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View Full Version : Broken Hearted: People Who Love Adult Aspergers



SouthernFriedJulie
09-18-2008, 03:15 PM
I finally broke down last night, rather, this morning. Ever since my daughter was diagnosed with autism, I've been watching my husband carefully. Our daughter was formally diagnosed high functioning autistic about a year ago, though I've insisted she fit the criteria for much longer. I spent time in my younger years working with special needs kids in HeadStart, studied autism/aspergers and knew the signs pretty well.

So, when I met hubby's family, I knew something was up with his youngest brother. His entire family denied it, but eventually at age 9 he was put into special classes. I had always thought their mother was slow, but after watching closer, I realized she was the source of the disorder. All the classic signs of Aspergers'...which passed to her youngest son and my daughter.

And my husband.

I read and read last night. Trying to find some hope on helping adults with the disorder cope and do well in a relationship. I double, triple, and quadruple checked signs of the disorder. He will never get evaluaed, but I know. I knew our daughter was different before her first round of early intervention.

But my problem is...where do I go from here? Do I take my freshly forced open eyes and re-evaluate our marriage and all of the junk in it? He isn't abusive, far from it. It takes a ton of effort to get any emotion out of him. He has no responsibility in his character at all...what I took for 'cute little boyish actions' during our courtship has devolved into 'stupid, irresponsible behavior'.

My heartbreak? I finally realized he will never change. He /can't/. It isn't something counseling will change, even if he wanted to change, he probably can't without intense intervention.

Has anyone else been in this situation? Known someone who has been? From everything I read, around 80% of marriages with an Aspie partner end in divorce. I know why now and was considering it seriously before coming to my conclusions about him last night.

Please share if you have ideas or experience?

Yeshanu
09-18-2008, 06:43 PM
I was out in the car with my daughter about a week ago, and she said, "Dad is proof that autism runs in families."

He doesn't have Asperger's but he's as close to a hermit as you can get. We're separated, but rub along tolerably well.

My younger son is very autistic. My elder son showed some symptoms, and we had him evaluated, but it wasn't a good evaluation because we were dealing with a whole lot of other crap at the time, and that interfered with the picture.

My advice: go speak to a therapist who has some experience dealing with these issues, and who can help you make a decision based on your values and needs. DO NOT make the decision to separate or divorce in haste.

I know that although I left my marriage because I was lesbian, and not because of my husband's extreme introversion, it's perhaps the only action in my entire life I'd take back if I had the chance. (And this is the very first chance I've said this openly...)

Accepting that he's fundamentally unable to change will take time. You have to go through all the steps of grieving that you went through when your daughter was diagnosed, and that will take time. You'll have to revise your hopes and dreams for your marriage, and re-evaluate what you want out of life.

I'm here to listen, Julie. PM me if you need to.

TerzaRima
09-18-2008, 07:17 PM
Your husband is the same person, with or without the diagnostic label. And it isn't necessarily true that people with autism can't change--certain things about them are immutable yes, yes. It depends on what needs to change.

Mela
09-18-2008, 09:06 PM
SouthernFried, would your husband have any concept of, or understand in the least, that he has some level of autism?

mscelina
09-18-2008, 09:13 PM
I think you just need a hug at the moment. {{{{{hugs}}}}}

Stop. Take a deep breath. Find some way to get a couple of days by yourself. If your emotional state is fragile at the moment (and it should be; I would be) then you are incapable of doing anything about this right now. Once you're calmer, educate yourself. Schedule an appointment with your family doctor. Get in touch with organizations that deal with autism/Asperger's. (I know Cranky has a big list) Perhaps if necessary, find a therapist. Then, and only then, can you find the appropriate path for your family. I wouldn't bring this up with your husband until you have all your resources lined up in a row. And then go from there.

Best of luck to you.

SouthernFriedJulie
09-18-2008, 09:36 PM
Thanks all.

Just for the record, I am in a high emotional state. I'm around 6 months pregnant with our 4th child together. Yeah, I know...if you thought something was wrong, why have so many kids. Failed birth control 2 times.

I do appreciate the comments and advice. I am stepping back a bit for now, at least until I can think it through.

I know quite a bit about the Autism Spectrum, my daughter has been in school and therapy since she was 2 1/2, plus as I said, I worked with autistic kids years ago. It's just...somehow very different making the connection between your spouse and the disorder than your child.

I don't know if I CAN leave him. I'm the only person he's ever been with over 2 months in a relationship that accepted his quirks. Walking out because of not being able to handle it now wowuld seem a little stupid and petty. It has been 8 years...I made it this far, maybe I can hold on. He has grown in some aspects in that time.

I will take your adivce and wait, though. Makes the most sense.

Yeshanu
09-18-2008, 10:36 PM
More hugs. The ups and downs of pregnancy are probably messing a bit with your emotional state right now, so sit tight and vent here if you need to.

Four kids together to me points to years in a loving relationship, even if it's different from the romantic ideal that TV and movies and books put into our heads.

And folks with Asperger's (which is often diagnosed much later than pure Autism) can understand their differences and learn to deal with them. But perhaps now, when you're both stressed with the coming addition to the family, isn't the time to start any big changes.

Just my thoughts...

JoNightshade
09-18-2008, 10:57 PM
I agree wholeheartedly with those who've advised you not to make any decisions while pregnant. I've never been pregnant, but I frequently go totally insane just from my menstrual hormones. I FEEL that all of my decisions and my observations are totally rational and justified, only to look back later and wonder what planet I was living on. I can't imagine how nuts pregnancy makes you! :)

But I just wanted to add a little thought here. I've heard many psychologists and counselors say that you can't marry anyone thinking they are going to change. And they're right, you can't. Did you marry your husband for who he was, or who you thought he could be? I suspect we marry for both reasons - but if our husbands never change, we have to accept and love them for who they are, because that's who we married. (Of course not if they are abusive or endangering the family.) I think this is true in all relationships, Aspergers or not. I've seen plenty of people who are married for 20 years and "never change." (*cough*my parents*cough*)

And I say that as someone who is married to a man who is probably borderline Aspergers. :)

pconsidine
09-19-2008, 12:48 AM
Just to throw this out there, but is it possible that this new understanding could actually make it easier to deal with your husband's oddities, now that you know where they come from? After all, I would imagine it would be less damaging to one's self-esteem to know that he would do what you ask if he could.

I don't remember exactly, but I think one of my family members is married to someone with Asperger's and they seem to have an excellent relationship, so I'd say it's possible at least.

Jersey Chick
09-19-2008, 01:16 AM
I don't have any advice, but I do have hugs and more when you need 'em. :)

tjwriter
09-19-2008, 01:25 AM
:Hug2: from one pregnant woman to another.

Cassiopeia
09-19-2008, 01:28 AM
Sweetie, Please find a way to get him evaluated by a professional. Don't try to do this yourself. I know you have a lot of experience but there are other reasons for a person's behaviour.

I have a son who was diagnosed with a mild form of Asperger's. No one wanted to acknowledge that's what they were telling us because they said, "sensory integration" problems but the older my son gets the worse his challenge is. However, let me say that people with Asperger's are typically some of the MOST brilliant people around.

My son is so sweet and very tender. He is in an alternative high school now and doing amazingly well. He can study anything on his own and grasp it. The classroom was just in his way.

Don't be heartbroken sweetheart, look at it as a different way of being. My son is one of the most gifted and amazing people I know. I am blessed to have him in his life. I do have to explain a lot to him why his actions can really upset me but he loves me so much he listens to me even if he doesn't understand it.

So talk, talk and keep talking. Be sure to let your family know how you are feeling all the time and let them help you.

Mysti
09-21-2008, 11:51 PM
Many Hugs!!!

Izunya
09-22-2008, 06:08 AM
My heartbreak? I finally realized he will never change. He /can't/. It isn't something counseling will change, even if he wanted to change, he probably can't without intense intervention.

As someone who used to teach a social skills class for some middle schoolers and high schoolers with Asperger's syndrome . . . well, that's true and it isn't. No, human interaction is never going to be intuitive for him, but he can learn to analyze it in his own way. If he's anything like my students, he's very capable of learning, and what's more, he wants to understand stuff.

One of my students, for instance, decided to teach himself a sense of humor. He checked out a book called something like 1001 Really Good Jokes, and during the last few days of school, he tried them out on most of the special ed department. Making sure to try every joke on every person—in order, of course—so he could get a good cross-section.

(Just between you, me, and the internet, the title of that book? Not truth in advertising. So very, painfully not.)

The amazing thing was, by the time he came back in the fall, he actually seemed to have grown a sense of humor—sort of. I mean, okay, his jokes were more about using a silly voice than saying anything actually funny, but his best friend—another of my students, about twice as autistic and three times as shy—thought they were a hoot. More importantly, he had learned to tell when other people were making a joke. Considering how the neurotypical world works, how many of the things we say should not be taken literally, that's practically a survival skill.

Of course, there are also things that you just have to accept, like the fact that their affect isn't always going to match what they're really feeling. One of my students (the shy one, in fact) once told me, "My grandmother died on Saturday. I'm very sad. I don't feel like doing anything," in the sort of voice you'd use to talk about the weather. Thing is, I know this guy, and I know that he's honest to a fault; I have no doubt that he was grieving. I'm pretty sure that, "I don't feel like doing anything," was his description of depression, especially since his description of autism is, "Sometimes I get stuck." But it sounded like he was complaining about schoolwork.

Man, I've gone on longer than I meant to. Anyway, just let me add my encouragement to what everyone else has said, and suggest you check out Thinking in Pictures, by Temple Grandin. It's a good book.

Izunya

Cassiopeia
09-22-2008, 07:37 AM
thank you for the great book referal. i will see if my son is interested in reading it as well.

oneblindmouse
09-26-2008, 01:52 AM
:Hug2: Oh, Julie, I really feel for you! I sometimes feel my husband is borderline Aspie or something like that, in that his emotions are so weird, out of whack. He's a total genius in some ways, brilliant at maths but very lacking in social skills and cannot understand other people's emotions.

Big hugs, and be strong. I envy you your small children. Enjoy every minute of them! My youngest flew the nest yesterday, so I'm feeling utterly bereft.

Yeshanu
09-26-2008, 04:54 AM
:Hug2: Oh, Julie, I really feel for you! I sometimes feel my husband is borderline Aspie or something like that, in that his emotions are so weird, out of whack. He's a total genius in some ways, brilliant at maths but very lacking in social skills and cannot understand other people's emotions.

Big hugs, and be strong. I envy you your small children. Enjoy every minute of them! My youngest flew the nest yesterday, so I'm feeling utterly bereft.

That certainly sounds like Aspergers, and it may not even be "borderline." Because Aspies can function in everyday society, unlike full-fledged Autistics, they often aren't diagnosed until later, if at all.

And I'm with you on the "utterly bereft" thing. My youngest will not leave home until we're too old to care for him, but my daughter was my constant companion for her last couple of years of high school, because we have very similar tastes and senses of humour. And now she's away at university and only comes home every second weekend.

I'm going to have to get a life outside my children for the first time in 23 years. *sigh*

benbradley
09-26-2008, 07:29 AM
...
I don't know if I CAN leave him. I'm the only person he's ever been with over 2 months in a relationship that accepted his quirks. Walking out because of not being able to handle it now wowuld seem a little stupid and petty. It has been 8 years...I made it this far, maybe I can hold on. He has grown in some aspects in that time.

I will take your adivce and wait, though. Makes the most sense.
I'm bolding that to show it in contrast to a statement you made in the OP:

...
My heartbreak? I finally realized he will never change. He /can't/. It isn't something counseling will change, even if he wanted to change, he probably can't without intense intervention.
I'm hoping the statement "he has grown in some aspects" is a closer reflection of reality.

As I try to say below, I think one of the dangers of a person having a label is both the person and others who are aware of the label will try to fit the labeled person into the label - things the person does outside the label may be dismissed, ignored or forgotten about. Actions that fit the label may be used to reinforce the label.

I have little doubt I would be diagnosed with Asperger's, but I'm not sure if it fits me or not. People say Asperger's is hereditary (and I vaguely recall some hard evidence that "real Autism" may be hereditary), but I have my doubts in general, and certainly about myself. I think my "condition" or whatever I've been in life is much more a result of emotional neglect and abuse I experienced as a child.

I've had "other experiences" as an adult with being labeled with something, but as I got out of that I learned to be hesitant about calling anything a "disease" or "medical condition" based solely on a list of behaviors. And yes, I know that goes against the views of many "experts" as well as much of the general public on a lot of things. Such a label might "helpful" for a short time, but in the long run I found it quite limiting.

Julie, I don't know much about pregnancy or marriage or that stuff, but I do know what it's like to be "labeled." All I can say is please don't treat your husband as "The Autistic Person In My Life" or "The Mis-Socialized Person" or whatever. He's a human being, and no matter how much he may "fit the description" of something, he's still more than just "that something."

Have you read John Robison's book "Look Me In The Eye"? He's been a member of AW since shortly before his book was published last year. I read it and I could relate to a lot of it. Here's John's website:
http://johnrobison.com/
His blog, with lots of interesting stuff...
http://jerobison.blogspot.com/
...such as this link to the therapist that diagnosed him with Asperger's:
http://strongbridgeassociates.com/

Before John's book came out last year, I happened to see the then-new book "The Complete Guide to Asperger's Syndrome" in the local library and I checked it out:
http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Guide-Aspergers-Syndrome/dp/1843104954
It looks like a good book, but I had a hard time reading it. Every place it mentioned an Asperger's Syndrome kid being a victim of bullying (which it mentions quite often), it brought back bad memories for me. It's because of that that I didn't finish the book.

Cassiopeia
09-26-2008, 11:12 AM
The problem is that the diagnosis of Asperger's is fairly over used. Like many things it has its popularity for the time. I wouldn't jump to any conclusions. Like I said before, talk, talk and talk some more.

oneblindmouse
09-26-2008, 12:10 PM
Yeshanu: Every two weeks? Lucky you! I won't see my youngest until Christmas! And, similarly, she's been my mainstay and support for 6 years.

Ben: Very interesting what you say about labelling people. Back in the '70s we studied at uni a case where some children's end-of-year grades corresponded solely with their teachers' expectations rather than the children's actual abilities. The teachers had been given erroneous information about which kids had high or low IQs, and had treated the kids accordingly, with the result that those considered clever had done really well, and those considered 'dense' had done badly.

Thanks for the links. Will read more about AS.

HeronW
09-26-2008, 02:55 PM
My partner has a PhD as a molecular biologist, and she has a rare progressive degenerative disorder. Prognosis is grim but she still fights. Some days are good, some are very bad, but I can't even think of leaving. Read, learn, love.