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

 

 

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. In 2013, it became part of one umbrella diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5 (DSM-5). It’s a spectrum of characteristic traits that can make their individual lives and marriages challenging. There’s nothing wrong with being on the Spectrum. I don’t like using the word “syndrome” because it pathologizes and fails to acknowledge the many great traits a person with Asperger’s possess. 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, are quite capable and highly 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, 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.