How To Talk To Someone With Autism

How To Talk To Someone With Autism. Asperger’s is a previously used diagnosis on the autism spectrum. In 2013 Asperger’s became part of one umbrella diagnosis now known as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5 (DSM-5). “If you’ve met one person with Asperger’s you’ve met one person with Asperger’s.” – Dr. Stephen M. Shore (a former AANE Board President) We’ve all come across people with odd behavior. No one’s perfect and who’s to say I don’t have odd behavior. “He without sin cast the first stone.” – John 8:1-11 Meaning only those who are faultless have the right to pass judgment upon others (implying that no one is faultless and that, therefore, no one has such a right to pass judgment). 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.

How To Talk To Someone With Autism

I happen to be married to a man on the Autism Spectrum. Even though Asperger’s is no longer used clinically, we both find the term “Aspie” endearing, so I continue to use the term in my writings. I apologize if it offends some people but I mean no disrespect when using the term.

When we meet people we either connect, don’t connect, or are indifferent. When talking to a person on the Autism Spectrum they may appear aloof, indifferent, or even rude. They don’t mean to be but social settings can be anxiety provoking for some. Aspies can make you feel uncomfortable but, guess what, neurotypicals make them feel the same way. Expressing themselves can be difficult as they don’t always have the words to express their feelings. Aspies can tend to become overloaded (flooded with emotions) when interacting and stimming is a way to manage sensory stimuli like loud noises or bright light. Examples of stimming include rocking, flapping hands, flicking or snapping fingers, or twirling or bouncing when sitting or standing. My husband tends to rub his index finger or middle finger against his thumbs. They may miss nonverbal cues come off as stupid, mean or offensive.

People not on the spectrum form conclusions during conversation based on nonverbal and emotional cues. If you notice that the person you’re talking to isn’t doing that, you might be talking to someone on the autism spectrum. To demonstrate the challenges that Aspies go through, try closing your eyes the next time somebody is talking to you. It will give you some perspective on how much they are missing then in conversation.

When speaking to someone with Autism:

  • Be kind
  • Be patient
  • Listen carefully
  • Pay attention
  • Guide the conversation
  • Be respectful of differences

For more information on being more mindful when talking to someone on the Autism Spectrum contact me at (858) 735-1139 or visit my website CouplesCounselorSanDiego.com

 

Valentine’s Day With My Asperger Husband

Valentine’s Day With My Asperger Husband. I use the word “Asperger” in the most endearing way despite the DSM-5 making the change to Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). What distinguishes Asperger’s Disorder from classic autism are its less severe symptoms and the absence of language delays. Many professionals believed Asperger’s was a more mild form of autism, leading to the origin of the phrase “high-functioning.”

Valentine’s Day With My Asperger Husband

Valentine’s Day is a holiday when lovers express their affection with greetings and gifts. The holiday has expanded to express affection between relatives and friends. Being married to my husband for over 20 years I’ve had the pleasure and heartache of the some nice and not so nice Valentine’s Day. Prior to recognizing my husband’s Asperger’s the not so nice Valentine’s Days were filled with disappointment and hurt. Similar to Holidays and gift giving occasions, Valentine’s Day could hurt the most because of the symbolism of it all. Notwithstanding the commercial hype of this day, Valentine’s Day represents expression of love.

In working with neurodiverse couples, nuerology matters. I emphasize the need to explicitly communicate what is needed and wanted. Neurodiverse couples not only speak different languages and process information differently, having polarized perspectives. Both perspectives are correct but how do you manage conflict in relationships? Being able to make your intentions and expectations clear enables effective communication.

That being said, the not so great Valentine’s Days’ did not meet my expectations. They didn’t meet my expectations because I didn’t state them. I relied on my husband to make plans and in him doing so, thinking much different from me, he missed the target. I wasn’t looking for epic greatness, however, recognizing the day and being thoughtful about it by saying, “Happy Valentine’s Day” without me having to remind him would have been a good thing.

Whether holidays, special occasions, planning your weekend, planning your week, it’s helpful to talk about what the expectations are so the two of you can have a discussion about it. As a certified neurodiverse counselor and coach, I help couples understand meanings and motives behind their behavior. The behavior of someone on the spectrum can appear and feel selfish, inconsiderate and rude but often times there is no malicious intent.

Neurodiverse couples counseling/coaching is very different from traditional marriage counseling. I work with couples through neurological lens and help translate for one another so both can feel seen and heard. Being able to show empathy and validation is key to any relationship and acquiring tools to do that is key to successful partnerships.

Contact me at (858) 735-1139 or visit my website at CouplesCounselorSanDiego.com for more information about acquiring those tools.

 

Asperger’s And Intimacy

Asperger’s And Intimacy. Again, for those new to my Blog, I use the word “Asperger/Aspie” in a fond way with no demeaning label. Intimacy in a relationship is a feeling of being close, emotionally connected and supported. Being able to share a range of thoughts, feelings and experiences that involves both physical and emotional intimacy makes for a content romantic relationship. In my work with neurodiverse couples, it makes all the difference in moving forward when their sex lives are good. Being married to someone with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has many challenges. But I find with good sex lives, just like couples who aren’t on the Spectrum, makes for good long term results.

Asperger’s And Intimacy

Jennifer and Jerry have been married for 21 years. For the first 10 years Jennifer thought her husband was not showing her the attention she wanted. When they were dating he was shy and she thought it was endearing. He’s a brilliant man but lacked in social graces and fell short when it came to planning romantic outings. When it came to sex she noticed whenever he was interested he acted like a shy teenage boy making jokes to deflect intimacy. His physical approach to her was awkward if not clumsy and when going for her breasts he would grab them in such a way that she found it a turn off. Ok, there’s cute, then there’s “what’s up with that move?”

Sex is a hard topic to talk about whether you’re married to someone on the spectrum or not. In closed family systems members seldom talk about feelings, let alone sex. In neurodiverse relationships, it can be even harder to communicate because of the language difference. Sex is full of nonverbal cues that can be misunderstood. A wide range of emotions to a partner on the spectrum can be challenging as sensory triggers such as touch, smell, taste and sound can be overwhelming.

Sex is important in healthy relationships. Sex doesn’t necessarily have to be intercourse. Lying in bed hugging with or without clothes, kissing, touching, erotic massage and using sex toys are forms of giving and receiving pleasure. Oral sex can be a challenge due to sensory triggers but doesn’t necessarily have to be ruled out.

Maxine Aston (2001) in her study of Asperger’s and sexual intimacy found that fifty percent of Asperger’s (AS) and neurotypical (NT) couples had no sexual activity within their relationship. In fact, “there was no affection or tactile expression whatsoever.”

Tony Attwood notes, “one of the characteristics of Asperger’s syndrome can be emotional and social immaturity.” Rather than experiencing sex as an emotionally compatible act, AS-NT couples frequently experience themselves playing out, by necessity, parent-child roles which kills any chance of sexual arousal.

Is there any hope for couples in which one partner has Asperger’s? Yes, of course.  If both partners are motivated to change, then they can have a more satisfying sex life, one that makes each partner feel wanted and accepted. But a satisfying sex life generally starts outside the bedroom.  Partners first need to educate themselves about Asperger’s so that they can understand how it is affecting their intimate relationship. The best indicator for a good sex life is being able to communicate. Being able to initiate conversation, share thoughts and feeling, and ask for what you need and want is effective communication.

Sensate focus activities may also be helpful in slowing down both partners so that they can concentrate on what feels good, instead of on performance. Learning to give verbal feedback about sex without creating defensiveness is another valuable skill. Being realistic about what may or may not change in the bedroom is another facet of acceptance of the diagnosis of Asperger’s.

For more information about Asperger’s and sexual intimacy contact me at CouplesCounselorSanDiego.com or call me at (858) 735-1139.

 

Halloween With My Asperger Husband

Halloween With My Asperger Husband. Before we understood my husband was on the autism spectrum he displayed some odd behavior. During the beginning of our marriage this odd behavior was challenging in that his communication was a bit hit and miss. Because I love and care about him I just thought he was peculiar in a “geek” kind of way. He is quite cerebral so his IQ is so much higher than his EQ (emotional quotient). IQ tests measure your ability to solve problems, use logic, and grasp or communicate complex ideas. EQ is important for emotional connection because without it couples can feel like they are roommates rather than romantic partners.

Halloween With My Asperger Husband

During Halloween I noticed my husband felt comfortable in his costume of choice. It was somewhat of an alter ego where he could comfortably behave as the character he was dressed up as. Asperger’s and comorbidity of anxiety and depression can make social situations very taxing. As easy as it is for us neurotypicals to engage in conversation, asking questions of my husband is like a deer in front of headlights.  It is nerve racking and uncomfortable.

In costume my husband could feel free to express his feelings as being in character felt safer than being himself. He tends to feel awkward in most situations and appears quiet and antisocial. As a pirate he can become animated and sound like Captain Jack Sparrow of the Pirates of the Caribbean. As a cowboy from Toy Story he comes to life as Tom Hank’s character Woody. As a gangster he takes on the enigmatic persona of a powerful ladies man. I love Halloween because it gives my husband the opportunity to strut some of his emotional intelligence. And I find that very sexy.

When I need him to behave in a certain way for particular social situations I tell him to get into the Jack Sparrow character, or the cowboy Woody. When I want him to be mysterious and assertive in the romantic arena I suggest he behave like the gangsters from The Godfather. Some of you may think this is strange but it works for us. Every year we look forward to selecting new costumes and acting out the roles of each. It’s fun, but more importantly, it can be a great tool for someone on the spectrum when needing to know how to behave.

When the costumes are put away for another year they may be in storage, but are still utilized as useful tools in helping my husband not only in social situations, but, in our day to day interaction to enable us to behave in a way that makes us feel less vulnerable.

When working with neurodiverse couples I help them put a systems in place, acquire tools for communication, learn to become more relational, and continue to coach them so both get what they need and want out of their relationship.

For more information on neurodiverse couples counseling please contact me at (858) 735-1139 or go to my website CouplesCounselorSanDiego.com

 

 

Living With An Asperger Husband

Living With An Asperger Husband. After finishing my book, “Happy Me Happy We: Six Steps To Know Yourself So You Know What You Want In A Relationship,” I understand the root of happiness starts within yourself. Our external environment can affect our ability to make choices that make us happy or unhappy. When you concentrate on yourself and what you want things fall in place to make your life more functional and content. It’s a game changer when you start with you and what you want. Sometimes codependency makes for getting other people’s needs met over our own. We become codependent as a means of survival in some families as you grow up. Asking for what you need and want for some growing up was deemed as disrespectful and selfish. And often times met with negative reinforcement in the form of judgment, criticism, and abuse.

Living With An Asperger Husband

As a Marriage and Family Therapist I help you reframe the negative experiences you had to bear as a young child (inner child). I help your Functional Adult manage those scary feelings from childhood to assert oneself so you get what you need and want. As a Certified Neurodiverse Couples Counselor I help the Neurotypical (which is typically the wife) manage Cassandra Syndrome aka ongoing traumatic syndrome. Feeling like you are losing your sense of self is frustrating and disheartening. You can tend to feel like leaving your marriage as saving your sense of well being becomes the focus for survival.

Living With An Asperger Husband

Living with an Asperger husband is very challenging. Even during what can be deemed as stable times can instantly turn into another awful situation where feelings are hurt and anger increases. I lived a life that was confusing to say the least. As a clinician, I was flabbergasted when I realized my husband had Asperger’s. For 10 of our 23 years of marriage we had major problems with communication. My husband is a highly intelligent and kind person so I didn’t think he was doing these inconsiderate behaviors on purpose. I had a meltdown every six weeks and threatened divorce over and over again. Threatening the relationship is never appropriate as it undermines any chance of safety and security within the dyad. My acting out behavior included yelling, cursing, belittling, threatening, and name calling. I’m ashamed of my behavior because I should know better. However, I am only human and am not immune to what living with a person on the Spectrum can do to one’s self esteem.

I desperately needed tools to better communicate with one another. Traditional marriage counseling was a total waste of time. I did appreciate it being part of the process in educating myself about Autism Spectrum Disorder. I studied many journal articles written on the subject and became certified as a Neurodiverse Couples Counselor through Asperger/Autism Network AANE.

Through neurodiverse couples counseling, my husband and I recognize and understand that we speak different languages and have very different perspectives. We have effective tools to initiate conversation, share thoughts and feelings, and ask for what we need and want. We have learned to be explicit in saying what we need to say and describing what it looks like so we get a visual of what is being talked about. We’re not perfect and I still have meltdowns every now and then but they aren’t as devastating as they were in the past. Understanding is key and acquiring tools to show each other empathy is a game changer.

For more  information on managing your life with your Asperger husband please contact me at (858) 735-1139 or through my website CouplesCounselorSanDiego.com

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