Autism Spectrum Disorder – More Common Than You Think

Autism Spectrum Disorder – More Common Than You Think. Autism Spectrum Disorder 2.21% Are Adults. According to the CDC an estimated 5,437,988 (2.21%) adults in the United States have ASD.

I had the opportunity to watch a world premiere play entitled, “Is It Thursday Yet?” How do you explain to strangers how you perceive the world using the language of dance? Jenn Freeman, created, choreographed, and performed this captivating and creative performance that fuses dance, music, and video to bring audiences on her journey of past and present self-discovery after she was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at age 33.

Autism Spectrum Disorder – More Common Than You Think

If you’ve spent time with a child or an adult with Asperger’s, you’ve probably noticed they react differently to the world. He or she may exhibit these signs:

  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Sensitivity to light, noise or temperature
  • Sleep problems
  • Getting upset with a change in routine
  • An intense or overly focused interest in a specific topic
  • Difficulty holding a conversation
  • Facial expressions or gestures that don’t match the situation
  • Not adhering to social norms
  • Not listening to or looking at people
  • Repeating words or behaviors

Social anxiety is prevalent among ASD individuals. Jenn Freeman states she overcomes her social anxiety and other interpersonal challenges through dance. I commend her for her courage in performing in front of large audiences. Her performance and information about ASD and her personal challenges were incorporated into the play educated many who are not aware of ASD.

It was refreshing to be among the audience who embraced autism. Autism is receiving much awareness. Organizations like Autism Speaks focuses on sharing stories and providing opportunities to increase understanding and acceptance of people with autism, fostering worldwide support.

For more information about ASD and how it affects marriages please contact me at CouplesCounselorSanDiego.com or (858) 735-1139.

My Neurodiverse Marriage – 3 Cassandra At It’s Worst

My Neurodiverse Marriage – 3 Cassandra At It’s Worst. After 25 years of marriage, the first 13 horrifically confusing, to say the least, I can say I have managed my cassandra syndrome symptoms to the best of my capability. Where once I had major meltdowns on a monthly basis, I only have them every 6 or 7 weeks. As unacceptable as this may be, I am fallible and am not perfect.

Cassandra At It’s Worst

In my upcoming book, I state neurodiverse marriages need only get to “good enough” to start feeling a sense of calm and hope. With the willingness and commitment to want to move forward, “good enough” can be “amazing. It all depends on what kind of effort you both want to put into it.

On a bad day I try and get the insight needed to find out why I am so upset. Why I go “off” on my husband when he is just being himself. We all have personal issues imprinted from our childhood and feel the trauma spilling into our present state of consciousness. Meaning, when my husband goes MIA (missing in action) for too long, it triggers my abandonment issues and feelings of being not valued, and invisible. When he says he will do something and doesn’t follow through, I don’t feel prioritized and my disappointment and hurt come out at him with anger and sometimes verbal abuse. Of course, I feel terrible. It’s like an out of body experience, where I don’t even like myself.

Years of working on myself, developing a greater sense of self, helped me become grounded to be able to make adjustments to my bad behavior. Rather than be reactive, I’ve learned to be more responsive. Happy Me Happy We, helped me understand what healthy relationships looked like. We’ll talk about how I did that in the next article.

Cassandra At It’s Worst

Because we cannot change anyone but ourselves…..stop trying to! Concentrating on yourself is the first step in healing any relationship. I thought I knew what that concept meant since I write about it and counsel individuals about it. Throughout my 3 decades counseling people I realized I “talked the walk,” rather than, “walk the walk.” Meaning, I’m good at teaching, but didn’t follow through with my recommendations.

In neurodiverse marriages, there are many challenges, just as there are in neurotypical marriages. They just are more pronounced as ASD brains process information differently than non ASD brains. So ASD brains, in my personal and professional opinion, by default, concentrate on themselves. When they are overwhelmed by our bad behavior they can pull away and/or shut down. They exact opposite of what we want them to do. Rather than leaning in they lean out. Neither partner gets what they need and the vicious cycle begins.

Cassandra symptoms at its worst for me includes threatening the marriage by saying, “that’s it, I want a divorce,” “get out,” “I can’t take this anymore,” and hurtful things to attack character. Absolutely unacceptable! I’m sure some of you can totally relate. And I know you hate yourselves for it. It truly is difficult. We love our Aspie husbands but the dynamic (not the individual) can make life so miserable at times.

For more on this, please contact me at (858) 735-1139 or through my website CouplesCounselorSanDiego.com

 

 

 

My Neurodiverse Marriage – 2

My Neurodiverse Marriage – 2. My neurodiverse marriage 1. Like I shared in my first article, neurodiverse marriages which I still refer to as Asperger Marriages, (describes a higher level of functioning on the Autism Spectrum), have their good and bad days. Unlike other couples, neurodiverse couples can range from good enough to amazing to never good enough and “I want a divorce.” Some couples can be emotionally reactive and go days not talking to each other. I prefer to pause and not act out my hurt and disappointment. I try to be responsive in recognizing what I’m feeling and share what bothers me about my husband’s shortcomings. My neurodiverse marriage is successful as we put in the hard work of utilizing the daily and weekly tools to effectively communicate and emotionally connect.

My Neurodiverse Marriage – 2

It took me years to manage my Cassandra Syndrome, aka Ongoing Traumatic Relationship Disorder. And traumatic relationship disorder it is. Cassandra Syndrome is the Neurotypical’s (NT wife’s) experience of emotional suffering that results from distressing interpersonal relations with their Asperger husband (AS) who does not understand, empathize with or validates the NT’s pain and sorrow.

My ASD husband and I try very hard to make sure our communication is direct and say what we mean without expecting minds to be read. It doesn’t diminish requests if you ask for them directly. On the contrary, if you don’t ask for what you need and want you mostly likely won’t get it. If you need clarity and you don’t ask for it, you will continue to be confused.

We use a tool that is extremely helpful. Its goal is to help with initiating conversation, sharing of thoughts and feelings, and asking for what you need and want. The structured tool has questions you ask one another and the answers help with not only feeling emotionally connected, but getting clarity in what is needed for efficiency throughout your week and communication where both understanding what is required of them.

When my husband and I use this tool weekly, it’s called The Weekly Inventory, we stay on track and limit what can come up as ugly challenges that create hurt feelings for both of us. The tool helps develop a momentum where each week’s follow through helps develop and maintain trust. When you can feel safe in talking to one another, communication is so much easier to maintain.

There are many other tools my husband and I utilize. I will being sharing more at the next article.

For more information about your neurodiverse marriage and Asperger Husband, please contact me at CouplesCounselorSanDiego.com or (858)

 

My Neurodiverse Marriage -1

My Neurodiverse Marriage -1. I’m married to a man with autism. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder typically diagnosed during childhood. (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder also known as Asperger’s. Asperger’s was renamed by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, often known as the “DSM,” a reference book on mental health and brain-related conditions and disorders.

My Neurodiverse Marriage -1

I still use the term Asperger’s to describe high functioning autism. Asperger husbands are also fondly referred to as “Aspie’s.” My asperger husband and I have been married for 25 years.  In my neurdiverse marriage, we utilize the systems and tools I use in my private practice. I’ve been working with couples, married and not married, for over 25 years. I have come to realize that over one third of those couples may have been neurodiverse relationships. There is specific training involved when working with neurodiverse couples so traditional marriage counseling isn’t effective and can even be detrimental for moving forward.

As a certified neurodiverse couples counselor, I work with couples through a neurological lens, as neurology matters. In the beginning of our marriage his behavior frustrated and confused me. I know now what I didn’t know then….my husband has Asperger’s.

My husband and I have our good days and bad days. I have come to realize that the bad days come about because my husband doesn’t have time or doesn’t make the time to recharge.  His ability to be present with me is limited, if not absent. Because my personal issue is not feeling validated I feel ignored when he isn’t paying attention to me when I’m talking to him. I can become reactive by acting out in hurtful and sometimes abusive ways toward him rather than be responsive and just share my feelings of  being sad, hurt, and disappointed.

I’ve learned to manage my triggers in my neurodiverse marriage by taking a pause and understand the trigger is from my past and that my husband isn’t ignoring me on purpose. But, boy, does it feel like he is at the moment.  I put a system in place to manage my Cassandra symptoms. When I am happy and my relationship is happy. Happy Me Happy We is a book I wrote that helps with understanding the individual needs to be whole for any relationship to solid. That, with the addition of breath work, meditation, and being in the presence moment helps me stay responsive rather than reactive. My relationship with my husband went from good enough to amazing.

Yours can too. For more information about getting what you need in your neurodiverse marriage please contact me at CouplesCounselorSanDiego.com or call me at (858) 735-1139

Have Questions About Your Asperger Husband

Have Questions About Your Asperger Husband Do you have questions about your asperger husband? This is your opportunity to ask questions that could help you better understand and effectively communicate with your ASD spouse. Please feel free to submit your questions about your neurodiverse marriage and/or your Asperger Husband. My new book will be out in a few months and I would like to make sure these questions are answered. I can’t promise all the questions will be answered, but I’ll highlight the questions most asked.

Have Questions About Your Asperger Husband

If you’re married to someone who is kindhearted, generous, pretty easy going, and nice, while appearing inconsiderate, selfish, and distant at times, you may be married to someone on the autism spectrum. If you feel lonely, alone, frustrated, angry, and resentful in your marriage, you may be married to someone on the autism spectrum. If people you know and trust say your husband has quirky behavior, and can be offensive at times, you may be married to someone on the autism spectrum.

I’ve been working with neurodiverse couples as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist for over 25 years not realizing this population existed when little was known about Autism in adults aka Asperger’s now renamed Autism Spectrum Disorder. I have come to realize that about 1/3 of the couples I treated were most likely neurodiverse relationships. Neurodiverse couples are included in every race, creed, gender, etc. In fact, you may know some neurodiverse couples and not even know that they are neurodiverse. You may see them as quirkly, argumentative, aloof, not social, blunt, to name a few.

A neurodiverse couple consist of one or more partners on the Autism Spectrum. My work typically includes the Neurotypical wife (NT), and the Neurodivergent husband (ND) or also known as the Asperger Husband (AS). As my husband and I are a neurodiverse couple, I fondly refer to him as an “Aspie.”

Working with neurodiverse couples throughout the world, I get asked a lot of questions that I personally relate to. I share my stories and tools that help my husband and I maintain our emotional connection. We are much more relational than transactional these days as we put systems in place for effective communication and are explicit in asking for what you need and want.

My husband continues to learn about his developmental challenges and is involved in ongoing groups to help him regulate his emotions and become less closed and more forthcoming when communicating with me. Because I suffered from Cassandra Syndrome I was a scary person to be around as I was acting out my emotions inappropriately, where it bordered on verbal abuse. I wanted so much for my husband to come to me when he had something on his mind, but my scary reactive personality got in the way of what I wanted.  I, too, had to learn to regulate my emotions and become the wife he deserved. With the system I put in place, my husband doesn’t even remember the last time I lashed out on him.

The key is not to change your ASD spouse. One, because there’s nothing wrong with being on the spectrum, it’s a developmental disorder with its challenges and two, neurotypicals also have their challenges and we should embrace the differences that can make a neurodiverse marriage thrive.

Please email me your questions to Sarah@CouplesCounselorSanDiego.com

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