“The Other Half of Asperger Syndrome” by Maxine Aston

Speech is monotone or speedy, long-winded, repetitive, one-sided, and focused on the speakers main interests.

Facial expressions, body language, and eye contact might be left out completely.

Impairments: social relationships, communication, imagination

Parents often have autistic or Asperger traits.

1 in 250 children are born with Asperger syndrome. 4:1 male to female ratio

1 in 100 children fit somewhere on the autism spectrum.

Women tend to be able to disguise their social difficulties, which can lead to anxiety.

Men are ofter hard workers.

In relationships, the non-spectrum partner tends to be very nurturing, sociable, and emotional.

They often have a specific interest that they know a lot about and excel at, sometimes with no previous knowledge of the subject matter. (Like deconstructing and constructing parts.)

They like routines and may want to have meals at a specific time, only eat certain foods, or have a particular way they want food prepared. They may also obsess over locking or closing door and windows, only cleaning with certain materials, or taking the same routes to go places.

They might want their tooth brush separate.

Socializing/Communication

(These are pulled from the book.)

– may arrange items on a conveyer belt

– leave a party to walk a dog and not return until the party is over

– melt down if thrown a surprise party

– tell someone exactly how they feel about their outfit

– tend not to have many, if any, close friends

– They take things literally, including ‘kill you’ threats.

– smile when the situation doesn’t call for it or their expression can be wooden

– stare too long or look away at inappropriate points in the conversation

– aren’t aware of personal space

– may walk stiffly

– may have trouble knowing when to comfort others

-may sign birthday cards with no message

– might avoid places (like a hospital) because the place makes them uncomfortable even if their friend is in one

– not share in intimate moments

– leave parties

– Children may bottle up everything and then let it out at home, which they consider to be their safe place.

– Jokes, sarcasm, and exaggerations are hard to understand.

– They may not understand the dangers of some actions.

Ex: After seeing someone litter, you throw their trash back at them and say “I believe this is yours” before brushing off your hands and walking away.

Relationships w/ a man as the one with AS

The man is kind and gentle at first. They see their mother as their role model, and they do not conform with masculine roles. Because of this, they may cook, clean, iron, and garden. They seek strong, independent, nurturing women who are often older than them. After being together for a while, they may expect the woman to take on the role their mother did (like cooking and cleaning).

They are hard workers and tend to be in careers that don’t involve working with people: computing, engineering, mathematics, and science.

The couple tends to have one shared common interest: movies, music, etc.

The non-aspie may become the aspie’s obsession.

They tend to marry quickly.

They may want to plan all the trips.

They tend to remember negative dialogue.

Coping Methods

If they get stressed at social functions, provide an exit strategy for them.

Use complete messages – “stating the facts, your thoughts, your feelings, and what it is you need.”

Example from the book:

He: I can see by your face that you are mad at me. I think you are about to start shouting at me. I feel afraid because I do not know how to prevent it. I need to get away as quickly as possible.

She: You keep forgetting to give me a hug before you go to work. I think you do it in purpose. It makes me feel very rejected and hurt. I need you to remember to hug me.

You can use a sticky note reminder wherever it is needed until the behavior becomes a habit.

Always use the word ‘I’

When explaining how you feel, stay away from saying how they made you feel be using ‘you’ statements, like YOU embarrassed me, which can seem like an attack. Use I statements.

Ex: I was upset by what you said earlier. Can we talk about it?

Respond; don’t react

Try not to get angry or defensive. Use complete responses.

never assume

Don’t go off of their expressions to determine how they feel; just ask.

use letters to communicate deep thoughts or concerns

This gives them time to thing everything out and express themselves. Agree that there will be a response to the letter given within a certain time period.

give an incentive

You have to give them a reason to want to change and a reward for making the change.

Talking

Talking on the phone or through email can be easier because it doesn’t require facial expressions to be used. Talking with the lights dimmed also reduces confusion and helps them feel more at ease. You can do this in a living room. Dim the lights, turn off any distractions, including phones, and hold hands.

Make you responses equal in length to theirs, and take turns.

If it seems like they are tuning out, say it again in a different way and ask them to repeat what you’ve said in their own words.

Ask only one question about a subject at a time.

listening

Have one person talk about a neutral subject for two minutes and then repeat it back to them. Then switch.

anger

They have a fear of confrontation and will avoid angry directed at them by becoming defensive, not talking, or leaving the room, sometimes disappearing for days.

Make it a rule to end the conversation if it gets to uncomfortable, or use a color system and ask what color the person is on at different points in the conversation.

Green = okay

Yellow = starting to feel unsure

Red = I want to stop this now.

Sports help to alleviate built up anger.

They might break something, but quickly defuse and wonder how they scared people with their actions.

sex

They can be asexual or obsessed with sex.

Something that irritates them might make them not want to have sex.

more

– Think of restaurants ahead of time, so that you will know both of you like the food.

– They will do very well at a tasks you give them and will not rest until it is completed, so make sure to task them with the right thing.