Is It Your Husband’s Autism Or Personality?

Is It Your Husband’s Autism Or Personality? When a couple is aware that their relationship is affected by autism it can be quite difficult to decipher what traits are caused by personality and what are due to being on the autistic spectrum. I’ve been married to a man with Asperger’s for over 20 years. During the first 13 years he displayed some behaviors that looked pretty much like he was being a jerk. His lack of consideration and thoughtfulness made him appear self-centered and self-serving. Not all differences are due to your partner being on the autism spectrum, and not all personality traits can be attributed to or blamed on autism.

Is It Your Husband’s Autism Or Personality?

I’m working with a couple whose Asperger (AS) husband is talkative with anyone and everyone. He is also quite flirtatious with the ladies. He flirts with waitresses, grocery store clerks, and women at the bank. He states he just wants to be personable and doesn’t mean anything bad by it. This bothers my neurotypical (NT) client (his wife) as it is a trigger for her due to trauma from past relationships where there was cheating. With tools they’ve acquired during counseling he shows her the empathy needed so she feels seen and heard. Some think people with Asperger’s have a difficult time with filter and being impulsive when interacting.

I have another client who discovered her Asperger husband had been having an affair for the past eight months. They were in counseling with me during that time which makes it even more horrific and disappointing for this neurotypical wife. Her husband states he thinks he’s a sex addict and manages his anxiety with other women. He blames his Asperger’s for his inappropriate behavior. I point out being unfaithful is not a trait caused by being on the spectrum.

Traits caused by being on the autism spectrum:

  • Highly focused
  • Single minded
  • Obsessive
  • Clumsy
  • Logical

  • Rigid/inflexible
  • Reactive to noise
  • Reactive to smell
  • Reactive to touch
  • Reactive to taste
  • Reactive to light
  • Pendantic

 

 

Traits not caused by being on the autism spectrum:

  • Flirtatious
  • Unfaithful
  • Inhibited
  • Frigid
  • Promiscuous
  • Verbally abusive
  • Boring
  • Reliable
  • Emotionally withdrawn
  • Withholding
  • Unsympathetic

  • Stingy
  • Unhygienic
  • Unkempt
  • Intuitive
  • Passionate
  • Irrational
  • Impulsive
  • Defensive
  • Critical
  • Opinionated
  • Religious
  • Political
  • An unloving parent
  • Forgetful
  • A loner
  • Generous
  • Extravagant

When a couple is aware that their relationship is affected by autism it can be quite difficult to decipher what traits are caused by personality and what are due to being on the autism spectrum. Not all differences are due to the partner being on the autism spectrum, and not all personality traits can be attributed to or blamed on autism. Knowing whether a trait is caused by having autism or personality is confusing for both in a relationship, especially the neurotypical partner. It’s confusing because everyone on the spectrum is different, that’s why they call it a spectrum. All will have their own unique personality with their own childhood history. We are products of our upbringing which has moulded who they are now and will have encouraged certain beliefs, behaviors, and opinions.

When working with neurodiverse couples in neurodiverse couples counseling, I emphasize any kind of abuse is not a trait of having Asperger’s. Sometimes bad behavior is just bad behavior and should never be tolerated. I work with the couple through a neurodiverse lens where I help them recognize, understand and treatment the problems in their relationship. When we are able distinguish what is an Asperger trait versus a personality trait, both can see more clearly where the work needs to be done.

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

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

 

 

 

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

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.

Cassandra Syndrome

Cassandra Syndrome. Also referred to as Ongoing Traumatic Relationship Syndrome or Affective Deprivation Disorder and abbreviated as CADD, OTRS or AfDD. 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 my husband 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.