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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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:

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 to "Chit Chat": Tips for People with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Chit chat and small talk is often seen as meaningless conversation by adults with ASD [High-Functioning Autism]. But silence isn't necessarily golden. Sometimes it's just plain uncomfortable to find yourself with strangers and nothing to say.

Here are some tips for people on the spectrum who hate chit chat – but feel they should be more conversational (if for no other reason than simply being polite):

1. Be a good listener. You can give visual clues that you are listening. You can nod your head, lean in towards the speaker to let them know you are paying attention.

2. Be a warehouse of information. This entails reading a lot and watching many documentaries on television. But information does not have to be encyclopedic or boring. Read and learn about things you are interested in, but take time as well to learn about things you think other people would be interested in. Knowing a few good facts that other people can relate to is better for chit chat purposes than having a head full of information that makes the eyes of other people glaze over.

3. Care about the “vibe” more than the topic. A conversation is much more than an exchange of facts and ideas. It is an exchange of energy. What many people miss is that when you know how to make chit chat, it means you can create a positive exchange of energy. The topic is just an excuse, so it doesn’t have to be a deep topic. When you’re making chit chat, you want to focus more on being friendly and positive than on picking the right topic or saying the right things. Smile, relax, joke around, be spontaneous and be silly. Remember that your vibe comes mainly from your attitude.
 

4. Don’t get “stuck” on the trivial stuff. Keep in mind that chit chat is not a destination. It’s just a temporary station. If an interaction with a person goes well, do move the conversation to deeper and more personal topics. You can talk about topics (e.g., family and relationships, career plans, life goals, challenges, etc.). You now find yourself in a new land: the land of bigger chit chat. Ultimately, a strong bond between two people is created when they talk about the most meaningful things, in the most meaningful way. Knowing how to make chit chat is one of the key people skills to master. From there, if you also know how to have charisma and engage others in more intimate conversation, you can get outstanding results with people and you can build a highly fulfilling social life for yourself.

5. Don't melt-away from conversations. Make a graceful exit. Try and shake the hand of the person you've been talking to. Show appreciation by saying, "It was interesting hearing about your job."

6. Greet warmly and use names. Make sure if you don't remember someone's name to ask. And, be prepared to introduce people to each other. It's also important to smile and be the first to say hello.

7. Get a life. It’s easy to make chit chat when you have a lot of things to chat about. People who know how to make chit chat well have a rich inner - and especially outer - life. Conversation is for them just a matter of expressing that. It’s much harder to make chit chat well when all you do is work a repetitive job or play on the computer all day. A rich lifestyle creates content and it helps you engage others. If you don’t have one, it’s time to create it (e.g., read, travel, try new things, take on various hobbies, do some charity work, socialize, etc.).

8. Keep a diary. This will serve as a repository of any information you feel is worth collecting. Anecdotes, important pieces of facts, names of people you need to remember - anything can go in that diary. The point is to read through the diary to bone up on the information that you feel is important to remember.

9. Keep it meaningful. Making chit chat makes a lot of sense with people you’ve just met. Imagine asking a person you know for 30 seconds: “So, how’s you sex life?” That is way too intrusive! Chit chat on the other hand provides a method to ease into the discussion. When you make chit chat, the subjects may be superficial for comfort, but they should be subjects you care about and approach in a straightforward manner, staying away from clichés. In this way, you can make the discussion meaningful for you – and for the other person. Focus on what is interesting as a topic and on what is real within you. You’ll make the talk fun even though you keep it small.

10. Learn to listen to what people around you are saying. Did your doctor just say he wants to go on vacation? Ask him when and where. Has your mother been telling you that she has back pains? Inquire whether they are getting worse. Did the cashier inform you that she is banking on being promoted soon? Congratulate her in advance. These are all opportunities to make chit chat, because you cared enough to listen to what they were telling you.
 

11. Make it a point to join groups of people anywhere just to make chit chat. Have you noticed that when many people are gathered together in one place, someone inevitably strikes up a conversation with another person there? Some people are quite shy though and leave it to other people to make the first move. That is okay, so long as you try to join in the conversation as well.

12. One of the best ways to learn about another person and help them feel as though you are interested in them is to ask questions and listen carefully to their responses. It may help you to prepare questions beforehand for the person you are meeting. Also, you can take a few minutes to learn something about the person you are going to meet before you meet.

13. Prepare for conversation. Before going anywhere, you need to make sure you have two or three things to talk about. It only takes a couple of minutes to prepare. The worst time to think of what to say is when you actually have to say something. You can talk about current events or what you already know about the person. But you have to be prepared.

14. Show an interest and dig deeper. Everybody should avoid clichéd questions that merely lead to clichéd answers that no one really cares about. "How was your day?" is one. You'll never know how someone's day was unless you dig deeper. You could say, "What went on at work today?" That kind of question will bring a more detailed, thoughtful answer, and you can follow up with another question. You have to actually be interested in the other person to have a good conversation.

15. Stop being an advisor. There's a real temptation in the course of conversation to respond to someone with advice. Resist that temptation. No one asked for advice. They just want to be heard. You don't have to solve people's problems in your conversations.
 

16. Treat chit chat with strangers as a skill you want to master. That means you need to have plenty of opportunity to make mistakes. Give yourself permission to make mistakes. That means you are experimenting and learning. Eventually you will become better at making conversation with new people.

17. Try talking to yourself in the mirror. This allows you to practice your chit chat skills in private. You can then catch any bad habits that you have, like pursing your lips or licking your lips when you speak.

18. Try to overcome any feelings of shyness or lack of self-confidence by participating in more opportunities to do chit chat. There's no getting around it - you learn how to make chit chat by doing chit chat whenever and wherever you can.

19. Practice your chit chat skills on people you encounter in your daily life such as the gasoline attendant who fills your car tank with gasoline every week, or the bus driver who accepts your fare for the daily commute to the office. Practicing hones your chit chat skills so that when you have to attend that important community function you will find chit chat to be easier (if not second nature by then.)

20. Be patient with yourself as you learn the fine art of chit chat. Start very small with small talk. Then move on to bigger small talk.
 

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

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


Comments:

•    Anonymous…This was very helpful. I'm really glad I found this page :-) Very nice. This "Chit Chat" issue is probably the main one that I struggle with. Other than that life is pretty great......but if I'm stuck in a social situation with a room full of people anticipating "chit chat"...well, I'd rather sit in a room all by myself curled up with a book than to while away time listening to someone's adventures in "shoe shopping". But I suppose I need to work on this. The article was quite good though....thanks :-)


•    Anonymous… I just found the page & I cant tell u how good it feels to know why I am the way I am & being able to find tools to understand, deal, & adjust are priceless to me. I never understood why I saw chit chat as either pointless or nothing I'd actually want to do & SO very stressful @ the mere thought of having to "Make conversation" especially w strangers. Thanks for the page


•    Anonymous …I honestly don't want nor do I feel the need to work on my problems with social chit chat. I like the way I am, I am an original...and those who love me and know of my mild autism know that that is how I am and find my quirks quite awesome. I like being a breath of fresh air in a world where people thrive on talking about meaningless things to strangers. I personally see nothing wrong with being aloof and keeping to myself.


•    Tiredasf##k …As I type this my husband is not home tonight. I am absolutely sick to death of feeling like I don't matter. I work my ass off. I do everything for us. I get no appreciation no love no sex no anything. I'm so emotionally exhausted I've come down with pneumonia. I am so sick. I absolutely lost it today when he got a phone call from a buddy at 5am asking him for a ride to work. His friend starts at 6am he starts at 7am. He jumped up like a super hero and was ready to go in no time. I was awake and coughing violently the whole time... He never asked me if I was ok. He never asked me if I needed anything... But his buddy calls and he runs to the rescue. So at 6am while dizzy and coughing up a lung I'm letting the dogs out trying to make some tea and I got so dizzy I almost pass out. Maybe it's the medication or maybe I'm at a breaking point because I laid into him like I was at war. I went off. I mean what kind of person doesn't make sure their sick wife is OK before leaving over an hour early for work? Am I supposed to believe he is incapable when he runs to his friends aide? What about me? I find myself saying that ever so often!!! At the end of the day and one of the biggest fights ever (mostly because I lost it big time) he says he doesn't want to be with me and leaves lol. LOL!!!! He doesn't want to be with me. I'm the bad guy again!!! I've tried it all nothing works. No matter how much I love the man he will never make me feel good about being his wife. I'll always be his caretaker. How did this happen? It seems like over time he got worse. Like in the beginning it was not so bad but now he's in lala land 90% of the time. What man doesn't want sex!!!!! He's like a robot! I'm losing my mind and pretty sure he's looking into divorce. Part of me is glad. The other part... Wishes he could see this and understand that he could make little changes and give himself reminders so that he could be a good husband to me. Did I also mention he's on his 7th job this year? I've carried him every way a person can. Now I lay in bed, alone. Sick as hell!!!! And where is my support? Somewhere else thinking I'm an a hole. My husband told me when I met him I was like a bright light that shined into his darkness. Well, he room that light and left me in the dark. God hell me 


•    Unknown …I appreciate your attempt to help those of us with HFA and Asperger's but the sad truth is that it will most likely go underappreciated. I, for one, find chit chat to be meaningless. I can not hold a real conversation without an NT deciding my tone and context, so I don't see the point to put myself out there. I mean, it will just give them more opportunities to victimize themselves and make me into the bad guy...Sadly, to do any one of these things is putting in more effort than any NT would be willing to show. Why do Aspies have to be the accommodating ones? Why are *we* considered the different ones? Honestly, we are just more logical. We are more effortless. We are more conservative of the energy we have (choosing to expend our energy by furthering our knowledge). We are more knowledgeable about most things. So, again, WHY do we make adjustments for those who are unwilling to do the same? I've been posting stories and news articles on my Facebook page about how to communicate with someone with Aspergers and even the NT PARENTS of HFA & ASPIE people don't bother with it. Such a shame really... What we really need is an NT/Aspie dream team to come up with a blog about mutual effort for understanding eachother. Cuz honestly? Most NTs just aren't worth my time and energy. I have things to learn, theories to test and conclusions to draw using evidence. (Ooh. Yeah... the neurotypical judgement of others gets me going too.... I know I sound judgemental in this comment, but towards individuals I am not judgemental. Towards the majority of society: well, they think there is something "wrong" with me. I believe I am a pioneer for the people of tomorrow. Why else is ASD and HFA becoming a more prevalent diagnosis?)


•    unknown …Aspies clearly spend to much time with their own thoughts they have a brain that does not switch off. My partner of six years will insist on me siting close to him but only wants me to speak to him when am spoken too. General chit chat may turn into a falling out causing him distraction of his thoughts. If I am not with him he becomes obsessed with every move interaction hassles me, in half an hour I get several calls text. Its easier to avoid seeing people. I have become as lonely as him. For a quite existence and to prevent escalation of any violent outbursts to himself,me my children, strangers the general public, property. My physical health suffers I constantly have chest pains stiff shoulder and neck pain.

Post your comment below…

Recovery from Cassandra Syndrome - Renee's Story

 


I would like to talk about the most important aspect in the process towards recovery from depression due to having a partner with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This depression is called Cassandra syndrome.

When a partner has ASD, the other partner often becomes depressed due to the inability to form an emotional bond. Since I learned about my husband's ASD, I have read a lot of books to improve our relationship. Every book I read had similar content in the end - and I was desperately trying to follow the same advice exactly, but it did not work.

I thought I was not putting in enough effort, so I tried even harder, but it was impossible. The problem was that I was looking at the wrong person. I had to first look inside me rather than him. I thought that every issue we were having was because of his ASD symptoms. I also had a strong “victim complex,” so I thought that if he did not change, our relationship would not improve.

Neurotypical (NT) partners tend to become caregivers of their ASD partners. Over time, these NTs can get tired. Often, they feel like the partner with ASD doesn't really comprehend the amount of work they are putting in to helping them with their anxiety, depression, or managing other comorbid conditions.

The partner with ASD can feel wronged when the NT stops giving the support that she once did. The situation, over time, can become very drastic with the NT feeling more exhausted and like she is unable to continue in the care-taking role.

If the NT doesn't keep it up, then when “NT therapists” come into the equation, they often recommend that the NT starts taking better care of the spouse with autism. Again, this doesn't always work because, by the time the couple gets to the mental health professionals, the NT is too tired to keep going. Oftentimes, she has done more than her fair share for many years.

Now, with the new awareness of neuro-diverse marriages, she comes to an awareness that she has been in a relationship that requires mixed neurological communication.

During the online counseling sessions I was having at the time, Mark Hutten often asked about my self-talk. That is when I started to think deeply about myself. Why do I want to change him? Why can't I feel happy with him, and why did I become interested and marry him in the first place?

Of course, I knew he had his own weaknesses. He had to improve for our marriage to work. However, I also realized that I had to address personal weaknesses that I had in my heart before I met him. Then, little by little - and over a long period of time - I unwound the threads that were entwined in my heart.

The most important aspect of recovering from Cassandra syndrome is to know yourself. If you try to understand someone else without first knowing yourself, you will want to change the other person - and it will not work.

I am the only person who can improve myself by being aware of my motivations inside that also apply to the other person. I do not have to carry my husband’s burden, and there is no need for him to carry mine.

~ Renee S.


More resources:

 
 

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

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

 

COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said…Alexithymia is difficulty in recognizing and labeling emotional states in yourself, but I tend to use it to stretch it to physical states in yourself also, because I feel like a something that often happens. Will you know you'll make a weird face for a long time and not know you're, making a weird face, and that's you know a lack of self-awareness.
•    Anonymous said…An autistic person, a forest is a collection of trees and either it won't occur to them that there is such a thing as a forest or, if you're explaining it to them, it still is just a collection of trees. This is one reason why autistic people are famously bad at summarizing things or being concise, because autistic people process and explain in units of detail instead of in a big-picture way. This is a good thing when it comes to learning complex information, or you know, dealing with a kid who's asking why, over and over again I'll always have an answer ready, because I can break things down small forever. It'S a bad thing. If you know you're telling a joke from memory or you're trying to give directions to somebody, but I like that something Temple Grandin sometimes says, is that she believes this is why autistic people have such a natural capacity for expertise that she says.
•    Anonymous said…I've encountered a lot of autistic people who describe themselves as emotional sponges, and this is you know, I think the reason why so many autistic people respond to emotionally charged situations by shutting down. You know if you're yelling at your spouse and they're shutting down it's not because they don't care it's because you know they're an emotional sponge.
•    Anonymous said…I feel that a lot of the disabling aspects of autism, especially in situations where you have someone you know, can pass for normal, but still struggles, our environment expectations. Things like this that can be connected to these traits things that aren't as much of a problem when it's two autistic people talking but can become a huge blow up when someone involved isn't autistic.
•    Anonymous said…I feel that all too often, the burden of relationships in our diverse couples is placed on the autistic person to understand the world to adapt and communicate better, whereas really like Kristen David Finch, we're talking about it's about coming together and understanding each other. non-autistic people have just as much trouble empathizing with autistic people as autistic people do empathizing with non-autistic people.
•    Anonymous said…I personally worked really hard since my diagnosis to compensate for these types of empathy deficits, I've learned to continually check in with myself and overcome my self-awareness problems with emotion, and I try to analyze and check in on The people around me and watch if there's something I should be picking up on and I have gotten a lot more empathetic. At least you know using that rote memory conscious manual transmission, brain to empathize with people, but I still have a really hard time correctly.
•    Anonymous said…Sensory issues can cause a lot of tension in relationships because they're so hard to understand from the outside that you know they're not constant for one and they can cause a sense of flux in you know your sensitivity to something in your functionality, so something that's not Necessarily, a problem might be an overwhelming problem, the next day or whenever. So this is something that can be hard for ASD people to empathize with, say you know in relationships with neurotypicals I've had this would be very confusing for them that I'm a very talkative person and if I'm really tired and overwhelmed, I won't be able to talk As effectively or I won't be able to talk at all so like once.
•    Anonymous said…So, as a child, I assumed that relationships were something that just happened: pop culture cartoons and such taught me that you know you have two main characters: they'll eventually end up together. Somehow that romance to me was a product of proximity. I believed that you know you encounter your complementary character, foil and exists near them until they fall in love with you, and then you live happily ever after with no effort forever.
•    Anonymous said…The burden to communicate correctly is often placed only on autistic people, and I feel this isn't accurate or helpful, and really I feel that neurologically mixed relationships, romantic or otherwise - can be compared to two conflicting cultures trying to interact. So you know, while this stuff is hard in relationships between two autistic people, it can sometimes be even harder when only one is autistic because of this culture clash aspect, it's important for non-autistic people in the autism community to understand that we live in a neurotypical culture. Our dominant society is neurotypical as the normal, and so you know that's where you know we teach autistic people to adapt to our neurotypical culture.
•    Anonymous said…To autistic people won't often notice that they have social problems or sensory problems because of this lack of self-awareness, alexithymia, I didn't know. I had sensory problems that were different from normal until I started researching autism like I always knew that I was really sensitive to lights and you know my friends turn up the radio to loud. I would like jump and be in pain, but I didn't know that that was abnormal.
•    Anonymous said…We all know inherently that autism effects relationships. Autistic people often have to work harder than non-autistic people to navigate social situations, social relationships and romantic relationships. I'Ve found, though, that autistic people can learn to do things that come naturally to not autistic people through rote memory and effort, though it takes self-awareness and that level of work, though, I also want to say that autistics aren't the only ones with problems in relationships, and It takes to to communicate and to to have a communication problem.

*    Anonymous said... I'm totally convinced that I'm suffering from Casandra's Syndrome. I'm really devastated, and I have started therapy in order to cope with my feelings. I feel isolation evwn when I'm with my partner. No one knows he's Asperger, just me. I've been dating him from 6 years and we have also moved together. I love him very much, but I just can't avoid feeling lonely and detached from my family and other people, since it is uncomfortable to me to meet and socialize with others when I'm with my partner. He's so "shy" and I'm always aware of him, is he ok? Is he having a good time? The worst of all is that find it extremely difficult to tell the way I feel to others because I have to explain a lot of things and it's tiring....I don't know what to do.. I don't want to hurt him by making him feel that I'm not truly happy by his side, just because I can't find the way to really bond with him.

Recovery from Cassandra Syndrome: Tips for Neurotypical Partners

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Resources for Neurodiverse Couples:

==> Online Group Therapy for Men with ASD

==> Online Group Therapy for NT Wives

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples 

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

==> Online Group Therapy for Couples and Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder

 ==> Cassandra Syndrome Recovery for NT Wives

Comprehensive List of Traits That You’re Likely to See in Your Partner/Spouse on the Autism Spectrum




This is an informal assessment for neurotypicals (NTs) to investigate whether or not their romantic partner may have Asperger's or High-Functioning Autism:

1.    Abrupt and strong expression of likes and dislikes
2.    An apparent lack of “common sense”
3.    Anxiety
4.    Apparent absence of relaxation, recreational, or “time out” activities OUTSIDE of his/her "special interest"
5.    Avoids socializing or small talk, on and off the job
6.    Bad or unusual personal hygiene
7.    Balance difficulties
8.    Bizarre sense of humor (often stemming from a “private” internal thread of humor being inserted in public conversation without preparation or warming others up to the reason for the “punchline”)
9.    Bluntness in emotional expression
10.    Clumsiness

11.    Compelling need to finish one task completely before starting another
12.    Concrete thinking
13.    Constant anxiety about performance and acceptance, despite recognition and commendation
14.    Deliberate withholding of peak performance due to belief that one’s best efforts may remain unrecognized, unrewarded, or appropriated by others
15.    Dependence on step-by-step learning procedures (note: disorientation occurs when a step is assumed, deleted, or otherwise overlooked in instruction)
16.    Depression
17.    Difficulty in starting a project
18.    Difficulty with unstructured time
19.    Difficulty expressing anger (i.e., either excessive or “bottled up”)
20.    Difficulty in accepting compliments, often responding with quizzical or self-deprecatory language


21.    Difficulty in accepting criticism or correction
22.    Difficulty in assessing cause and effect relationships (e.g., behaviors and consequences)
23.    Difficulty in assessing relative importance of details (an aspect of the trees/forest problem)
24.    Difficulty in distinguishing between acquaintance and friendship
25.    Difficulty in drawing relationships between an activity or event and ideas
26.    Difficulty in estimating time to complete tasks
27.    Difficulty in expressing emotions
28.    Difficulty in forming friendships and intimate relationships
29.    Difficulty in generalizing
30.    Difficulty in handling relationships with authority figures

31.    Difficulty in imagining others’ thoughts in a similar or identical event or circumstance that are different from one’s own (“theory of mind” issues)
32.    Difficulty in interpreting meaning to others’ activities
33.    Difficulty in judging distances, height, depth
34.    Difficulty in learning self-monitoring techniques
35.    Difficulty in negotiating either in conflict situations or as a self-advocate
36.    Difficulty in offering correction or criticism without appearing harsh, pedantic or insensitive
37.    Difficulty in perceiving and applying unwritten social rules or protocols
38.    Difficulty in recognizing others’ faces (i.e., prosopagnosia)
39.    Difficulty in understanding rules for games of social entertainment
40.    Difficulty judging others’ personal space

41.    Difficulty with “teamwork”
42.    Difficulty with adopting a social mask to obscure real feelings, moods, reactions
43.    Difficulty with initiating or maintaining eye contact
44.    Difficulty with organizing and sequencing (i.e., planning and execution; successful performance of tasks in a logical order)
45.    Difficulty with reciprocal displays of pleasantries and greetings46.    Difficulty with writing and reports
47.    Discomfort manipulating or “playing games” with others
48.    Discomfort with competition
49.    Disinclination to produce expected results in an orthodox manner
50.    Distractibility due to focus on external or internal sensations, thoughts, and/or sensory input (e.g., appearing to be in a world of one’s own or day-dreaming)

51.    Elevated voice volume during periods of stress and frustration
52.    Excessive questions
53.    Excessive talk
54.    Exquisite attention to detail, principally visual, or details which can be visualized (“thinking in pictures”) or cognitive details (often those learned by rote)
55.    Extreme reaction to changes in routine, surroundings, people
56.    Failure to distinguish between private and public personal care habits (e.g., brushing, public attention to skin problems, nose picking, teeth picking, ear canal cleaning, clothing arrangement)
57.    Flash temper
58.    Flat affect
59.    Flat or monotone vocal expression (i.e., limited range of inflection)
60.    Generalized confusion during periods of stress

61.    Great concern about order and appearance of personal work area
62.    Gross or fine motor coordination problems
63.    Immature manners
64.    Impulsiveness
65.    Insensitivity to the non-verbal cues of others (e.g., stance, posture, facial expressions)
66.    Intense pride in expertise or performance, often perceived by others as “flouting behavior”
67.    Interpreting words and phrases literally (e.g., problem with colloquialisms, clichés, neologism, turns of phrase, common humorous expressions)
68.    Known for single-mindedness
69.    Lack of trust in others
70.    Limited by intensely pursued interests


71.    Limited clothing preference (e.g., discomfort with formal attire or uniforms)
72.    Literal interpretation of instructions (e.g., failure to read between the lines)
73.    Low apparent sexual interest
74.    Low motivation to perform tasks of no immediate personal interest
75.    Low or no conversational participation in group meetings or conferences
76.    Low sensitivity to risks in the environment to self and/or others
77.    Low to medium level of paranoia
78.    Low to no apparent sense of humor
79.    Low understanding of the reciprocal rules of conversation (e.g., interrupting, dominating, minimum participation, difficult in shifting topics, problem with initiating or terminating conversation, subject perseveration)
80.    Mental shutdown response to conflicting demands and multi-tasking

81.    Missing or misconstruing others’ agendas, priorities, preferences
82.    Nail-biting
83.    Often perceived as “being in their own world”
84.    Often viewed as vulnerable or less able to resist harassment and badgering by others
85.    Out-of-scale reactions to losing
86.    Oversight or forgetting of tasks without formal reminders (e.g., lists or schedules)
87.    Perfectionism
88.    Perseveration best characterized by the term “bulldog tenacity”
89.    Poor judgment of when a task is finished (often attributable to perfectionism or an apparent unwillingness to follow differential standards for quality)
90.    Pouting frequently

91.    Preference for bland or bare environments in living arrangements
92.    Preference for repetitive, often simple routines
93.    Preference for visually oriented instruction and training
94.    Problems expressing empathy or comfort to/with others (e.g., sadness, condolence, congratulations)
95.    Psychometric testing shows great deviance between verbal and performance results
96.    Punctual and conscientious
97.    Rage, tantrum, shutdown, self-isolating reactions appearing “out of nowhere”
98.    Relaxation techniques and developing recreational “release” interest may require formal instruction
99.    Reliance on internal speech process to “talk” oneself through a task or procedure
100.    Reluctance to accept positions of authority or supervision

101.    Reluctance to ask for help or seek comfort
102.    Resistance to or failure to respond to talk therapy
103.    Rigid adherence to rules and routines
104.    Rigid adherence to social conventions where flexibility is desirable
105.    Ruminating (i.e., fixating on bad experiences with people or events for an inordinate length of time)
106.    Sarcasm, negativism, criticism
107.    Scrupulous honesty, often expressed in an apparently disarming or inappropriate manner or setting
108.    Self-injurious or disfiguring behaviors
109.    Serious all the time
110.    Shyness

111.    Sleep difficulties
112.    Slow performance
113.    Social isolation and intense concern for privacy
114.    Stilted, pedantic conversational style (“the little professor” concept)
115.    Stims (i.e., self-stimulatory behavior serving to reduce anxiety, stress, or to express pleasure)
116.    Stress, frustration and anger reaction to interruptions
117.    Strong desire to coach or mentor newcomers
118.    Strong food preferences and aversions
119.    Strong sensory sensitivities (e.g., touch and tactile sensations, sounds, lighting and colors, odors, taste
120.    Substantial hidden self-anger, anger towards others, and resentment

121.    Susceptibility to distraction
122.    Tantrums
123.    Tendency to “lose it” during sensory overload, multitask demands, or when contradictory and confusing priorities have been set
124.    Unmodulated reaction in being manipulated, patronized, or “handled” by others
125.    Unusual and rigidly adhered to eating behaviors
126.    Unusual gait, stance, posture
127.    Verbosity
128.    Very low level of assertiveness

 ==> Learn more about your AS partner's way of thinking, feeling and behaving...


=>  Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

=> Skype Counseling for Struggling Individuals & Couples Affected by Asperger's and HFA
 

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