The question every Neurotypical spouse asks at some point
I took this post offline for a while for three reasons: 1. I was pissed off. 2. I questioned if it could truly benefit an NT wife living with an adult Aspie. 3. I did want to endorse spending money on anything about Asperger’s syndrome (in general) unless I could personally attest to the value of it. So let me explain:
I went to this forum religiously (for reasons explained below in the original post). I always knew when I posted a question to the members that I would receive some flak and responses filled with sheer ignorance about Asperger’s syndrome. I always used those responses to inspire why I needed to begin sharing what “I” knew to be true. One day I opted to link my blog post: WHAT ABOUT ASPERGER’S SYNDROME AND EMPATHY? to see how the members would receive my opinions. I fell asleep after posting it and awakened to a few personal emails that indicated my post had stirred up some hate-filled and bitter responses with ensuing arguments that got nasty (either toward me, or between forum members). While the emails I received were ones telling me they enjoyed the post, or found it insightful, they also told me they thought it royally “sucked” the entire post had been removed by the forum administrators. I had no idea that it had sparked all of this emotion, nor did I know it had been removed from the website at the time I read those emails. I wish I could have stayed awake long enough to know exactly what the context was of all the negativity I had inadvertently instigated, but I never had the opportunity to read any of it because the forum administrators took that away from me.
On this particular website, we all write controversial things (as ASD, Autism, Asperger’s syndrome and talking about something as important and emotional as our children does frequently trigger intense feelings). It is not abnormal for many posts to lead to snarky comments and utter rudeness toward members with opposing viewpoints. If someone gets particularly nasty, the forum administrators will delete their comment, but not the whole post that fueled the emotion.
One of the reasons I kept going back was because the platform was so open, as I believed it was promoting honest discussions that need to occur about a topic so taboo and unknown in society. This initial reason for being willing to pay to be a member of the group got me thinking.. there I was, advocating to my blog readers to consider this unexpected group (Aspie parents) to help them learn valuable lessons, perhaps they weren’t as “open” as I originally perceived? Despite not agreeing with the majority of information put out on it by the members themselves (not the authors), I was mature enough to look past that and find something beneficial from my membership.
When I learned my entire post was removed, I felt rather betrayed by the very creators. I felt that they had cherry-picked my insight and opinion as being “too controversial” to leave up, while having no urge to remove the countless morons out there blaming vaccines and other unproven or ridiculous media-hyped links to Autism Spectrum Disorders. It was because of this selective censorship that I became angry and took down this blog post for almost four months.
This pissed off feeling made me question whether or not the recommendation of other NT wives reading what these parents had to say would benefit them or cause them to feel more alienated and misunderstood. It was because of this pissed off feeling that I decided I would not allow an endorsement that cost money to be made by me if there was any chance it could cause more harm than good.
Ultimately… after much consideration (and re-reading the original post), I decided that I would open it back up for you to decide for yourselves if there is something to benefit from it. In the end, I still admit this is the only group membership that ever benefited me in any way (despite joining many others in the past).
While I believe only one of the original founders of Asperger Experts is still involved in the website, I still have to say that it is worth checking out if you are interested in how current members of society who are actively raising Aspie sons (like your husband) are receiving, processing, and making sense of the information they have. I think it will be beneficial to you to look inside the minds of these parents for many reasons but most of all, the creators do give an interesting glimpse into what it might have been like “in the mind” of your husband when he was younger.
When a neurotypical wife begins their hunt for “like minds” to begin processing Asperger’s syndrome, they often consider joining forums to share their story and get advice. More often then not, their search begins with reading tons of articles on the subject. When an NT spouse reads these articles, they may think, “Ok, this is good” but then when they look beneath it, realize that upwards of 90% of every response/comment is from an NT spouse who has (or is about to) give up on their marriage.
What began as a hunt for help turns into a feeling of hopelessness as they come upon more stories of utter negativity and failure.
I began looking into and following Asperger forums written by Aspies themselves (to avoid the hopeless NT pitfall). I had simply given up on the hostile and broken NT ones and had long-since abandoned the “professional insight” ones (since they never really gave me tangible advice I could utilize). I thought perhaps going directly to the people who live in my husband’s fascinating world would yield better results. I figured, if for nothing else, they could offer something the others could not.
Unfortunately, despite still following many of these writers and loving what they have to say and how they express their difficulties, challenges, successes, and general perspectives… I still came up empty in finding practical means of helping my own marriage. It was/is sometimes frustrating to read the words of Aspie’s and know that they do not understand what it is that they are doing “wrong” that causes so much angst from the NT community (so they ironically vent equally about NT’s and their cruel and un-empathetic behavior). I think that it is important for an NT spouse to read what the Aspie bloggers have to write still, and I will link you to some of my favorite websites in future posts that you may also love.
For purposes of something that might actually “help” you, this is what I opted to do at the end of my internet search for a good forum to join. I wholeheartedly recommend to adult NT spouses married to a partner with Asperger’s Syndrome to do this:
Consider finding a DIFFERENT group of people for advice
I belong to a forum for parents of Asperger/Autism diagnosed children. In all of my attempts to locate a group of positive people to provide support for my struggles, it was only this group that ever offered it.
With this private group forum I go to (daily) being dedicated to parents who are desperate to provide a good life for their children (is there any motivation stronger than that?) I get to see people who will never offer advice to “leave” or abandon their children. This provides me with a new perspective of what it is like to see people who are also met with failure and struggles every day, who continue to maintain an optimistic outlook and strive for “something else” each time one avenue proves unsuccessful.
Since I hope I have sparked some interest in what group I am referring to exactly, I will let you in on my big secret. This group was founded by two young adult men, Danny and Hayden, who have Asperger’s Syndrome (they call themselves ASPERGER EXPERTS) and honestly… they are absolutely deserving of the title more than anyone else who uses their professional credentials to try to justify being deserving of such a term.
In ALL of the things I have read and searched for over the past five years, these guys (barely into adulthood themselves) have managed to make more sense of my husband than any adult or professional EVER COULD. They are phenomenal men who are doing a wonderful service for parents of children diagnosed with Aspergers. They refer to their forum as an “Asperger & Autism Parent Support Network” but I think by their self-proclaimed title you may see that they are what I consider “straight-up-Aspies” and likely as deserving of the Autism Spectrum Disorder label as my husband (sarcasm). <—- If you have read my other posts, you are likely aware that I am NOT a huge supporter of the umbrella term ASD (to put it mildly).
The most incredible thing about these two Asperger Experts? They are being paid fractions of what the “professionals” are making to spout off all of their brilliance in one useless therapy session! I pay $14.99 per month to have access to better information and tools than any book I have purchased ever yielded (and I paid far more than that amount per month on wasted literature), so I recommend them to anyone who would like to find a “different” perspective who are also willing to spare some extra cash.
What do I mean by a new or different perspective?
The support groups intended to be positive for women married to Aspie men always end up being fueled with advice to get out as soon as possible and limitless stories of their Aspie’s negative behaviors and attributes. They seemed to want to help one another initially (if you go back to the origins of the forums), but since every effort on their behalf ultimately fails… the only help they can offer in the end is to advise other women to stop wasting their lives and get divorced.
That is why the perspective of parents who would never allow the thought of leaving their own beloved child is so important to a Neurotypical wife who really just wants help, not tips on running away quickly.
It was in large, because of these parents that I first began adapting my attitude about my husband John. I began to consider that maybe I should try to regard him with the same dedication I would give my daughter B, instead of always having one foot out the door. Since abandoning my child would NEVER be an option to consider; I wondered how my mindset could change if I chose to delete that option for my marriage as well.
The only problem with this forum (for an NT wife seeking help in her marriage) and the wonderful insight from these two guys is that they fall short of having a true grasp of what it is like to navigate through a marriage like mine or John’s. They are the small statistic who has figured out enough to potentially avoid the very dynamic we (and so many others) exist in, and thankfully they are reaching thousands of parents with their insight to help those children grow into successful happy adults like they are.
Obviously another problem is that, THEY HAVE ASPERGER’S SYNDROME! They are not going to be able to decipher what that “means” for the neurotypicals in their life and they do not attempt to make sense of that very often.
Their focus is on enlightening NTs about how the young Aspie mind receives and responds to the world around them. They haven’t the insight to enlighten an Aspie to the NT side (obviously not something to hold them accountable to).
Because of their inability to speak on behalf of an adult NT/Aspie relationship, even with the new found enlightenment they have given me, the path still hits a dead end for my marriage in a lot of ways. It is one thing to begin to identify and correct coping behaviors and misunderstandings in a person’s childhood and adolescence… it is an entirely different ballgame when we are talking about 30+ years of negative behaviors and belief-systems that are near-impossible to penetrate.
It is far easier for a parent to influence the behavior of their child than a spouse for their husband. As an NT spouse, we do not hold the awesome ability to utilize the same consequences for behavior and/or positive reinforcement and rewards that most parents have at their disposal. In fact, if we offer ultimatums to our adult Aspie husband, we can typically expect a terribly hostile and defensive defiance… which creates the very parent/child dynamic we are so desperate to extinguish in our adult partnership.
Regardless of the inability to speak directly on the topic of an Asperger Marriage, the tools Danny and Hayden give are a phenomenal foundation in any Aspie/NT dynamic and the support group members themselves… priceless!
Fair warning: The parents (mostly moms) in this forum do not mince words and they are unapologetic in their critiques or opinions (I actually find this helpful once I let go of my instinctive feeling of rejection when they disagree with me). If you are someone who does not handle rejection from outsiders well, tread lightly before you post a strong opinion on here. If these parents think (for even a split second) that your words are incorrect, biased, or painting a bad light on the children they love… they are like mama-bears protecting their cubs and go for blood.
On the flip side, there are no bigger advocates then these parents when it comes to finding answers and help (as misguided and misinformed as they often are). It is not lost on me that these mothers can become a driving force to altering the current crash-course Asperger/Autism education is on (if they ever get the right information in their hands).
Since you will never find a group of people that rally behind one another for a positive cause (to better their children’s future) like these parents, I would be remiss if I did not share with you that this website/forum has helped me. It is worthy of consideration if you are tired of listening to people who think giving up is the only viable option.