Sunday, July 17, 2011

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.



  1. "...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!..."

    That's horrifying!

    The Aspie father in this example is doing the same thing as a neglectful NT father would do, even though he's doing it for a different reason.

    No matter what the father's *intention* behind this thoughtlessness is, no matter what his neurology is, the *action* he does in this example is the same and so the *effect on the child* is the same - the effect of a father neglecting his child with a sore throat.

  2. I recognize everything you're saying in this post. Once I had the flu, my AS husband insisted I should still get on with things (as he had work to do.) This is what he said: "What do you think single parents do when they get sick? They still have to get out of bed to take care of their kids!" (This was some time before I suspected he had aspergers.)

  3. My husband has a lot of traits of AS - it was not a major issue until we had children and I developed chronic and acute neck problems - his lack of empathy and evident irritation with weakness is worrying me as I am the main care giver for the family and when I am unable to do this he is not able or willing to pick up the slack. He told me once that if my health was poor in the future he would put me in a home - I laughed about it as it is such a typical thing for him to say but it scares me because I know that he can't cope with illness and I don't think he would stick around if I was unable to care for the family. He is such a good and lovely man but sometimes I feel very alone because for me being able to rely on someone is part of a marriage but for him it is not.

  4. Damn, I really thought I was alone in the universe of Autism Spousal World. My spouse is AS / SPID and all three of my kids are ASD (mix 'n match your fun). I consider it the ultimate cosmic irony that I'm personally off the scale intuitive and yet live in a household surrounded by others who can't read any social cues. At least I have good whiskey and my health is intact. My sanity? Hmmmmmm.