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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Overcoming Feelings of Isolation in Relationships Affected by ASD

 "I feel so isolated and alone in my 12 year long marriage to my AS husband. How does one cope with this - what I call empathy deprivation."

Isolation is a problem that afflicts nearly every relationship with an Asperger’s (high functioning autism) partner at some point. When one of the partner’s is on the autism spectrum, it’s not uncommon for some couples to slowly drift apart in ways they don't even recognize at first. Signs of isolation include the following:
  • feeling of being unable to please or meet the expectations of your partner
  • feeling that keeping the peace by avoiding the conflict is better than the pain of dealing with reality 
  • feeling that your partner isn't hearing you and doesn't want to understand 
  • refusal to cope with what's really wrong 
  • sense that your partner is detached from you 
  • attitude of "who cares, why try?"

If you, as a “neurotypical” (i.e., someone without Asperger’s), are starting to observe these symptoms in your relationship, you have begun experiencing the problem of isolation. All relationships need a plan to reverse isolation and to bring about intimacy. Isolation is like a virus that invades your relationship – silently, slowly, and painlessly at first – but by the time you become aware of its harmful effects, it’s too late. Your relationship can eventually be crippled by monotony and indifference, and it could even die from emotional malnutrition and neglect.

Follow these steps to defeat isolation in your relationship to an Asperger’s partner:

1. Attend meetings, lectures, and other activities that inform you about autism spectrum disorders. This is an opportunity to meet people who share similar problems as you do. And the more you get out, the more you will see - and be seen - by others (a remedy to feelings of isolation in-and-of itself).

2. Develop a network of friends and family to help support your relationship – a key in overcoming loneliness.

3. Develop your own identity and get involved in activities that interest you (e.g., self-enrichment classes, yoga, social functions, etc.).

4. Develop relational skills. You can develop skills in relating to your partner just as you can develop skills in golf, cooking, or painting. Most of us develop some bad relational habits over time, and we need training and practice to develop skills in practical, yet vital, areas of relationship (e.g., speaking the truth in love, resolving conflict, listening to each other, forgiving each other, communicating expectations, adjusting to differences, etc.). Your determination to improve your skills in areas like these will show just how serious you are about revitalizing your relationship.

5. Enrich your life by learning something new to bring fresh insight and communication to your relationship.

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

6. Get a pet. Pets can be great companions, and having an animal waiting for you to come home every day can really boost your outlook and make you feel as though you have a companion.

7. Get involved in causes important to you (e.g., walkathons to raise money to fight breast cancer).

8. Handle anger constructively. You've heard the old adage, "Don't go to bed mad." Well, it's older than grandpa. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger. Choose to forgive daily. Leave the past behind and move forward together.

9. Have you ever wondered what happened to your best friend from way back when? There are many good opportunities these days with the internet, and e-mail, and Instant Message to hook-up with just about anybody who is still alive. Rekindling old friendships is a wonderful way to reconnect with the human race.

10. Hire a therapist to help you better understand the fears you have about your relationship difficulties. A therapist can help you (a) work through the fears you have, (b) develop coping skills to deal with those fears, (c) learn new relationship skills that will enable you to feel more confident in your dealings with an Asperger’s partner, (d) learn assertiveness skills that will empower you to get your needs met in your relationship, and (e) learn conflict resolution skills to work through the inevitable issues that arise between you and your “Aspie”.

11. Improve the relationship you have with yourself. When you don’t like yourself, it’s hard to believe that your partner likes you. One very simple thing to do to change the relationship you have with yourself is to change the negative thoughts you have about yourself to positive ones.

12. Join a club. Whether it is a church club, a car club, or any other of the thousands of club that are out there, being around people and making new friends is a great way to overcome feelings of loneliness. You can find clubs in your local paper and on the Internet.

13. Join a support group. Support groups are a good place to meet people and make new friends. Support groups are a good, safe way to meet other people who have similar concerns and interests as you do. Sharing common concerns or interests is a great ice breaker.

14. Keep in mind that you can only change your situation. You can't make your partner change his/her behaviors or attitudes about the relationship until he/she is ready.

15. Keep the lines of communication open daily. A good "home-base" is at the breakfast table where the two of you can take a few minutes to talk and discuss concerns.

16. Make sure that the relationship you do have is based on giving and receiving—not just giving. There isn’t a lonelier feeling in the world than to be involved in a relationship in which you do all the giving without doing any of the receiving. If you are one of those partners who give and give and give with the silent hope that you’ll get back in return someday, then it’s likely that you may feel lonelier than the average bear.

17. Make your Asperger’s partner your best friend, if possible. To be well balanced, also include other friendships, but reserve the number one spot for your “Aspie.” Best friends risk being vulnerable, because they know the other person will still love and accept them for who they are, will challenge them to grow, and stick by them no matter what.

18. Revisit your courtship days. Think about what drew you together in the first place, the goals you shared, the traits you admired in him/her, the places you enjoyed visiting, the activities you did together, and so on. Often this exercise helps you trudge through the muck and mire of relationship problems and regain perspective of why you are together in the first place.

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

19. Set aside time each day to focus on communicating with your partner. Start with a small item that is of interest to him/her. A funny story from a coworker or the newspaper can be a great conversation starter. Keep the conversation light and easy, and don't bring up problems or issues at first. Remember that the focus should be on increasing communication and feeling of closeness.

20. Share experiences. Go for a walk together, or join in for a favorite show or game of cards. Make your partner your primary focus of attention. Turn off all the cell phones and other distractions.

21. Spend time by yourself to think about what you are expecting from your partner. Is he/she aware of what you are looking for? Remember that all couples grow and change over time. Perhaps your needs have changed. Discuss this with your partner. Sometimes we assume our partner knows things that we haven't communicated to him/her.

22. Talk to your partner about how you're feeling, and take time to hash out each other's feelings about any distance in the relationship. Communication is a key in overcoming loneliness in any relationship.

23. Try to manage conflicts as they arise, but respect your partner’s viewpoints throughout the “conflict resolution” process.

24. Volunteer work is a good way to get involved with others who share similar interests. Not only will you be associating with other people, your life will begin to feel more meaningful by getting out of your self-centered isolation.

25. Write a journal. Lack of communication can lead to loneliness. If you have no one to talk to, you can start to feel very isolated. By writing in a journal every day, you will have an outlet for your feelings. By expressing your feelings, it can help you overcome a sense of isolation and loneliness.

In a nutshell, if you are unhappy in your relationship to an Aspie, be proactive about resolving this state of mind -- whatever it takes. Reach out. Ask for help. Be your own self-advocate. Take care of YOU, because if you don't, no one else will.

==> Living with Aspergers: Help for Couples

30 Tips for the Easily Offended Person with ASD

Are you easily offended? Do others consider you “high maintenance”? Do others feel they have to “walk on eggshells” around you? Do others say you “make mountains out of mole hills”? Do you explode in fits of anger over little things? Do you frequently take things the wrong way?

If you are like most individuals with ASD (high functioning autism), you have probably been offended numerous times (in one way or another) by someone's comment, action, choice, behavior or lifestyle. But understand this: hypersensitivity is robbing you of happiness, and holding on to grudges because you were offended does not contribute to your overall happiness or mental health.

How adults on the autism spectrum can overcome being easily offended:

1. Allow most of life to be indifferent to you. Someone’s bad mood isn’t about you – it’s about him or her! This way, less in life will offend you, and happiness will be much less fleeting.

2. Consider the context that things are being said or done. Sometimes, you may have misunderstood and taken it wrongly.

3. Don’t be emotionally attached to your opinions and viewpoints.

4. Don’t hold on to the words others use to get at the thing they are trying to express. Hear the idea and ignore the clumsiness of the expression.

5. If everything is reduced to how it negatively affects you, no wonder you are so frequently offended!

6. If you expect others to act and speak a certain way, if you assume others will be as kind or compassionate as you, if you’re offended when they don’t rise to the level of your expectation, you will almost always be offended or on the verge of it.

7. In the heat of the moment, try asking yourself, “Why am I getting so upset? Does this issue really matter that much?” Reason with yourself: “Did that person really mean it the way I was just about to take it? Is that person actually trying to hurt me? If not, what is this person really trying to say?”

8. Keep in mind that when a comment seems offensive, it may not be aimed specifically at you. It may be a casual comment, but the other person is unaware that you are taking it personally.

9. Accept yourself deep inside. Validate your inner being. See yourself as more than your behavior. You are also your potential.

10. Learn from your past experiences, and be careful the next time you speak or do something. It may save an individual who is overly sensitive a lot of grief.

11. Many people with ASD are easily offended because they can’t emotionally differentiate between their thoughts and their inner sense of self. When identities are too closely tied to one’s opinions, and those opinions are then disagreed with, many feel like they have been rejected – pushed to the pavement and crushed. This, of course, is highly inaccurate.

12. One individual on the spectrum stated that whenever he hears that he has offended someone, his first response is to stop and think if, in fact, he may have said or done something that could have given the impression of an offense. That, by itself, is a great attitude of humility that would make him almost immune to offense. But he didn’t stop there. He went on to say that he often found that he had indeed said something that could have been construed as offensive. He would then seek out the offended party and apologize for the misconstrued word or deed.

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

13. Part of accepting others’ imperfections is learning to forgive them for their past mistakes and create a sort of “forgiveness-default-setting” in your heart that you automatically go to when confronted with offensive language or behavior.

14. People who are internally fragile – no matter how “tough” their exterior – break most easily at the wrong or misplaced word or deed. So grow your inner self. Become self-accepting, and life will be a more consistently joyful place to live.

15. Pray for the ability to forgive and forget the offense if you have been truly offended.

16. Putting yourself in the offender’s shoes will have the added benefit of being less offensive to others, as you learn to be “too noble to give offense.” If you can empathize for a minute, you can learn to see things from the offender’s perspective. And then you will see that you too played a role in the conflict. Also, you might come to see that the offender had no such intentions of offending.

17. Realize that your opinions are not you. Any given opinion is not the whole of who you are. To the degree you can detach your ideas from your identity, you will live a fulfilling life with little opportunity to feel offended.

18. Remember, humans are imperfect. You are imperfect. Life is imperfect. And that’s just the way it is. When you can accept others’ imperfection – and your own – you will be well on your way to a life of more emotional stability and joy.

19. The reason you usually feel offended is because of the meaning you attach to what is said or done (e.g., “That means she really doesn’t care!” …or “He’s saying I am no good!” …or “I knew she didn’t really love me!” …and so on.). And so the internal interpretation goes.

20. So often we jump to conclusions, assume an ill intent, create meaning to a word that then hurts and offends. Resist that urge and delay judgment until the conversation has run its course. You just may find there is no offense to be had by the time you get to the end.

21. Self-acceptance will literally destroy others’ ability to offend you. It won’t hurt because your validation doesn’t come from their opinions about you.

22. Stay away from self-pity when offended. It can destroy your self-esteem and make you miserable.

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

23. Talk to the “offending” party about how you feel. That individual may not even realize that he or she has offended you. Calmly talking over the issues can help to resolve misunderstandings, hidden anger and frustration.

24. Talk yourself out of the offense by telling yourself, “This person is simply expressing an opinion, and listen to how interesting it is! I find it so fascinating that someone can have such an opinion that is almost the exact opposite of mine!”

25. Tell yourself that maybe the “offending” party is having a bad day and does not realize how she came across. Don't judge, and avoid jumping to conclusions.

26. Tell yourself that the individual who is the potential offender has as much right to her opinion as you do to yours. Besides, they’re only words.

27. The “everyone is out to get me” mentality is fertile soil for being frequently offended. Every word out of every mouth, every action or inaction, all that is done or undone, all motives and intentions become a stab at you. That is a HUGE burden to carry.

28. Think positive and stop brooding over the offense. Thinking too much often makes you jump to conclusions that are not based on fact.

29. Unless proven otherwise, assume the “offending” party has noble intent. Maybe the language was clumsy, maybe even ill-advised, but assume a good heart. That should take the sting out of the bite and put some joy back in your moment.

30. We all have faults, quirks and character flaws. So do you! Yours just may be different than theirs. So, shrug and let it slide off your back. Don’t hold on to the imperfections of others so tightly that you strangle yourself in the process!


~~ "As a diagnosed Adult Aspie at 34, now 36, I had always felt different growing up. In my "own little world." The way our brains function with autism does not match with the neurotypical community, at all. The majority of humans are neurotypical. No depression, no anxiety, able to relate to each other, dating people left and right, no over indulgences, self confidence, etc. Do you know how much energy I waste on a daily basis worrying I'm going to offend somebody, wondering what I'm here for, and if I'm going to spin into an OCD funnel of depressive thoughts? Every relationship I've ever been in has been with a neurotypical person, and they just, don't, understand. They can't relate. They try, I give them that, but at the end of the day we break up mostly because I'm high maintenance, or too much work to be with. Well, hate to break it to ya, Aspies feel the same way about NT's. I see things black and white because that's comforting to have answers to my brain. It shuts it down for me. Otherwise if I had to swim in grey I would go crazy. Anywho, I'm rambling, like most Aspies with thoughts flooding in from every direction all at once. I just hope someday I can see myself how other people see me, and find a true love that understands me." 
~~ "This is so helpful. Especially how you get right to their vulnerability, which can be hard for others to recognize when they are acting like petty, professional victims. Good work Mark. I am going to show it to my Aspie right away and refer to it myself next time I think he is operating out of bad faith."

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