New Discussion Series Coming

Hi everyone,

I have had the unfortunate opportunity to learn of the recent dissolution or near dissolution of several marriages between an NT (neurotypical person)and an HFA (person with high/functioning Autism, also known as, Asperger’s Syndrome). Since I am in such a marriage (that thankfully, has not dissolved), it has been put on my heart to write a series of blogs that cover some of the very real issues facing such a relationship. I look forward to your comments, as I definitely would like to learn a lot in this area myself!

I will continue to post the Monday blogs about dealing with having a child on the spectrum. This new marriage series will be posted on Wednesdays.

He doesn’t know it, yet, but I will be getting a lot of input from my husband, so that you NTs are correctly represented.

When do children with Asperger’s know right from wrong

I saw that this was a search phrase used to find my blog. I believe that the answer to that question is: when you teach them.

I don’t know that anyone really knows right from wrong on their own. It’s just that neurotypical people are just sort of able to pick up right from wrong by watching others. Apsergians are not able to do that.

Neurotypical peple are able to generalize their experiences, too. Aspergians are not able to do that, either. So, unfortunately, unless you directly teach the child with Asperger’s what is right and what is wrong, in every situation, they are not going to know.

Once you do teach an Aspie what is right or wrong in a particular situation, they most likely won’t ever forget. I love this about my Asperger’s child! This point is not necessarily true for neurotypical children, which drives me crazy. My neurotypical child is quite forgetful concerning what I have taught her, often insisting that I never even told her about a situation in question, which I know I just reprimanded her for it not even 72 hours before.

This being said, an Asperger’s child, like all human beings may not choose to act in the way that he or she knows is right. The tricky part about disciplining an Asperger’s child is they may not be motivated to change, because even though they know that a certain action is considered wrong, they don’t really think it is, so see no need to change. For instance, there are so many things that people are supposed to do or not do to be polite. But many of those things involve white lies, which to an Aspie is apalling. So they would rather suffer the consequences than have to to compliment someone’s ugly shoes, or horrid haircut. Because they cannot live with themselves as a liar.

There are times when people with Asperger’s Syndrome know right from wrong better than the neurotypicals. Because Aspies are not burdened with all of the cultural nuances of what is expected in polite society, they simply try to follow the big rules like, don’t lie, don’t cheat, etc. They are then labeled as rule breakers because the NTs don’t like that the Aspies are telling the truth about what is really going on.

Also, I believe that some Aspies get confused and don’t know when they should follow rules and when they should not. For instance, they are taught as children not to lie. But then are told to lie to people all of the time about all sorts of things. For example, we are told to lie and say that we are fine when asked, “How are you.” We are told to lie and say, “It is delicious,’ when we really can’t stand what we are being forced to eat. We are told to lie and say, “What a lovely baby,” when it is the ugliest thing we have seen as yet. And the list goes on. So after awhile, an Aspie could conclude that breaking even the big rules must not have any real consequences, if the reason you are doing it is a good one.

The problem is, the Aspie doesn’t realize that the decision about what is a good reason to break a rule is made by a neurotypical, so an Aspie reason to break a rule is always going to be considered the wrong reason. A neurotypical person may be able to get by with the same crime because they will have a reason that is considered acceptable. Not fair, but true.

#4 Acts as though nothing bothers them (or that everything bothers them)

When Aspies are around people that they know care about them, or are put into a situation that is going to last beyond what they can fake their way through, they will let their true colors fly and tell you every little thing that bothers them, which is pretty much every little thing! Ask my poor husband – though I have gotten better at letting things go.

However, when Aspies are around people for just short periods of time, they often act like nothing is bothering them. This is because the act of trying to tell someone that something is bothering them is so difficult, they would rather just put up with the situation as is. They know they will get a break soon enough.

For instance, I very seldom told my roommates that anything they did bothered me. I knew that the situation would eventually change, so no worries. I just tolerated things as is, and moved on when I could. However, when I got married, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to tolerate everything forever, so I was open about what was bothering me.

Aspies can seem cold and calculating. Unfortunately, that can be the case. But here is why. Aspies actually feel things much more deeply and intensely than most other people. However, they become cold and calculating over time because they feel misunderstood, they feel like no one will ever give them what they really need, so they are going to have to get it for themselves. Because it is difficult for them to communicate at all, and on top of that, when they do communciate others often don’t understand them, they give up on communicating. They do care about others, but every little issue is so much more intense for them, that they get overwhlemed and end up just focusing on themselves because they are so overwhelmed.

I have found that the only people I am able to trust are those who have been friends with me for decades, and have proven themselves to be interested in my well-being. They, of course, are not perfect, but I am finally able to forgive and trust them because of the openness they have shown me over a long period of time.

I don’t know that any of this is so different from neurotypical people, though. Maybe it just happens to Aspies faster because of their greater difficulty in dealing with situations because of the intensity of their senses, and the intensity of their need to have things, “just so.”

For example, when I am out with my family, one of my children might ask, “what time is it?” If my watch says, 5:27, but my husband tells our child that it is 5:30, immediately I feel very agitated, to the point that I want to yell out, “it is not 5:30, it is only 5:27.” I have learned to let that feeling of agitation pass, and it is getting less all of the time, but I don’ t know that it will ever go totally away. I have never chosen to feel that way about something so small. It just is the way my body reacts. My husband says it is petty to worry about such small differences, and he is probably right, unless of course you are timing a race or something that does require exact time measurements.

We don’t mean to be picky just to be picky. We truly feel like our world is going to end, like are head is going to explode, like our heart is going to stop. Thank goodness God is faithful and able to hold us and comfort us and help us let things go. And that He provides others to be His hands and face and voice to help us learn to let those feelings pass over us, but to not let them overpower us, causing us to act in ways that always get us into way more trouble than we ever bargained for!

“Without Him we are disabled.”

I love this quote from one of the leaders of our school’s Mom’s in touch prayer group. Today we focused on God being our enabler.

I laughed when I first heard her say that, not because I don’t think He is, but because we, as a society are constantly told, “don’t enable them.” This, of course refers to the need to not help out people in such a way that it allows them to remain in their bad habits. God definitely does not do that, quite the opposite as a matter-of-fact.

When I explained my sudden outburst of laughter, our leader said the title phrase. How true that is! And when you live with a medically-identified disability, you can appreciate that phrase even more.

I truly would be able to do virtually nothing in society if it weren’t for Him enabling me. Neurotypical people are not able to do anything worth anything eternally without God’s help, but they are able to do a lot that is looked at as good, useful by the world.

That is one of the blessings of being disabled by the world’s standards. There is no chance for me to get confused about how the good that I do has come about – it can’t be me, so it has to be Him!

Asperger’s and Pain

So often I have read that people with Asperger’s Syndrome, and other ASDs do not respond correctly to pain. It is true that we do not respond typically to pain. It is often assumed that we must not feel pain at the same level that others feel it. We definitely do have a different way of integrating our senses than others. But the thought that we do not feel pain as strongly as others, I believe to be untrue.

Here is what is really going on (at least for me, my son and other biological relatives of mine who do  not think they have an ASD, but probably do). We sense the pain, but we do not want anyone else to know that we are sensing it. To let someone know means that they will start asking questions, and they may start pressuring us to treat our pain. We fear the treatment, because it may involve  even more pain, and there is often no 100% guarantee that the treatment will treat the pain. There is often a tiny percent possibility that the pain may actually become worse, or that even if the pain goes away, some other horrible side-effect will remain.

We have seen how life can work, we are generally not optimists, so we assume that the worst will happen to us. Therefore, we would rather stick with the current known pain and its familiar circumstances than trade it for a lot of unknown circumstances, that could include a lot of social interactions with a lot of unknown people in a lot of unknown places that could result in even more pain and unknown complications.