Do You Suffer From Cassandra Syndrome?

Do You Suffer From Cassandra Syndrome? Cassandra Syndrome is what a woman experiences after years of being married to a man with Asperger’s. Women I see are desperate to feel a connection of some type within their marriages. Some couples have been married for years before they come across a possible Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) aka Asperger’s (AS). The term Cassandra comes from Greek mythology; Apollo gives Cassandra the gift of prophecy; the ability to foresee the future. Cassandra Syndrome is also referred to as Ongoing Traumatic Relationship Syndrome or Affective Deprivation Disorder and abbreviated as CADD, OTRS or AfDD. Cassandra is a debilitating condition that can lead to physical and psychological problems if not managed experiencing distress as a result of their emotional needs not being recognized, or met by their AS (autistic) partner.

Do You Suffer From Cassandra Syndrome?

As a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and woman married to an Asperger husband, I suffered for 13 out of the 23 years of my marriage. The past ten years have been filled with hope and appreciation for one another as we acquired the tools necessary to become more relational. As traditional marriage counseling does not work, I became certified as a Neurodiverse Couples Counselor by the Autism/Asperger Network (AANE) to help Neurodiverse Couples get the help they need to make their marriages work. Cassandra tends to have a negative and blaming connotation to the Asperger husband. Asperger husbands don’t give their wives Cassandra symptoms, the symptoms manifest due to the lack connectedness between the couple. It is usually both a blessing and a relief when the wife (neurotypical spouse) learns about AS and feels she now has an explanation for her husband’s unusual behaviors. Asperger husbands also have feelings about their relationships. That’s for another article.

You may suffer from Cassandra if you:

  • Feel lonely in your marriage
  • Are frustrated, resentful, angry; feel guilt
  • Doing all the work in the relationship
  • Are self-medicating with alcohol
  • Are not sleeping well
  • Act out your emotions inappropriately looking like you’re a crazy person
  • Feel like you’re going crazy
  • Are eating too much or too little (weight changes)
  • Are always yelling at your husband and other family members
  • Have a loss of libido (sex drive)
  • Are Moody
  • Experiencing a lot more premenstrual tension
  • low self-esteem
  • Are having social problems
  • Experiencing incredible fatigue
  • Experiencing high level of anxiety
  • Depressed
  • Losing your sense of self (self identity)

Do You Suffer From Cassandra Syndrome?

For years I thought I was losing my mind, as well as my sense of self. I kept telling myself I was a licensed clinician trained to study human behavior and interpersonal relationships. I couldn’t put my finger on it until I started to see couples in my practice suffering from the same disconnectedness. I had empathy, as well as compassion for the “Neurotypical” wife. I related to what these women were saying. I read all I could read about Asperger’s and Asperger’s and relationships. I consulted with experts in the field in the United States and in England and finally came to the conclusion that my husband was on the Spectrum. We consulted with a psychologist who worked with Autistic individuals, but didn’t have the expertise in working with Neurodiverse Couples. We were frustrated for our relationship and disappointed realizing we were spending hundreds of dollars on marriage counseling that wasn’t working.

The most important indicator for success in neurodiverse couples is for the wife to be able to manage her emotions while the Asperger husband acquires tools to learn how to communicate with her in her language of neurodiversity. When the couple becomes stable enough to be able to initiate conversation, share thoughts and feelings, and ask for what is needed and wanted, can they move forward harmoniously.

I love my husband I wanted to help our relationship not only become relational and functional. I wanted it to thrive. As a Neurodiverse Couples Counselor, I work with couples all over the world to acquire tools needed for communication, put a system in place to implement, and get traction on becoming more relational. I coach to maintain stability. I use the tools I give out and can say the past 13 years have been successful….even thriving.

For more information about Cassandra Syndrome and neurodiverse couples counseling please contact me at (858) 735-1139 or my website CouplesCounselorSanDiego.com

 

 

 

Asperger’s Can Feel Like You’re Living With An Asshole

Asperger’s Can Feel Like You’re Living With An Asshole. “Ass”perger’s, is what I refer to it when I am consumed with a range of emotions I inappropriately “act out” when I am angry. Underlying emotions include disappointment, hurt, sadness and frustration. Asperger syndrome (AS), also known as Asperger’s, is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication, along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests. I have been married to a man on the Spectrum for over 20 years.  I wanted to share what life looked and felt like before receiving an unofficial diagnosis. Unofficial in that for a formal diagnosis, clinician’s would need the person in question’s developmental/childhood history. Asperger’s has only received much attention the past few decades. Asperger’s Can Feel Like You’re Living With An Asshole

Asperger’s Can Feel Like You’re Living With An Asshole
Asperger’s (also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder) was first described in the 1940’s by Viennese pediatrician Hans Asperger, who observed autism-like behaviors and difficulties with social and communication skills in boys who had normal intelligence and language development. Asperger’s Can Feel Like “Ass”perger’s in that the behavior can be odd and resemble what looks like jerk-behavior.
Growing up in the 1950’s Asperger’s wasn’t as well known as Autism. My husband’s mother was a registered nurse and never suspected her son of Autism. The term Autism Spectrum Disorder wasn’t even a diagnosis until 2013. In those days you were either autistic or not autistic. Clinicians have found there is a “spectrum” where symptoms vary across different individuals, ranging in type and severity.

On some level my mother-in-law knew there was something odd about her little boy but did nothing to pursue any kind of diagnosis. Come to find out, from my husband, his older brother (4 years older) was on the spectrum. He noticed his brother would rock from side to side each night….soothing himself to sleep. He didn’t think much of it as a child, but as he has accepted and appreciates his unofficial diagnosis he believes his brother was in fact on the spectrum, as well. His brother died at the age of 42 as a result of an aircraft accident. I never knew him. My husband shares information about his brother that leads me to believe he had Asperger’s. His brother was a highly intelligent and high functioning individual. He was brilliant in the field of Organic
Chemistry. He had high aspirations of becoming an astronaut and politician. His Asperger’s hindered him from obtaining his Ph.D as his temperament was challenging to his doctorate program evaluators.

BEING AUTISTIC DOESN’T MAKE YOU A JERK but the odd behavior can appear like they are clueless and socially inept. Asperger’s Can Feel Like You’re Living With An Asshole

Asperger’s behavior could look like Asshole behavior:

  • If you think you’re better than other people or don’t care about their feelings, you’re just a jerk.
  • If you continually point out that you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re just a jerk.
  • If you insist that other people adapt themselves to you at all times, instead of compromising or making any effort to adapt yourself, you’re a jerk and manipulative and possibly toxic to those around you.
  • If you live in a black and white world and anyone who sees a little grey gets a verbal slap from you, you’re a jerk.
  • If you always have to be right because you can’t admit to being wrong or less than fully informed, you’re an insufferable jerk.
  • If you think being smarter than someone gives you the right to be mean to them, belittle them, or ignore their humanity, you’re an asshole.

Asperger’s Can Feel Like You’re Living With An Asshole

Life with my husband can look like some of the above. There are days when I am beside myself and call him an asshole but reframe and say it’s asshole behavior. Because I know he is not unkind, thoughtless, or stupid I can appreciate his efforts in trying to interact with me. Life with an Asperger’s husband is just as challenging as when there is a physical handicap. Bottom line, a successful life with a man on the spectrum includes putting a system in place, acquiring tools, and learning a process in which to become more relational. There’s a learning curve. It’s not easy, but what do you have to lose? You get what you put into anything that is worth having.

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

 

 

Why I Work With Neurodiverse Couples

Why I Work With Neurodiverse Couples. High functioning Asperger’s is receiving a lot of attention. Asperger’s is a developmental disorder affecting the ability to effectively socialize and communicate. With access to online dating, individuals on the autism spectrum are able to connect with people developing relationships that could lead to developing families. Asperger’s/Autism is inherited so the need to provide services for Neurodiverse Couples is imperative. Counseling with a neurodiverse couples counselor brings peace of mind, satisfaction, and happiness within relationship.

Why I Work With Neurodiverse Couples

Not all Marriage Counselors have the expertise to work with Neurodiverse Couples so often times neurodiverse couples come to see me as their last resort. When a neurotypical woman (NT) is married to a man who has behaviors associated with Asperger’s, she will most likely experience gradual lose of her sense of self and feel invisible. A lonely and hurt former self emerges that she can barely recognize. She experiences Cassandra Syndrome as she starts to feel crazy and misunderstood.

As a Marriage Counselor working with women married to Asperger men this story by Sarah Swenson, LMHC says a lot about what life becomes:  https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/married-with-undiagnosed-autism-why-women-who-leave-lose-twice-0420164

This article hits home for me because I am a neurotypical woman married to an Asperger husband. As a Marriage Counselor, certified to work with AS/NT couples, my role is to be an AS/NT translator, with the goal of helping both partners understand the world as seen through a Neurodiverse Lens.  It’s not easy to understand and overcome the puzzling challenges of neurodiversity in romantic relationships. Traditional marriage counseling is ineffective as there are specific tools to help neurodiverse couples understand one another.

Neurodiverse couples counseling can be addressed in couple’s counseling. With a skilled counselor, experienced in AS, both spouses in the AS marriage will be able to gain awareness of their own individual patterns of behavior, and learn how they can make both attitudinal and behavioral adjustments to get the more out of their relationship. A counselor can also facilitate conversations, and help both partners learn better communication skills. The counselor can also help the couple brainstorm, strategize, connect emotionally, and problem-solve around sensory integration issues, meltdowns, and co-morbid conditions such as anxiety and depression.

Being married to someone on the spectrum is a life-long challenge.  For more information about Neurodiversity and being able to move forward in your relationship, please contact me at (858) 735-1139.  I know I can help.