Parenting With A Partner With Asperger’s: A Book Review

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IMG-1023All this time, I have been blabbing about my OCD. How totally selfish….so, lets talk about Asperger’s!

As I have mentioned before, my husband has Asperger’s.  His Asperger’s, to me, is just something that makes him unique.  I love that his brain processes information differently than my own; however, it seems to be a bit glitchy when it comes to parenting.  So much so, that parenting is the only thing we ever bicker about; or more accurately, that I ever bicker about…

I “get” my husband’s brain.  I studied biology and psychology; plus, I am extremely opened minded to the fact that everyone is different and I strongly believe that everyone, regardless how quirky they might be, still deserve love and respect.  So, for the most part, my husband’s so-called “odd” social behaviors doesn’t bother me; but I am beginning to see how his Asperger’s is affecting our children.

Mommy, Mommy, Mommy!

My husband simply does not exist.  He is here, but not; and David Copperfield has nothing to do with it!  I think the biggest problem is that, my husband doesn’t acknowledge when spoken to; something I had to get used to.  When prompt to provide a response, you can certainly tell that his brain is searching for a “script,” a go-to, catch-all phrase that works for any kind of situation.  His usual response, for everything, is either “neat-o” or “oh-goodness.”  If the subject is not about him or something he is an “expert” at (areas in which he can confidently express himself), the tone is off and sometimes emotionless, making him sound rude, disrespectful, or a bit harsh.  Not knowing how to appropriately and quickly respond, the brain becomes anxious, and the tongue does its best to interpret and translate.  So, my husband never means to sound rude, disrespectful, or harsh; it’s just rolls off the tongue that way.

I am sure there is more to it, but I am guessing, this is one of the biggest reasons as to why our kids prefer to come to me, instead of their dad, even when he is standing two feet away from me.  They either feel their dad ignores them or their feelings get hurt, by his not-so compassionate responses.  Communication may not seem to be my husband’s forte, but he sure does know how to make the kids laugh!

Parenting Requires Social-Skills

Although, we are both biological parents, I am “the” parent.  I often struggle with this concept, because I personally believe parenting should be a joint responsibility; however, my husband’s Asperger’s makes it difficult to parent together.  As I have mentioned in prior posts, our joint efforts resulted in a “good” cop / “bad” cop parenting style.  It was confusing for everyone and we decided it was best that I just take lead for now on.  It isn’t that my husband doesn’t care or is lazy about parenting, he just doesn’t have that communication-bonding ability with the kids.  Parenting requires social-skills; something I am beginning to learn more about in this new book I started to read this month, called, “Out of Mind-Out of Sight,” by Kathy J. Marshack, Ph. D.

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About The Author and Why I Enjoy This Book

Out of Mind-Out of Sight,” by Kathy J. Marshack, Ph. D., has thus far, been an insightful read.  Kathy J. Marshack is a licensed psychologist who specializes in Asperger’s Syndrome and high-functioning Autism; understanding Asperger’s on both a professional and personal level.

I am really enjoying this book, for that it has all that I like about a book: scientific-based facts, personal experiences, and great humor.  There is nothing dull about the way this book is written, making it much more relatable and easier to retain important concepts that will help me better understand and work with my husband during our parenting adventures.

Cognitive and Emotional Empathy

What have I learned so far?  Well, lots of things, really.  But one thing that truly sticks in my brain is the difference between Cognitive Empathy and Emotional Empathy.   Although better explained by Kathy J. Marshack, I think I got the gist of it.

Empathy is complex; however, Marshack explains there are two types of empathy.  Cognitive Empathy, to my understanding, is when the  brain assesses a situation factually, instead of emotionally.  Emotional Empathy is looking at a situation with emotions.  Those who do not have Asperger’s Syndrome, respond to situations with both Cognitive and Emotional Empathy; whereas, those with Asperger’s Syndrome, generally, only express one type of empathy at a time (not both at the same time).

Say, my kid comes to me with scrapes on their knees from falling down at the park.  They are crying and their knees are bleeding and require medical assistance.  I respond by expressing my concern for their emotions and provide comfort by expressing my understanding that scraped knees totally suck; and then attend to the scrape.  My entire response consisted of both cognitive and emotional empathy.

However, my husband would respond completely differently, whereas he would not be as comforting and skip straight to the fact that it “just” needs a band-aid.   He is responding with Cognitive Empathy, where he recognizes the facts of the situation (scrape on knee), but not the emotional situation (kid being upset).  Or, he may respond with Emotional Empathy instead, where he may respond extremely emotionally and irrationally by dramatically swooping the child up into his arms, rushing them to the band-aid box, and making a dramatic scene, in which only scares the child.

But, like I said, Marshack explains it way better by sharing a personal, yet relatable,  story from one of her clients; in which I strongly encourage you to read about in her book.

After I have finished the entire book (still have a couple chapters left to go), I will be posting an update on this review at the end of the month.  Maybe great changes will come or at the very least, I have gained, yet another perspective to share with you about mental health.

Have You Read A Good Book Lately?

I love to read when I am not busy being a mom.  If you have any book recommendations regarding Asperger’s Syndrome, Parenting, or Mental-Health in general, let me know!  I’d love to check them out! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Answers Under The Couch: A Book Review

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Hardly a coincidence, don’t you think?

Life is funny this way, as little things like this happen to me…a lot.  Coincidence? Perhaps not…

As you may know, I’ve been in paradise putting my minimalistic and organizational super-powers to good use, helping my mother get the ball rolling on finishing an endless list of unfinished projects around the house.  It is an overwhelming, stressful, sandal-strap breaking challenge, but I think I got her started in the right direction.  It’s all about setting goals!

Unfortunately, you can set as many goals as you like, but to achieve those goals requires motivation to accomplish them.  How does one gain motivation, especially, with so many overwhelming goals?  What needs to change?  As usual, the answer to my questions are never too far away and I am not talking about the Internet…

Is It Coincidence…Answers Under The Couch?

My mother taught me a long time ago to “listen to the Universe” or “God,” whomever you prefer, or frankly, whomever speaks the loudest.  My point is, that I strongly believe that the answers we seek can be found within reach from somewhere; you just have to be patient and open-minded, for that these answers can come from very unexpected places.

As I was cleaning, I decided I would clean underneath the couches; a place that probably hasn’t been cleaned in years….

Image result for grandma's boy cleaning under the couch movie

Surprisingly, it wasn’t that bad.  In fact, the only thing that was under the couch was a book.  A small black book, called, “This Year I Will…,” by M. J. Ryan from 2006.

I Bookdidn’t think anything of it and tossed it in the collection bin of other misplaced books I had found while cleaning the house.  But, without a cover, I was curiously drawn to it.

I like to read before bed, so that night I decided to check out the small book that I found under the couch.  It is a book about accomplishing personal goals….what a coincidence!

Insightful, Helpful, and Encouraging: A Book Review (Affiliated Links

“This Year I Will….,” by M. J. Ryan, was exactly what I needed to read!  It was perfectly relatable to my mother’s current situation.  Furthermore, it even encouraged me to work on my own personal goals (like losing weight).

I like non-fiction self-help books that are mixed with relatable personal stories, suggested techniques to try, and references by “the” experts.  This book has everything that I like!  It talks about the neuroscience behind the habits that prevent us from accomplishing our goals as well as, providing clear, simple, to-the-point changes to overcome those habits.

The Power Of A Positive Mind To Change Bad Habits

The author, M. J. Ryan, references ideas by “organizational consultant, Robert Fritz,” author of “The Path of Least Resistance.”  He strongly believes that motivation is driven by positive, passionate, thoughts and ideas.

For example, the reason I cannot stick to my goal of losing weight, is because there is no positive, passionate, motivation behind it.  I’d like to lose weight to become healthier, but like clockwork every year, I jump into a routine that fizzles out by the end of January.   This is most likely, because I am not positively, passionate about becoming healthier.  Truthfully, I am not.  Not a single cell in body is passionate about becoming healthier, especially, if it means dieting and exercise.  However, according to Fritz, I can motivate my stubborn cells (myself) to accomplish my weight loss goal by thinking of a positive, passionate, motivating end result; such as doing it for my kids.  My kids need me to be healthy and I am super passionate about doing things for my kids.

I am currently day three into an exercise program (walking), meeting my daily step goals.  I am passionate about it!   I made my routine exercise into a game; something in which Ryan talks about, stating that we tend to accomplish things that are fun rather than boring.  So, I am not focused on weight loss (although that is the preferred end-result), but rather on how many steps I am getting per day.  I try to do more steps than the day before (beating yesterday’s step goal).  It keeps me motivated and mildly entertained.   Unfortuantely, I have a long way to go, as yesterday, I blew out a shoe and my flabby fat arms rubbed raw with friction.  Wasn’t a pleasant feeling, but it is totally worth it for my kids!

A Book Worth Finishing : Don’t Think About Donuts

I was quickly motivated to start a workout program just by reading the first 39 pages of “This Year I Will….,” by M. J. Ryan,   Very few books have that effect on me; however, there is just something about this book that I love and trust.  Plus, I am never shy of trying anything new, different, or interesting.

I like this book, because the author is very thorough in backing up ideas with psychological concepts.  Having OCD, I am well aware of the psychological mind game, “Don’t Think About Pink Rabbits,” or in Ryan’s book, “Don’t Think About Donuts.”  The point of this mind game, is that no matter how much you try to not think about something, you are going to think about it anyways.  It demonstrates thinking habits and Ryan ties this in perfectly to support the ideas that habits impact motivation and goals.  No spoil alerts, you just have to read it yourself, but Ryan actually explains, neurologically, why this happens, and it’s fascinating!

I always feel the first couple chapters of a book defines the value of a good book, so far, this book has caught my attention and seems worth finishing.  I am almost finished with this book and I am not yet disappointed.  The book dives much deeper into building goals and ways to stay on track with goals.  Whether this book leads to success, I am not sure; that part is largely up to me as I begin to embark on a daily workout routine to accomplish my own personal health goal.

Finding Positive, Passionate, Motivation For My Mother

Putting new concepts and strategies into practice is always “easier said, than done.”  Interestingly, this book explains why that is, in which is another reason why I recommend reading (or even just glancing at) this book.  As for my mother, I am sure my mother has read this book and I just have to encourage her to think of something passionately positive to motivate her to finish the projects she starts.  Changing thinking habits are challenging, I know (OCD), but it is amazing what one can accomplish with a new positive mind-set!

Have you ever encountered a helpful coincidence?