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, (neurodiverse; NT 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 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.

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.

 

Think Your Husband Has Asperger’s?

Think Your Husband Has Asperger’s? I know mine does. Yours may too. What exactly is Asperger’s? Asperger’s syndrome is a developmental disorder characterized as an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) that impairs development in communication, social interaction, and behavior. The precise causes of autistic disorders have not been identified, although an inherited (genetic) component is believed to be involved. Supporting this idea is the fact that Asperger’s syndrome has been observed to run in families. Based on my clinical observations of my husband and his parents, he may have inherited it from one or both of them.

Think Your Husband Has Asperger’s?
  • Is your husband not thoughtful?
  • Is he forgetful?
  • Does he appear to have no self-awareness?
  • Tends to be late all the time?
  • Shows little to no Empathy?
  • Seems Antisocial?

I‘ve been married to my husband for twenty years and from the beginning, I thought he might be on the spectrum.  We all are to a certain degree but those who suffer from the syndrome show signs of severe debilitation which affect social interaction, behavior, and communication.  What exactly is Asperger’s?  Asperger’s syndrome is a developmental disorder characterized as an autism spectrum disorder  (ASD).

 

 

 

20 years ago I met and fell in love with a kind, generous, and intelligent man. Often quiet in his demeanor and less animated than myself, my friends thought we were an unlikely match. I know now what I didn’t realize then is the comments made about my husband’s behavior offended some and made others feel uncomfortable. As the years went by I started to observe and experience a dynamic between us that consequently lead to feelings of loneliness, frustration, and irritability. He behaved in ways that were almost hurtful and rude.

 

Situations I now understand:

  • We were in Bora Bora on our Honeymoon. After a long flight, we were escorted to our beautiful over-the-water bungalow. As we were settling in I heard a knock at the door where room service brought my husband a refreshing Mai Tai cocktail. I asked where mine was and he said he didn’t order me one. I thought that was strange and nicely called him out on it. He said he didn’t think to ask me. (Aspie’s are often time not thoughtful)
  • When our daughter was 5 years old he forgot to pick her up from school after being reminded several times. (Memory problem)
  • Whenever I had a conversation with him he wasn’t able to show empathy and continued to talk about what was of interest to him. (Lack of Theory of Mind or Mind Blindness)
  • He could go on and on about a topic that was of interest to him and fail to recognize facial expressions denoting I was becoming uninterested or even bored. (No self-awareness)
  • He can go MIA (missing in action) for long periods of time working on his computer and not realize it and is often times late. (Time management problem)
  • I made a lovely Brunch one day and when we sat at the table to enjoy it he didn’t talk much and appeared troubled. I asked him later what was up as I was angry, more hurt, actually as I and was expecting him to appreciate my efforts. He later told me the sun was brightly shining and hurt his eye. (Sensory Issues)

 

As I didn’t want a divorce I started to educate myself on this syndrome and acquired coping skills to manage my emotions more appropriately, while getting my husband the tools he needed to be more relational. We acquired a process and put systems in place for better communication. With the commitment to moving forward, I can honestly say I am so much happier. There was never any doubt I loved him but the Asperger’s was making for too many challenges to want to stay. 

 

For more information on being able to move forward with your Aspie husband please contact me at (858) 735-1139. I know I can help.