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?"



  1. And maybe if this pattern continues he will eventually start thinking to ask if you need something when you are sick (before an entire day goes by).

    It's sad to me that this most basic thing is considered "progress." But it IS real progress in an NT/AS situation. And for the NT to be willing to accept that as sufficient 'empathy' and not desire or demand more than that from the AS is major progress, too.

  2. So here's the 'rule': NT must calmly explain her feelings.

    AS should just say "I'm sorry." And he should internally try to remember to check in on her in the future when she is ill.

    NT must realize that his brain was focused on other things. His brain was too focused and busy on other things to think about her. Yep, he wasn't thinking about her.

    So if you NTs, in a relationship with an Aspie cannot handle the fact that he is often not thinking about you AT ALL . . . you just need to get out of the relationship.

    BUT! If you are willing to accept that it's not his "fault" because his brain is wired such that if he is focused on something else and he has a ton of trouble multi-tasking it will prevent you from coming to his mind . . . that he loves you, but just IS NOT going to be thinking about you much of the time . . then you may be able to make the relationship work.

    You have to change your expectations. You have to accept basic things as displays of love and kindness (actions as empathy). You have to accept the autism he has and what it will look like in the day to day scenarios.

    Is he a jerk? NO, he's not. It was not him, it was the autism.

    Is autism a jerk? No, it's a 'brain issue' that is very difficult to deal with sometimes. (Like when you're sick or anytime you are wanting empathy!).

  3. Always nice when you can stay calm and express yourself. And the logical part of him should get this and in time begin to incorporate it into the scripting. The emotional connection part just won't work. Quoting from a piece I did last week in my own blog: "First, this was a great reminder that although I live in daily frustration over not being able to connect with anyone emotionally in my family - picture it as having to be content with projecting your feelings instead of feeling them in tandem with others - I still am deeply connected with their single-minded pursuit of truth, justice and peace." Mary and Max. Thanks for sharing this moment and I'm pleased that you found a bright spot that day.

  4. Hope you've communicated to him that it was the correct response.

    I used to leave my wife in peace when she was sick (and not ring in case I wake her) because that's what I want when I'm sick. Apparently that's NOT what NTs want.

    I've learned now and I'm a little better ... but sometimes I slip into old habits.

    It doesn't mean that I'm not thinking of her. Similarly, I understand that she's not being thoughtless by disturbing me if I'm sick and want to sleep. (or by visiting me in hospital).

    A large part of relationships seems to be about learning what the other person wants rather than what WE want.

    Great to hear some good news!

  5. Asp Mom/Wife:
    I have been following you since march 2011. God uses you beyond what words can say. I joined your site right after learning abougt asp. My hubby is an undiagnosed Aspie. I have never commented before but couldn't resist after this last blog. Guess what? For the FIRST TIME in almost 7 years, I heard "I'm SORRY"... that was like two months ago, but it happened AGAIN like 3 weeks ago. GOD IS AWESOME. Your blog has been a rock for me. I am not alone. YOUR 11/20 BLOG IS CONFIRMATION GOD IS LOOKING OUT FOR US. I would love to tell you our story one day. Thank you for your time on this site. This is your ministry!!!! YOUR FAN, -ASPIELOVER4CHRIST

  6. Wow, God just used your comment to help lift me out of the depths of sorrow today. A HORRIBLE event occurred last night, and I haven't been able to blog about it yet (or process it all), so thank you so much for sharing this reminder that God IS working and there is progress (and that my sharing all these ups and downs are helping you!).


  7. Hi Aspmom, I've read this piece again and the comments and feel like I need to say a little more so please just indulge me. First, your sharing is important to me and you know my situation. Secondly, and this is critical: Asperger's Syndrome is not something you can just get over. Their brains are literally hardwired this way - it's who they are. Yes, over time a lot of care (therapies, etc.) can make a difference. But I would submit that it is us (NT's) that need to change our own perspectives. Can they learn to say "I'm sorry"? Yes, but you are going to have to prompt them and in fact you can learn to send out cues to elict that response because they CAN'T read when to say I'm sorry. Emphathy? Nope - sorry. Trust me - I live with four Aspies. Again, as I wrote in my blog about being content with projecting those feelings - you are kidding yourself if you think they can just get over this and begin to express emotions in tandum with you. Certainly, they have emotions but they are impaired in sensing and expressing them. Here's an example from yesterday: I'm really sick and my wife is out for the day. I'm caring for 7 year old son and 10 year old daughter. Actually my 10-year old girl (going on 30) was caring for me. I'm in bed - nauseous and a mess and she starts lecturing in detail about her intricate Christmas Wish List project. 20 minutes into the presentation I make a "Ding Dong" sound. What's that Dad? "That's the doorbell of my heart saying that I need some quiet time now". Oh, sure Dad -can I get you some more ice chips? She loves me, she is loyal and kind but she can't read my feelings and there is where I make a choice to live with it or not because they are not going to change who they are. I will - even though it means living alone within my heart.