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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Denying the Diagnosis of Asperger's

"My husband has an Aspergers diagnosis, but he still denies he has the disorder. The diagnosis came a year after we separated - following my son’s diagnosis. My husband no longer wants to work on our marriage and has given up. The divorce paperwork has been initiated. Is it common for a person with Aspergers to refuse to accept the diagnosis and its impact in the relationship?"

No one wants to accept the idea of a lifelong disorder that makes him or her "different." When a spouse (or girlfriend) suggests to her partner that he "may" have Asperger's, it is not uncommon for the man to deny the possibility - and to refuse to seek a formal diagnosis. Instead, he may blame his partner for the problems in the relationship.

Some men go through divorce, job loss, and years of anxiety and depression before they accept the possibility that there may be an underlying issue which explains why their life has taken the odd twists and turns it has. Then - and only then - will these "on the fence" individuals consider seeking a diagnosis. And even then, they may refuse treatment (e.g., counseling), assuming they can "wing it" on their own without any outside assistance.






The "Aspie" can have several reactions to the diagnosis:
  • He may react by minimizing it. In this case, he doesn't view Asperger's as something to be taken very seriously, and views himself as someone who  simply "thinks differently." 
  • He may react by emphasizing the diagnosis. Now, his disorder defines him as a person and becomes an uncontrollable force that dominates his entire life. He may even come to believe that his spouse or girlfriend must become his caretaker since he has a "disability." Rather than recognizing the many "positives" associated with the disorder, he instead focuses on the worst aspects.
  • He may respond positively, identifying the many constructive features of the disorder. Here, the individual embraces the diagnosis, is happy to finally find an explanation for the troubles he has endured, and attempts to take control of the challenges that arise along the way. Now that he has identified "the problem," he can work on his deficits AND capitalize on his strengths.

Many newly diagnosed individuals go through a wide range of emotions (e.g., disappointment, anger, fear, etc.). Some feel isolated, as if they are the only ones with the disorder. Still others are outraged that they have been singled out from the rest of the population.



The most common reaction to the diagnosis for the "neurotypical" partner is relief, because she finally and gratefully understands that she is not to blame for the relationship problems that have occurred. Also, she now has an explanation (not an excuse) for why her partner has said and done so many "hurtful" things in the past. She is grateful that it's "just" Asperger's, because she had come to believe that she was insane.

In any event, you really only have three choices: (1) continue to try to change your husband (good luck with that one), (2) take on more responsibility for the relationship than he does (not recommended), or (3) take care of your sanity in any way that seems appropriate to you.

The Easily Frustrated Aspie

Is it common for people with Asperger's to become frequently overwhelmed and frustrated over seemingly insignificant matters -- that is, things that typically would not bother anyone else?

People with Asperger's are indeed easily frustrated by certain circumstances. They may become overwhelmed by minimal change and very reactive to unwanted environmental stimuli. They typically like everything to stay the same.

In addition, they tend to get anxious and worry obsessively when they don't know what to expect. Tension, exhaustion and sensory-overload often throw them off balance. Thus, they may seem to be disturbed about a lot of things

Some "Aspies" find work very stressful, but they tend to keep their emotions bottled-up until they get home. Most of these individuals don't display the body language and facial expressions you would expect to see when one is feeling anxious or upset. While they may appear relatively calm at work, they are often experiencing very different emotions under the surface – and may release those pent-up emotions in the safety of their home.
Due to difficulties with empathizing, many adults on the spectrum don't recognize the suffering of others. So, when they attack another person, they may not be able to fully comprehend the damage they inflict.



Low-frustration tolerance may occur due to any of the following:

Sensory integration dysfunctions
Rigid or inflexible thinking
Resistance to change
Hypersensitivity to sensory input
Executive functioning disruption 
Difficulty with social comprehension
Difficulty understanding cause and effect 
Difficulty identifying and controlling emotions 

Some of the traits associated with the disorder (e.g., mind-blindness, sensory sensitivities, literal thinking, social skills deficits, etc.) may result in the Aspie viewing the world as a cold and hostile place. They may develop a habit of attributing hostile intentions to others. More on this topic here ==> https://youtu.be/P1izup2uX3U

Those Aspies who have had some luck controlling their tendencies toward becoming easily frustrated have usually learned to do some of the following:
  • recognize angry feelings in themselves and others
  • self-calming techniques
  • how to remove themselves from a frustrating situation 
  • how to problem solve
  • how to control angry impulses
  • how to avoid being a victim of someone else's angry actions
  • express anger nonviolently
  • communicate angry feelings in a positive way

Many adults on the spectrum have been known to experience meltdowns. Think of a meltdown as an “escape mechanism.” If the Aspie has the means to get himself out of a highly frustrating situation before it becomes overwhelming, the cognitive and emotional pressure lessens. But, without these means of escape, the anxiety will escalate, and his body will begin to panic, propelling him toward a meltdown.



 

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