Monday, December 5, 2011

Water Torture

It's like water torture.

Yep, we hit a bad spell again.  Where I feel like the beat up sick guy in the ditch and he's the guy who walks right past without offering to help.  He was most certainly NOT the good Samaritan this weekend.

What did he do wrong?

It's what he doesn't do that hurts.  That grieves.  That kills.

Head held under water...feeling like you're gonna drown.  Uh huh, the pressure is awful and you think you're gonna die.  Then head up for air.  GULP in that air.  Breathe it in hard and deep cuz you'll be put back under again. 

When?  You never know.  Just be prepared at all times.

Breathing deeply today.  Filling up my lungs, my heart, my soul.

I hate water torture. 

God, help me to suffer well.  Help me to run this race and hear "well done" at the end.

"To live is Christ.  To die is gain."


Thursday, December 1, 2011

When He Won't Acknowledge He Has Asperger's

It's been a couple of years now, and my aspie spouse still won't read anything about asperger's syndrome.  I recently asked him if his mom, his sister, his wife, and a psychologist all told him they believe he has asperger's syndrome . . . would he believe it?  You know what he said?

 "Probably not."

Well, alrighty then!  So . . . that leaves me where?  Right where I've always been.  Reading, researching, doing all I can to communicate as best I can.  It's all on me.  As it's always been.


Big Sigh.

I'm learning to take this one day at a time.  One issue at a time.  The big picture is overwhelming, I know.  But at this exact moment, I'm doing okay.  Live moment by moment, ladies!  That's the best advice I can give you (or anyone, really).

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Good Progress Report to Share!

Okay.  Nice to have a little something positive to share about progress in an NT/AS relationship:

First the bad news, or I should say the 'typical scenario' that occurred recently . . . NT wife was bedridden with an illness.  AS spouse did not once, all day, check in on NT wife.  Did not once ask if she needed medicine, food, or even a sip of water.

Good news . . . instead of being overcome with anger and flooded by tears, NT wife was fairly emotionless (wow) and calmly and rationally went to AS spouse and said something along these lines:

I am really sad and feel very hurt that while I was so sick and in so much pain you went all day without even once checking to see how I was doing or if I needed medicine or even water.  It also hurt me that when I told you I didn't feel well the first thing you did was act frustrated that I was messing up your plans for the day.  You didn't ask questions or try to find out exactly what was wrong or how I was feeling.  That is very unkind and unloving of you.

Now, if it isn't amazing enough that NT wife was not YELLING and crying while she said these things . . . hold on to your hats folks, because a miracle occurred when AS spouse replied with the words, and I quote:

"I'm sorry."

Miracle of miracles!  Wham, Bam, Ala Ka Zam!  And that's all he said!  He didn't get defensive and make excuses and make it all about him and his frustration.  He shut the heck up after saying "I'm sorry."


Yes, I'm in shock.  No, I never thought I'd see the day.  Please, God, let this not be a one-time event.  Please, please let this be real, sustainable progress in an NT/AS relationship.

Can I hear an "amen?"


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

It's Not About You. It's About Autism!

This is turning out to be a very Word "Full" Wednesday . . . thanks for all your comments everyone!

So here's the other Big Thing about all this we've been discussing in the comments lately.

If "autism" is allowed to be this separate entity, if you will . . . this abnormality/damage/handicap of the brain . . . . then when we NTs share our frustrations, it is NOT "all about you, the aspie."

It's our struggle with autism.  It's our struggle with the differences and frustrations that come from AUTISM.  It's not about YOU.

We may believe you to be kind, loyal, brilliant, handsome, and the man of our dreams.  But sometimes we get frustrated and upset by the different way you think and act.  We get frustrated by the brain differences that come from autism.  And we try to explain to you our frustrations.  And then you act irritated with us for doing so.

So do you want us to act like everything is okay?  Do you want us to suppress sobs in the closet?  Or are your our soul-mate, our spouse for life, the best friend we should confide everything in?  Can you please make it safe for us to share?  To share what upsets us?  To share our feelings in safety (this means you will listen and love us gently without being defensive)?

For the aspies reading this . . . let's say your NT spouse is taking a medication that alters her mental functioning.  It makes her forgetful and disoriented like an alzheimer's patient, at times.  Sometimes it makes her aggressive and hostile.  NOW.  She CANNOT HELP these things.  She can struggle against them, but her brain is affected by the meds.  And it is very, very difficult for you to live with.  It is frustrating and painful to you sometimes.

Say that you want to try to explain to her what is frustrating you.  Should she get defensive?  Like you are attacking who she is?  It's the medicine.  It's not "her."  It's okay for you to discuss with her what is difficult for you.  And she can say "I'm sorry."

This is where it helps you to separate who you are from the autism that affects your brain.  This is where you should say "I'm sorry" without getting defensive.

IT HURTS us.  "It" hurts us.

And we NTs want to talk it out, explain our feelings and emotional grief.  And we want a hug, a listening ear, and to hear "I'm sorry."

That's what we're missing.  And that's what we need to be happy.

It's Not About You. It's About ME!

One of the most frustrating things in trying to communicate with aspies is the inability to share your feelings and perspective without the aspie getting defensive.

If I attempt to share my internal struggles, instead of listening and acting like my pain matters to him, he focuses on what my pain says about him.  But there are times when emotional sharing is not about him.  It's about me.

So, aspie friends, if I share how difficult something is . . . accept that it has nothing to do with you for a moment.  It has to do with me.  It has to do with a personal, internal, emotional pain.  That I am trying to work out and deal with, both for my own happiness and yours, too.  That's what we NTs do, ya know.  We talk it out, we write it out, we work it out, out loud (sometimes).  Just listen.  And nod.  And hug.  And don't respond as if you've been attacked. 

Because for a little while, it's just about us, okay?

It's not about you. 

If you think it is about you and you think we're telling you how horrible you are . . . KILL YOUR PRIDE for a moment and just say "I'm SORRY." You don't have to mean that you're sorry for being at fault when you don't think you are at fault.  Just say the words "I'm sorry" and think to yourself that you are sorry that the person is unhappy.  That's all you have to mean when you say it.  Can you do that?  Forget about it being about you to any degree.  Think about the other person's obvious unhappiness at that moment and be sorry for them.

That's ALL you have to do.  That's all you should ever say in that scenario.  You have the power to make the NT feel better, be happier, and love you more, just by saying the words "I'm sorry" when they are unhappy or upset.  Try it!  They are the ultimate magic words.

And I think that is the absolute hardest thing in the world for an aspie.  To do.  Or to say.

"They Have Such a Great Marriage!"

"A Great Marriage"

Yep, I said those very words about an NT/AS couple I know.  Years ago, I said that my goal in life was to have a marriage JUST LIKE that couple.

I've heard others use those words about an AS/AS couple I know.  I've heard others talk about my own (NT/AS) marriage the same way as well.  We have SUCH a "great" marriage.  That's how it looks from the outside.  That's what (almost) everyone who knows us thinks.

And it does look good.  And in a literal, practical, almost sterile way . . . it is good.  The perfect team.  Co-workers for a common goal.  Such a hardworking, like-minded, pleasant, and kind couple.  Beautiful kids.  Nice house.  Hospitable family.  Ideal life.  I'm realizing there are LOTS of families that look like ours.  Functioning smoothly and pleasantly.

But with some serious and intense scrutiny you may find that one of the couple is an NT and the other is an aspie.  And though their life is "beautiful" . . . the NT has a deep sadness and lacks emotional connection in their marriage.

Now here's the deal.  There is a lot of good.  Try not to forget the good.  Make a list of things you can be thankful for and reflect on that list periodically.  There IS some good in your life!

This blog is about one Christian woman's personal struggle as an NT who is married to a man with aspergers.  It delves deep into that struggle.  And it shares what makes things better and easier for this one woman.  It is shared with the hope of letting others know they are not alone on the journey. 

Most NT spouses of aspies bash, berate, and tell others to leave.  But my goal is to stay.  I try hard not to "bash" but I do share my pain.  It is difficult to love difficult people.  I don't pretend that it is easy to love aspies.  But I am trying to love them as best I can.  Because I believe difficult people should also be loved.

If this blog gives anyone even a tiny bit of help and hope, then the time and effort has not been wasted.  Occasionally I sign in, often after a long absence, seriously planning to hit the "Delete This Blog" button, but I see that a comment has just been posted saying how encouraged someone is to keep working and keep loving their aspie partner.  Sometimes it has served as the little boost an NT needed to not give up, and to not feel so alone.

So I'm still here.  And I hope you are encouraged.

You are most definitely NOT alone.

Monday, November 14, 2011

FLIP SIDE: In Sickness and For Worse

This is a follow-up post to "In Sickness and For Worse":

Keep in mind that one of your aspie's best traits is his/her loyalty to you.

If you are injured in a car wreck or one day have brain cancer, become brain damaged, and are then just not yourself for the rest of your life . . . your aspie would stick by you.  She/he would keep her vow to stay with you when many NTs wouldn't.  Many NTs would run and leave you all alone.

Your aspie is likely very faithful and loyal. We should learn this great trait from them. 

It is worthy of honor.

In Sickness and For Worse

If you are not a person of faith, this post does not apply to you.  It is meant for Christians and may also apply to those who strongly believe they should keep vows and promises.

I am saddened by the breakup of two NT/AS marriages I've read about recently.  These were aspies who were very self-aware.  These aspies worked very hard to make their marriages work.  And the NT left them.  Now, I admit that if one is not a person of faith, I honestly don't know why the NT stayed as long as they did.  If all one cares about is personal happiness in this life . . . "GET OUT NOW!" would be my advice in a heartbeat.

But I am a person of faith.  I believe vows before God and promises to others should be kept. That doesn't mean it's easy to stay in an NT/AS marriage.  In fact, it's beyond difficult.  It's painful.  It's gut-wrenching agony sometimes.  Sometimes it just sucks.  It really does! 

And aspies are shooting themselves in the foot when they claim that autism is not a disability or a handicap.  Their partners are leaving them left and right because if this is not a handicap/disability or at least recognized as a serious hardship on others, then the aspie is just a jerk or a bitch much of the time, okay?  Aspie friends, if this is acknowledged as a brain abnormality, a disability, a handicap . . .  you will get more compassion from your NT spouse!! 

But of course, the aspie fights these terms.  Because the aspie cannot and does not realize it will help SOMEONE ELSE'S perspective and thus someone else's actions towards them!  They're not gonna get it!  And their partners will leave them, left and right.  Is that what you guys want?  Okay, you got it.  Enjoy life alone.  Is that what you REALLY want?!?

As for the NT spouses who are keeping their vows in sickness and for worse:  Think of this as sickness.  You know it's "for worse" already.  Think about your spouse as a handicapped person.  Think of them as having been in a car accident, or having gone through brain cancer and then brain surgery.  And they came out alive, but not quite themselves.  Their brains are altered and damaged to some degree.  This degree of damage causes much anguish for you, the caregiving spouse.  But they need you, and you promised to be there for them.

It helps to think this way.  What sucks is that you're the only one who knows that they are damaged.  Others think they are fine.  You are the compassionate, giving, stretched-thin, miserable and lonely caregiver and many times no one in the world knows what you suffer.  Which compounds the loneliness a hundredfold.

But you are not alone.  NT spouses all over the world know exactly how you feel.  Support groups would be invaluable for us, but they are incredibly rare at this time.  Ultimately though, you are not alone if you are a Christian.  Your help comes from the Lord.  And that should be, and can be . . . enough.

He gave you this.  He brought you two together.  He is allowing you to suffer.  He wants you to need Him, to go to Him, to depend and rely on Him alone to meet your needs.  He is waiting for you and promises to draw near to those who draw near to Him.

Something we NTs can learn from the aspie in this scenario is to do our work with an intrinsic motivation.  We can learn from their example not to strive for man's approval and adulation and commendation.  We shouldn't need others to pat our backs and tell us what a good job we are doing caregiving our disabled spouse.  We should love and live and give our lives for others as unto the Lord, and not unto man.

We are learning these things because of the suffering we experience in our NT/AS marriages.  We can become better people, better Christians, because of our troubles and toil in these marriages

Change your thinking. Focus on these truths.  Take heart. 

And don't give up.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Warning Against Temptation

You know how you can exchange a quick look and smile over small talk with the UPS man, or the guy in the elevator, or a male friend you are chatting with and you are struck with what it feels like to emotionally connect?  And I don't mean anything inappropriate here.  But you realize in those glances how that most basic NT connection is absent from your NT/AS relationship.

Please carefully reflect and take those glances as a warning to put a hedge around yourself to protect you from temptation.  I have heard that Bill y Gra ham made a point of never being alone with a woman other than his wife.  Never alone behind a closed door or in a car.  He never allowed for a scenario that could lead to adultery.  He created strict rules to protect himself even from the slightest appearance of evil.  Such a godly and wise man!

Aspie spouses are especially vulnerable to quickly develop an emotional attachment that is very inappropriate for a married person.  You are so weak in this area that you could let those glances lead to deep sharing and voila . . . you are involved in an adulterous affair before you know what happened.  It starts out as an emotional "affair."  And that is also adulterous in nature.

All of this to say beware.  Hedge yourself safely.  Make what seem like crazy rules that will protect you in your vulnerability.  Don't be alone (even in a crowd, really) with an NT guy.  If thrown into that scenario, be sure not to share much, and get away as quickly as you can.  You are way too lonely and weak to walk through that kind of fire and not get burned.  Talk with a friend of the same gender!  Pay a counselor if you have to.  But don't glance too long or share much at all with any NT male.  Only share your emotions, personal thoughts, etc. with a friend of the SAME GENDER.  It's a RULE, okay?  Make it a Law for yourself if you are married to an aspie.

You are the "weak woman who could be led astray by diverse temptations" as it says in Scripture.  (Or, if you are the NT male, read through Proverbs for numerous warnings against adultery and adulterous women--you are an easy target for them, ya know!)  Be careful. 

Be very, very, very careful.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Getting What You Deserve

You'd probably start throwing rotten fruit if someone told you that in marriage you get what you deserve.  But I think it's worth considering.

You were attracted for a reason.  You connected for a reason.  The person was attracted to you for a reason.  You, at one time, believed you had found your equal, the perfect partner for life. 

Now that is a lot to consider. 

If you really look back at your family of origin and extended family, or maybe even to marriages or people who had a powerful influence on you . . . I bet you'll see some autistic traits in those folks.  It's probable that autism (even though undiagnosed) was a shaping factor in your development.  You are drawn to what is familiar to you.  Look hard.  I bet you find something you weren't expecting.

Not only are you drawn to what is familiar to you, but you might even have some (however mild) aspergerish traits yourself.  Think hard.

While dating, NTs of the opposite sex may have seemed too emotional, weak, changeable, or may not have seemed quite smart enough to you.  Think about it.  Were you either not attracted or even a little bit frightened by the devotion/attention NTs may have shown you prior to meeting your aspie spouse?

And then you met him and everything clicked.  He fit the checklist.  He didn't scare you away.  Hmmmmm.......?

Now.  You're married.  For a reason.  You fit with this particular guy.  You fit with this particular, peculiar asperger guy.  Okay? 

Am I saying you got what you deserve?  Well, I'm saying you got what you wanted from the first. 

And you got what God  designed especially for you, as part of His perfect plan, which includes how you were created yourself (both by nature and nurture in your growing up years).  And as far as shaping those character issues in yourself that need the most work . . . are you seeing some stuff you didn't realize was there thanks to that aspie guy you married?  Eh?  So in God's plan, you got what you needed

Deep breath.  So much growth and positive steps can happen once all of this is contemplated and embraced.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Just Accept It, Even If It Doesn't Make Sense, Okay?

Okay, aspie friends, we come to an impasse over and over again.  We explain something you can do to help our relationship.  Something you can do that will make us feel better, that will make us happier.

But it doesn't make sense to you.  So you don't do it.

And then we get mad.  And that anger takes root and turns into bitterness.  And then we start to really, really hate you.  Sad, but true.  And yes, that anger/bitterness/hatred part is something we have to work out ourselves, apart from you.  It's an internal struggle.

But there are things you can do to make that root disappear more easily and more quickly.  There are things you could have done to prevent it from growing so quickly and strongly in the first place.  You watered it.  You helped it flourish.  We are responsible, ultimately, for it.  But you played a part, however unknowingly.

When we tell you what is important to us, please (for the sake of our happiness as well as your own):


Accept that we NTs aren't going to make sense.  Accept that when we say something is important to us, IT IS IMPORTANT, even if it is "senseless" to you.

Small talk.  Hugs.  Flowers.  Diamonds.  A pet. 

Our dreams.  Our fears.  Our happiness.  Our tears.

They matter.  Take note.  Remember.  And act on it.

Last night my aspie husband brought home a large plastic tarantula.  And I am hurt.  Deeply, deeply hurt.  It just makes me ill.  I am severely arachniphobic and for all of their lives my children (at least they remember!) know I have "banned" any toy spiders from entering this house, and all of sudden he just 'forgets' that?  I take this as him forgetting who I am.  Forgetting what matters to me.  Forgetting to think about me.  Forgetting to love me.

You can explain away the aspie brain all you want.  It still HURTS MY FEELINGS and was a careless, insensitive, and thoughtless thing to do.   He wasn't thinking about me at all.

Whether purposeful or not, it was an UNLOVING thing to do.

And things like this are par for the course in an NT/AS marriage.

And so I struggle and work on forgiving him and getting over my hurt.  And he?  Well, he brushes it off as ridiculous because "that doesn't make sense."  It's a senseless thing to get upset over, he thinks.

Who's doing all the work now?  Where's the one-sidedness now? 

Just accept it when we tell you something is important.  Please.


Friday, October 28, 2011

Tips for the Aspie Female

What I Wish My Aspie Girlfriends Knew About Friendship

1.  I wish all aspies would read Dale Carnegie's How To Win Friends and Influence People.  And take notes.  And work on applying what they read.

Applying the principles in Carnegie's book will draw people to you. It teaches you how to show interest in another person. It focuses on making the other person feel appreciated. It teaches you to shut up and listen. And to ask questions about what someone else is interested in. People are by nature very interested in themselves. So if you act sincerely interested in them, you will be showered with attention.  People will like to be around you!  But a meaningful female friendship takes even more to sustain than Carnegie's book delves into (it was written by a man, you know). 

2.  I wish my aspie girl friends would accept that a close friendship involves mutual sharing.  This is give and take.  This includes asking about the feelings of others.  It also includes sharing your own feelings.  But maybe feelings talk is beyond you.  Okay.  Mutual sharing of some sort is still required.  At least habitually ask something about others.  And habitually share at least a little something about yourself.

Some of my aspie girl friends never ask anything about me.  They talk about topics of interest (that is, topics of interest to them), but never ask about my life, my thoughts, my health, anything.  These are very superficial companions--and it is very hard to feel close to these aspies.

And then I have a few aspie girl friends who ask a lot of questions about my family, my health (no, not about my feelings--are you kidding?), but do not share anything about themselves.  This gets old.  Because friendship should be give and take.  Give of yourself by asking about others, yes.  But the give also involves letting the other person "in" to your life/thoughts/feelings as well. Because too much "giving" of yourself in the realm of mere asking about others . . . can seem like "taking" too much from the other person.

The asker-only aspie can come across as an intense counselor or may even make the NT feel as if she is standing before the Inquisition.  It can be downright frightening at times to be the "special interest" and focus of a female aspie!  These are often the aspie females who will never respond to your questions via email, either.  "How are you?  What did the doctor say?  Are you okay?"  C'mon, aspie girls.  If someone asks you a question it means they care about you.  Please make the time to answer it.  Answering questions about yourself and voluntarily sharing at least a little something about yourself (on a regular basis) is necessary fodder for a solid female friendship.

Sound tricky and confusing and way too difficult?  Not to an NT.  It comes naturally.  Your turn, my turn.  You share, now I share.  I give, now you give.  It's a dance and NTs assimilate this naturally on the playground as wee bairns [children].

If you truly care (and you keep saying that you do) about sustaining friendships with other females, it will take very hard work.  Stop throwing your hands in the air and whining about how you always try and it never works.  Keep trying and keep working.  Read books on friendship. Get interested in the study of friendship.  Make it a scientific research project and determine to master this subject area with the dedication of a PhD student completing a thesis.   Ask questions about others.  Respond to questions via email (quickly).  And share a little something about yourself.  And keep doing all of these things.  Over and over again. 

You can do it.  And we can be friends.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

When Your Girlfriend Has Asperger's Syndrome

(By "girlfriend" I am simply referring to any aspie female friend.) 

I am the wife of a man with asperger's, but I am friends with many females who have strong aspie traits.  And the same lessons learned in an asperger marriage apply in relationships with aspie females.  You gotta be prepared for some things.  You must drop those expectations that they will act like your typical girlfriend!

1.  If you need a shoulder to cry on, the aspie female is not the one you should call.  She might get V E R Y uncomfortable seeing your tears.  And then you might get very hurt that she is just sitting there staring at you as you pour heart out.  If you need emotional support, be sure to call someone else who will be higher on the empathy scale.

2.  But the aspie female is likely VERY loyal and ready and willing to offer practical help to you, even when no one else will  . . . . if you clearly ask and spell out exactly what would be helpful.  She wants to help, but seriously doesn't have (forgive me, but it's true) the common sense to know what to jump in and do to help.

3.  She might not respond to your attempts to stay in touch.  She may have "always been there for you" when she lived down the street, but if one of you moves away, you may rarely hear from her.  It doesn't mean she doesn't deeply care about you.  But the idea of a friend or family member "being close" may be taken literally. (Example:  "you're close to people you see often because they live close to you.")  The idea of emotional closeness is not easily understood by the aspie.  And knowing what it takes to sustain a long distance relationship long term?  That may be a one-way, very determined effort on your part.

4.  Disagreements or conflict of any kind could rapidly destroy the relationship.  If you ever try to address something the aspie female does that is upsetting you, she will likely feel attacked and may get overly emotional.  "You don't like me/love me!  You hate me!  You don't appreciate or admire me anymore!"  She won't be able to see that she is not considering your feelings.  Trying to get her to see your perspective is really rather pointless.  You have to drop that attempt at resolution 'by talking it out' as you do with other NT women.  The bottom line is, the aspie female just wants you to be cheerful and kind and patiently forbear with anything and everything she does, even when you are annoyed as hell by her behavior/habit/etc.  How what she does/says affects you is entirely beside the point!  And this being so, few female aspies are able to sustain friendships with NT women.  It will take unrelenting effort on the part of the NT to make a relationship with an aspie female survive.

5.  But when it comes to shared hobbies, similar areas of interest, and like minded ideas . . . you can have the best, most interesting and fascinating companion to hang out with.  The devotion and focus toward the shared interest will make discussions and outings fun, fun, fun.  Do you both love running?  Bridge? Sewing? Movies? With any activity that centers around a shared special interest, you may find you always have an eager girlfriend to join you!  And that can be a really wonderful thing.

Maintaining a relationship with a female aspie will be a lot of work.  There are expectations that must be dropped.  Do not expect empathy and remember she is NOT the best shoulder to cry on.  But know you may have the strongest loyalty you have ever known.  And you will have a knowledgeable and focused companion during outings that revolve around a shared special interest. 

I love my aspie girl friends and enjoy their company very much!  Easy?  No.  Worth the effort?  Definitely, yes.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

"What the . . . huh?!"

Just when everything has been fine and dandy for a while, a "What the . . . huh?!" moment comes along and knocks you on your rear.

Cuz you did it again.  Your feelings were hurt and you thought he would care that your feelings were hurt.  Ya Big Dummy.  How could you forget like that?  He doesn't give a rat's be-hind about your feelings.  You know that.  C'mon.  You've been told a gazillion times.  When will you ever learn?

But seriously.  It hurts like the dickens, doesn't it?  "What the . . . huh?!" moments are all too frequent in an NT/AS relationship.  And they recur.  No matter how long it's been since the last time it happened, it comes back.  And it hurts.  It's the nature of the beast.  It's self-centered.  "It's all about him/her (the aspie)."  It's never about your feelings.  Your feelings simply do not matter.  All that matters is your smiling, unemotional acceptance of everything life throws your way.

And you forgot again.  You made an attempt to explain why you felt the way you did.  You attempted to share a piece of your heart with him.  But it's just not about you, ya know.  It's only about him!  He doesn't listen or try to understand the feelings-talk.  He gets defensive and feels attacked.  "So it's all my fault?!" is his response to everything you say.  "Damn, you big jerk!" you want to scream back at him.  "Would you just hear that I am in pain and act, even just act, like you care?" 

But I'm not being fair. The rational, logical part of me knows that.  This pain, at its root, is caused by his autism.  He does care about me.  If I have a broken leg, he comprehends that and will even perform acts of kindness that show he cares.  His brain just doesn't comprehend empathy for my feelings.  He doesn't "get it."  And he can't.  And I shouldn't expect him to.

The best analogy I have ever read was on a forum post by cmasp on leprosy.  Leprosy prevents a person from feeling pain.  And so a leper can put their hand into boiling water and not take it out, thus resulting in serious injury.  You can explain PAIN to a leper, but they cannot know what it feels like.  They can be taught to take a hurting person pain medicine, but they don't truly understand.  And the aspie can be taught ways to respond to you, but he isn't going to understand--deeply understand--what you are expecting from him in the realm of empathy.

And so the cycle continues.  I expect the impossible.  I get hurt.  I try to share my hurt and he gets defensive.  Will it never end?  I despair.

But love always hopes.  And God "opens the eyes of the blind."  I believe that.  Maybe, just maybe, I need to quit seeing him as the only one who is blind in this relationship.  Maybe I should hope that God would open my eyes to the wonder of His creating us male and female, autistic and neurotypical.  Maybe I should start hoping that I will rejoice more in these trials that bear the good fruit of making me less selfish, more patient, more tolerant, and more kind.

Maybe if I change what I hope for I'll have less "What the . . . huh?!" moments in this NT/AS relationship.


Let's hope!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Still Here

Thanks for the comments I have been so remiss in posting!  I'm still here.  Physical ailments have hit hard lately.  It's been helpful to see my physical weakness right now as equal to my aspie's neurological weakness.  I simply cannot physically do much of the work I had been doing.  And he simply CANNOT be an emotional/spiritual support to me.  We each have serious limitations!  Recognizing that and accepting it and dropping those darned expectations for him to do and be otherwise is So Very Important.

Neither is better or worse than the other.  Each are flawed and weak in some way.  Each has a job to do and these roles can be a complement to each other.  And when these two weak and flawed humans work hard in their areas of respective strengths, they can make for one very productive team.

Doesn't mean it's easy or fun, but it's funny how being totally weak can help us see such strength in others.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Thursday, July 28, 2011

NT/AS compared to NT/AL-Z!

Just had a Lightbulb Moment.  Only scratching the surface of this and plan to dig deeper here as I am able: 

But here's the thought:  We aspie wives probably have much in common with wives of men who have Alzheimer's  !

A few similarities:
1.  Many of us know something is not working typically in our spouse's neurology, and yet we are NOT able to drop our expectations for our spouse to act typically.
2.  They don't really know us.  They can be kind and do things that are asked of them.  But they don't really know who we are.
3.  The odd ways and strange little things they do tend to add up and drive us batty.
4.  We are caregivers in need of support and a respite.

Maybe we've been scuba diving for coping strategies in waters that haven't been chartered yet.  Maybe it is the spouses of alzheimers patients who have the most wisdom to share with aspergers syndrome spouses.  Same water.  Different boat.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Frankly, My Dear . . .

So a bit of clarification on "not giving a damn."

It's not okay to not give a damn about another human being as a human being.  It's not okay to wish he would go skydiving without a parachute.  That's not okay.  Jesus says hate is the same as murder and murderers will not enter the kingdom of heaven.  Hate is not consistent with Christianity and one who hates is deserving of hell.  When you have hateful thoughts, quickly grab them, throw them to the ground, kill them, confess to God and thank God that through the blood of Christ you have forgiveness and can enter heaven, even though you are a wretched sinner and daily prove that to be the case.

I'll stop the sermonette now.  :)

But it is okay and in fact, probably necessary for an aspie's spouse to not give a damn what her aspie spouse thinks of her.  Because if she is needing his appreciation, admiration, adoration, consideration, she ain't gonna get it.

She must learn to absolutely totally not care at all what he is thinking, or as is more often the case, what he is NOT thinking, about her.

Love God, and live for His glory.  Seek His pleasure and work unto His glory and honor.  Your aspie spouse will benefit from your living for God.  And so will you.

Need people less, love people more.  Fight against the "fear of man."  Stop "people-pleasing."  Stop thinking or caring what anyone (even your spouse) is thinking or not thinking about you.  Just stop.

When you are tempted to dwell on others' good opinion or thoughts of you, say to yourself "I just don't give a damn."

And then look upward in serving and loving God.  And look outward so that you can see the needs around you and strive to love others more.

Those are the only things in life Christians should really give a damn about anyway.

The Aspie Caregiver and Chronic Illness

I keep reading comments on blogs and forums posted by aspie spouses who suffer from chronic illnesses.  If there are studies that have researched this I'd like to know more.

Caregivers who don't take care of themselves can suffer physically as well as mentally and emotionally.  Not resting enough, not eating well enough, not exercising...all these play a part in deterioration of health.

And then there is the lack of empathy issue when one is suffering.

"I'm tired." I say.  Aspie spouse responds "But you just got up."  I'm tired mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually!  Just because I am standing and walking around and YOU CANNOT PHYSICALLY SEE MY TIREDNESS doesn't mean I am not tired!

My child says "my head and throat hurt so bad!"  Aspie father says "I think you're fine."  Just because he is walking around and not vomiting doesn't mean he is not sick!

And so we learn, sad as this is, pathetic as this is, we learn that in order for him to recognize that we are not well enough to do work around the house/go to school/whatever he is requiring of us, we must not get out of bed.  We must be sure to LOOK physically sick or else we "most certainly are not sick."

And so we learn to stay in bed, exaggerating the look of our illness in order to get the most miniscule hint of understanding that we are not feeling well.  We do this so too much won't be demanded of our weakened systems.  And then we aren't getting the exercise we need and we are not eating well enough and are not taking care of ourselves in any other way.  It's self-preservation that barely preserves.

And chronic illness may be common for those who live with aspies. 

You don't say.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Putting Your Own Oxygen Mask On (first)

And a unique component to being caregiver to this particular 'disability' (let's call it that for the purpose of this post, at least), is that few, if any, others even know you are in this role.  Most caregivers are given encouragement and help from others.  Meals are brought.  Doors are opened.  Help is offered.

But not when dealing with this 'invisible' handicap/disability.  You are alone.  And the person you are caring for doesn't have a clue how much you are struggling and how hard you are working.  He doesn't comprehend that you need a break.  He doesn't understand the effort required just to get through the day.

We have multiple, serious problems going on in our lives right now.  So serious that friends are bringing meals and offering to help.  They see the external issues, and yes, they are very difficult.  But those issues are a drop in the bucket to this silent, invisible burden that I carry all alone.  While friends are offering sympathy and support during these trials we are facing, my aspie spouse is as he always is.  Completely detached and unaware of any emotional needs his wife may have.  But right now she needs emotional help and encouragement more than ever before in her life!  (Big Scream, Uncontrollable Sobs.)

As all of the pressures have been building and building and the lack of sleep (for me, that is, he sleeps through anything) adding up to where I can barely walk straight from exhaustion, he sees me lying down and says "What's wrong?"  I've learned the only 'safe' answer to that is 'I'm tired.'  This time that tiny part of me that tries to never completely give up hope that he could one day empathize took over and I actually said 'I'm exhausted'.  His response "Well, I've got to go to work."  Just a 30 minute nap while he watched the children could've rejuvenated me enough to function better the rest of the day. (I know, I should've said as much.  But in this state, I am unable to think logically and clearly.  I just needed some expression of understanding and help!)

OK, I think.  So maybe I can rest when he gets home.  He feels he has to go to work (though he has many weeks of unused vacation hours built up!), but when he gets home he will remember I am suffering right now and could use a break. Once home, he never once asks how I'm doing.  Around 9p I ask him to do the dishes and get the kids in bed because I desperately need to get some sleep (hoping for the first solid night's sleep in well over a week).  He argued, acted disgusted, glared, and grumbled.  There was not one inkling of empathy in his response.

Normally I am overcome with guilt and would work despite my weakness and exhaustion, but this time I went to bed.  If he can't take care of his wife when she is nearing nervous and physical breakdown then I'm going to have to take care of myself and not give a damn what he thinks about it.

Sorry for the negativity.  I'm at a very low point right now overall.  :(

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Breathe Deeply

One of the workshops I attended this year at a large autism conference was "Caring for the Caregiver."  It was an accepted fact that parents of autistic children are drained, much as any caregiver of any disabled or handicapped person is.  Such folks are in a role with high demands placed on them and are in need of encouragement and a respite.  But hear an NT spouse use the word 'disabled' in reference to her aspie husband and more often than not she gets attacked--not encouraged.

An aspie spouse is an aspie child who has grown up.  And just as an aspie's mother is his caregiver when he is young, an aspie's spouse is oftentimes in the role of caregiver in their marriage.  And she  (or he) gets drained.

But currently there are very few (if any) workshops given specific to her filling that particular role.  So it's important to allow yourself to call it what it is and seek the kind of support any other caregiver of a disabled person would need.

The most important thing I learned from the workshop was that I must BREATHE DEEPLY.  Literally.  The medical doctor giving the lecture taught the following:  "Fill your abdomen with a deep breath as you count to three.   Then let it out slowly as you count to six."  This really helps body and mind and soul to relax.

Remember the instructions given on an airplane in case of an emergency:

"Put on your own oxygen mask first." Only then can you properly care for those who need so much from you.

Sometimes life feels like One Big Emergency in an NT/AS relationship, doesn't it.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Unbalanced Criticism

And my previous post leads me to ponder the criticism issue.  It's not that I hear an abundance of criticism.  Overall the problem is, of course, the communication deficit.  Because of the extreme deficit in the area of my aspie spouse giving compliments or praise, it seems as if any verbal remarks made to or about me are usually a criticism.

In "How to Win Friends and Influence People", one learns to balance criticism by first offering compliments or sincere words of praise.  In an NT/AS relationship, this probably isn't the way it's done.

The NT rarely hears praise or compliments from her aspergers relatives.  She is probably not acknowledged with positive verbal remarks or personal knowledge or appreciation of her character, personality, or any aspects of her humanity, for that matter.  So when she is then verbally criticized for something she thinks, did, or is . . . well, you can imagine the feelings this would invoke.

It's just a ranting day, I'm afraid.  I might delete these rants in a minute, but sometimes it's helpful to simply share raw, honest emotions.

The Flip Side of Theory of Mind

Last night I was criticized yet again for not doing something to the letter in the way my aspie spouse was thinking it should be done.  He didn't speak his thoughts or ask for things to be done a specific way.  Why would he?  Because his thoughts are the only possible, plausible, or potential way something should have been done.  And how could I not get that?  Huh?  What planet did I come from?  I should just know what he was thinking.  Oh my.

There was no thought of saying or sharing his thoughts out loud with me.  And I can explain until I am blue in the face why it is good and necessary to use verbal communication to convey one's thoughts on any given matter and he will argue incessantly that I should just know.

Moments like this leave me wanting to  . . . . I don't even know.  It's insane and I can't even explain how INSANE it is.  But other aspie's wives know what I'm talking about, don't you?

OK... as I'm writing this I'm realizing how some aspies must feel in the expectations we have of them to, for example, give us a hug rather than walk away when we are crying.  Our aspie spouses can't read our minds either-- even in the most basic of common sense situations.

But then our aspie spouse may expect us to read his mind about a very detailed way something should be done, because of course, his thinking is the only way to think about, well, anything. 


Deep breath.  This is SO hard.  Feels impossible to handle.

What's the solution?  I know, I know.  We can't expect anything 'typical'.  We must be willing and able to explain everything we expect/want by way of response (which needs to be a practical action he can do). 

But how do we handle this expectation he has for us to read his mind when he is unwilling (unable?) to verbally explain things to us?

I don't know. 

Screaming, yelling, and throwing things doesn't make things better, though.

Please don't ask how I know that.  ;)

DEEP BREATH.  This is so very hard.

Monday, June 6, 2011

from an AS male "On NT/AS Traditional Roles"

This Delphi forums post is copied with permission from the author.

"My elaboration on what non-traditional means is that many things do not have the meaning that is traditionally given to them.  Some examples of what this looks like is the following.

(1) Wife asks the husband to do something.  Traditional meaning: wife is bossy.  NT/AS meaning: wife is being considerate, and giving her husband an escape from social activity, and a chance to contribute something that he is grateful for.

(2) Husband works at projects, doesn't socialize with the family.  Traditional meaning: husband doesn't like the family.  NT/AS meaning: husband is trying to give to the family in ways that are neurologically possible for him, in terms of acts of service.
(3) Husband buys wife/family lots of things, or is polite, or quiet, or both:  Traditional meaning: the family is lucky, everything is wonderful, the marriage is perfect.  NT/AS meaning: the family needs emotional support, and might be very lonely, but no one sees this.  In times of crisis, friends shouldn't assume the family is getting the needed emotional support from the AS husband.
(4) Wife seems to take charge of everything, and doesn't seem to let her husband do anything:  Traditional meaning: wife is overbearing, and needs to back off to give her husband room to be himself.  NT/AS meaning: wife is compensating, often sacrificing her own needs, to keep things on track.

Looking at these, even though they might be realistic, they are a little more negative than I intended.  That doesn't make them false.  It's just that they are not the whole picture.
My perspective, as a married AS man in my 50's, is that the most successful NT/AS marriages are those where the NT partner has the final say in most things.  The AS partner is comfortable enough to express their true opinions, and give all the input they can, without expecting their advice to always be taken.  The AS partner contributes acts of service.  The NT partner uses their good judgement to make good decisions on behalf of both partners.

As most people with AS are men, that can leave our NT wives mostly in charge.  I don't think that is necessarily the case in most traditional NT/NT relationships.
There is a lot that can get in the way of this.  I think the biggest obstacle is most likely to be our AS defensiveness, and the often inaccurate perceptions of reality that I think many of us with AS can have, in terms of who is doing the most work in a relationship, and in terms of us not seeing or valuing the emotional support and good judgement our NT partners bring to a relationship."

the post is by cmasp, who infrequently posts at and who co-founded Families for Autism Intervention Resources (FAIR -

Friday, June 3, 2011

Another Good AS/NT Relationships Forum

Here's another really good forum for those in an NT/AS relationship:

Strategies for Arguing with an Aspie

One of my children argues with us all the time. This often leads to meltdowns that have lasted almost two hours. It's exhausting and unnerving. This article has some excellent strategies to help those in an argument with an aspie:

Sunday, May 22, 2011

On Becoming a "Saint"

Another quote from A.W. Tozer:

"We expect to enter the everlasting kingdom of our Father and to sit down around the table with sages, saints and martyrs; and through the grace of God, maybe we shall, maybe we shall.

But for the most of us it could prove at first an embarrassing experience. Ours might be the silence of the untried soldier in the presence of the battle-hardened heroes who have fought the fight and won the victory and who have scars to prove that they were present when the battle was joined.

The devil, things, and people being what they are, it is necessary for God to use the hammer, the file, and the furnace in his holy work of preparing a saint for true sainthood.

It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until he has hurt him deeply."

Pain and Suffering

For suffering Christians, the book "Be Still, My Soul:  Embracing God's Purpose and Provision in Suffering; 25 Classic and Contemporary Readings on the Problem of Pain", edited by Nancy Guthrie, is a must to own.

Here's just a little taste of the wealth of encouragement (which ranges as far back as St. Augustine and moves to the present day writings of the likes of John Piper and Joni Eareckson Tada):

"Strange as it may sound, it is yet true that much of the suffering we are called upon to endure on the highway of holiness is an inward suffering for which scarcely an external cause can be found.  For our journey is an inward journey, and our real foes are invisible to the eyes of men. 

Attacks of darkness, of despondency, of acute self-depreciation may be endured without any change in our outward circumstances.  Only the enemy and God and the hard-pressed Christian know what has taken place. 

The inward suffering has been great and a mighty work of purification has been accomplished, but the heart knoweth its own sorrow and no one else can share it.  God has cleansed his child in the only way he can, circumstances being what they are. 

Thank God for the furnace."
A.W. Tozer (1897-1963)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The "Committed" Aspie's Wife

Word of warning to aspies who are reading this . . . . You may want to skip this post.  It is an honest account of a neurotypical's struggle.  It delves into a different perspective--one that is trying to understand and cope with NT/AS reality.  I sincerely hope you do not take offense.  Please realize we NT wives need some "hooks" to hang this new found knowledge on, and sometimes it sounds harsh.  It can help us to be able to compartmentalize, organize, and see order in the midst of the confusing chaos.

Some wives of aspies are 100% committed to the relationship.  Often, these are the wives with strong religious beliefs.  But even though we are committed, we sometimes flail about in utter confusion as to what we are actually dealing with.  We want to understand where we are, because we are NOT in the relationship we always thought we would have.

Times have been rough around here lately for various reasons.  My commitment has begun to make me feel like one 'committed' to an institution.  It has recently felt like I am in a prison of sorts.  A white-collar prison, with many comforts and amenities.  But a prison all the same.

And the aspie of the house is the prison guard.  There is a sense of freedom when the guard is away.  But when he is around, the inmates must show respect.  You must expect nothing from him other than provision of basic needs.  You must not expect understanding or friendship or compassion.  He's the guard.  You follow his rules, keep calm, and make sure all things are in order.  Straighten up.  Show respect.  Yield to authority.  It's prison after all.

But if you are a Christian, you are, like the apostle Paul, a prisoner of the Lord.  You participate in His sufferings.  For a reason.  It's so much easier when you think about it in this light, isn't it?

On the surface, it certainly feels like life is horrible.  It's easy to be full of self-pity.  Woe is me.  The majority tell you to break out, break away, and never look back.

But delving into the spiritual meaning in it all, your sufferings are not in vain.  If you were imprisoned on the mission field, you would see purpose in your jail time.  You would strive to show honor and love toward your enemies, and toward the prison guards.  You would aim to be a witness for good in the midst of the trial.

So remember, if you are a Christian who is committed to the relationship, you are called to serve each day, even when it feels as if you are a prisoner, for the glory of God

"Life isn't all about me" should be the Christian's motto to follow.  And managing to stay in an NT/AS relationship is the perfect chance to work that motto out each and every day.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Movie "The Switch" (has hints of asperger's); Autism the Musical

The movie "The Switch" with Jason Bateman and Jennifer Anniston seems to portray a man and a little boy with several autistic traits.  I really enjoyed the movie and want to watch it again, next time paying closer attention to those characters.

I also recently watched "Autism: The Musical" and heartily recommend it.  Heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time!  I empathized so much with the parents of the autistic children.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Homeschooling with Asperger's Syndrome

Before we married, my husband and I knew we wanted to homeschool any children we may have.  At the time, our reasons were primarily religious.  But now I can see great benefit in homeschooling for other reasons, too.  Particularly if the children are on the autism spectrum!

I certainly do not believe homeschooling is the "only" or even the best option for every family.  Parents who seriously personally struggle with self-discipline, self-control, and with lovingly instructing their own children should probably not homeschool.  But mere "fear" of not knowing enough, not having enough patience, not having the strength . . . those characteristics can, and will, all be developed along the way.  There are many, many step-by-step helps out there for schedules, curriculum and more.  So don't let a feeling of being unqualified stop you from homeschooling.  Reading, Writing, and 'Rithmetic are the basic necessities to focus on in the younger years.  Once you get into higher learning (chemistry, physics, and such), there are often co-ops, tutors, and other classes available outside of the home.  But I digress.

For the family with an autistic child, homeschooling has unparalleled benefits.  These include:
1.  Avoiding bullies and avoiding being made to feel 'stupid', 'weird', or worse, by immature peers.
2.  Time (hours and hours and hours of it) to pursue one's special interest and hobbies.  If desired, all subjects of the school day can be designed to revolve around the child's special interest.  Learning can be fun and interesting.  The child can truly become an expert in his field of interest without the gobs of wasted time involved in the typical school day.
3.  Ability of the family to introduce a wide variety of educational material in many forms.  This includes an incredible opportunity for various educational field trips.  Also enables encouraging the in-depth study of many different subjects, in hopes of the child finding more special interests along the way.
4.  Time for therapies and extra-curricular activities.
5.  Allowing the child to move at his own pace without being held back where they excel, or made to feel stupid in areas where they struggle.  One of my children is three years ahead in reading, and a year behind in math.  And that's totally okay and they are not in a 'special ed' class because of it.
6.  Avoidance of the battles for IEPs, after-school homework (there's plenty of time in a regular day to get all the sit-down schoolwork done, ya know), teacher meetings, school fundraisers, and all the other worries and hassles parents must suffer when their children are in school (glad to say I don't even know all that is involved).
7.  One-on-one instruction in a sensory stable (and diet-controlled) environment.  Less distractions.  Less trauma.  Less pain.  Less frustration.

At a recent live presentation, I heard a mom ask Mr. Robison (author of "Look Me in the Eye") if he was opposed to homeschooling for children on the spectrum.  He responded that he was NOT opposed to it, as long as the child was involved with a 'pack' of children . . . like in extracurricular activities or other homeschool group activities or classes. 

Isolation can be detrimental for a child on the spectrum, as he won't have the opportunity for practicing social skills in a group.  But in today's homeschooling scene, groups are very, very easy to find.  The argument about a lack of socialization holds very little water for the vast majority of the homeschoolers of this decade.  In homeschooling circles, as our packs of children are happily mingling together,  we parents heartily laugh at the absurdity of such an argument.  :)

In an autism parent support group I attended, the conversation revolved around how sullen, sad, lonely, and bullied their children were because of the peers in their schools.  It was absolutely heartbreaking to hear.  I came away more certain than ever that our decision to devote so much hard work, time, energy, and money to homeschooling was the right thing for us to do. 

My homeschooled children are happy.  Seriously happy.  NOT bullied by their peers.  Part of a pack of children.  Enjoying extracurricular activities.  And they have oodles of time to pursue their special interests.  Learning is fun for them and not considered geekish or strange.  It's life.  For our family, homeschooling is a very, very good thing.

Relationship Help for Women with Asperger's Syndrome

This year I attended a large autism conference.  There were many excellent talks led by various professionals in the field of autism, but the session that had the most profound effect on me came from a Q and A panel with autistic adults.  I'm still processing and trying to take it all in.

The women with aspergers shared that the most helpful book they have found to improve their relationships is "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie.  Another book called "The Art of Talking" was mentioned, but I'm sorry to say I'm not sure exactly which book/author they were referring to as there are more than one with similar titles.

It seemed that these female aspies deeply valued being accepted by others, and they were frustrated by how often they are wrongly judged and misunderstood.

Reading and applying the relationship skills advice found in the above mentioned books could be invaluable helps in maintaining and deepening relationships with others.  If you don't learn how to communicate and show concern and care for others in the way they need/want you to, you will have very few good friendships.  If you are unable to reciprocate relationally in the typical fashion, others will feel they are the only one holding the relationship together.  A few maternal, committed types will stick by you.  Most folks will let the relationship go.  But you do have the power to sustain friendships if you realize it takes work and commitment to learn how.  There is hope!  Just don't expect it to be easy. 

The best success will come when you determine to learn absolutely all you can about communicating with others and making friendships flourish.  If this area becomes your special interest and new hobby, you could not only master the skills, but also then be able to teach others about the art of keeping relationships strong!

Friday, April 1, 2011

How to Relate to Women with Aspergers

There are several women with strong autistic traits in the extended family and I am often completely puzzled when I try to understand and communicate with them.  Overall I am finding it very difficult to find information on how to relate to women with asperger's syndrome.  Any links or advice you can share in the comments are most welcome.

What do females with aspergers want from their female friends and relatives?  What is the best way to communicate with women on the autism spectrum? 

I don't sense that they desire to connect emotionally.  I don't sense they have interest in understanding the hearts or minds of NTs.  Generally I sense little interest in improving their own communication skills (because they don't see why that is important or what difference it will make, maybe?).

My best guess is that women on the spectrum simply want to be accepted for who they are.  They want to be unconditionally loved.  They want you to overlook their foibles, understand that they care about you (even though they don't communicate it well), and want you to not take offense (because none was meant).  They want you to smile and seem cheerful and pleased with them.  Don't cry or get too emotional because that is very uncomfortable for them.  If they like you, they want you to spend time with them by doing activities together (and not necessarily talking much).  And that's about it, right?  Nothing more is expected or required . . . ?

To the female aspies reading this . . . know that there are many of us who are trying to maintain good relationships with women on the spectrum.  Please realize we want to understand you and we are working very hard to be "close" to you.  We honestly just don't know how.

"Connecting With Your Aspergers Partner"

Anyone read this book?  It sounds very promising!

Connecting with Your Asperger Partner
by Louise Weston
Foreword by Tony Attwood
September 2010
208pp ISBN: 978-1-84905-130-9
pb £12.99 US$18.95 AU$29.95

Monday, March 28, 2011

Social Skills Songs

Our children love the social skills songs by Jeanne Lyons on her cd called "Gather the Stars."  They are learning about flexibility, changing the subject, and not talking on and on and on.  My personal favorite is the song which encourages patience and faith with people on the autism spectrum.  "Christina", "Flexibility," and my children's favorite, "Perseveration Station," can be heard by clicking the star next to the lyrics here:

To hear the funny "Personal Space Invaders" and "Long-Winded Lou" and a few others you'll need to buy the cd.  :) 

I wish Mrs. Lyons would make an updated version with just her beautiful voice and a guitar.  This cd was created over a decade ago, but the lyrics and music are fun and helpful anyway.  My guess is children up to the age of ten would enjoy singing along with these social skills songs.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Aspergers: Live Chats

Another positive aspergers forum (which can serve as great, FREE counseling sessions if you ask enough questions!) over at Dephi Forums is "AS and their Partners":  Be careful not to confuse it with another similar sounding one (which is full of aspie bashing).  "AS and their Partners" is moderated by a very insightful aspie male named Gerry who is married to an NT woman. 

Search the archives and then when you have questions that you need to get some insider aspie wisdom on, join the Friday night chats from 9-11p Eastern time and ask away.  Gerry is great at answering questions in real-time.  He ought to get paid for sharing so much "better than gold" advice, but I promise, it is free.  Just remember to be nice.  :)  No aspie-bashing allowed.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Roses, Cacti, and now Daisies

Anyone else getting sick of the roses and cacti symbols that are so often used for NT/Aspie relationships?  Personally, I don't even like roses anymore.  They are beautiful when in bloom, but they wilt so quickly and so easily without tender care.  Too painful to contemplate the similarities.  So I'm done with roses.  If you noticed my new profile pic, I'm now particularly fond of daisies. 

Daisies are hearty little flowers that can take a lot of neglect and still stay pretty.  Then of course there's the symbolism of the "He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not" petal-picking game.  Quite fitting description for the emotional ups and downs in an NT/Aspie marriage, don't you think? 

Straight-lined petals (like their pattern?), often plain and white (and we must think in black and white so often!), but they can sometimes be found with cheerful splashes of color:

"Fresh as a daisy" = full of energy and enthusiasm
"Pushing up the daisies" = to be dead 

Two extremes for one little flower. 

I like it.  :)
And it fits.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Attitude and Actions

A cheerful attitude and kind actions are likely all an aspie wants from his spouse.  Gavin's excellent keywords for understanding aspies and affection are found in his Valentine's post at the Life With Aspergers blog: "Smiles and Hugs." Simple, and oh, so true.  He just wants smiles and hugs! 

Sadly, what aspie males probably don't comprehend is what is required of him to elicit those things from her.  And so the two most important things to him are probably the very last things he tends to get.

For all of this to really work a few steps must be taken. 
1.  First, the NT wife absolutely must give up the hope and expectation that her aspie spouse is or ever will be deeply interested in her innermost thoughts or feelings.  He doesn't have any interest in (or ability to be) 'connecting' with what makes her who she is spiritually and emotionally at the core of her being.  Such a bitter pill to swallow.  But to heal the marriage, it must be swallowed!  And that pill must be swallowed every time the cancerous bitterness creeps back into her heart.  She might lose some hair (from pulling it out in frustration!) while taking this treatment pill, but keep in mind any negative side effects will be worth suffering, to reach the healing outcome ahead.

2.  Next, she must clearly communicate to him that she is deeply *unhappy and needs him to do X, Y, and Z to help make her happy.  X, Y, and Z must be tangible, practical, things/actions that can be carried out by someone with asperger's syndrome.

*(Sometimes 'unhappiness' is not understood by the aspie when explained in words, but may only be understood by some degree of absence of warm attitude and actions.  This is a tough one to grapple with as a Christian, and will be the subject of another post.)

3.  The Aspie must make X, Y, and Z a top priority of things he must do regularly in his life.  This means it comes before paying the bills, before brushing his teeth, before whatever his 'special interest' is.  Before anything that gets the first/most of his time or money should come X, Y, and Z that show his wife he loves her in the ways she wants to be shown.  And so he must swallow his own bitter pill -- one he believes to be a placebo because X, Y, and Z make no sense to his brain and he truly doesn't believe it will make any difference whatsoever in the NT's attitude or actions.

But I can tell you that it will make a difference.  Her attitude and actions will change for the better.  Magically, somehow, without your being able to understand it, those inner workings of the heart will cause outer workings of cheerful attitudes and actions.  Smiles and hugs will reappear.  If, and likely only if, you get to work on her 'Honey Do You Love Me' list of X, Y, Z.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sticky Note Reminders for the Christian NT Wife

When the hard times hit, and the INSANITY you feel in your NT/AS marriage begins to take over . . .

It helps to hear over and over, again and again, the little reminders that bring back some semblance of sane.

1.  This is neurological wiring of the brain.

2.  You must drop your "NT" expectations! The surest way to avoid disappointment is not to expect anything from others.

3.   This is a very difficult trial to live with.

4.  This lonely trial can and should draw you closer to Christ, depending on Him as your very closest friend.

5.  This fiery trial is ordained by God for your good, to sanctify you (which is just a theological word for make you more like Christ).

And most importantly, remember to "above all, fervently love one another."  1 Peter 1:22

NT/AS Christian Counseling

Members of the leadership of our church recently attempted an intial (and brief) counseling session with my husband and me.  As he does not acknowledge that he may have Asperger's Syndrome, I did not mention it during that meeting.  Autism or any reference to "autistic traits" did not enter the conversation.

And it seemed very unfair to me.  For his sake!

He was gently censured and told that it is his responsibility to emotionally connect with his wife.  As much as the angry, bitter part of me wanted to stick out my tongue and say "NahNahIToldYouSo!"  I didn't do that.  :)  I felt sorry for him.  But what's a gal to do, huh?  He gets angry if the "A" word is used at all in reference to himself.  He would be livid if I "accused" him of being autistic in front of anyone else.

Aspies, please don't take this harshly, I'm fighting for him on this one . . . but those counselors may as well have told a blind man to parallel park between two brick walls without getting a single scratch on the car!  They are demanding something of him he is not capable of doing, aren't they?!  They are making him feel like a failure, and feel guilty for something he cannot help, right?

Obviously,  I can see he's bringing this on himself by his total denial of Asperger's.  That part is his fault and I am at a loss as to how to help him.  Many folks talk about the failure of counseling NT/AS couples when autism  is not brought into the equation.  Now I can see for myself that it truly doesn't work.

It may even make things worse.

Friday, January 21, 2011

"A Rough Companion"

This quote from "The Loveliness of Christ" seemed quite applicable to me as a Christian aspergers wife:

"He cutteth off your love to the creature, that ye might learn that God only is the right owner of your love, sorrow, loss, sadness, death, or the worst things that are, except sin:  but Christ knoweth well what to make of them, and can put his own in the crosses common, that we shall be obliged to affliction, and thank God, who learned us to make our acquaintance with such a rough companion, who can hale us to Christ."

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Medicated Rose

Know that I am not at all 'throwing stones' at anyone who chooses medication to deal with their emotional problems.  If it works for you, then praise God!  I consider it for myself once per month at least. 

But two things stop me from accepting the offered prescriptions from my doctor.  One is that I really do grow more spiritually during the hard times and trials God gives me.  But to be very honest, that spiritual (ized?) reason alone doesn't stop me from taking meds.  You can certainly be a growing Christian while on medication!  What stops me dead in my tracks when I am tempted to take meds for emotional problems is the potential side effects and withdrawal issues that may result from the medicine itself.

Will Medicine Stop the Pain?: Finding God's Healing for Depression, Anxiety, and Other Troubling Emotions by Dr. Laura Hendrickson is definitely worth reading if you are considering or are taking such medications.  Dr. Hendrickson is a biblical counselor, mom to an autistic son, formerly a practicing psychiatrist, and once took some of these medications herself.  This book explores the reasons one should be very careful about certain medications and she shares her personal (and almost tragic) story from her time on anti-depressant medications.

Most close to home, though, is a friend of mine who has suffered from pain and depression for many years.  She is currently having horrific side effects from her years of being on anti-psychotic drugs.  She will tell you these side effects (which no doctor can figure out how to treat!) are worse than all the pain and all the depression she suffered for so long.  While watching her and seeing how awfully she is now daily suffering  from the side effects of a drug, I decide anew to keep plodding through these trials, unmedicated.

Please don't feel harshly judged if you are taking these meds.  I am very thankful for medications that help when we need them.  God uses many different means to work in different folks' lives.   However, I do encourage you to read Dr. Hendrickson's book to get a different perspective than many doctors may give you.  And then, whatever you decide, go forward in faith! 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Throwing Stones at Aspies

"When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”  John 8:7

NT wives complain, rant, and rave with numerous "aspie attacks" on internet forums. It is actually quite frightening to read what some women will say (to the world!) about their husbands. These women obviously don't recognize the sin in their own hearts. They (and we) are all hypocrites.

John Calvin in his commentary on John 8:7 says "by this word he only reproves hypocrites, who mildly flatter themselves and their vices, but are excessively severe, and even act the part of felons, in censuring others. No man shall be prevented by his own sins from correcting the sins of others, and even from punishing them, when it may be found necessary, provided that both in himself and in others he hate what ought to be condemned; and in addition to all this, every man ought to begin by interrogating his own conscience, and by acting both as witness and judge against himself, before he come to others. In this manner shall we, without hating men, make war with sins."

So without hating the aspie, and all the while hating the sin in our own hearts, one can ask "What are the particular sins common to Asperger's Syndrome?" One counseling lecture entitled "How To Counsel an Adult with Autism and Asperger's Syndrome" explored how the aspie is often very selfish.  Not considering others' perspectives and feelings is certainly self-centered and selfish. The aspie may have no comprehension that he is being selfish and likely has no intention of being selfish. And this makes change seem impossible.  But his not acknowledging his sin, especially once it is explained to him, is evidence of sinful pride. He is too proud to show humility by acknowledging (though others expressly point it out to him) that he is at fault. Is he to blame for this? No, not to blame (because he is wired this way), but he is still responsible. Because we are all required by God to be perfect, as Christ is perfect, even though it is impossible to ever reach perfection before Christ returns.

Huh? Exactly. It is a mystery, and I cannot explain it. Biblical counselors and theologians can help make it more clear than I can. But what little I can grasp is a comfort during the times I am scratching my head at the wonder of the autistic brain. It helps me to recognize what I can and do what I can to deal with the difficulties.   In a nutshell . . . .

1. My aspie spouse is selfish and self-centered in not thinking of others or understanding their feelings and perspectives. The fact that he does not see this about himself exhibits a great deal of pride. He should accept this to be true, even without understanding it, and should work on doing all that he can to change his sinful behaviours.

2. My responses to him are, at their root, selfish, self-centered, and a result of pride (thinking I deserve better or that I am better). It is hypocritical to "throw stones" at him when I have the exact same weaknesses (which may simply be displayed differently).

And so daily we should forgive, pray, forbear, and love. Humbling ourselves and looking at our own hearts, we should strive to overcome our faults and grow through the trials of living with and loving difficult people.  Because we are all, every one of us, difficult people to live with.

"When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”  John 8:7

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Suffering Spouse and Sanctification

"Our pride must have winter weather to rot it."  Samuel Rutherford, The Loveliness of Christ

Starting a new year in a constant state of suffering is quite sobering.  Is this what the new year holds for me?  Is this what the next decade (or even longer) will hold for me?  Well, maybe.  And maybe that's not tragic.  Seriously.

Reflecting on suffering and happiness and the Christian life leads to a realization that the Christian should expect suffering in this life because the goal of this life is to be made more like Christ.  It is to grow and change and become more like Him.  The goal here is not happiness.  Oftentimes when we are most 'happy' we are not really being challenged to change or grow--we tend to just coast along, forgetting to pray, forgetting to strive for holiness.  But this is not our home.  We are travelers and this human life is temporary--just a breath in the span of eternity.

C.S. Lewis, in "Letters to an American Lady" empathizes with and encourages a female correspondent throughout her daily trials of life.  He constantly directs her thoughts to heaven, reminding her that we shouldn't be so focused on our personal happiness in this life.  What particularly struck me in my reading of this little gem of a book, was Lewis reminding the lady of her choice between Crosses.  The context was choosing to live alone in her old age, or living in an 'old folks home' with a bunch of cantankerous senior citizens.  Both are hard. Lewis says:
"It is (no disguising it) only a choice between Crosses.  The more one can accept that fact, the less one can think about happiness on earth, the less, I believe, one suffers.  Or at any rate the suffering becomes more purgatorial and less infernal."

If you are a Christian and you desire to grow in faith, then you will (must?) suffer.  And that then leads to very, very good things-namely, becoming more like Christ.  It means becoming more kind, more patient, more loving, less selfish, less proud.  During trials and times of suffering, keep in mind that for the Christian, life often involves a choice between Crosses.

I encourage you to reflect on 1 Peter 1-4.  He deals much with suffering.  It is challenging to me to start this new year with a deeper understanding of the purpose of trials in this life.  I want to suffer well, as a Christian should.  I want my suffering to have a good purpose.  I want to honor God in my suffering.

"For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully.  For what credit is it if, when you are *beaten for your faults, you take it patiently?  But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God.  For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness-by whose stripes you were healed.  For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls." 1 Peter 2: 19-25

*beaten is referring to slaves during those times--no woman should stay in a physically abusive relationship!  But think of this challenge--to suffer patiently (and remember that our suffering is much less that those in this context) without reviling our aspies when they hurt our feelings.  Rather we should be loving them with much patience.  Then we will be honoring God in our suffering.

NT/AS Clue: "What's Wrong?!"

NT/AS Clue:  The Aspie should not ask "what's wrong?"  The Aspie should instead ask "what can I do to help?"  The NT should not respond to "what's wrong" with an explanation of her emotional state.  The NT should respond to "what's wrong" with a clear-cut statement of something practical the aspie could do to help her feel better.

It took me YEARS to understand this NT/AS rule.  Countless times when I have been upset, my aspie spouse has asked (ahem, demanded) that I respond to "What's wrong?"  Idiotic me (ok, neuro-typically wired me) would always go into a long explanation of my emotional problems/feelings at the time.  BIG MISTAKE.  Always ended in tears (for me) because he never responded appropriately.  Now, of course, I understand that he truly didn't ever intend to be mean.  Now I know that when he asks "what's wrong", what he means is "what can I do to help?"

And that's all he means.  He doesn't have any interest in, and doesn't know what to "do" with, emotional monologue.  He does, however, want to help.  And so I can help him better help me by dropping the emotional stuff and respond with the likes of:

"I'm tired, can you watch the kids?" or "I'm stressed, can you massage my neck?" or "I just need a hug" or "Will you please bring me a drink?"

And it would really help the NT (who when she is emotional, and tired, and stressed, can't think well in aspie language anyway), if the Aspie would change his language and use the words "What can I do to help?" rather than saying "What's wrong?"

NOTE TO ASPIES:  When you ask "what's wrong?" you are really asking for it . . . NT style!  Thank you for wanting to help.  But please, please use the words "What can I do to help you right now?"  It'll make things so much clearer and so much easier.  For everyone.