Category: Asperger’s Brain

Communication With A Partner With Asperger’s

Social media can be bombarded with a lot of negativity, but every now and then, an unexpectedly gem of wisdom appears out of nowhere.

Scrolling through my social media feeds, I came across this post about relationships.  It made me think a lot about being married to a man with Asperger’s.

“The man can’t see the snake biting his wife, and the woman can’t see the boulder on her husbands back, the moral of the story here is that sometimes a man can’t see the pain his wife is suffering from and women can’t understand the pressure men feel on a day to day basis, within couples we need to learn to understand each other more and communicate better so we can seek out the problems and turn weaknesses into strengths”

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My Stereotypical Thoughts

My first thoughts were stereotypical.  I immediately thought to myself, “Well, the man isn’t going to say anything about the boulder, in fear his wife would think him too weak.   And, the woman isn’t going to say anything about the snake, in fear the man would let go and abandoned her.”   Although my personal perspective was geared mostly towards trust in a relationship, I can understand how this relates to communication and I think it is brilliant!

My Asperger’s Relationship

This is a great depiction of our relationship!  My husband’s Asperger’s cannot see the pain I am suffering from all the overwhelming work I do everyday, the emotions that surge through me, and the OCD experiences I encounter; nor do I understand the pressure he is feeling with Asperger’s, anxiety, and being the bread-winner of our family.

Communication: The Two Way Street 

Communication goes both ways in a relationship; however, in an Asperger’s relationship, the non-Asperger’s partner (I refuse to use the word “neuro-typical”) may feel like communication only goes one way through a brick wall.  Thus, it is important to achieve effective communication by better understanding each other.

Nobody should be expected to do more work than the other when it comes to communication.  Instead, each other should learn where the lines of communication are disrupted and patch them up together.

My husband cannot pick up on my emotions or social cue’s nor am I able to read his mind.  He is terrible at verbally expressing the thoughts in his head.  He gets upset when he later finds out he missed out on something due to his lack of communication.  This often leads to a frustrating blame game where I should have channeled my inner Miss Cleo to read his mind.

Understanding this is the line of disruption in our communication, I have learned to better verbally express my emotions, rather than expect him to pick up on my “I am upset” face.  My husband has learned to better verbally communicate his thoughts to make sure he doesn’t miss out on any opportunities that may have required earlier communication; however, this is not without a little help from me.

The Non-Asperger’s Partner Must Put In More Work 

Not everything should be expected to be “even steven’s” in a relationship, especially communication; that is just not realistic for any relationship.  Also, such a high unrealistic expectation can create frustration and disappointment.  However, nobody should be left doing all the work either.  There must be a semi-balance that works for everyone.  In a working system, the scale of balance is suppose to shift back and forth to maintain stability.

In my opinion, in an Asperger’s relationship, the partner with Asperger’s should not be the one who is expected to learn how to better communicate with their non-Asperger’s partner.  I strongly believe, it should be the other way around.  The non-Asperger’s partner is the one who must learn to better communicate with their Asperger’s partner.

Whoa! What! Wait a minute, WHY?  

Well, simply, because the non-Asperger’s partner has better communication skills.

Communication is teamwork.  The non-Asperger’s partner is the “leader” in this teamwork of communication, because they have better communication skills.  It still takes two to communicate, but the non-Asperger’s partner must take the lead in communication.

Using A Sludge-Hammer To Break Through Brick Walls

Taking the lead in communication is not being the one who does all the talking nor is it manipulatively leading the other person in a conversation.  Taking the lead in communication is all about encouraging expressive-communication.  Encouraging expressive-communication is a way of throwing out positive verbal cues that inform the other person (Asperger’s partner) that they need to express a verbal response.

Now, everyone’s Asperger’s is different, but for me, encouraging expressive-communication is an effective way to better communicate with my husband.  Asking “direct” questions, in my opinion, is the best way to encourage expressive-communication.  To do it without being pushy, is to incorporate questions into a casual conversation with a soft, calm, casual tone.  It is also important to not be judgmental when trying to encourage expressive-communication.  Nobody wants to express thoughts, if their responses are always harshly judged; so, a little reassurance that expression is welcomed helps a bit too.  My husband’s responses are often toneless, making it difficult to judge his emotions or even the context of his responses.  However, I have learned to never accuse him of not caring, instead, I remain calm and continue to ask simple direct questions until I receive clarification.

Most of the time, my husband and I communicate like normal people with very few communication issues; each putting in equal amounts of effort into a conversation. However, there are days when I feel as if I am talking to a brick wall and I have to put in a little extra work to better communicate with him.   To be honest, I don’t think that is strictly an Asperger’s thing, but more of relationship thing in general.  Like I said before, the scale of balance is suppose to shift back and forth to maintain stability.  

Everyone experiences Asperger’s differently, let me know your thoughts.  

  1. From an Asperger’s perspective, what is expected of a person without Asperger’s when it comes to providing effective communication with one another?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Asperger’s Relationship: Our Journey

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When I started this blog, I thought I had mountains of content to write about, in regards to my husband’s Asperger’s, but it turns out, I don’t.

There are no daily challenges with my husband’s Asperger’s, like I thought; at least there hasn’t been for a very long time.  I am not constantly trying to figure him out nor am I constantly frustrated with his inability to effectively communicate with me and others.  In the grand scheme of things, his Asperger’s quirks are no more challenging than my OCD quirks.   In a strange way, we compliment each other, making each other stronger and better in many different unexpected ways.  Last night, I laid awake in bed thinking about our journey together and all the true life challenges we have overcome since the beginning; very few specifically involved Asperger’s itself.  Asperger’s, of course, didn’t make the journey easy, but over the years, I have learned to accommodate both our quirks to maintain a happy and healthy relationship.

1950’s Relationship In A Millennial World

I grew up with the idea that relationships are to be an equal partnership; however, I learned with my husband’s Asperger’s, we cannot be equal in terms of responsibilities.  Each of us play a specific role in the relationship and in this day of age, it can be perceived as a little “old fashion.” 

Thinking about it, our relationship is a bit 1950’s, where the man’s sole responsibility is to provide financially for the family (bring home the bacon), among other duties like maintaining the family’s financial affairs, car and house maintenance, and setting strict family rules (as a man’s house is his castle and kingdom).  As for the woman, she is responsible for maintaining a well-kept home, raising children, cooking, keeping her husband happy, and looking fabulous while she does it.

Well, in all honestly, the only thing my husband actually does is bring home the bacon, after that, I am the sole ruler of this castle and our small little kingdom.  At first, I didn’t like it.  I didn’t like being in control of everything; I felt selfish and rude; plus, being responsible for everything and being the designated problem solver in the family can be quite exhausting, emotional, and totally stressful at times; but decision making gives my husband extreme anxiety to the point of panic attacks.  I am not sure, but I don’t think its entirely Asperger’s related, I think it has a lot to do with a prior relationship with a “narcissist;” a tragic chaotic love story that is not my story to tell.

Appreciating Small Help 

When it comes to conquering mountains, I am generally in the lead, but it takes both of us to do it.  I may carry most of the responsibilities, but he has learned to help me with some of these responsibilities and I have learned to appreciate his help, regardless how little or how much he contributes to helping me.

Asking is not Telling

My husband doesn’t pick up on body language, hints, or cues, which can be frustrating as  that is generally a big part of common courtesy.  If a person is struggling with an arm full of groceries, you help them.  If a person is struggling to get through the door, hold the door for them.  If trash is piling up beside the door, take the initiative to take the trash out.  My husband doesn’t do anything unless he is “told” to do it.

Now, as I have learned, there is a difference between being “told” to do something and being “asked” to do something.  I was taught, to “ask” others to do things, to be polite.  So, for the first two years with my husband, I would “ask” him to take out the trash, change a diaper, open a window, or whatever and he would just take his sweet time doing it; basically, he would do it at his own convenience and if he never did it, he would later tell me he “forgot.”   How rude, right!  Eventually, he explained to me his reasoning:  Asking means it is “optional or at your own convenience” and Telling means “do it now.”   I still struggle with this today, because I hate sounding rude; however, to him, I am not being rude at all.

Setting Boundaries 

I have also learned to set boundaries, for the sake of my own mental health.  There are decisions and responsibilities in life that I just cannot do for my husband; one being his own personal health.

The first couple of years was rough;  I was constantly flushing his toilet, being his personal alarm clock, reminding him to brush his teeth, and making sure he actually ate healthy foods instead of junk food.  Basically, I was like his mother!  His reasoning, he explained, was that he feared self-responsibility.  He told me that if I took care of him and did everything for him, nothing would ever be his fault.  Today,  I think this was a bit of Asperger’s logic colliding with depression and low self-esteem.

After we had our first baby, it was too much work to take care of a newborn, myself, and another grown adult.  When I started to fall apart (putting everyones needs before my own), he had to step up to the plate to start taking better care of himself.

There are even bigger decisions and responsibilities in life that I just cannot do for my husband, especially, when it comes to wars that are not mine to fight, like my husband’s custody battles with his ex.   My husband is still tethered to his ex through joint custody of their children and it is a nightmare.  I tried to help (indirectly) by being supportive and offering effective advice against uncooperative difficult people, but I was swallowed up whole and emotionally torn up into pieces by unnecessary, unreasonable, ridiculous drama.  Just recently, I dug my white flag deep into the ground, threw up my hands high, and walked away without ever looking back, because it just isn’t my war to fight.

I certainly learned a lot from that experience.  My place as a wife, mom, and step-mom is in neutral territory where I remain supportive, just not involved.  My official duty is to make sure drama from the other side does not cross the threshold into our home.  That is a boundary I set for the entire family, even my husband’s kids know to keep the drama of the other parent’s life at the front door.  Before entering the house, we are sure to address any issues that require addressing and do a complete mood check, because bad moods can ruin an entire visit.  So far, everyone seems to like that idea.

Parenting

Today, I think the only challenge in our relationship, regarding my husband’s Asperger’s alone,  is in the co-parenting arena.  He loves all his kids very much,  it’s just that his Asperger’s makes it difficult to express that love.   Although, my husband has become a better parent over the years, there are still many challenges yet to overcome.

We’ve been able to conquer most of our co-parenting challenges by following a strict routine (no surprises).  It not only gives the kids a good daily routine, but also helps my husband provide more one-on-one quality time with them.  I also make sure we have plenty of family days!  When it comes to discipline, he is terrible.  In the beginning, we went at it like “bad cop / good cop” style, which was just confusing for everyone.  Now, he just follows my lead by reinforcing positive consequences to help our kids make better choices.  My husband is still working on better acknowledging his kids when they speak to him.   It’s a work in progress, but way better than it use to be!  In fact, I am very proud of him.

Relationships Are Hard Work

Regardless of my husband’s Asperger’s, my OCD, and everyday ups and downs of Life, relationships are hard work.  I think this was my final realization while I laid in bed thinking about our journey together.  It does take both of us, regardless how much each other gives to the relationship, at the end of the day, we are still happily together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Story About Kindness and Autism

A Story About Kindness and Autism

Today, I have a story to share about a man I recently met who is working on overcoming his challenges with Autism and how he help me with a small dilemma.

The Not So Genius of Genius Ideas

This weekend, during a family drive, one of our kids got sick in the family car due to a small case of motion sickness.  Anyways, by the time we got home, it was getting late and I still had to go grocery shopping.  However, unlike, a semi-rational person who would simply just remove the car seat (as it was just the carseat that was dirty) to take the family car to the store, I decided to take our second car, instead…Our vomit-free, super tiny Smart Car.  Yeah, not one of my best ideas.

The Smart Car Packing Challenge

At checkout is when I realized I might have a slight problem fitting all my groceries into a tiny car.  I must have let out a loud sigh, because the cashier took notice.  I then, explained my dilemma.  The cashier paused, looked at all the groceries (a week’s worth), and laughed with me.

In the grand scheme of things, my little dilemma was nothing; in fact, it was just another one of my everyday normal adventures.  I am capable of loading my car with groceries; however, to be honest, it wouldn’t be pretty.  I imagined I would have taken up all space in the Smart Car, using up all the space of it’s tiny so-called trunk, the passenger’s seat, passenger’s floorboard, and my lap, if needed.  I doubt I would be mindful of things that could get smooshed, like eggs, bread, and fruit, because I would be too distracted with the thought of just getting it all into the car.  But, nonetheless, I would be sure that every item would fit!

A Different Way Of Thinking

I think people with Autism are remarkably brilliant!  They seem to process information differently, in which, can be beneficial to solving very unique problems.  In this particular case, fitting a week’s worth of groceries into a tiny Smart Car.

At checkout, a man overheard my dilemma and with much enthusiasm wanted to help me load my groceries into my extremely tiny car.  “I can do it!” he confidently told me.  We chatted while I finished paying for my groceries and I honestly wasn’t expecting him to actually help me.  I mean, it was so kind of him to offer to help, but it wasn’t necessary; yet, when I was ready to leave, he kindly insisted.

This kind man’s name is Alex.  He told me he could help me, because his mind works like the game Tetris.  And he was not kidding!  He cheerfully chatted with me the entire time, while he loaded my car with groceries, not once pausing to think about what he was doing and how he was going to do it.  He quickly managed to fit all my groceries into the small space behind the seats (the so-called trunk area).  Not only did all the groceries fit in that tiny space, but nothing was smooshed.  He was extremely mindful of everything, heavy solid items on the bottom with soft fragile items on top!  Having all the groceries in the back of the Smart Car was quite impressive, especially, since I was certain that some of it was going to have to sit up front with me.

I really appreciated his help!  It was such a kind thing to do!  I also appreciate the way his mind works!  I know Autism is challenging, but I thought it was pretty great how he used one of his Autistic abilities (the way his mind works like Tetris) to help others.

Thank You Alex! 

I thanked Alex for helping me and unexpectedly, he told me, he has a YouTube Channel! That is super cool!

Here is his link to his Channel:  Autism Speaks Alex2018 .  He told me that he talks about his life, living with Autism, and asked me to check it out.  He posted a new video today.  He holds a positive attitude towards his everyday challenges with Autism.  After watching a few of his videos, I think his positive attitude is an inspiration to everyone!

Autism does have its challenges and I find it extremely awesome and inspiring that I met a man who has chosen to tackle those challenges with a positive attitude, a kind heart, and as well as, take full advantage of how his brain works to help others.  I wish him the very best with his You Tube Channel and may he continue to keep a positive outlook while overcoming his challenges with Autism.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today I Start A Blog: Married To Asperger’s

I am happily married to Asperger’s; I mean, I am happily married to a partner with Asperger’s. ❤

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Acceptance is key to a healthy and happy relationship with a person with Asperger’s.  If not, well, I can tell you it helps; in addition to, drinking lots of strong coffee, with a dash of great understanding, sprinkled with a bit of patience, topped with a good sense of humor, enjoying your cup of coffee while looking out a new window everyday to gain a better perspective.  No doubt that living with a partner with Asperger’s can be challenging, but it can be just as rewarding as a delicious cup of coffee.  Obviously, I like coffee.  

What Is Asperger’s

Well, technically, it is called Asperger Syndrome.  It is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects socialization and communication skills.  It is categorized as a high-functioning form of Autism.

  • Trouble making eye contact
  • One-way communictaion (either talks about themselves or listens without input or acknowledgement)
  • Lack social courtesy, making themselves seem rude, disrespectful, selfish, and lazy
  • Cannot pick up on body language, hints, and gestures
  • Difficulty with sarcasm and interprets information literally
  • Difficulty with emotions (cannot express own emotions, difficulty regulating emotions, trouble expressing empathy and gratitude towards others)

For more general information pertaining to Asperger’s Syndrome, I recommend visiting this website: Asperger’s Syndrome: What Are the Signs and Symptoms of the Disorder? 

The degree of Asperger symptoms can vary, allowing some individuals to live normal lives without ever realizing they have Asperger’s.  However, sometimes, Asperger’s can be a real bummer, affecting work (especially, if a job position requires effective communication skills), social life, parenting, and, of course, affect a perfectly good relationship / marriage.  Asperger’s in those situations are challenging to overcome for everyone involved, including those who do not have Asperger’s.

The Asperger’s Mind Is Not Flawed, Just Different

Obviously, there is a difference between the Asperger mind and the non-Asperger mind, but only in the way it processes and responds to information.  That is it, under the quirky processing cogs, you have an average individual; perhaps one who enjoys long walks on a beach, sipping on Pina Colada’s, and getting caught in the rain…

My point is, the Asperger’s mind doesn’t define anyone.  They say, “actions speak louder than words,” well, to have a successful relationship with a person who has Asperger’s, you must learn to realize that it is their words that speak louder than actions.  This is because they often do not understand what certain actions mean emotionally to others (socially) and because words are interpreted and expressed literally, you find more worth in their words than with their actions.  Yup, it’s just one of the fun backwards quirks of the Asperger’s mind.

The Asperger’s Mind Will Not Change

Bad news for those hoping to expect their partners with Asperger’s to do all the changing.  It will not happen.  I have been trying to force my husband to change his ways for years!  Turns out, the Asperger’s mind cannot be reprogrammed; at least not without some effort from its owner.  I am a true believer that one can successfully change their thinking habits no matter how it is wired, but it requires a lot of work.  So, taking the lead of Asperger’s logic, following the path of least resistance, I have realized that I am going to have to think outside the box on this one and learn to speak to the brain and not the heart.  I am not talking about learning to be telepathic, although, I often wonder if my husband expects me to read his mind.  Be much easier to communicate, I’ll tell ya that!

I believe I think too much emotionally with my heart than I do logically with my brain.  I blame hormones, but hey, what do I know.  Anyways, I discovered that if I calm down (nix the emotions) and speak literally and to the point, I can better communicate with my husband.  The same goes for interpreting  his actions or lack of actions; by nixing the emotions and thinking logically.  Basically, not reading too much into his actions.

Still Takes Two To Communicate

Although, I have learned the best way to communicate with my husband is by nixing the emotions, I am still an emotional person and my husband had to learn that about me.

However, he still cannot gauge my emotions.  I learned that if I am reasonably upset about something, he thinks I am “over reacting.”  When I am forced to explain my emotions rather than the problem that caused my emotions, is when I know we are not on the same page.  I think this is where most communication goes south in most relationships with Asperger’s; that pivotal point when a non-Asperger’s partner try’s to persuade their Asperger’s partner to feel just as strongly as they do about something as an attempt to get them on the same page.  We often forget that people do not have to be on the same “emotional” page to have equal understanding of something.

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To effectively communicate with one another, my husband had to learn to recognize when I am being emotional.  Although he cannot recognize and process emotions, he can certainly recognize when I am not making any sense to him (because I am speaking with emotion rather than logic).  He had to go out of his comfort zone to verbally acknowledge when I am not making any sense to him, so that I can nix the emotions and speak more logically.  He doesn’t have to tell me that I am being emotional, because 9 out of 10, he doesn’t know why I am not making any sense to him.

Before, he would just let me go on and on and on, BUT, it does take two to effectively communicate.  Thus, requires some effort from the other side, even if it is something as simple as saying, “I do not understand.”  This is a key phrase that indicates to my non-Asperger mind, that I better try again, but with less emotion, so that my husband’s Asperger mind can better understand what I am blabbering about emotionally.  This new tactic in communication has been extremely helpful in effectively communicating with each other.

Can You Relate?

I can talk about Asperger’s all day.  The good, the bad, and the crazy.

Learning more about Asperger’s has changed the way I communicate with my husband.  He use to be the most difficult person to live with and now, that I better understand him, he is nothing more than a loving husband who just so happens to look at the world from a completely different perspective, a logical perspective.

I know I am not alone when it comes to trying to understand the Asperger mind; therefore, I decided to start this blog.  I was hesitant at first, but with so much negative outlooks regarding Asperger relationships, I felt the need to share my experiences to provide hope to those who are not ready to give up on their partner’s.  Relationships with Asperger partners is not impossible, just takes a new perspective to make things work!   

Comments Always Welcome!