Neurology Matters in Couples Therapy

Neurology Matters in Couples Therapy.  If you are married to someone on the Autism Spectrum traditional couples counseling will not help.  My husband has Asperger’s.  We have been married for over 20 years.  As a Marriage and Family Therapist, I always knew there was something off with the way my husband communicated.  I love my husband very much, but the first decade of our marriage was very challenging.  I “acted out” quite a bit as I came to understand I was suffering from Cassandra Syndrome. I don’t know how many times I threatened divorce.

Neurology Matters in Couples Therapy

We sought Marriage Counseling, however, our communication did not improve. My discouragement and frustration lead to more acting out behavior which wasn’t helping. What we needed were relational tools and education about how Neurodiverse couples (Asperger husband; Neurotypical wife) process information differently. The understanding was quite eye opening.

As a Marriage and Family Therapist, and Certified Neurodiverse Couples Counselor, I am able to effectively help 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

As a Therapist that works with Neurodiverse Couples, I normalize behavior that may be construed as odd and unkind. I know first hand how it feels to be a woman married to a husband on the Spectrum. With education, tools and adding levity to our sessions to difficult situational stories my couples present, we are able to develop and exercise more relational behavior to receive the emotional connection desired.

Many couples have spent thousands of dollars on therapy to no avail. They still feel disconnected, frustrated, and angry. No one wants a divorce. Couples have a lot invested in their relationships. Some have children, they have their history and resources that they want to keep intact. Neurodiverse couples can see the light at the end of the tunnel when they have the tools to communicate. Or as I like to say, tools to relate.

 

For more information about getting the right kind of counseling please contact me at (858) 735-1139.

If You’re Married To Someone On The Autism Spectrum

If You’re Married To Someone On The Autism Spectrum. My husband and I have been in a Neurodiverse Relationship for the past 20 years.  It wasn’t until about 5 years ago that I realized he is on the Autism Spectrum.  Over the course of my marriage I experienced gradually losing my sense of self.  In the place of my former self emerged a person I barely recognized.  I was lonely, hurt and angry.  I felt isolated as my social connections gradually diminished.  Because my husband is a good man, I felt misunderstood when I talked about my problems.  I felt crazy and exercised a lot of “acting out” behavior that was hurtful to myself and others.

If You’re Married To Someone On The Autism Spectrum

What I was experiencing is referred to as “The Cassandra Syndrome.”

Being married to a man with Asperger’s, and working with Neurodiverse Couples, I understand and have come to appreciate people think and process information differently.  And sometimes these people enter relationships where the two think and process information so differently it makes communication challenging.  As a Marriage and Family Therapist, I work with couples using a Neurodiverse lens where traditional couples counseling is ineffective and often frustrating for the couple who come in for relief from their pain and suffering.

People on the Spectrum feel criticized by some of the “labels” attached to them.   The Asperger’s and Autism Network (AANE’s) preferred the following terminology at this time.  They continue to examine and evaluate language use.

Preferred terms:
“Asperger/autism or similar profile”
“Neurodiverse/Neurodiversity” (not “neurodivergent”)
“on the autism spectrum” or “on the spectrum”
“Community member”

Please refrain from the following terms:
Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD
Asperger Syndrome, Asperger’s, or AS
Disorder
Disability or Disabled
High-functioning (or low-functioning) autism

Examples using preferred terms:

AANE works with individuals who have an Asperger/autism or similar autism spectrum profile.Society will will benefit from the different points of view neurodiversity brings to work and social settings.
We are proud to serve those on the autism spectrum in our work at AANE.
At AANE, our community members are children and adults with Asperger/autism profiles, their families and friends, and the professionals who work with those on the spectrum.

 

Individuals on the Spectrum have their own set of challenges.  When they enter into relationships that challenge is compounded by neurodiversity.  I act as an ASD/NT translator and my goal is to help both partners understand the world as seen from the other.
For more information please contact me at (858) 735-1139.

Cassandra Syndrome

Cassandra Syndrome. Also referred to as Affective Deprivation Disorder or Ongoing Traumatic Relationship Syndrome and abbreviated as CADD, AfDD or OTRS. What is it? In Greek mythology, Apollo gives Cassandra the gift of prophecy; the ability to foresee the future.  He did so out of an act to seduce her but when she ultimately rejected him, he hexed her with a curse of never being believed.  Even though Cassandra had the power to predict the future and could warn people when something bad was about to happen, no one believed her.  She was dismissed and rejected, regarded by the townspeople as an insane liar.  The curse of never being believed became a source of pain and frustration throughout Cassandra’s life.  Despite her powers as a clairvoyant, she was all but invisible. Cassandra Syndrome is what a woman married to an Asperger (AS) man experiences through psychological and emotional distress.

Cassandra Syndrome

My husband has Asperger Syndrome (AS), making us a Neurodiverse Couple.  During the years before we obtained an unofficial diagnosis, I was quite troubled and experienced a great deal of psychological and emotional distress.  I was an emotional hostage, suffering through daily trauma of feeling invisible to my AS partner.  My husband could not express empathy, was awkward socially and had a limited ability to express himself non-verbally.  My response was to act out.  I was angry, unreasonable, hurtful and verbally abusive.  My self-esteem was being demolished by a partner who could not provide the connection I longed for.  There was either something terribly wrong with me or my husband had some sort of undiagnosed psychological challenge.  As a result, I was losing my sense of self.

I was experiencing an ongoing traumatic relationship syndrome (OTRS), known in this case as Cassandra Syndrome, a term coined by the families of adults affected by AS.  Like Cassandra in the myth, I had become invisible, disregarded, and ignored.

There was never any doubt I loved Phil but the Asperger’s was creating many challenges.  I didn’t want a divorce so I educated myself on AS, and Cassandra Syndrome and acquired coping skills to manage my emotions more appropriately.  We also found the tools my husband needed to be more relational and put systems in place for better communication.  This had made me so much happier.  Today, our Neurodiverse challenges are much more manageable and our mutual commitment to stay together and keep moving forward is truly one of the great achievements of our unique love story. As a result, I became Certified as a Neurodiverse Couples Counselor to help couples do the same thing.

For more information on coping with Cassandra Syndrome and moving forward with your Asperger husband (or wife/partner), please contact me at (858) 735-1139.  I know I can help.