie), so it felt comfortable to me in a way. For this reason I chose to not have children (THANKFULLY) - I don't want to imagine this man with kids. He's wonderful in many ways, but caregiving/empathy is not one of them. I don't know if we'll make it through this, we're not in a good place right now. It is comforting to know others are out there though, and this forum has been very helpful.

Post your comment below…

Why People on the Autism Spectrum Are Confused by Neurotypicals

Individuals with Asperger’s (AS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA) see the world from a different point of view. They think that NT or “neurotypical” people (i.e., those without an autism spectrum disorder) speak in riddles (e.g., Why use non-verbal signs like body language instead of just telling something like it is? Why don’t they say what they mean? Why are relationships so messy? How come they are not interested in details like me?).

People on the autism spectrum think their world is more logical then NT’s. They have to adjust to NT’s “strange” way of relating to each other and ways of communication. It’s very hard for them to adjust to something so far off from logic. Most of the time, they are truly unable to do so.


People with AS and HFA usually have three basic impairments: (1) communication (both verbal and non-verbal), (2) social imagination (combined with inflexible thinking and repetitive behavior), and (3) social interaction (e.g., being unable to make and keep friends).

These are the most obvious symptoms of the disorder, and they ALWAYS occur together. There is no random combination possible; one can’t be there without the others. These three impairments have a huge impact on every aspect of life when one is diagnosed with AS or HFA, and they all relate to an overly-logical brain (as opposed to a brain that is more in-tune with emotions and relationships).

The brain is not a single-working organism. It has different parts to it, with each part controlling different parts of the body, thought, and emotions. We have a higher thought plane than other animals due to the development of the “neocortex,” which is responsible for problem solving, conscious thought, and language. Before this area of the brain developed, we were like every other type of animal, acting mostly on instinct instead of logic.

Before the neocortex, there was the mammalian part of your brain, which acted on emotions, feelings, and instinct (i.e., the “emotional brain”). This part of the brain is responsible for attraction to beauty, preparing your body to deal with fears and dangers, etc.


Then there is the social brain. This part of the brain is responsible for the following:
  • evaluating human voices
  • assigning the emotional value of different stimuli (e.g., deciding when something is disgusting) 
  • attaching an incoming signal with an emotional value
  • deciding whether a social signal really matters
  • deciphering prosody, the additional tones and ways that people add layers of meaning to their spoken words
  • generating an initial emotional response to social stimuli (e.g., Should someone’s tone really impact me as much as it does? What does someone’s look really mean, and am I overreacting?)
  • generating reactions in response to different situations
  • helping control basic visual information
  • helping us notice where someone else is looking
  • selecting which of the myriad incoming social signals are the most important
  • allowing us to observe other human bodies
  • allowing us to know when incoming social signals are rewarding
  • helping us to not just listen to what people say, but HOW it is said
  • observing minute details of facial expression and body language
  • perceiving important social cues
  • regulating strong human emotions




In a way, you can say that people with AS and HFA have an overly-developed rational brain, and an under-developed social brain.


People with an overly-logical brain (think of Spock from Star Trek) often have the following traits:
  • appear to only be concerned with their own needs and wants
  • experience a delay in the development of the idea that the self is equal in importance to that of others
  • have difficulty understanding that others have their own mind, point of view, feelings, and priorities
  • problems attributing mental states to others or to be able to describe what others might be feeling in a given situation (the ability to guess others’ states of mind is related to one’s ability to effectively practice introspection on one’s own)
  • the inability to guess others’ mental states often results in (a) “social mistakes” (e.g., unintentionally saying something highly offensive), and (b) attributing negative intentions in others that aren’t there
  • a lack of developed private self-consciousness, which is a predictor of paranoia (the ability to know one’s self in some way relates to the skill in attributing feelings and motivations to others)
  • will take statements by others in a more concrete and literal fashion
  • they have to work harder than NTs at theorizing what others are experiencing
  • are more concerned with facts, figures, and data than relating to people
  • they need more time than others to understand social subtleties in language (e.g., irony, sarcasm, some forms of humor)
  • difficulty linking behavior of others to their inner feelings, and as a result, can’t understand or predict someone’s behavior 
  • difficulty linking their own behavior to the feelings of others, thus they are unable to anticipate or predict such a response

The overly-logical brain and the absence of the ability to intuit what others may think or feel, what motivates them, how they’re likely to respond in certain situations, etc. may be the root of most difficulties people with AS and HFA have in communication and social interaction.

When attempting to relate better to people with an AS or HFA brain:
  • put more weight on words or actions
  • put less weight on body language, facial expressions, and physical appearances
  • don’t put them in a position where they have to decipher hints, innuendos, subtext, or passive-aggressive behavior – instead, use plain speech
  • don’t assume that their lack of normal eye contact means that they are sneaky, lying, or undependable
  • talk about what you “think” about a particular topic, rather than how to “feel” about it (e.g., “I think a conservative political viewpoint contributes to the individual becoming more self-sufficient and less reliant on government” … instead of, “How do feel about conservatism”).

COMMENT: 

The NT world is actually perfectly logical, if you can accept that communication is not just I say something and you hear it. It is actually even more logical, like chess -- If I say this, you will hear it as this, so I should adjust and say this, so you will hear it better as this, and then you will react in this fashion, so I will feel this way... It's a dysfunction that they are blaming on other people. What aspies should be taught to understand is that complexity is a further exercise in logic. Understanding context and emotion and action-reaction are skills that underpin most normal human interaction, and if lacking in such skill, that's a dysfunction or underdevelopment of empathy. 

"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.

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:

Group for ASD Men Struggling in Their Relationship with an NT Spouse

Are you on the autism spectrum [ASD - Level 1] and struggle to meet your neurotypical (NT) partner's needs and expectations? Has separation or divorce crossed her mind? Are the two of you already in the process of breaking up? Does she constantly complain that she is getting NO emotional support or empathy from you? Then please watch this video:

A MESSAGE FOR ASD MEN (diagnosed or otherwise):


If you're interested in getting things back on track, 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 REGISTER NOW 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 GROUP:

*** ASD Men only *** 
 
==> REGISTER NOW <==
     
             Date: Meets on Wednesdays and runs from 5/8/24 to 5/29/24 - 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

    ASD and that Damn Anxiety Problem

    "Why is it that people with autism spectrum disorder seem to have more than their fair share of anxiety? I have suffered with this damn thing my entire life – as far back as I can remember. And it doesn’t get any better with age by the way. Suggestions!?"

    People with ASD (high-functioning autism) are particularly vulnerable to anxiety. This vulnerability is a basic trait of the disorder due to (a) the breakdown in circuitry related to extinguishing fear responses, (b) social skills deficits, and (c) specific neurotransmitter system defects.

    Reasons for anxiety include the following:
    • Lack of displayed empathy (another Asperger’s trait) significantly limits skills for self-directed social problem solving.
    • Limitations in generalizing from one situation to another contributes to repeating the same social errors.
    • Social skills deficits related to Asperger’s make it difficult for “Aspies” to develop coping techniques for calming themselves and containing difficult emotions. 
    • Their inability to grasp social cues and their highly rigid style act together to create repeated social mistakes (e.g., saying the wrong thing at the wrong time). 
    • In the workplace, it is not uncommon for the Aspie to be bullied and teased by his coworkers, yet he can’t mount effective socially adaptive responses, which often results in both anxiety and learned helplessness.



    Several medications have been tried for treatment of anxiety. SRIs, buspirone, and alpha-adrenergic agonist medications (e.g., clonidine or guanfacine) have been tried. The best evidence to date supports use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. One relatively new drug that seems to be having remarkable success in alleviating anxiety is Fetzima.

    As a side note, people on the autism spectrum may be more vulnerable to side effects – and may exhibit unusual side effects. For example, disinhibition (i.e., a temporary loss of inhibition) is particularly prominent and can be seen with any of the serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Also, excessive doses may produce “amotivational syndrome” (i.e., a psychological condition associated with diminished inspiration to participate in social situations and activities).

    Self-help strategies to reduce anxiety include the following:
    • avoid “what if” thinking (e.g., ‘What if I fail?’ … ‘What if I get sick?’)
    • avoid black-and-white (all-or-nothing) thinking 
    • avoid talking in absolutes (i.e., using words such as always, never, should, must, no one and everyone)
    • develop a daily log to plan out your days (include healthy activities)
    • develop a sense of self-trust (i.e., the ability to believe that you can handle what life throws at you)
    • don’t be a “people-pleaser” (e.g., when do you say ‘yes’ to someone when you really want to say ‘no’)
    • practice yoga
    • realize and accept that you can’t control life, you can only control yourself
    • realize that you’re responsible for your happiness and your life
    • reduce your perfectionistic tendencies
    • stop relying on others for approval

    Lastly, but most importantly, distinguish fact from fiction. Fear is being afraid of something, and you know exactly what it is that you’re afraid of (e.g., heights). Anxiety is being afraid of something, but you’re NOT sure what it is. Anxiety is fiction. It’s an anticipation of things going wrong in the future. But since the future doesn’t exist (except as a mental construct), then anxiety about a future event is fiction.
     
     

    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


     
    COMMENTS:

    Anonymous said… All part of autism? Get used to it and fight it best you can! This is where the tiredness and long sleeps are relevant!
    Anonymous said… as long as autistics are perceived and treated as diseased toys, they`re going to have a much higher rate of mental health issues. as long as autistics try to live like people who aren`t autistic, they`re going to have a higher rate of mental health issues. it`s really pretty simple. the solutions are more complex, however.
    Anonymous said… Easier said than done. The adult Asperger want to achieve some balance and sometimes accumulative PTSD feeds into the situation, too, with triggers that appear out of left field. Overwhelming.
    Anonymous said… I can only speak for myself, but my anxiety is "out there" so fast, I can never "control" it; it's too dam quick, damage done, and I'm already in wtf-mode before realizing I'm palpitating and acting like an idiot. Which makes me more anxious! I don't know how to forewarn myself to try to stop it; it just happens
    Anonymous said… I love how when I went to a doctor all they wanted to do was treat the anxiety and when I asked "what about the other symptoms like innattention and sensory issues and social issues" they just ignored even trying to get me a diagnoses suggesting that anti anxiety meds would be "the cure" instead of what it really did - make me suicidal
    Anonymous said… It is a hard question to answer,, but the best thing is to try and find an outlet.. to not let the anxiety spiral and take hold.
    Anonymous said… Ive warned all of people around me to get away when i get angry because i really cant stop my rage 
    Anonymous said… Meditation helps
    Anonymous said… right it's like a nightmare coming true times 100.
    Anonymous said… Why do we have anxiety? Because from birth we have been being told we aren't normal. Don't do that, dont say that, look here, go there, sound like this, look like that. When you have to think about everything just to comprehend what's going on around you, and then add in being the best actor/actress everyone has seen, because otherwise you make them uncomfortable, go figure we have anxiety!
    •    Anonymous said… as long as autistics are perceived and treated as diseased toys, they`re going to have a much higher rate of mental health issues. as long as autistics try to live like people who aren`t autistic, they`re going to have a higher rate of mental health issues. it`s really pretty simple. the solutions are more complex, however.
    •    Anonymous said… Have any of y'all tried Cognitive Behavioral Therapy? I'm looking into it for my 22 years old son. His meltdowns are so violent and I'm terrified he's going to end up in jail one day. Any thoughts?
    •    Anonymous said… it might help, if the therapist is experienced and knowledgeable enough about autistics. but his meltdowns at this point are probably ptsd. that`s very hard to recover from. i have a similar issue myself. what he needs to learn are appropriate personal and social boundaries for himself, and how to live like an autistic. cbt might help with boundaries. it won`t help much with living like an autistic.
    •    Anonymous said… My anxiety is off the hook! My doc put me on some med that I will need to purge off of but it isn't helping me stop biting my nails and having bad dreams...is anyone here having the same symptoms?
    •    Anonymous said… The push for uniformity of human beings in our world is most disturbing. The simple frustration of growing up with people always trying to change your fundamental personality and the stress of trying to fit in ... and failing ...

    Please post your comment below…

    Married to an Autistic Man: Tips for Frustrated NT Wives

    Michael, a young man with autism, was cute with his boyish good looks and child-like antics. Nancy loved Michael – autism and all – because he made her smile and he wasn’t afraid to show his vulnerable side by crying on her shoulder about past hurts.

    For the first few years, life was filled with so much fun and adventure that Nancy didn’t even notice that all the “adult responsibilities” seem to always fall on her. But one day, it hit her: “I am more like a mother to Michael than a wife!” Nancy became discouraged and began yearning for a man rather than an adult-child. What was charming in the beginning was annoying now.

    Every spouse has mothered her man on occasion …you made him some chicken soup when he was sick with the flu …you reminded him to take out the trash …you picked up his dirty socks from the living room floor …and so on. But having to constantly mother a child-like man soon gets old.

    Most females are born with a nurturing gene that can’t resist a man who needs her. There’s comfort in knowing your spouse finds refuge from the world in your arms. A child-like man brings a carefree attitude toward life that lifts your mood, which can be refreshing in today’s pressure-filled world. 
     
    But, life does have its adult responsibilities. Someone has to pay the gas bill or remember to renew the auto registrations. The grown-up world gets burdensome when you have to shoulder responsibilities for two (or more if you have kids). This isn’t what you signed up for. Marriage means having a spouse to help out. So what is a frustrated wife to do?

    Here are a few ways to help your autistic husband “grow-up” and start to shoulder more responsibility:

    1. Accept your husband for who he is. There are perks to being married to a child-like man. It’s less likely that he will be controlling or domineering. He’ll be playful and fun. Life with your partner will not be boring. Let your own inner kid come out to play with him. Use your own adult strengths to fill in the gaps as necessary.

    2. Allow your husband to take on some adult responsibilities – even if he doesn’t live up to your standards. Sometimes an autistic husband will step aside and let his spouse take over because she wants things done her way. That is not letting him “grow up” if you insist on being the ultimate decision maker or judgment caller. He may struggle and even fail a few times, but that’s the learning curve.

    3. Audio or videotape your arguments (with everyone’s approval) so you both can hear yourselves communicate. Some couples are surprised to hear how juvenile they sound, and they change their communication styles quickly.

    4. Create visual cues. Chore charts and budget sheets sound so childish, but he may need a visual reminder. We all have information overload with too much to do and remember. Even neurotypical men do better when you hand them a “honey-do” list. If he’s tech savvy, have him enter items in his Blackberry.

    5. Don't assess - or redo - his work. If you want a job done by your husband and his work doesn't meet your expectations, do the job yourself and don't ask him to do it in the first place. The problem may just be your expectations and not your spouse.

    6. Don't come across as “bitchy.” It's an issue of stubborn will and you will not break him. The more you bitch, the less he will do. Just ask once and leave it that.

    7. Don't tell your husband to do more than one thing at a time. Tell him one thing he can help you with and leave it at that. Understand that some autistic men are genetically wired to reject lists. If that describes your man, then don’t give him a list of things to do – under any circumstances.

    8. Encourage your husband to hang out with male peers with grown-up attitudes. He could learn from good male role models. It’s said you are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with.

    9. Give your husband adult respect. You can’t expect him to be an adult if you treat him like a kid or a second-class citizen in your home. Defer to him and consult his opinions. Don’t correct him, boss him around, criticize how he does things, or override his decisions in child-rearing or anything else. That will only reinforce the fact that you are “wearing the pants” in the family. Treat your man like the “man of the house” (or at least like an equal half of your partnership) and he’ll begin to fill that role.

    10. Let your guy be the hero. A male loves to do heroic things for his spouse. The problem with childcare and housework is your spouse doesn't understand how important it is to you that he helps. In many cases (especially if you work), day-to-day childcare/housework is incredibly tiring and draining. It's a burden. Your husband doesn't see the slow burn of exhaustion as easily as he may see other threats to your well-being. For him to truly understand your difficulty, you need to make a point of explaining your predicament, not in a condescending or angry to tone, but in a manner that conveys your predicament and desperation.

    11. Let your man decide the timeline. This may sound counter intuitive, but it works. Males need to be in control. The minute they feel threatened – they flee. If your husband runs, then there is no way he will ever complete the job. Besides, when he completes the job, his pride will be surely let you know that he did it before the time elapsed.

    12. Notice what your husband does – not what he doesn't. Imagine if your spouse pointed out all of the flaws in your appearance and never noticed your good points. You would eventually break down and stop caring about your appearance. It's the same way with autistics and childcare/housework.

    13. Seek counseling to learn the underlying cause of your mand’s childish behavior. Subconsciously, he may be avoiding adulthood. Maybe he harbors some fears or past trauma that need to be addressed and healed. A professional can help him discover how to be more fulfilled in his life as a grown-up.

    14. Stop mothering him. No more doing all the care-taking things you do. No more taking on too much responsibility. He probably loves it when you treat him like a child, but if you want him to grow up, stop mothering. Let him take the fall when he falls short.

    15. Talk with your guy about sharing the load. Don’t nag or belittle him, or he will shut down. Talk about fairness and how many hands make light work. Less stress and work for you means that you’ll have more time and energy to be more relaxed and to join in on the fun with him.
     

    ==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

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


    P.S. We totally understand that these suggestions are easier said than done, as evidenced by some of the following comments:

    •    Anonymous… I'm a NT and my husband is an Aspie. It's getting incredibly hard to want to work with him, because it's like he doesn't want to help himself. He just wants me to ignore his immaturity, his laziness, his rituals and routine. Sorry people, but there's only so much a person can bare!
     

    •    Anonymous… I agree. It's not my responsibility to make him feel better or try and help him. I've had enough of trying to manage my life around it. Aspergers or not, life's too short to spend it accomodating someone else at your own expense.
     

    •    Anonymous… Yes, do not wait until you are 55 and run down sick woman from all the stress. there will be no thank you waiting anywhere.
     

    •    Anonymous… I agree, all points make sense but it all equates to a one sided relationship, whereby the NT is accommodating the Aspie. My husband is not diagnosed which I can only imagine makes it harder. I love him but cannot live without the care and empathy I deserve. I have no idea how a relationship can be a success without the NT partner being neglected. Sadly we are about to get divorced and I am devastated.
     

    •    Anonymous… issues that I have a baby which his parents love but my partner can't be left alone with as he hasn't got a clue. His parents don't believe he's got asbergers even when he's been diagnosed his mum has mothered him all his life his obsessions take over everything I have a mortgage and his parents are my free child care and respite my relationship if you can call it that is disappearing as I can't be intimate anymore with been his main carer he's just another big kid I think he might be a friend now I have no idea cause I'm confused to how I feel about him but I feel like I am a single mother using his family to survive and live. While he just does wat he pleases and I get no leisure time
     

    •    Anonymous… Wow, this sounds a lot like me. Neither my husband nor I are diagnosed, but I am pretty sure we are both aspies (our middle daughter is diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum). My poor husband has to take care of me. He is much higher functioning than I am. Something the article doesn't really touch on, (or maybe it is something that only I specifically deal with) is that I *want* to help. I *want* to be more than a burden to my husband. But if outside triggers and stressors are too much to bear, I seem to lose access to a number of my executive functions and all I can do is sink into my childish obsessions and interests to try to hold the terrible anxiety at bay so I don't go mad from the stress and panic. This can go on for months until things calm down and I can reestablish routines. I know it is hard on my husband, as it must be for the women whose spouses are requiring so much mothering. I wish I knew what could be done to help with getting the stressors to quit shutting down executive functions in aspies :( 

    Post your comment below. We want to hear your opinion too…

    ==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

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

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