Handouts for Having a Partner or Parent with
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Handouts for Having a Partner or Parent with Asperger’s Syndrome
Having a Partner or Parent with Asperger’s Syndrome New Zealand 11th September 2010
Falling in Love with an Aspie
What Attracted You to Your Aspie Partner? • The silent, handsome stranger. • Admiration of intellect or abilities.
What Attracted You to Your Aspie Partner? • Compassion for his/her limited social skills. • “Better looking than I would expect my partner to be”. • Belief his or her character was due to childhood circumstances and the person will change in a new relationship.
What Attracted You to Your Aspie Partner? • • • •
Shared interests (hobbies, animals). The degree of adulation. Fidelity in relationships. ‘I saw the heart not the behaviour’
What Attracted You to Your Aspie Partner? • ‘Pillar’ of the community. • Child like quality, a ‘Peter Pan’. • Creative in his/her work and good career prospects. • Similar characteristics to a parent (learned the language and culture in childhood).
What Attracted You to Your Aspie Partner? • • • • •
Humour Confident about opinions Gallant Counter-balance Kind & gentle
What Attracted You to Your Typical Partner? • • • •
Good in social situations, network of friends Accepting & listening, good to talk to Good looking Executive secretary, well organized
Other Qualities • “Someone who likes me, doesn’t want to change me” • Expressiveness and compassion • Translator of the AS point of view • A tutor in terms of what to do socially
The Social Quotient
Choice of Partner • Women with As may prefer a relationship with a man with As. • Extreme neurotypicals more likely to fall in love with an Aspie. • Adults with High Functioning Autism less likely to seek a partner.
High Functioning Autism and Celibacy • ‘Can I deal with sharing a house with someone who might possibly touch my model airplane collection?’ • ‘Model airplanes do not decide that they want to be built by someone else who is more attractive or less needy’
The development of the relationship • An initial extremely deep love for the partner with As. • In the early years of the relationship, not expecting the partner with As to know what the person is thinking or needs. • The extreme neurotypical can imagine the As perspective but the partner with As can have great difficulty imagining the NT perspective.
What signs indicated he/she was different? • Indifference e.g. early attentions in courtship stage vanished • Dominance of hobbies in time • Resist being changed • Reduction in social life • Emergence of obsessive compulsive routines • Less need for social relationship with partner
What signs indicated he/she was different? • • • • •
Different conceptualization of marriage, love Oppositional Major decisions made without consulting the partner Planning, organizing and executive secretary Not knowing what is emotionally important information for you • Needing you at home and inhibiting your social life
What is Love?
• Love is: Tolerance, non-judgemental, supportive. • Love is: A complex of beliefs that tap into our childhood languages and experiences; it is inspired when you meet someone that has a quality that maybe you admire, or do not have (admiration and respect) – or that they (someone you admire) reflects back to your ideal self – which is what you want to be or see yourself as.
• Love is: Passion, acceptance, affection, reassurance, mutual enjoyment. • Love is: What I feel for myself when I am with another person.
Aspie Partner Definitions
Aspie Partner Definitions • Love is: Helping and doing things for your lover. • Love is: An attempt to connect to the other person’s feelings and emotions. • Love is: Companionship, someone to depend on to help you in the right direction. • Love is: I have no idea what is involved. • Love is: Tolerance, loyal, allows ‘space’.
• Four aspects of love: everybody, friends, family, erotica. • Love cannot be observed. • Love is yet to be felt and experienced by myself. • What is Love? I don’t know the correct answer.
• Opening the door and letting a new world into your life, then building a new world that combines your world and their world. • Someone that will try to understand the Aspie way and still be there in the morning.
AS • • • •
Euphoric feeling without logic A good roast meal Understands needs and how you feel Looks after the kids so I can pursue my special interest
Expression of Love and Affection • To frequently re-state the obvious or known is illogical. • Overly attached or detached. • Love expressed by a practical act, such as repairing the verandah or building a new wardrobe.
Temple Grandin • My brain scan shows that some emotional circuits between the frontal cortex and the amygdala just aren’t hooked up- circuits that affect my emotions and are tied to my ability to feel love. I experience the emotion of love, but it’s not the same way that most neurotypical people do. Does this mean my love is less valuable than what other people feel?
The Effects of the Relationship on Each Partner: Neurotypical
Affection Deprivation • Fixes rather than empathizes • Love and affection as an emotional restorative. • Affection capacity (bucket or a cup).
Mirroring • ‘Mirror’ the Aspie partners behaviour, life style and thinking to survive. • Aspie is dominant in a household and infectious
• ‘I have developed into the person necessary for him” • “Take your self-confidence and energy” • “The essential me had disappeared along the way”. • “Not that something had died, but the greater tragedy is knowing that something that should, has never lived”
The Cactus and the Rose by Marguerite Long
Soft and vulnerable inside
Prickles to protect them from predators Happy in a desert Can withstand long periods of relationship ‘drought’ Do not understand that roses need rose food
Keep a distance from other plants to survive. A cactus in full bloom is magnificent and very difficult for a rose to resist
The roots must not be allowed to dry out
Needs to be in a rose garden to connect with other roses and be watered, fed and mulched. Need intimate emotional connection, communication and love Can a rose survive in a desert?
Flying • How to respond to euphoria
Aspie Partner • May also feel irritated and depressed. • Feeling of being unable to meet his or her partner’s expectations in terms of social, emotional and intimacy expectations.
Aspie Partner • • • •
Expression of inner thoughts and feelings, Coping with change, Conversation Household responsibilities from budgeting to taking care of the children.
What Strategies Strengthen the Relationship? 1. Recognition of the diagnosis. 2. Motivation of both partners to change and learn. 3. Relationship information and counselling.
Achieving a Diagnosis • Access to expertise in the diagnostic assessment of adults. • The diagnostic criteria. • Asperger Personality type.
Motivation of Both Partners to Change • Usually a greater motivation from the extreme neurotypical. • When motivated and having access to knowledge, the person with Asperger’s syndrome can change.
Relationship information and counselling. • Problems with conventional relationship counselling. • Access to expertise. • Access to literature. • www.jkp.com
Local and Internet Support Groups • ASPG in Brisbane • www.aspiepartners.com
What Strategies Strengthen the Relationship? • Support from other family members and one’s children. • Having good friends (soul mate). • Having an independent social life. • Not to feel guilty about having an alternative social life.
What Strategies Strengthen the Relationship? • An occasional escape. • A mutual understanding of two different cultures and ways of thinking. • Emotion management strategies. • Guidance in social skills. • Open and effective communication.
The Parent with Asperger’s Syndrome
Issues for the Aspie parent • Understanding natural childhood abilities and behaviour. • The role and responsibilities of being a parent. • Wants the children to succeed but using criticism not compliments.
Child’s Perception • Lack of affection, understanding, emotional support, acceptance, reassurance, encouragement. • Feel invisible or a nuisance. • High expectations. • Embarrassment in public and with friends. • Not understanding the child’s perspective.
• I almost had an Australian pen friend when I was 6 years old. I was very excited to receive a letter from the other side of the world, long before the Internet existed. I could hardly contain my excitement and couldn’t wait to write to this new friend and exchange my news. I had read the letter and wanted to answer her questions, but my mother had other ideas. ‘There are spelling mistakes in this letter, first you must correct her spelling mistakes and send the corrected letter back to her. This is how she will learn to spell’. I don’t know whether this little girl learned to spell because I never heard from her again.
Child’s Perception • Fear of the parent’s mood and not to antagonize. • The ‘cold’ touch of affection. • Affection for pets or time spent engaged in the special interest greater than for the child. • Educates rather than plays with the child.
Magnets • Two magnets - that either attract or repel each other. • Adored or despised.
• Attract: Seek affection and approval. • Seek a partner with a similar profile of abilities.
Child’s Reaction • Repel: Desire to leave home or move interstate or abroad. • Hatred. • Escape using imagination, solitude, alternative family.
Brisbane Support Group • Support group for children and teenagers with a parent who has Asperger’s syndrome • Run by the Asperger Partner’s Support Group
Experiences • My dad sometimes can be in a childish mood where he would be silly or jealous. It is very difficult for me to have to boss him around. • Controlling and anger
• Sometimes you question their love for you • Favouritism • He does not know how to join in other’s happy moments. When I shared an achievement or happy news, he would always respond with a ‘but’. Whenever there is anything exciting or enjoyable, he would take you down.
Coping • • • •
Give him the signals to show you are upset Tell my friends why he does it My dog comes to my rescue Lock myself in my room
Coping • I force him to hug me • I Know that his actions don’t always portray his love • Visiting homes of extended family and friends • Mum jumps in to back me up