Relationships Can Be An Autistic Persons Special Interest
Many autistic teens and adults are very passionate about a special interest. So, they invest an intense amount of time and energy into it. They can talk on and on about it. Often times, this extreme passion and interest extend to their relationship as well. Have you ever joked about a friend who recently fell in love and cant think about or talk about anything else? Well, thats similar to how an autistic person feels about their special interests and their love life.
Spouses Describe Their Marriages When Autism Is Involved
In a separate study, three psychologists sought to go beyond the numbers to see how parents felt about their experience, in their own words. They collected answers to open-ended questions from almost 500 parents in the United States and other English-speaking countries. Like many studies, mothers participated in far greater numbers than fathers. Their heartfelt answers affected the researchers: “It was a rich and often painful experience reading their answers to the simple question, “How has your child in the autism spectrum affected your life and your family’s life?”3
Many parents said caring for their child placed a “huge strain on the marriage.” Some said they didn’t have time for their spouse others said their husband was “in denial” about the autism diagnosis. A mom reported, “My husband experiences cycles where he actually avoids us and our home.” One parent seemed too harried to put thoughts into complete sentences, saying ” needs constant supervision, we do not have a normal life marriage is strained no time together as a couple, need respite care.” Another said, “We argue more, snap at each other more.”3
Some parents said such problems led to divorce. “Husband took off due to stress,” one mother said. “The incredible needs posed by this child cause my marriage to fail,” said another parent.3
Autism does one of two things…”
See a companion article, Stress and the Autism Parent.
How Does An Autistic Child Affect The Family
Having a child with Autism the impact on various aspects of family lives are affected including housekeeping, finances, emotional and mental health of parents, marital relationships, physical health of family members, limiting the response to the needs of other children within the family, poor sibling relationships,
Recommended Reading: Is Level 2 Autism High Functioning
Read Part 1 Of A Series On Adults With Autism: The Invisible Struggle Of People With High
They often crossed paths, but he always averted his gaze, so she seldom thought about him until a mutual friend set them up. My colleague got me to approach her, says Jake, who was not actually shy.
On their first date, they bonded over their love of food, travelling and films, and she had a good feeling.
But after that date, it was as if he didnt know how to carry on to the next one. They chatted through texts, but nothing seemed to be moving forward.
I thought if he were interested in me, hed show more interest. He was giving mixed signals. He was keeping a distance, says Amy. But I was hooked already.
Unable to tahan any more, she decided not to wait for him to make up his mind. She showed up at his place, heart in hand. He was so happy, she says.
I just became the proactive one, like I was the man, and he was the woman. He was the only guy who could make me do this.
But the rest was not yet history.
One incident has puzzled them until today. As a sweet gesture, Amy bought Jake breakfast, driving at least 20 minutes from her home in the west to him in the east. She bought two sets just in case, since she still had not figured out what he liked to eat.
I threw the breakfast in the dustbin, he says.
He had misunderstood her intentions and thought she was giving him breakfast because she had an extra set, as if he was an afterthought. I didnt want to accept this kind of thing, he says.
Jake was also a little awkward and kind of random.
Dr Robert Naseef: Overcoming Loneliness In Marriage
If there is one word that describes the reaction of a family member to the diagnosis of autism in someone you love, that word is loneliness. If this word describes you, rest assured that you are not alone in having this response. There is help available for both you and your partner. Now that autism is more widely recognized, adults and children who may not have been identified as autistic in the past are being diagnosed. This is particularly true for high-functioning autism .
There is even a website devoted to the issues faced by spouses and partners at Asperger Syndrome Partners and Individuals Resources, Encouragement & Support. There are numerous helpful articles archived there. Family and relational experiences, resources, survival tips, encouragement, and hope are offered there.
It is through this kind of sharing that many people help each other lighten the burdens of living with autism and find coping strategies and solutions for many issues in relationships. Certainly, it is not easy to bridge the communication gap that exists in everyday life. Being simultaneously relieved by the diagnosis and trapped is a treacherous dilemma.
It is also important to look at the history of your relationship. You must have had good times together and shared positive feelings about each other. Try to recapture what brought you together.
Also Check: Gestational Diabetes And Autism
Do Autistic Children Laugh
Children with autism mainly produce one sort of laughter voiced laughter, which has a tonal, song-like quality. This type of laughter is associated with positive emotions in typical controls. In the new study, researchers recorded the laughter of 15 children with autism and 15 typical children aged 8 to 10 years.
Romantic Relationships Can Be Difficult To Maneuver When Youre Dating On The Autism Spectrum
Romantic relationships are complex and confusing for neurotypical people. But, for autistic people, romantic relationships are even more complex and confusing. Many people with autism crave intimacy and love. But, they dont know how to achieve it in a romantic relationship. They can feel blind to everyday subtle social cues from their partner. This can cause conflict and hurt feelings.
Theres an old saying: Marriage is one of the hardest things youll ever do. And this really applies when you think about being in a relationship with an autistic partner. Most autistic adults that I work with tell me they are trying incredibly hard to be a good partner. I believe this! They are exhausted by the perplexing signs that their partners are giving them. It can feel like reading a book but you only get to see every 5th word. Your goal is now to understand the whole book, but you cant when you miss most of the story. Sometimes you might get the gist, but you still feel confused.
Recommended Reading: Visual Schedule Autism Free
Read: There Is Rarely A Right Time To Talk About Your Mental Health When Youre Dating But Do It Anyway
One of the key deficits they have is social communication. So when you arent able to intuitively understand how to relate to others, when everything requires rehearsal and planning, its very effortful for you to be in the company of people, she says.
Because their appearance is like a neurotypical person, you cant tell they have such difficulties. So a lot of times we might jump to the conclusion that this person was being rude.
And because of that, itd lead to misunderstandings and then fractures in relationships, which eventually would lead to a sense of loneliness.
She also cautions against assuming anyone who appears to be quirky or weird is autistic. I refrain, as far as possible, from using these terms, she says.
My angle is really about understanding what your strengths are. What are the difficulties youre currently faced with? What are some skills that you lack and perhaps need to develop? Or is it about a perspective that may not be balanced, thats contributing to certain struggles?
Routines And Rigid Thinking
When someone with autism does find someone they want to be with, however, they might find it hard to be in a relationshipand their partner might find it difficult to accommodate some of their needs.
People with autism tend to have a strong attachment to particular ways of doing and thinking about things, and it can be difficult for them to compromise or change their ways. Close relationships tend to be all about compromisewhich makes it hard for both parties when one has autism.
Petra described the problems she faced when she and her girlfriend moved in together. I loved her to bits but I absolutely hated living with her for the first year or so. She drove me mad by moving my stuff and bringing stuff that I hated into the house. I resented how she mucked up my routines. I was so agitated and overwhelmed all the time, I didnt think wed make it.
Read Also: Is Level 2 Autism High Functioning
The Autism Issues Revealed
One night while I was in agonizing prayer, God impressed upon me, Your husband is autistic. That was all He revealed. No further explanation, but that was all I needed. I started doing research on autism in marriage, and God led me to a Christian counselor named Stephanie Holmes, who helped me understand what I was experiencing.
Time To Make A Change
The years go by. The children go off to college, graduate, create their own lives. Mom couldnt be more proud of the young people they have become. She decides she can no longer survive the relationship with her husband, however. It is not unusual for women to leave these marriages once the children are at least in high school, but often the marker is when they leave the house for college. This is not an easy decision for a woman. In fact, it is brutal. And it often makes no sense to anyone who is looking in at the marriage from the outside, including the couples children. She must give up everything in order to save her sanity. Yes, it has come to that.
This woman has lost a partner, lost a marriage. She has also lost her dreams, her hopes. She has lost her fundamental sense of who she is. She has to mourn these losses. She then has to heal. And she has to re-create herself.
The woman by this time may have few friends, few confidants. She has learned to refrain from discussing her marriage difficulties, because the friends she has have always seen her husband as such a nice guy and because he is undeniably a good provider. She stopped trying to talk about it because she got tired of hearing all marriages have problems, she is expecting him to meet all her needs, which is impossible for any one person to do, and she is misinterpreting things.
Recommended Reading: Average Life Span Of Autism
The Children Are Watching
The children are watching everything, interpreting it from their limited perspective and understanding. Mommy isnt thinking of this at the time. She is not thinking the children learn how to treat their mother by observing the way their father treats her. She is operating on the assumption her children know her and love her and they see she is a good person. She is unaware that negative lifelong attitudes toward her are being formed in the young minds of the children she loves so dearly, and that these attitudes can come at her later to hurt her every bit as much as the behaviors she suffered from her husband, their fatherthe very behaviors that instilled these attitudes in the children in the first place. She is not thinking about the fact the children will likely remain unware they hold these subconscious notions regarding their mother, regarding how to treat her, regarding what she deserves. They watched how their father treated her. They learned. As adults, they may ignore their mothers feelings and question her judgment, just the way Daddy does.
Daddy doesnt agree, so he doesnt participate.
You May Like: Symmetra Hindi Voice Lines
Giving Up Sugar Tasting God’s Goodness
As a latchkey kid, Wendy Speake turned to sugar for comfort. Every Friday, she would pedal to the candy show and use her allowance to fill her bag with candy. And one day, when she was older and a mom of three young boys, she came to realize that she was still pedaling away from her stress and using sugar as comfort, instead of turning to Jesus. She was joyless, worn out, tired, and in need of a change. In this interview, Wendy will challenge Christians to take 40 days to focus on fasting from something they turn to instead of Jesus for comfort. She invited people to break free from a dependence on sugar and taste the goodness of God.
Theres No Shame In Couples Counseling
Many counselors and therapists have had clients who are in autism or Aspergers marriage, and they can help you. If you feel like youre unable to get your point across, and the person with Aspergers feels the same way, a therapist can be a solution. Aspergers isnt something one can cure, as it is a different wiring of the brain. However, you can find ways to communicate with your spouse better, and your spouse can find ways to communicate or control certain aspects of their disorder.
Sexuality On The Autism Spectrum
Autistic adults have, in general, differences in sexuality from the norm. Many more are asexual than in the average population. It is believed that there is a slightly higher pecentage of gays, lesbians, bisexual, and transgendered autistics than in the average population.
Bisexual or homosexual Aspies may find more potential for sex and/or relationships in the gay community where there is less emphasis on conformity. Girls and women who are autistic can have more chance at success in relationships, generally speaking, than men. This is due to differences in social requirements, where a man is often expected to ask a girl for a date, rather than vice versa.
Living in a society where long-time relationships and starting a family are the norm it can be very hard for socially inexperienced men with Asperger’s to find a partner and some stay away from dating for that reason.
Some of those on the autism spectrum are celibate by choice, feeling that they are asexual, or that there are more important things in life. Others have resigned themselves to celibacy due to the fact that romantic or sexual relationships can be much harder to find due to a misunderstanding of social skills and the difficulty of finding a suitable partner.
Recommended Reading: What Is The Symbol For Autism
Having An Autistic Partner
Of course, not everybody is the same, but for autistic people, things like picking up on traditional social rules and body language, understanding their own feelings, and sensory processing may not always come naturally. At times, this could lead to misunderstandings within a relationship, or you may find that your partner says or does something that is unintentionally hurtful. This can be difficult to deal with.
Having an autistic partner may mean having to help them with social interaction, particularly around unwritten social rules.
We want to stress that autistic people are just as capable of having loving and successful relationships as non-autistic people. You can read some of our stories here.
However, there may be adjustments that you need to make, such as thinking about the way youcommunicatewith your autistic partner. You may have the additional responsibility of helping them tomanage their money, employment or supporting them toadvocate.
Partners often contact us to talk about relationship strategies andother support.
It Has Been Totally Positive: The Couples Brought Together By An Autism Diagnosis
When one partner in a relationship learns they are autistic, it can explain years of frustration and confusion. And, for many, the knowledge makes their bond stronger than ever
When their children were young, Karen and David took them to a noisy restaurant. Their two-year-old daughter was being loud and excitable, as toddlers tend to be, and David suddenly got up and walked out. There were many incidents like that during their first 12 years of marriage, which would often leave David feeling frustrated, and Karen sad, lonely and confused.
Then, when their son was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder the term now widely used for all autism diagnoses, including Asperger syndrome it became clear that David had the condition, too. Eventually, he had a formal diagnosis. Their marriage is much happier. I am now much better equipped to understand why I may find neurotypical relationships so confusing, says David, and it has been the foundation of improving my relationship with Karen.
Karen says she often used to feel exasperated by Davids mood swings and what she saw as his tendency to blow small problems out of proportion. I couldnt understand it because he was the most loving, generous person much of the time.
Thanks to the diagnosis, after 12 years of not understanding each other, I started to see that he couldnt help his behaviour. He wasnt a bad person.
Read Also: Low Functioning Autism Definition
The Signs And Symptoms Of Autism In Marriage
Autism, largely a social learning disorder, impaired my husbands ability to start, keep and maintain a relationship, explained Holmes. Communication is usually why many couples come to counseling, she shared. But in this dynamic one partner literally has a disability in understanding context, tone, facial expressions, nonverbal communication and often lacks expressiveness or the ability to modulate tone or volume in everyday situations. Beyond this, they also often have restrictive interests, patterns or routines. Whats more, the autistic partner experiences meltdowns that look like rage if the routine is changed or time is cut short from the interest. The neurotypical spouse experiences painful loneliness because the spouse with autism would rather be doing something with the interest than with him or her.