Tuesday, January 11, 2011

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.


  1. Thanks for the post! The NT in our family is my husband. I'm not quite sure he's wired to give an emotional monologue when I ask "what's wrong?" unless it's something really serious. He'll vent and if I use active listening, he'll expand on concerns. His answers tend to be fairly matter of fact.

    On the other hand, if he were to ask me what was wrong, there are times when I would respond with an emotional monologue. Quite often this would overwhelm him. So I think that it may not just be a male Aspie thing but a male thing with it perhaps being more exaggerated if your Aspie partner is male.

    I really do like the "what can I do to help?" idea. My husband is very much about trying to fix things and this verbiage would probably be more effective than "what's wrong". :-)


  2. I've been married almost ten years and those are about the WORST two words he can utter. They immediately make me tense, often angry. Why? Because I feel he's projecting his sense of something being wrong on to me. Then I feel guilty because he's trying to communicate, but because of the tension and often the timing, I'm usually not able to express my feelings.

    Over the years I've tried desperately to get him to explain to me what I'm doing/saying that makes him think that something's wrong with me, and he can never tell me.

    I will try this and I'm hopeful that it will alleviate a bit of stress for me and my 'not-officially-aspie' husband. Thanks!

  3. I have read your whole blog. I am so THANKFUL you love your husband and child in spite of their imperfections and their inabilty to love you on an emotional level. I am getting married in two weeks to a loving high functioning aspie. He would do anything for me and loves me dearly, but can't just "get" it. I found out he had aspbergers through stumbling on David Finch when he came through our town. I told him we should go to a talk on "communication". He fit Finch's bill of an aspberger male. We left and he said " you think I have aspbergers." I nodded tears were in his eyes as he looked like a deer in headlights. "I have always been different" He hates to be catergozied and maybe that's what your husband is scared of beinga category. My soon to be husband who has agreed to go to communication counseling with me. He wants to work on our relationship, but remain an indvidual not just another guy with aspbergers. What I told him was I didn't want to put him in the aspberger box I just wanted to learn how to love him in his language and visa versa. Before we even knew I always said he was am radio and I was fm two different wave lengths :) there is a small fear in me getting married in two weeks knowing he's an aspie that I'm doing something foolish that I'm going into something that I cannont finish on my own that my kids my have this disorder as well. But through my whole relationship God has pushed me forward, through all the glances of friends, through the uncomforted tears and the screaming to be understood God says this is the man for you. I try not to be bitter towards God bc I will have a very devoted husband. I guess I just want to hear that I'm not crazy for choosing this life. I told my fiance that the nt/as divorce rate was 80% he said that was pretty good odds for us to make it :) here is my email epplebrooke@yahoo.com if you ever need to talk to someone who gets it or as a prayer request. May god soften your husbands heart to love you the best he can and move forward to get help.thank you for reading my rambling. I will pray for you daily. -b