Wednesday, November 23, 2011

How Do I Handle Marriage to a Spouse with Asperger Syndrome?
From Lisa Jo Rudy, former Guide
Updated December 17, 2010 Health's Disease and Condition content is reviewed by the Medical Review Board
Question: How Do I Handle Marriage to a Spouse with Asperger Syndrome?
My husband was recently diagnosed as having Asperger syndrome, a high functioning type of autism. He graduated from an Ivy League school, but his self-absorption, social awkwardness and rigid behaviours have affected our marriage with devastating emotional impact. Is there hope for improvement?
Answer: From Dr, Bob Naseef:
If there is one word that describes the reaction of a family member to the diagnosis of autism in someone you love, that word is loneliness. That's what I hear in your question. Rest assured that you are not alone in having this response. There is help for your husband as well as yourself. Now that autism is more widely recognized, adults as well as children, who may have not been identified as autistic in the past, are being diagnosed. This is particularly true for high functioning autism (HFA) and Asperger Sydrome (AS).
There is even a web site devoted to the issues faced by spouses and partners at Asperger Syndrome Partners and Individuals Resources, Encouragement & Support. There are numerous helpful articles archived there. There is also an e-mail subscription list for individuals with AS, and those who have a parent, spouse, or child with AS. Family and relational experiences, resources, survival tips, encouragement, and hope are offered there.
It is through this kind of sharing that many people help each other lighten the burdens of living and find coping strategies and solutions for many issues in relationships. Certainly it is not easy to bridge the communication gap that exists in the everyday life which you describe. Being simultaneously relieved and trapped is a treacherous dilemma. Usually with more information comes hope, so I would suggest you begin to learn more about Asperger syndrome. There are numerous books and websites. One good medical site to start at would be the PENN Social Learning Disorders Program. There you will see your husband's condition described as a social learning disorder which is a helpful way to look at his differences and the challenges that face both of you.
It is also important to look at the history of your relationship. You must have had good times together and shared positive feelings about each other. Try to recapture whatever glimmers of that you can of what brought you together. You may benefit from consultation with a mental health professional who is experienced in helping people in your kind of situation. Even if your husband won't go with you, you may gain some insight into the relationship that will help you regain some hope, and possibly change the chemistry of what is happening right now in your relationship.
From Dr. Cindy Ariel:
It is often both a major relief and a major disappointment to be diagnosed or married to someone who is diagnosed on the autism spectrum as an adult. Your hopes may be dashed and it may feel worse right now but the truth is your husband is still the same man you have loved and married. There is no way out of the autism diagnosis but now that you and he know more about him and his sensitivities and behaviors it is finally possible to find ways to compensate and learn and change and grow.
People can change. In our profession, we help people to change and would not do what we do if we did not believe with certainty that it is possible Since your husband functions at a high cognitive level he will be able to use that to learn social behavior that is less awkward and rude. In order to work on this it will be important for him to accept his diagnosis. That is the next hardest step; after that you and he can work on overcoming the hurdles and progress can be seen. He can change.
Accepting the diagnosis may be the biggest barrier to change. If your husband is willing to see a counselor, or even to get a second opinion so that the data begins to grow it could help him to see what is difficult for him to accept right now. Reading books by other high level adults with autism such as Stephen Shore, Temple Grandin, and Donna Williams may also be very helpful for him to begin to gather the cognitive evidence he may need to understand and accept his diagnosis.
Once the diagnosis is made and then accepted, people with autism are able to move forward; not quickly and easily perhaps but slowly and steadily. It takes patience and perseverance. You will both have to change some of your current understanding and expectations. In every marriage couples must make some sacrifices and compromises that they did not expect and this often brings couples to a deeper more mature place in their love, marriage and commitment to one another.
Robert Naseef, Ph.D., and Cindy Ariel, Ph.D., are the co-editors of "Voices from the Spectrum: Parents, Grandparents, Siblings, People with Autism, and Professionals Share Their Wisdom" (2006). On the web at Alternative Choices.
Parenting Children with Asperger's Syndrome
Family Dynamics

Recognizing Asperger's in You or Your Spouse by William Stillman
· Broach the subject with your spouse by asking open-ended or leading questions that will provide opportunity for reflection, like, “Do you think our child gets her love of science from your side of the family?”
· Because you are both still assimilating your child's experience, allow yourself and your spouse time to process this new twist on the situation.
· The conversations you have about Asperger's in the family should build slowly and incrementally.
· Avoid guilt, blame, and finger-pointing accusations like, “It's all your fault our child is this way.”
· Offer to explore and research Asperger's Syndrome with your spouse or to provide your spouse with whatever literature you've already gathered.
· Discuss marriage counseling or other professional supports in partnership with your spouse.
Understanding Asperger's as a probability for you and your spouse will be a learning time for you both. It can create marital stress and turmoil, or it can be an opportunity to strengthen and enhance your marriage.
Monsters everywhere.
Even at 54 I still need to be cared about.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Sept. 25. The Road to Cheyenne

This may be the first time I have been on this stretch of I-80. I usually make the turn up to Yellowstone, after all who can pass that up - my favorite national park. But this is part of the reason I have missed other sites in the area. Leaving Salt Lake City was beautiful, colorful layers of sedimentary rock which later became enormous wind-blown sculptures. The altitude is higher and the temperature much cooler than yesterday. The last two thirds of the drive was mostly dry plains with the occasional sighting of a herd of small deer.
Yesterday was the first time I had been out on the open plains since the trip to Africa and every so often I would spot something off in the distance which I was sure was some kind of animal - most likely a hyena - but it always turned out to be a car coming around the horizon. We spent so many days in that African van searching for animals that it is a hard habit to break. I am very well trained to scan the distance and may not have noticed the deer today if not for my newly trained eyes.
Sorry about any typos and grammar - all of today's info was put in through the I-pod.
More tomorrow,
Yippee Ki Yea

Friday, September 24, 2010

Sept. 23 and 24 Traveling Again

Wow, what a difference it makes to travel in the Fall. Not only are there less people (crowds), but all the colors, and the air and moods are different.
Yesterday (the 23rd), I left very late and drove to the moon. Well, that's what it felt like anyway. I just spoke to Virginia on the phone and she said, "Remember, this all happened for a reason," (I'll tell you what that's about later). She was right! If I hadn't left so late yesterday I never would have had the opportunity to drive to the moon. The harvest moon was so incredibly huge that it filled the end of the highway in front of me and it felt like, if I just kept going, I would reach it. I spent the evening watching the moon change size as it rose into the night. And the night became day with its incredible brightness.
I didn't arrive at the Nugget (casino, What was I thinking?), until 10:30, and guess what? There was a big biker's convention in town. All the hotels and roads were packed with bikers. Which is fine with me. I have only had positive experience with these fellow road lovers.
Checking into the casino was a bit of a fiasco, as usual. But when I finally got to the room it was quite nice, and quiet.
This morning I exercised (good for me) and hit the road at about 10:30 AM. But not before I realized that I had left my most important travel bag at home! It contains my entire itinerary, directions, doctors info, maps, tour books and reading material. And most importantly, all of my food! I guess I set it aside to keep with me in the front seat and then just left it there -- hence the phone call to Virginia. (Turns out she can't get into the house because she has an old key - I will have to deal with all this in due course. All I can say is thank god for I-pods.)
Today was all driving. It will be the most one day driving I do on the trip and I am glad it's finished. I have checked into the Hilton who lets me use the internet to try to reconstruct my itinerary and I look forward to their very comfy beds.
The high desert today was beautiful. I saw my first color change between the hills - oranges, greens, and yellows. There was a fantastic display of color and light over the salt flats.
More later. :)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Aug. 12, 2010 Home

Nineteen hours starting at 4 AM. My god it was grueling. Four different flights and changes. Three customs checks, checking and rechecking baggage, passing through security four times,
riding trains (with all my luggage) to switch terminals, waiting for flights, keeping track of the correct currency, when to buy water, and finally the last flight from Calgary to SF was jam packed and full of shrieking children.

By the time I got to SFO and claimed by baggage and tried to call Kathy for the pick-up ride on my expired phone minutes, I had a mini-breakdown. After sobbing for a few minutes I felt better and managed to hold it together until Kathy and Phil dropped me at home.

Home feels weird and I can't wait to leave again.

Aug. 11, 2010 The Highlands and Loch Ness

I caught the tour bus at 10:15 AM. It is actually raining today and I have made good use of Kathy's umbrella.
Our first stop was at the burial cairn of a woman from 4000 years ago. It is now located in a farmer's field. The pile of stones covers a tomb inside where the bones and belongings of a woman were found. The cairn is surrounded by eleven (not twelve) standing stones and on the winter solstice the sun rises to shine directly into the tomb.
Next, we went to the Loch Ness Center where we went through the standard tourist presentations about the history of Nessie, the Loch Ness sea monster. This, of course, was followed by the obligatory gift shop.
Our next stop was Urquart Castle. Originally founded by a pagan "Pict" group, it has been owned, expanded on, raided and destroyed by the Scots, British, and Jacobites. It was alternately inhabited by the Scots and Brits several times. Only ruins of the castle exist now - the last group having blown it up with gunpowder.
We were given two hours to eat lunch, visit the gift shop, watch a short movie and walk around the ruins. It was raining off and on and two hours was too much. By the time the boat came to pick us up, we were soaked.
We had a 1 1/2 hour boat ride along Loch Ness (no signs of Nessie) and back to Inverness.
Tomorrow - the long trip home.