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Autism in a marriage

I see so many times on social media and forums where someone asks if people with autism can live a married life. It most certainly can be done, but it takes a lot of work and understanding by both parties.

How can I know this for sure? My husband of 18 years has HFA, or high functioning autism. We did not find this out until about 11 years into our marriage, and it actually saved it. Our marriage was heading to the toilet, I was buying a house and my husband was making plans to move.

In this same time period I was struggling to figure out what was going on with our son. Finding out he had Aspergers turned a light bulb on. I was able to piece together what I read about Aspergers and saw glimmers of my husband, who was later found to have HFA.

Now I wanted to work on saving our marriage. I started to learn all the things I needed to do a little differently for our son and for my husband.

I stopped using metaphors and cliches and worked to make sure my words could be taken literally, because they would. Turns out actions are treated the same way! I thought my husband had lost interest, I even climbed in bed naked one night to no avail. Much later I learned he just thought I was hot. As in excessively warm. 😉

Communication has been the key. Sometimes its hard but he and I will talk until he can finally express what’s bothering him. I work hard at being very straightforward and try not to get frustrated when things don’t go right.

Our household is nothing if not interesting!

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Asperger’s: Good? Bad?

You hear so often people say “their son suffers from autism” or “what a shame he’ll never be normal”. Both of these make me shudder.

Let’s start with normal. If you think someone should aspire to be normal, you’re not just saying normal is the ideal but you’re also saying that person is somehow less than. Normal is not a state of health, it’s a washer setting. I would never set normal as a goal.

On to the suffering. On my mother’s street there is a young man with profound autism. He is in his mid-20s and my mom knows him because his father takes him on walks every night. The son carries with him a plush toy that squeaks. If dad gets involved in a conversation and the son wants to get going, he squeaks it. He is non-verbal.

My mother, like many others, equates this with inability to communicate and lack of intelligent thought processes. Nothing could be further from the truth. My mother learned this when the young man presented her with a beautiful poem he had written.

I’m pretty sure I know how she reacted, this is a woman who used to yell when speaking to the doctor across the street because he was Taiwanese.

I have a son with Aspergers. He’s almost an adult now, but despite all the coping skills I taught him it can still occasionally interfere with his day. Those little hassles of daily life sometimes seem monumental to him. He doesn’t know when people are being sarcastic or facetious.

He also has an incredible focus and drive I doubt he’d have without the Aspergers. He is very smart, altho he has great difficulty with some things, like math.

He is a kind, gentle person who takes people at face value.

No, my child on the autism spectrum will never be average, typical, or normal. And I couldn’t be happier!