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Poppy's mom
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Hi,
My boyfriend has Asperger syndrome. It's a lighter shade of autism, light enough, in my boyfriend's case, to make a relationship possible.
It does have its challenges however.
I find a lot of support groups and ressources for parents of Asperger children but close to nothing for partners in an 'Asperger couple'. I know there are more of us out there. I ordered a book about love relationships with an Asperger person and it feels so good to be able to relate so much to what the author describes (she knows!! she understands!!).
If anyone who has a partner with Asperger or has Asperger syndrome themselves would like an occasional chat for support, I would love that. You can send me a private message and I will give you my personal email address.
Thank you!
 

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Penny's Dad was diagnosed early last fall. What a relief! After 45 years of marriage I finally have an answer to "Why are you treating me this way?" As difficult as it is, it was a huge relief to me that it wasn't personal. Now I have a better idea of what to expect and how to help him function.

You can pm me anytime, too.
 

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I am sure my niece (23) has Asperger Syndrome. I have talked to my sister about it and she has talked to my niece. While we are very close, it was hard to point out that her daughter has some things about her that aren't the same as they are for my daughter. (also 23) My niece has made an appointment with a Doc so I will be anxious to see what he has to say. When asked I have said that she is my favorite relative. She is pure genius and has been reading since the age of 3. Both of her parents are super smart (a geophysicist and an accountant). You think with all that brain power they could have figured out why my niece was socially a wreck. I understand the Syndrome is diagnosed more in adulthood than childhood but I wish we could go back and increase her quality of Jr High and High School. Better late than never though right? I will keep you posted on her diagnosis. Please keep me posted on your Boyfriend and your Dad.
 

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I had a friend through late middle school and high school with Asperger's. I haven't kept in touch with her much in recent years but I do remember the struggle. She had a rough life and so many people did not understand her. She was subject to horrible bullying all through grade school because of her lack of social skills and overall weirdness. It's horrible how cruel people can be. I was her friend...although it wasn't always easy.
 

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What is really hard for those of us on this side of AS is to understand that what seems so simple and natural to us, is impossible for them. It isn't a matter of not trying hard enough or caring enough, it's like that part of life is just gone from them. Hard to wrap my head around it sometimes.
 

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Poppy's mom
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Discussion Starter #6
What Penny's mom says is very true. Aspies (yep, that's the nick!) are pointed at for not understanding us non-Asperger's people, but they try so hard! My boyfriend says that at the end of the day, he is tired not just from his regular work day but also from the ever-constant struggle to understand people, the social codes, etc and to act and respond correctly to the non-verbal messages. It must be hard for him. He has suffered a lot in his life because of that. He has been bullied as a kid too.

But it's hard for us too, partners, friends, family of Aspies. How can such a brilliant person fail to understand simple sarcasm? Body language? He cannot interpret any aspect of the verbal or non-verbal speach if it's not clear first level. He means so well but he can seem so careless -while he's not. And yes, even with the best efforts, there are some things he just cannot achieve, not the way we, non-Asp. people, conceive it. Empathy is probably the main thing.

I am learning different ways of interacting and communicating with my boyfriend. The fact that he know he has Asperger's and is willing to talk about it helps a lot. We even joke about it sometimes. But no, it's not easy to live with an Aspie partner. I do get exasperated, discouraged, frustrated, stressed out and lonely. But I try -and he tries- to make things better. It can be very energy consuming at times, but I think, I hope, it is worth it.
 

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I have found that I can simplify his world by telling him specifically what to do. He doesn't have 'creative' judgement. Like I kept getting mad that he kept pushing the garbage down into the can (in the house can) instead of taking it out. I thought he was just being lazy and/or ornery. But really, he couldn't tell when it was full...couldn't make that judgement. He thought he was fine and this was how it was done. He had to memorize "don't push, take out" otherwise he would do the 'inappropriate' behavior. It simplifies things if I just ask him "could you take out the garbage please?" He's always pleased to be helpful and jumps right to it.

It can be a problem dealing with 'inappropriate' behaviors and words. One time when I made a mistake he said "Well, I thought you'd use your g-d brain for once". He didn't understand how inappropriate that was.

Now that we know what is going on and I understand what kind of direction helps, we are on a much more easy path. The first 45 years were the hardest.
 

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Remy's Mom!
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Have any of you watched the show "Parenthood"? I have a cousin with asperger's and the show has really helped her family better understand where she is coming from.
 

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I haven't seen it? Is the person high functioning? Not all AS blurt out obscenities and stuff like that.

Penny's Dad is very high functioning and the diagnosis didn't come until all the 'oddities' were put together and all other diagnosis...narcissism and other personality disorders...were ruled out.
 

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I just discovered the show The Big Bang Theory, and one of the main characters appears to have Aspberger's.

It is now my new favorite show, and I love Sheldon. I am in the IT field, and have known many computer programmers just like him.

I have a couple friends that have children in the spectrum, and these poor mother's really do go through a lot. One of them it took a couple years for her son to be diagnosed, they kept on telling her to go to class for parenting skills when she would take her child to the doctors.
 
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Penny's Dad has been in computers, the big mainframe types, since the early 60s. It was a perfect job for him and he excelled. There was little to no interaction required, he could live in his world undisturbed. No one ever thought of it as the perfect 'cover' for his AS but it turns out he was comfortable there so he stayed there.
 

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Penny's Dad has been in computers, the big mainframe types, since the early 60s. It was a perfect job for him and he excelled. There was little to no interaction required, he could live in his world undisturbed. No one ever thought of it as the perfect 'cover' for his AS but it turns out he was comfortable there so he stayed there.

That just makes so much sense with different people that I have met over the years in this field. Many have no social lives, would work 24 hours a day and are perfectly content in their cube all day.

Do they also tend to be hoarders or savers in anyway? I had one programmer I worked with and he used to save newspapers ( along with other things ) must have had three years of newspapers in his cube because one day he was going to read them. I used to tell him all the time that they were outdated.

You know, now that I think of it, it he would never look us in the eye when we had discussions with him, he would flutter his eyelashes really fast. He was a genius, but the last year I worked with him, he wasn't as sharp as he used to be, I think his doctor started medicating him but we never knew what for. I knew nothing about Asperger's when I met him, but now things are really making sense.
 

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Poppy's mom
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Discussion Starter #13
My boyfriend works in IT too. He is very high functionning as well. It's true there is a higher number of people with Asperger's in the IT and scientific fields.
I've heard of the Big Bang Theory show but haven't seen it. I have not head of Parenthood.
I watch Grey's Anatomy however and I remember vaguely that there was an Aspie doctor visiting a couple of seasons ago. The 'low affect' trait was well played by the actress.
Penny's mom (and other spouses of Aspies): "The Other Half of Asperger Syndrome" is a good read. Concise and really hits home. At last I felt understood when I read that book. It is by Maxine C. Aston and I bought it via Amazon. Here are a few quotes from that book:

Although expressing feelings such as insecurity would immediately signal that maybe a hug is needed, this will not always happen when the communication is with a partner who has Asperger syndrome. He will not be able to guess what you want: you have to tell him.

(about arguments)
(...) it can make conversing very tiring and lenghty, especially when you are feeling fed up and just wish that your partner would understand the point of what is being said.

Trying some way of getting a particular point accross to your partner can lead to frustration, anger and utter despair.

A lot of hard work and changes will be required by both partners, but especially by the partner without Asperger syndrome.

Adults with Asperger syndrome can be very dependable and, if given something to do, as long as they want to do it, they will do it no matter what. They will complete the job and it will be done to perfection.

(about social gatherings)
(...) they may start talking about their favourite hobby and some poor unsuspecting person becomes trapped in a one-way conversation.

(...) not realising that honesty is not always the best policy when asked to give an opinion can cause problems. Those with Asperger syndrome will inevitably give a very honest answer, often causing offence.
 

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Poppy's mom
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Do they also tend to be hoarders or savers in anyway? I had one programmer I worked with and he used to save newspapers ( along with other things ) must have had three years of newspapers in his cube because one day he was going to read them. I used to tell him all the time that they were outdated.
They have very narrow fields of interest and they drill deep, deep into them. My boyfriend is a weather maniac as well as a radio amateur. We have all the weather equipment here and he has his own website which displays temperature, winds, rain, etc, etc updated every minute or so. We also have a web of radio cables (oh, he would hate my use of such barbaric terms!).. ok.. he has an 'elaborate set of antenas' perched over the house, the garage and the trees. I am the not so happy beneficiary of lenghty, elaborate encyclopedic-like monologues about weather systems and radio waves...
 

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I like to watch Hoaders-type shows. Penny's Dad see many similarities between them and him. He never wants to throw anything out because he might need it later. It's very hard because I tend to be a minimalist. Opposites attract?

Actually, he can't make the 'creative' judgement regarding the value of items and rather than throw away something of value he simplifies it by keeping things. BUT, he doesn't go out and buy things to keep. He keeps broken things, thinking he will fix them. We have a running joke in the family that if/when I die my daughter has to make sure I get buried. I'm afraid he will lay me on the shelf under his work bench: she can't be THAT dead, I'm pretty sure I can get her running again!

He also can't determine value in the grocery store so he buys the least expensive things he can find. He will stand in the grocery store aisles figuring out the prices per ounce, piece, pound...whatever. He can go thru the entire soup aisle, do all the math, remember all the answers and then pick the cheapest soup...which isn't always the soup I want. I've eaten a lot of crappy soup. He gets really upset when he's figured it out according to HIS comfort level and then I buy something more expensive which puts him WAY out of his comfot level.

There are times, however, when I do want to do a cost comparison so his skill comes in handy. I call him my math-magician!

The one thing about AS is that for them to survive WE have to live in THEIR world, a world that doesn't make sense to me, at all.

He's solved his social conflicts and inability to understand social situations by piggy-backing on mine. He loves me showing horses...it gets him out of the house and in with people, goals, pursuit of perfection without having to be directly involved. He's more of a bystander.
 

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His consuming interest is reading. Which makes for a very lonely life for me. He's always face down in a book or reading on the computer. He has to take a book EVERYWHERE we go. It's his security, it's where he 'goes' when the world is too much for him. He even takes a book when we go to clean the barn...I'm thinking you're going to clean. When do you think you will be sitting and reading???
 

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Poppy's mom
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Discussion Starter #17
He goes into books?
My boyfriend has self-stimulatory behaviors, intellectual ones. He goes into some sort of trance on his own will. He needs to do it daily, sometimes for just a few seconds, sometimes longer. He has been hiding this forever... He knew other people didn't do that but did not understand why he did it, what was different about him.

As for being a by-stander, well he used to be, until about a year ago, a semi-professional photographer (on the side of his real job). So whenever he was at a social event, he would shoot, either because he had a contract or because, in office parties for instance, it gave him 'something to do', a definite role that made people happy and that could enable him to be part of the social gathering without being involved in conversations.
 

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I think he feels his biggest connection to the social world is thru me and the horses. I have a close circle of friends. When we're at a horse show, we might gather at someone's camper. He sits there, interested but not much to say and yet he has a good time because he feels 'normal'. I keep teasing him that almost anyone would feel normal after hanging around with a bunch of horse crazy women for 3 or 4 days. But it's a world he would never have entered on his own. And all husbands are accepted there...no questions asked. So for him, it's a very welcoming world. I call him my Chef d'equippe or "in charge of the equipment". He takes his job very seriously...wiping down bits and bridles after a class. Making sure everything is put away properly. Making sure everything is clean, he makes all the repairs. Like right now the ball on the trailer hitch needs grease. He will take care of that.

I've found the best way to keep him calm is to give him tasks that set him up for success. And not letting him know that I am doing it.

We'll be going to our annual awards banquet in a couple of weeks. He won't really say much to anyone beyond the greetings. I understand that and let him enjoy the evening in his own way. I jabber enough for 2 people anyway! Probably part of what made me attractive to him...he could 'hide' behind me.

I'll suggest to him that he could be the banquet photographer. I think that would work for him. Our club has a newsletter, I'm sure photos would be appreciated and wouldn't he be proud to see his pics in the newsletter! Thanks for the idea!
 

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Kye & Coops Mom
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I applaude all of you. The steps you must learn to help your partner function on his best level is amazing. That you love them enough, work hard enough to bring them the best foot forward is a credit to your love and determination and I know must be hard for you, feelings hurt many times.

My brother was blind, nothing was wrong for him but this. In our family we adapted things for him, but he was treated as any boy would have been. But social skills were harder. With no sight he could not emulate others, so this was his much greater handicap than his blindness. Living in a world with "normal" people is honestly a complicated mess of everyday sights, sounds, activities and interaction with others. When things are "off" it complicates everything else.

I have watched some of the shows like Hoarders etc and it is hard to imagine how far some take things because they can't put two plus two quite together as others do.

The paths you walk are not ever going to be easy. Your love and confidence will bring them such joy. You are special people with a lot of love and compassion.

I never heard of AS until this thread. It is great that more are being diagnosed and treatment can begin. Think getting into "Their" world to understand is amazing.
 

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Thanks, Deber. I think the most important thing for a non-AS spouse is to not let themselves get lost in an AS relationship. It's been very hard to keep the 'me' that I was before I met him. It was hard for him to see me venture off into my own interests that he couldn't comprehend but it's saved the soul of who I am.

That's why my animals, my music, my needlework and sewing are so important to me. I have to remember that I am not defined by him.
 
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