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I attended the Giraffe workshops in 2016. I’d been struggling with my relationship with my Asperger husband. He’d been diagnosed in 2012 but I’d suspected for years before this.
It was great meeting with the other woman and sharing experiences, hearing so many stories that were familiar to me, together with suggestions of what we’d all found worked (or didn’t) with our partners.
The big breakthrough for me was hearing Krish explain CBT in relation to someone with Asperger’s. I’ve never had counselling with CBT but my husband has and described it as “for people who are not as aware of their feelings as I am.” (we can all eye-roll at this point, I think). I wish he could go to someone who could explain CBT to him as well as Krish did for us.
This helped me understand how someone on the spectrum is anxious all the time and importantly how this affects their cognitive processes and the – very often flawed – conclusions they come to which they deem entirely accurate. These outcomes get cemented in their minds as absolute truths. This understanding was a real light bulb moment for me and made sense of some of the weird things that had happened. For example, not long after my dad died (a terrible time – I got no support from him yet apparently I was the one who’d shut him out) he went to hug me when I was doing some dinner prep in the kitchen. I said not to do this while I was using a sharp knife/stirring something on the hob. Entirely sensible you’d think but no. Apparently I’d shrugged him off and this would have been something his mother would have done. So that was the end to hugs. I’ve been trying to get hugs back on the normal things to do ‘list’ but it’s difficult – feels like asking for affection to me and I hate that.
It has also helped me to really realise the daily anxiety someone on the spectrum has to manage just to ‘be’. So when he was driving me nuts recently, the day before a job interview, stressing about finding a shirt in a shop (I found one) and trying on every tie in the house more than once to be sure of which one was right, I managed to keep engaged and helpful. Realising that this level of anxiety exists has helped a lot. On one recent tough weekend (he didn’t get the job and the central locking started playing up on his vehicle) he said to me “You’ve kept a lot off me this weekend haven’t you?” because I’d been doing stuff around the house that he hadn’t done (he doesn’t work, so is supposed to do things like washing up) and helped him on the car. Wow, Theory of Mind!
And the hugs? When I came home on Saturday evening after someone had reversed into my car and driven off (luckily someone got the number plate details – I called him to let him know and he called the police for me before I got home) he said “Are you OK?” and came over and hugged me.