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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Communication Problems: Help for Husbands on the Spectrum

To all husbands with ASD [High-Functioning Autism]:

O.K. guys …it’s time to wake-up and get your act together in the communication department. You know what I mean! All relationship problems stem from poor communication skills. You can't communicate while you're checking your email, watching a DVD, or flipping through the evening newspaper.

How to fix communication problems with your neurotypical spouse:

1. Avoid being defensive. Defensiveness occurs when you see yourself as the victim, and then attempt to block off a perceived attack. When you are defensive, you are not open to learning and are also not able to access the vulnerable feelings that may lay beneath your defensiveness. Some typical defensive responses include:

  • cross-complaining
  • disagreeing and then cross-complaining
  • making excuses
  • repeating yourself without paying attention to what the other person is saying
  • start off agreeing - but end up disagreeing
  • whining

2. If you can't communicate without arguing, go to a public place (e.g., library, park, restaurant, etc.) where you would be embarrassed if anyone saw you arguing.

3. Look her in the eyes without glaring while she talks (and none of this “I have to look at her forehead or the bridge of her nose because I hate eye contact” bullshit either). Just freakin' do it!

4. Make an actual “communication-appointment” with each other. Put the cell phones on vibrate, put the kids to bed, and let voice mail pick up your calls.
==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

5. Don’t stonewall. Stonewalling is withdrawing from the relationship as a way of avoiding conflict. You may think you are trying to be “neutral,” but stonewalling conveys disapproval, icy distance, separation, disconnection, and/or smugness. Some typical stonewall responses are:

  • changing the subject
  • monosyllabic mutterings
  • removing yourself physically
  • stony silence

6. Nod so your wife knows you're getting the message.

7. Remember that a large part of communication is listening, so be sure your body language reflects that (e.g., don't doodle, look at your iPhone, pick your nose, etc.).

8. Rephrase what your wife is saying (e.g., "What I hear you saying is that you feel as though you have more work to do around the house because I don’t pick up after myself"). If you're right, she can confirm it. If what she really meant was, “you're one sloppy, lazy bastard,” perhaps she'll say so - but in a nicer way.

9. Set up some “communication-rules” (e.g., not interrupting until the other person is through talking, no bringing up the past, banning phrases such as "You always ..." or "You never ...", etc.).

10. Voice your complaint, but don’t be critical. Criticism refers to you attacking or judging your wife’s personality or character in a negative way. This may result in her choosing to withdraw from the conversation or to become emotionally distant from you. Complaint, on the other hand, is directed to specific behavior. The difference between a complaint and a criticism lays in the opening use of “I” or “you”. 
A criticism usually begins with the word “you” (e.g., “you always bla bla bla,” …or “you never bla bla bla”). In contrast, complaints will usually begin with the word “I” (e.g., “I need to be able to come home from work and relax in front of the TV for a few minutes before starting a conversation about how your day went”).

The bottom line: Communication with your wife is a function of "emotional connection." When spouses feel connected, they communicate fine. When they feel disconnected, they communicate poorly (regardless of their choice of words or communication techniques).

Building Your Self-Esteem: Tips for Adults with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism

In order to build self-esteem, you will need to change two different core beliefs about self-image. The first core belief to change is the notion that you are not good enough (e.g., how you look, how smart you are, how much money you make, etc.). The second core belief to change is the image of success that you feel you "should" have. Here's how to accomplish these two objectives...

Tips for adults with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism on building self-esteem:

1. Act the part, and you will become the part. If you act a part long enough, you will eventually not be acting any more.

2. Always remember: some people do not have proper etiquette, and their stares or rudeness can be confused with a personal vendetta against you.

3. Be a person people can count on.

4. Do not be influenced by people who may be trying to lower your self-esteem in order to make themselves feel more powerful. Walk away.

5. Do not feel awkward in silence – sometimes silence is a good thing. It means you are observant, and that presents a strong sense of self-confidence.

6. Do something nice for others.

7. Do something you really want to do, and be pleased with the results.

8. Don't define yourself as someone with low self-esteem. Once you stop believing that you have low self-esteem, you don't anymore. It's that simple.

9. Don't look to others to validate you, your choices, your value, your moral, your personality, your ideas, or your path.

10. Don't take anything personally. Nothing people do is because of you. What people say and do is a projection of their own reality. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.

11. Find something you do well, and do it repeatedly.

12. If someone tries to deflate your self-esteem, know that they are doing this because they have none themselves and can't bear to see you having any.

13. If you are being bullied by another person, but feel deep inside that you are doing the right thing, then trust yourself. Though it is very hard, and that person will try every tactic to make you doubt yourself (e.g., with guilt trips, emotional blackmail, sarcasm, etc.), remember that anyone who uses those tactics must not be self-assured themselves.

14. If you are in an intimate relationship, do not emotionally blackmail your partner, making him or her feel badly for telling the truth, or just being themselves.

15. If you find yourself listening to what people say about you, and taking it into account, it shows that you are an open-minded, compassionate person because you don't want to hurt anyone. If there is truth in what people say about you, then that is up to you to decipher. Being honest with yourself is paramount.

16. Keep your word.

17. Lose yourself in a hobby.

18. Meet other people through social media or online dating.

19. Most people can keep from feeling negatively about themselves no matter what others say, but if you were exposed to verbal, physical, mental and/or emotional abuse, it may be more difficult to change the perception of yourself. In this case, surrounding yourself with positive people who will support you is vital. Get rid of the negative people in your world.

20. Trust your instincts and judgments from a morally sound point of view.

As one gentleman with Aspergers stated:

Working towards managing asperger's as an adult has it's ups and downs. Over the past few months, I've developed a strong sense of self worth and a sense of self, probably for the first time in my life, by separating myself from others' opinions and my history, all of which was big up. The downside is, thanks to my detailed and expansive aspie memory, I can remember how I've been treated in the past and see when I haven't been treated well by others. I had a choice when I realized I had asperger's: I could keep everything the same and deny it; accept it as a fact of life and use it as a crutch to explain all my problems; or I could work hard to improve my life and try to be happy and a better person, who could manage his aspergers in such a way that I could have strong relationships with others and be able to manage my anxieties. I chose the third path, which I knew would be the hardest. It's just sometimes, I'm faced with how hard it really is.

I would give one point to anyone and everyone: find your self worth. I've been reading a lot about it lately, and realizing that I do have intrinsic self worth has been the biggest help in being able to move forward and improving myself.

Self worth is intrinsic. It is something that everyone has, and is equal among all humans. That doesn't mean that everyone is automatically equal at absolutely everything. One person may be better at sports, another better at math, but neither has any more worth than the other. 

More than that, self worth does not change regardless of outside influence. No one can take it from you or lower it, and nothing that happens to you can do it either. Having asperger's, or any other psychological or physical condition cannot change your self worth. Failed relationship, lost jobs, disabilities, or sucking at Halo, none of these things change your self worth.

After spending a lifetime feeling lost and isolated because of Asperger's can be difficult for adults. I know that I had no sense of self worth. My lack of empathy meant I couldn't pick up on others emotions, so I generally felt that no one liked me. It was tough to take, because I wanted friends and relationships. I really felt that something was wrong with me. 

It took a lot of soul searching and really taking a look at myself. It felt silly at times, making lists of the things I could do and why people should like me, and why I should like myself. Funny thing was, the list ended up being much longer than I expected. There was more there than I ever gave myself credit for.

Finding my self worth has given me the strength to face things I wouldn't have been able to otherwise. It was a long and painful trip, but totally worth it.

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

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