Asperger’s During A Conversation

Asperger’s During A Conversation. People on the Autism Spectrum experience the world differently than those of us who are neurotypical. Because they have problems with the meaning and rhythm of words and sentences they are often times misunderstood. They have trouble with back-and-forth communication when conversating creating a lot of anxiety for them.

Formerly known as Asperger’s, ASD is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication, and behavioral challenges. There are tools and strategies to put in place so conversation doesn’t have to be an overwhelming experience.

Asperger’s During A Conversation
Asperger’s during a conversation could include:
  • Not knowing what are the appropriate physical gestures?
  • Struggling to concentrate on multiple conversations going on at once
  • Feeling awkward and uncomfortable when others look at them
  • Feeling socially exhausted and overwhelmed
  • Looking bored or not interested
  • Unintentionally getting into other people’s personal space
  • Copying the other person’s replies

  • Masking the other person’s facial expressions
  • Concentrating on making eye contact
  • Sensory issues such as noise, smell, bright lights creating discomfort
  • Anxiety about when to speak and when not to speak
  • Giving out too much information
  • Infodumping about a special interest – lack of awareness about going on and on about a subject
  • Lack of awareness of social cues
  • Suppressing their stims
  • Stimming
  • Being self-conscious

Having to make conversation creates a lot of anxiety for people on the Spectrum because they notice everything around them and find it hard to concentrate on the person they are talking to. These individuals tend to like to be alone and become involved in their special interests. Being alone means not having to concentrate on anyone but themselves and is a means to recharging.

As human beings we tend to judge and criticize things we know little about. Rather than mock at something that is foreign, learn more about why it could be making you feel uncomfortable. People with Asperger’s don’t realize they are behaving in ways that make the general population uneasy. If you think you feel anxiety around a person with Asperger’s they feel the same way interacting with neurotypicals. Learning how to talk to someone on the Autism Spectrum will give you the capacity for compassion and showing empathy. We all want to fit into the world and be seen and heard.

For information about my services and fee please text me your email address at (858) 735-1139.

 

 

Goals For Neurodiverse Couples

Goals For Neurodiverse Couples. Get past the diagnosis and save your marriage. Understanding the root of problems is important but what do you do about them? I’m sure you’ve educated yourself about ASD and Asperger’s and are filled with a range of emotions. It’s not fun being married to a partner on the Autism Spectrum. As a neurodiverse couples counselor, and wife of an Asperger husband, I know firsthand the frustration and aggravation of not being able to communicate. Struggling for many years you could be suffering from Cassandra Syndrome, which basically means you are feeling like you are literally going crazy.

Goals For Neurodiverse Couples

When entering into couples counseling it is imperative to work with a therapist who is trained and has experience working with neurodiversity. High functioning Asperger husbands married to Neurotypical wives can make their relationship harmonious, functional, and relational where they both feel the emotional connection they desire.

Goals to treatment include:

  • Identify the specific Asperger’s trait that are contributing to the marital problems
  • Identity the neurotypical partner’s needs and expectations for moving forward
  • Discuss what has and hasn’t worked in the relationship so far
  • Outline strategies to manage and change the dysfunctional areas of the relationship
  • Overcome negative interactions together respectfully
  • Develop a healthy work/life balance
  • Improve shared decision making within the relationship
  • Set and maintain positive, healthy personal boundaries
  • Communicate effectively together
  • Develop healthy expectations for the relationship
  • Meet each other’s sexual needs
  • Improve your system of mutual support
  • Co-parenting

The length of time needed to complete couple’s therapy/coaching varies because each couple has their own set of circumstances. I have a process that includes a 3-hour intensive to make an assessment and create objectives to goals. I have practical tools to help 1) initiate conversation; 2) share thoughts and feelings, and 3) ask for what you need and want. I have tools to help understand that we each have perspectives and our perspectives are correct for oneself. When both are able to show empathy, validate each other’s perspective and commit to the plan for moving forward, prognosis is good.

So if you want help to be able to communicate more effectively and manage conflict contact me at (858) 735-1139 or visit my website CouplesCounselorSanDiego.com

How I Manage My Cassandra Symptoms

How I Manage My Cassandra Symptoms. I’ve been in a neurodiverse marriage for almost 25 years. The first ten years were quite challenging as I was frustrated and feeling like I was losing my mind. Being a licensed marriage and family therapist, specializing in couples work, I was confused and irritated that my own marriage was deteriorating.

How I Manage My Cassandra Symptoms

If you’re married to a man on the Autism Spectrum (has Asperger’s) the lack of adequate psychological nurturance from him feels like a form of emotional neglect. Being unable to engage in your feelings and his own make for a lack of emotional intimacy. As a result of his mind blindness you tend to feel more like roommates than romantic intimates as communication tends to be more transactional than relational.

Cassandra aka Ongoing Traumatic Relationship Syndrome or Affective Deprivation Disorder and abbreviated as CADD, OTRS or AfDD.

Symptoms include:

  • low self-esteem
  • confusion
  • anger

  • frustration
  • guilt
  •  loss of sense of self.
  • have thoughts of “going crazy”
  • social phobias
  • are easily overwhelmed or discouraged
  • are generally in worse health
  • are more lonely
  • feel empty 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 (becomes hurt more easily)
  • are less happy
  • have less social support and lower relationship satisfaction
  • feel like they are on the outside looking in
  • secretly feel there is something deeply wrong with themselves
  • have difficulty managing their emotions (acts out in inappropriate ways – yelling, name calling, substance abuse,)
  • have difficulty finding ways to “self-soothe”

In establishing boundaries for oneself, Cassandra can be managed to the degree it makes your Asperger Marriage bearable. All marriages have their strengths and weaknesses. Asperger husbands can make good partners. When the weakness outweigh the strengths where you feel more withdrawals than deposits into your personal and relationship needs is where a downward spiral begins.

Tips for managing Cassandra:

  • Develop and maintain a strong sense of self
  • Be more independent in your interdependent relationship
  • Identify needs and take steps to meet them
  • Have a personal life of your own outside the relationship
  • Develop and maintain support system (friends, family, therapist)
  • Self care – be gently with yourself; Meditate; work out; don’t be so hard on yourself
  • Therapy – who understands ASD and neurodiversity
  • Learn more about neurodiverse relationship to be able to appreciate the challenges
  • Take medication if necessary to mange your own anxiety and depression
  • A good sex life helps (talk about other options if not)
  • Remember that recovery from emotional deprivation is a process – it takes time; be patient
  • Support groups

Managing Cassandra is a gradual, ongoing process. It didn’t happen over night, so it won’t get better overnight either. I sought individual therapy for years and didn’t get the help I now know I needed. With not being able to find the right therapist….I had to become that therapist. I became a certified neurodiverse couples counselor through the Asperger Autism Network (AANE.org). My training and experience has helped many neurotypical wives not only survive their Asperger Marriage, they are thriving as individuals, as well as partners. It’s important to find the right therapist as your marriage is counting on it.

I hope I can be that resource for you. Please contact me at (858) 735-1139 or visit my website CouplesCounselorSanDiego.com for more information.

Neurodiverse Marriage

Neurodiverse Marriage. A Neurodiverse relationship is used to describe intimate partnerships between one neurologically typical partner and one partner who is on the autism spectrum. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder. The term refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by impaired social interaction, and by repetitive behaviors or interests. ASD results in significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. As of 2013 Asperger’s is no longer a diagnosis on its own as it became part of a broader category called Autism Spectrum Disorder. Even though technically Asperger’s is no longer a category, it is still widely used. The condition is what professionals call “high-functioning”  and refers to individuals who have above average intellectual abilities.

Neurodiverse Marriage

As a certified neurodiverse couples counselor, I typically see a husband with Asperger’s (AS) and the wife who is neurotypical (NT) making a neurodiverse marriage. Neurodiverse couples can be among the strongest partnerships. They are two brains in love. However, neurological differences present unique challenges, particularly related to communication.

Neurodiverse Marriages:

  • are not that uncommon
  • can go for decades without fully understanding why their communication problems are so intractable.
  • have difficulty finding a therapist who has training or awareness of how to work with neurodiverse relationships
  • have universally recognized problem areas with social cues
  • now estimated that 1 in 50- 60 Americans are on the Autism Spectrum
  • according to a European study state 80% end in divorce which is nearly double the divorce rate for neurotypical (NT) couples
  • have the most challenging deficit of having a Theory of Mind
  • would benefit from the ability to listen non-defensively, validating their point of view, and show empathy while understanding their partner’s needs is fundamental
  • have differences that can be assets, deficits, or a little of both
  • recognize that a partner on the spectrum is often a huge relief and validates relationship concerns

Challenges can include:

  • Time managment – enabling time together (for connection) and apart (for self-care and recharge)
  • Parenting – learn how to leverage your neurodiverse strengths to parent your children (whether or not your children are neurodiverse)
  • Special parenting – learn how to parent your neurodiverse children
  • Sex – meeting each other’s sexual needs through managing different levels of libido, enhancing sexual communication, and addressing sensory issues
  • Financial – understanding how each partner feels and thinks about money bridging any gaps

As I am in a nuerodiverse marriage, I understand the need for someone who is trained to work with spectrum relationships using a neurological lens. Neurology matters when working with neurodiverse couples. My Asperger husband and I utilize the tools and implement strategies I teach to help my couples effectively communicate and to become less transactional and more relational.

Having someone who can provide information and tools to navigate challenges in your neurodiverse marriage can be exactly what your relationship needs. For more information please contact me at (858) 735-1139 or visit my website at CouplesCounselorSanDiego.com

 

 

Asperger’s And The Fourth Of July

Asperger’s And The Fourth Of July. Holidays and special events can be challenging for people on the Autism Spectrum. Sensory issues are common where sights and sound can create anxiety and physical discomfort.

Asperger’s And The Fourth Of July

People with autism might have these sensitivities:

Fireworks, for example may be desired to watch but can create noise sensitivity as they tend to be loud. During the fourth of July the combination of fireworks and crowds intensifies the experience. People suffering from Sensory Processing Disorder may take an alternative to watching fireworks on TV or other streaming platforms rather than in person.

Fourth of July Holiday Tips for Neurodiverse Marriages: (courtesy of https://www.differentbrains.org/)

Prepare in advance

It’s important that your loved one with autism is aware of what he/she will experience, from the people they will be seeing to the food and beverages they may be consuming. This is best done no less than a couple of days in advance. Using social stories or visuals to prepare them may be effective.

Make things comfortable

Bring anything that would help them remain stress-free during the event. Something like a blanket, a favorite toy, or a favorite snack could be effective in providing a distraction from a potentially stressful environment.

Have a plan to deal with loud sounds

Fireworks can be very overwhelming, so bringing sound-canceling headphones or even covering their ears is the easiest way to help heal the senses for the time being.

Be sure to take breaks

Be aware of how they are feeling. Pay attention to their body language and expressions. It may also be wise to develop a signal when things get uncomfortable for them. Prepare an escape route and a safe place to go unwind in case things do take a turn for the worst.

Ensure familiarity

Surrounding them with too many different things, like people they don’t usually see or food they don’t usually eat, may stress them out. As suggested earlier, prepare ahead and bring something that they like and are familiar with.

Keep an eye out

Not everyone with autism is sensitive to the same things. Some with “different brains” are considered fearless, and may be more fascinated with fireworks. Needless to say, be sure to keep from getting too close to any fireworks or fires.

Just have fun

Not everything you’ll encounter on the Fourth of July is avoidable, and you can’t spend every second of the evening worrying about what could happen. Once you have prepared beforehand and planned everything out, just be sure to take the evening as it goes and enjoy yourselves.

As I am married to an Asperger Husband, fourth of July crowds and loud noises are uncomfortable. Add social anxiety on top of that and the event can prove not fun for either myself or my husband. As a Neureodiverse Couples Counselor, I put strategies in place to manage sensory issues for such holidays. Past years we have stayed home and watched fireworks. This also helped keep my emotional support animal company as he is disturbed by the loud noise. This year we will be staying at a hotel that faces Sea World’s fireworks and celebrate enjoying what the general public will be experiencing.

Knowing what your options and expectations are is key in managing neurodiverse relationship issues.

For more information on Spectrum relationships contact me at (858) 735-1139 or at CouplesCounselorSanDiego.com

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