Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders

Search This Site

When Aspergers Runs In The Family

Aspergers (high functioning autism) is often an invisible disability. Because it is so subtle, it can go undetected. It is very likely that there many adults on the spectrum living and working in your community who are undiagnosed.

It is hypothesized that certain types of individuals with “Aspergers-like” traits (e.g., smart, but antisocial) attract one another, leading to such couples having kids with the same traits – but magnified due to an overload of genes. It is estimated that Aspergers correlates with a genetic component more apparent than even autism. About 33% of fathers of kids with Aspergers show signs of Aspergers themselves – and there appear to be maternal connections as well. This information increases the likelihood that Aspergers may be present in your own family. Think about your youngster's lineage. Are there - or were there - brilliant and creative, but blatantly eccentric, family members?

Depending on your personality and the strength of your coping skills, this may be either a relieving or a disturbing revelation to ponder. If the diagnosis is received with a negative outlook, you may slip into a period of guilt or self-condemnation. You may even find yourself unjustly bearing the brunt of blame induced by your partner. Moms and dads of Aspergers kids do tend to reflect more stress tied to anxiety and depression when compared with moms and dads of neurotypical kids. But never forget that Aspergers is a naturally occurring phenomenon – and it is no one's fault. So, avoid believing pessimistic, self-defeating “Aspergers stereotypes” in favor of focusing on the positives associated with this challenge.

One father reported that learning of his son’s diagnosis was “liberating,” because it wasn't until then that he realized he, too, had Aspergers. He defined the experience as “reaching the end of a race to be normal.” At long last, he came to a point of acceptance, and was now in a position to voice his “quirks” using the framework of Aspergers. This father’s journey was challenging, but fortunately, his wife was very supportive throughout. However, not all families deal the experience of uncovering Aspergers in themselves as well as this.

There are married couples that simply don’t do well under real (or perceived) pressures of raising a youngster with a different way of being. Families of kids with Aspergers are no exception. Educate and inform yourself - and your husband or wife - early on. Connecting with other moms and dads in similar situations can help cast out destructive, stigmatizing myths and stereotypes.

If your child has been diagnosed with Aspergers, and you suspect that you or your partner also has Aspergers, consider the following suggestions:
  1. Arm yourself with knowledge and gather as much information as you can from the Internet or the resources.
  2. Avoid the “blame game” (e.g., “It's your fault our son is this way.”).
  3. Avoid the “guilt game” (e.g., “It must be my fault.”).
  4. Because you are both still assimilating your youngster's experience, allow yourself and your partner time to process this new twist on the situation.
  5. Broach the subject with your partner by asking leading questions that will provide opportunity for reflection (e.g., “Do you think our son gets his love of history from your side of the family or mine?”).
  6. Discuss marriage counseling or other professional supports with your partner.
  7. Offer to research Aspergers with your partner or to provide your partner with whatever literature you've already gathered.
  8. The conversations you have about Aspergers in the family should build slowly and incrementally.

Understanding Aspergers as a probability for you and your partner will be a learning experience for the both of you. It can create marital stress and chaos, or it can be an opportunity to strengthen and enhance your relationship. It’s your choice!


B said...

How interesting. My husband and I have agreed that we share a preponderance of traits and that is probably what attracted us to each other. Thankfully, we view our son's difference as a positive. I love that he is only seven and has taught me about the history of World War II. He is definitely a challenge, but we love him for who he is and not is spite of it.

Anonymous said...

So true, I believe my AS daughters dad has AS... I also see traits in my brother and my dad... When my daughter was diagnosed almost 10 yrs ago my Dad said to me when I was explaining it 2 him"oh I hope they don't think I have that "

Anonymous said...

If my son is attracted to ANYONE I'll be thrilled for him. Never thought he'd really "care" for someone the way we do. If it's another Aspie, so what. Fear of the "unknown" is true to all of us and it shouldn't prevent us from taking steps of faith be it marriage, children, job, college, etc. Just a strong opinion from the mom of a 12 year old Aspie.

Anonymous said...

Since my sons diagnosis I now understand a lot more about othe members of my family. It has been eye opening!

Anonymous said...

awfully sorry, I'm french and don't speak english very well :( but this is the story of my life!My son is an high functionning autistic boy, my husband and I have a lot of "traits" (I think I'm Asperger, but a 32 year old woman can't recibe a diagnosis here in France, unfortunatelly, nobody knows about autism here, it's a big problem), and all our real friends have also a lot of Asperger traits (tey are all good people, so)

Anonymous said...

I was diagnosed with Aspergers after my son. I said that it was like a light was turned on that explained my whole life! What a relief! =)

Anonymous said...

my 4 year old had been diagnosed Aspergers and the one child in nursery that she played with is now being assesed for same condition so i think this is true. Also though im not diagnosed is see so much of my childhood problems in my daughter so maybe i am too .

Anonymous said...

My 5 year old has Aspergers and the journey of diagnosis has led me to look at my husband and his family. Initially I blamed him, he has strong traits of it and it has affected our marriage. He has a great niece diagnosed with AS but I see other family members with signs. However, I am very intelligent and do have some "stand-off-ish" qualities but I get non-verbal communication, walked when I was 9 mos old, very coordinated and good at sports. I have a hard time thinking I contributed, but perhaps so. This is irrelevant though. "It is what it is", as my Husband would say. My son is reading at a second grade level, has an incredible memory, can do simple math in his head. Asperger's has it's challenges but it's also a gift. I would not want my son to be any different, I love him beyond all description.

Anonymous said...

I feel like my son's father has AS but he refuses to admit it.

Anonymous said...

I have a 10 year old son with ADHD and aspergers he lives with me and his step dad and sees his bio dad for one overnight visit a month and a 4 hour visit a couple weeks later, I believe his father as has aspergers which after being married to him for almost 10 years I couldnt handle it anymore and we divorced..anyways.. my sons father stepped out his life from Nov-March..nothing for christmas or his birthday skipped all visits no phone calls. With his father out of the picture we were able to get my son on a routine and he was almost perfect we were able to stop the anxiety and sleeping meds, he even started putting himself to bed on his own and sleeping all night. The last two months his dad has been coming for his visits and this last weekend his had his overnight visit and my son came back very wild like hadnt received his ADHD meds (which has been a problem with his dad), he's not listening to us, he's talking back, not sleeping at night and being mean to his sister then lie about when we see him being mean ...does anyone else have this problem? This use to be a problem everytime he came back from his dads house for the first 3 days...its hard for us because we me made a lot of progress for it to all be wiped away on a 30 hour visit....any sugguestions for how to handle him and my ex husband?

LC said...

Maybe you can get a court to order him to give the meds and if he doesn't you can have visits revoked. Good luck.

Kallya of Random Death said...

I use to call it the Riemers gene. (Family name on my dad side ) I knew we tended to be different and many on that side don't quite fit in with society. It wasn't until my mud forties I learned it was autism. So yeah it definitely runs in the family).

My child has been rejected by his peers, ridiculed and bullied !!!

Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the Aspergers child tends to internalize how others treat him, rejection damages self-esteem and often causes anxiety and depression. As the child feels worse about himself and becomes more anxious and depressed – he performs worse, socially and intellectually.

Click here to read the full article…

How to Prevent Meltdowns in Aspergers Children

Meltdowns are not a pretty sight. They are somewhat like overblown temper tantrums, but unlike tantrums, meltdowns can last anywhere from ten minutes to over an hour. When it starts, the Asperger's child is totally out-of-control. When it ends, both you and the Asperger’s child are totally exhausted. But... don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet. At the least provocation, for the remainder of that day -- and sometimes into the next - the meltdown can return in full force.

Click here for the full article...

Parenting Defiant Aspergers Teens

Although Aspergers is at the milder end of the autism spectrum, the challenges parents face when disciplining a teenager with Aspergers are more difficult than they would be with an average teen. Complicated by defiant behavior, the Aspergers teen is at risk for even greater difficulties on multiple levels – unless the parents’ disciplinary techniques are tailored to their child's special needs.

Click here to read the full article…

Older Teens and Young Adult Children With Aspergers Still Living At Home

Your older teenager or young “adult child” isn’t sure what to do, and he is asking you for money every few days. How do you cut the purse strings and teach him to be independent? Parents of teens with Aspergers face many problems that other parents do not. Time is running out for teaching their adolescent how to become an independent adult. As one mother put it, "There's so little time, yet so much left to do."

Click here to read the full article…

Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism

Two traits often found in kids with High-Functioning Autism are “mind-blindness” (i.e., the inability to predict the beliefs and intentions of others) and “alexithymia” (i.e., the inability to identify and interpret emotional signals in others). These two traits reduce the youngster’s ability to empathize with peers. As a result, he or she may be perceived by adults and other children as selfish, insensitive and uncaring.

Click here
to read the full article...

Highly Effective Research-Based Parenting Strategies for Children with Asperger's and HFA

Become an expert in helping your child cope with his or her “out-of-control” emotions, inability to make and keep friends, stress, anger, thinking errors, and resistance to change.

Click here for the full article...

My Aspergers Child - Syndicated Content