Can it please be made really clear that Asperger syndrome is autism.
It’s on the autistic spectrum and because it’s a high functioning form of autism, the comorbidity issues occur and the problems we encounter on a day to day basis happen.
For someone who is straight forward autistic; they struggle with nearly every area of their life – hence they get lots of support and help during their school/home/work life. People and society are able to see their autism and adjust their level of expectation accordingly.
For someone with HFA / Asperger’s syndrome, their form of autism is harder for people in general to spot – hence they drift through life undiagnosed; yet that person is still very autistic on a certain levels.
It’s because they function very high on other levels and can present very well to colleagues, doctors, family and friends – we find it very hard to explain just what we, the partners experience on a day to day domestic and emotional level. Especially as everyone else / most people see them as regular NTs.
Because they hold down amazing jobs, can fix computers, can walk, talk, play, socialise etc doesn’t mean they are not autistic.
This is why we have this huge ongoing issue where we all try to be heard and no one hears us.
My partner of 19 years is autistic. He finds it difficult to function on any emotional levels. Any heightened emotional environment confuses him and makes him highly anxious – so he leaves the room. The comorbidity element is anxiety with avoidance.
He hates conflict of any sort and sees any difference of opinion as a direct insult. So again he avoids people and places he finds conflicting and he avoids situations he has to confront people in.
If I am upset with him for any reason he gets anxious and avoids me. Again. Anxiety with avoidance. It also makes him depressed so the other comorbidity is depression.
If our family home is too noisy – as in normal family life with two children playing, a radio on, the kettle boiling and me trying to have a conversation with him – he suffers from over sensory issues and he is unable to think straight or hear anything I am saying. Last week he described it as like being trapped in a room with 30 people all talking very loudly in a different language. He said it was a nightmare and it made him very very anxious. He said it was hugely debilitating. Again, he avoids noisy places and at home will often walk off, disappear to the top floor of the house to escape. Again anxiety with avoidance.
He has an obsessive compulsive personality. This means he gets into obsessive compulsive cycles and can’t hear sense or reason until he’s out of it. That can be anything from buying all the latest cycling gear for his bike and setting himself challenges which take him out of the family home all weekend. Or whether it’s reading every recipe book in the house before deciding what to cook for dinner (with two kids now I haven’t got time to wait for this anymore).
It could be him not being satisfied with looking on part of the beach for fossils – he has to search every area of the beach – which could take hours. Annoying when we were a couple, but bloody impossible with small kids.
The obsessive compulsive personality also takes over when he’s angry. He becomes obsessed with what he’s upset about and won’t calm down until he’s out of that cycle. One very good reason to avoid an argument with an aspie. You won’t win. That obsessive part of their brain has taken over and all sense and reason have gone.
Walk away before they say something too insulting…. Because they will and it will hurt you more than them.
You may be lucky and have found a partner who understands finances, who has the ability to hold a good job down, or offers to learn more about Asperger syndrome and who agrees to try and make it work with you.
Or you could be with someone who, despite a clear diagnosis, hasn’t read a single word about the clinical condition and says he was fine until he met me.
Someone who is so good at presenting well, it’s hard for most people to think he might be autistic.. Someone who is so good at making out I’m a nagging wife, that it belittles all the pain and torment I go through…
This is why being an NT with an aspie is so hard.
All these problems happen because he is autistic. It’s not his fault. He can’t help it. He’s suffering too….
But we need to be honest about it and open that it’s autism and stop saying it’s not…..
I understand my partner is autistic on quite a few levels. But because he is funny, charming, clever and a wealth of knowledge about nearly everything (apart from financial and emotional domestic stuff) he is very good at coming across almost as a regular NT.
This is the constant struggle of the NT/aspie life for me. Having to be three steps ahead of him all the time. Living with adult who could tell you every interesting fact about landscapes/ art/ history/ geography/ literature/ architecture etc, yet doesn’t know how to speak to an upset child or comfort me when I’m upset or show support when life challenges us…