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.

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

 

 

How I Survive An Asperger’s Marriage

How I Survive An Asperger’s Marriage. I’m a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. I have worked with over 2,000 couples for 25 years. I am also married to a man with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS). We have been married for 22 years. During the early years of my marriage I coped with indescribable hardship, communication and severe emotional deprivation without even suspecting my husband might be on the autism spectrum. The beginning of our marriage was challenging as we did not become aware of my husband’s Asperger’s until about 13 years into our marriage. I fell in love with my husband because of his kind and genuine nature. I always knew he was different in an odd kind of way but being a divorced single mother in the dating arena meeting a lot of narcissistic men, I thought his behavior at the time was refreshing. No drama, calm, agreeable, and he loved me.
How I Survive An Asperger’s Marriage

Being married to a man with Asperger’s makes us a Neurodiverse couple. Meaning coupleships are comprised of one neurotypical  (NT) and one partner with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). I’m the NT. There are pros and cons to every relationship. My husband’s most admirable traits are as a result of his disorder rather than in spite of it. That being said, I did experienced behavior that appeared not considerate or thoughtful. It made my husband look like he was only interested in getting what he wanted. This egocentricity (self-centeredness) is what some might call “ass hole” behavior. I knew he wasn’t behaving like an asshole on purpose, but, nevertheless, it looked and felt like asshole behavior to me. So much so I acted out my feelings in not so good ways. I would yell, criticize, cry, etc. and he would respond as if he hadn’t done anything wrong. He’s also forgetful and has poor time management skills when it comes to our relationship. Again, I know, he doesn’t do these things on purpose. He never has any ill intent. But you wouldn’t thinks so unless you understood Asperger’s and how it affects relationships.

So years of being on the receiving end of his odd behavior took a toll on my sense  of self. I ended up feeling lonely, disappointed, angry and very frustrated. I didn’t feel like my strong self for years. As a result, I was experiencing what  NT partners refer to as Cassandra Syndrome.

Neurology Matters in Couples Therapy. If you are married to someone on the Autism Spectrum normal couples counseling will not help.  A Neurodiverse Couples Counselor, is better equipped to work with Neurodiverse Couples:

  • Identify root cause of issues through a Neurological lens
  • Understand meltdowns in one or both partners and how to manage them
  • By making an assessment using an Asperger’s profile in one of the partners
  • Interpret for each partner what behavior means
  • Acquire tools that initiate communication, express thoughts and feelings, and ask for what is needed
  • Implement those tools
  • Put systems in place for healthier and more effective interaction
  • Understand and appreciate that both have their own perspectives and see things differently

Courtesy of  https://www.aane.org/neurodiverse-couples-institute/
How I Survive An Asperger’s Marriage:
  • Avoid talking down to your AS (autism spectrum) partner
  • Acceptance that life will be challenging
  • Take your AS partner at face value. In other words, don’t try to read too much into what they’re saying. …
  • Have your AS partner “reflective listen” back what you said so you know they understood you
  • Ask questions to get clarity
  • Be clear and specific about your expectations
  • Be explicit when asking for something
  • Be explicit when giving instructions
  • Get some relational tools for emotional connection and effective communication
  • Respect your AS partner’s need for down time
  • Manage Cassandra Syndrome – Have a well rounded life of your own. Work, hobbies, friends, etc.

Being married to an Asperger husband is quite challenging. If you don’t have a well rounded sense of self, positive attitude about your neurodiversity, and relational tools you may not choose to remain in the marriage for too long. More importantly, it might not be feasible for you to stay. Like with all challenges, nothing changes when nothing changes. Get the tools needed to make your marriage work. Just like everything else, effort and commitment is key.

For more information about neurodiverse couples, Asperger husbands, and surviving an Asperger’s marriage please contact me at CouplesCounselorSanDiego.com

Asperger Husband Shares His Thoughts

Asperger Husband Shares His Thoughts. Having Asperger’s is embracing life the way it is. After a relational diagnosis from my wife, Sarah Ruggera, LMFT, who is a Certified Neurodiverse Couples Counselor, I felt a sense of relief. Everything made more sense and I no longer shy away from people and social situations. I’ve realized that I was the contributing force to most of our arguments. My wife always told me her meltdowns were in reaction to my Asperger’s. As a psychotherapist she is able to manage her emotions appropriately, however, due to what she was experiencing all these years (Cassandra Syndrome) she was lost in our world of neurodiversity.

Asperger Husband Shares His Thoughts

I’m still semi detached from everyday emotions and still get wrapped up in my special interests, like computers and writing programs, nonfiction reading, and spending a lot of alone time.

I appreciate my wife and her efforts in enabling us to communicate more effectively with the tools she provides Neurodiverse Couples in her practice. She still has her meltdowns and can become impatient with me but she knows I don’t act that way on purpose as it’s how my brain is wired.

Asperger Husband Shares His Thoughts

My thought process is still mostly reactive in that, if a situation A comes up I’m suppose to do B, but sometimes I should have done C instead, that’s when I get frustrated when I misread situations. Because I understand I have Asperger’s I am able to manage these types of situations as I ask questions sooner rather than later validating what I’m thinking opposed to what others are thinking and getting the clarity I need to better know what to do in those types of situations.

In moving forward, the most important thing is to be more relational with my wife as I put her through some tough times where she was talking divorce. She cared about me so much she invested the time and energy to get the help I need.  Because we didn’t receive much help in traditional couples counseling I’m amazed she had the initiative to become certified as a Neurodiverse Couples Counselor helping others who struggle like us.

So having Asperger’s was something I thought was a bad thing, actually turned into something good as the awareness put things in perspective. If you think you might be on the spectrum, or if anyone tells you they experience something “off” about you, get the help that’s out there. There’s no shame in doing that. I feel good about what all this did for me and my family.

For more information on Couples Counseling and getting a relational diagnosis contact Sarah Ruggera at (858) 735-1139.

Is Your Husband On The Spectrum?

Is Your Husband On The Spectrum? Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) is an Autism Spectrum Disorder – (ASD) and is part of a group of complex neurodevelopmental disorders.  All of us are on the spectrum to some degree but those who suffer from AS are severely debilitated with respect to social interaction, behavior, and communication?  People with Asperger’s, affectionately known as Aspies, are high functioning, have no problem with basic speech, and are quite capable and intelligent.

Is Your Husband On The Spectrum?

I’ve been married to Phil, my husband for over twenty years.  From the beginning, I suspected he might be on the spectrum. Is Your Husband On The Spectrum?

Common traits of Asperger’s Syndrome include:

  1. Thoughtlessness.  The lack of consideration for others, while unintentional, may appear to be rude or callous.
  2. Forgetfulness.
  3. Mindblindness.  This is known as a lack of Theory of Mind, which is the inability to reflect on the contents of one’s own mind and the mind of others.  Those with AS are incapable of putting themselves “in someone else’s shoes.”  They cannot conceptualize, understand or predict the knowledge, thoughts, beliefs, emotions, feelings, and desires behavior, actions, or intention of another person.  This can create major barriers to communication and intimacy.
  4. Lack of self-awareness.
  5. Challenges with time management.  People with AS can become involved in restricted or special interests and, in so doing, lost track of time.
  6. Possess a narrow range of interests and can become hyper-focused on one, (often very specific,) hobby.
  7. Demonstrate little to no empathy.
  8. Heightened sensitivity to bright lights and, loud sounds.  Their skin and their sense of taste can also be very sensitive.
  9. Repetitive behavior.  People with AS are not flexible; they like their routines and have little tolerance for change.
  10. Difficulty making small talk.  Possess limited relational skills.
  11. Propensity for one-sided conversations.
  12. Difficulty making friends
  13. Possess awkward moments and mannerisms.
  14. Little eye contact.

One might wonder why anyone would want to be in a relationship with someone on the spectrum?  My husband is a kind, generous, and intelligent man and I love him very much.  But his Asperger’s presented some challenges for me early on in our relationship.  I invested in the two of us by learning everything I could about AS, acquired the coping skills needed to manage my emotions (see related article on the Cassandra Syndrome), and found tools to help my husband become more relational.  Today, we have several systems in place to foster communication, awareness, and meaningful interactions that work quite well.

If you are struggling with the challenges of a neurodiverse relationship, where you and/or your partner have an ASD, I’m confident I can help you out.  Being a Certified Neurodiverse Couples Counselor (AANE) I can develop successful coping strategies and relational skills to deepen and strengthen your relationship.

For more information on moving forward with your Aspie husband or wife, please contact me at (858) 735-1139.  I know I can help.

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, (neurodiverse; ND or Aspie; AS) 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 Aspie 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. Conventional 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.