Search This Site

Aspergers Adults and Fulfilling Relationships

Question

I’m a 23-year-old male with Aspergers. I would like to date, but am having great difficulty in finding a girlfriend. I can even see myself getting married someday if I find someone I’m compatible with. Any suggestions?

Answer

Some adults with Aspergers (high functioning autism) are married or in long-term relationships. Some are not. Often times, it is only when Aspergers parents have kids that they recognize their own Aspergers traits. Also, Aspergers adults tend to have “alternative lifestyles” in statistically greater numbers than the general population. Some Aspergers adults do not feel particularly attached to their sexuality (i.e., they don’t identify with a particular sex or seek relationships with a particular sex). Other Aspergers adults simply avoid pursuing relationships (other than friendships). "Aspies" should not feel pressured to act outside of what they are comfortable with when it comes to developing relationships with others.

Relationship difficulties are not something unique to those with Aspergers. Non-Aspergers individuals (i.e., neurotypicals) have their own share of relationship difficulties. All relationships have stages. The stages in a relationship are:
  1. coming together
  2. staying together
  3. moving apart

Coming together is a 6-step process:
  1. initiating contact
  2. discovery of common interests
  3. intensifying your interest and involvement
  4. integrating this person into your life’s activities
  5. bonding or committing to the relationship (usually leading to marriage if the interest in the relationship is sexual)

Staying together is a long-term situation that requires effort from both partners to keep the relationship going. There are nine characteristics that long-term relationships often have, none of which are always present to the same degree:
  1. amusement (i.e., making the relationship fun and enjoyable)
  2. affection (i.e., pleasure in being together)
  3. commitment equity (i.e., equal dedication to the relationship)
  4. fidelity equity (i.e., faithfulness to each other)
  5. contracting (i.e., fulfilling any agreements made to each other)
  6. a “two-some” mentality (i.e., relying on each other as partners)
  7. recognition (i.e., publicly making others aware of your commitment to each other)
  8. frankness (i.e., revealing your inner self to each other)
  9. averaging (i.e., good and bad times should average out)

It is possible for a relationship to come apart at almost any stage. Under normal conditions, relationships come apart in five steps:
  1. differentiating (i.e., disagreements and differences become the focus of attention)
  2. circumscribing (i.e., talk diminishes with less revealing of self and fewer commitments to each other)
  3. stagnation (i.e., relationship loses its life and partners move apart physically)
  4. avoiding (i.e., partners stop seeing each other)
  5. termination (i.e., the relationship ends)

Communication and attitude are always thought of as a key to successful relationships. This is where the differences in how Aspies and non-Aspies perceive similar experiences can cause problems in relationships. Non-Aspies tend to value the following attitudes in a relationship:
  1. achieving an understanding and appreciation of each other
  2. being able to discuss conflicts, expectations, and anxieties that bother each other
  3. being committed
  4. being empathic
  5. being honest and open about ones feelings
  6. having a desire for the relationship to continue
  7. listening non-judgmentally
  8. make compromises when problems occur
  9. seeing the world through the other person’s perspective
  10. sharing responsibilities
  11. talking “together” rather that “at” one another
  12. trying to understand the other person in the way they perceive themselves

It is a common (but false) perception on the part of many people without Aspergers that Aspies lack these abilities. It is extremely difficult for anyone – with or without Aspergers – to understand and perceive what one has never experienced. Because of differences in the way that our brains process and respond to experiences, non-Aspies have just as much difficulty understanding and appreciating the Aspie’s perspective as the Aspie has understanding and appreciating the non-Aspie’s perspective. That doesn’t mean that both sides can’t learn to respect those differences and even understand them somewhat on an intellectual level. Communication becomes the most important factor in helping each other to understand and appreciate these differences.

People without Aspergers learn about and experience social interactions on a non-thinking level. To articulate how and what they know or feel on a thinking level is not something they often need to do – or know how to do – with other “normal” people. They simply “understand” because they tend to perceive these experiences in a similar fashion. Conversely, people with Aspergers tend to process a lot of input on an intellectual level because it is harder for them to pick up multiple pieces of information and process them quickly on a non-thinking level.

(An interesting side note: Even though the mental effort of verbal communication can be very stressful for people with Aspergers, they are the ones who are expected to “explain” their differences to non-Aspies since non-Aspies see themselves as “normal” and therefore consider themselves easy to understand.)

Nonetheless, both Aspies and non-Aspies can develop meaningful and fulfilling relationships with one another. It requires that both parties have a strong desire to make the relationship work and to work hard at communicating their different perspectives. Both parties should have a willingness to communicate in a non-judgmental way, which is essential to the understanding of, and an increased appreciation for, the differences that will exist between the two parties. All relationships, to be successful in the long-term, require a commitment to compromise and sharing, but having Aspergers does not lessen the chances of having such a relationship if this is truly what the Aspie wants.



COMMENTS:

•    Anonymous said… 32, aspy, and divorced. Now floundering in the dating scene again. It's hard. Especially after a nearly 10 year relationship. I guess the hardest part is making myself available again, but being in a new town and not knowing anyone adds another level of difficulty to something that is already hard for me. 
•    Anonymous said… Dont give up hope! Its not an easy journey, but when you find the person willing to share it with you, its worth the wait. Just be patient!
•    Anonymous said… I know it sounds absurd but there IS a girl out there who will think your quirks are adorable and be anxious to deal with them in a way that will make you feel like a million bucks! Just do NOT be in a hurry. It took 44 years to find mine.
•    Anonymous said… It helps if you can find someone who shares your "special interest." Whatever it is that you're super into, try to find someone else into it too. The bond over the shared interest will help smooth out the other areas of the relationship that will likely be bumpy.
•    Anonymous said… Just be yourself. I'm not dating yet because I am concentrating on school. Still, there are a lot of people who complement me for my kindness and smart ideas. They have said that I'd make any woman happy because of how I am as a human being.
•    Anonymous said… My aspi son is now 28. He has been with the same girl for 8 years. They now have a beautiful baby girl. I am a 60 yr old female aspi, not diagnosed till recently. 3 marriages and X boyfriends later. My advice would be to forget the end goal and enjoy the journey. Expect nothing and then everything becomes a happy bonus. I am back dating again and am much more relaxed about it. X

Post your comment below…

How Aspergers Teens Can Make Friends

Question

I’m a high school student with Aspergers. I want to have some friends, but can’t seem to find any. It’s like they don’t want anything to do with me. How can I make at least a few friends?

Answer

Friendships are usually built on one or more things of shared interest between two individuals. Friends share their thoughts and feelings as well as experiences. Teenagers with Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism tend to be very open and honest and willing to share themselves with others, which are traits that friends will value. However, some peers may not value this trait. They may not be ready to be open and honest and share personal information about themselves with you, so it makes them feel uncomfortable when you offer these things to them.

Some non-Aspergers teens like to take the development of friendships slowly. When someone asks you questions about yourself (e.g., where you were born, what school do you attend, what do you like to do), they are indicating that they have a possible interest in becoming your buddy. That doesn’t mean they will become your buddy, only that they are interested in finding out if you both share enough interests to possibly become buddies.

On the other hand, some teens without Aspergers can be very open to making friends quickly. If someone wants to be your buddy quickly, and then asks you to do something for them (e.g., give them money, do something crazy, hurt someone), be aware that true buddies don’t do that! True friends help you to feel good about yourself and protect you from doing things that are not in your best interest, or in the best interest of others.

Teens with Aspergers tend to be very loyal to their friends. However, their loyalty can be abused by those with various social weaknesses (e.g., greed, jealousy, low self-esteem). It is always a good idea to pay attention to your “gut.” If you feel uncomfortable about something, even if you can’t identify what it is, it is best to seek advice from someone you do trust who understands how some people can take advantage of others.

Many Aspergers teens have particularly strong interests in certain areas. Unfortunately, very few people around them may share that interest. This makes it harder for the Aspergers teen to find friends. Therefore, look for friends at clubs where other teens with your special interest are likely to gather. Some Aspergers teens recognize that having a lot of buddies is not that important to them. Other Aspergers teens blame themselves or think badly about themselves if they don’t have friends or make friends easily.

Making friends has less to do with whether people like you than it does with whether you have interests or experiences that are similar to theirs AND whether you are also willing to share in the interests they have that are different from your own. It is easy to lose potential friends if you share more than what the other person wants to receive, or don’t give the other person equal time to share their interests with you. True buddies will stick up for each other in front of others, answer questions honestly, help each other when there is a need, and will enjoy just spending time together. Most people only have a few friends that meet this definition of a close buddy. These are the best buddies to have and to seek.

Another reason that Aspergers teens may have a more difficult time making friends is because their sensory processing and body movements are different from those without Aspergers. Friendly pats on the back and reaching out to touch your arm are common ways for non-Aspergers people to “connect” with each other through the sense of touch. If touch is perceived as uncomfortable or even threatening, your reaction to their well-intentioned effort to relate to you is not going to be easily understood. This is where Aspergers teens need to self-advocate and to let others know what makes us uncomfortable. Most people without Aspergers ARE willing to respect these differences, IF they know about them.

For those who struggle with verbal communication, a card that explains what you need can be carried in your wallet or purse and shared with others as you choose. The “down side” is, because it is hard for people without Aspergers to relate to these differences in perception, it may limit how many potential friends will be willing to work that hard to become a close buddy. Aspergers teens often find it easier to socialize and become buddies with other “Aspies” simply because they understand each other’s way of thinking and perceiving.

“Missed” communication can also make it harder for Aspergers teens to make and keep friends. Their more limited body movements can be misread by others who regularly look for “body language” cues when communicating. Aspergers teens also tend to find it difficult to attend to all the body language cues that others give. Thus, they may misread the “intended” messages if all they are paying attention to are the words others use.

Understanding the social rules that non-Aspergers people follow can also help in making and keeping friends. Some typical social rules that Aspergers teens tend to break (that others find offensive, but won’t tell you about to avoid hurting your feelings) are:
  • appearing desperate or too eager to establish a close relationship with someone you don’t know really well (which may be a dangerous thing for you because this is the type of behavior that people who will abuse you look for)
  • asking others about their current relationships (unless they bring it up first)
  • dressing too fancy or too casually for the situation (e.g., wearing too much make-up or seductive clothes to work or a picnic, wearing jeans to a job interview, etc.)
  • poor grooming habits (e.g., not brushing your teeth, not bathing or washing your hair, not wearing clean clothes, not wearing deodorant, etc.)
  • telling people things about yourself that are considered “private” (e.g., that you don’t have any friends, you’ve never had sex, etc.)

Even though your sensory processing differences may be the reason for your grooming habits or clothes choices, unless you take the time to explain these differences to others, they will judge you based on your appearance. That doesn’t mean you can’t find ways to compromise (e.g., adding a jacket to dress up blue jeans). Clothes that are clean and unwrinkled are more important than being “in fashion.” You can accomplish a “snug-fit” that some Aspies seem to prefer by wearing biking shorts or a wet suit under your clothes rather than overly tight fitting clothes that might be viewed as “suggestive.”


==> Discipline for Defiant Aspergers & High-Functioning Autistic Teens

Aspergers Children and Defiant Behavior: 10 Tips for Parents

Moms and dads with Aspergers (high functioning autism) kids are often shocked and worried about the defiant behaviors these young people sometimes exhibit. Corrective measures intended for a developmentally "normal" youngster seldom work for Aspergers children, leaving parents at a loss as to how to deal with harmful behavior.

There are no hard and fast rules for treating Aspergers, because each youngster exhibits different behaviors that require different treatment plans. For moms and dads struggling with Aspergers defiant behavior, finding safe and effective ways to deal with it is difficult without help. Kids with Aspergers seldom respond to traditional parenting techniques (e.g., time outs, withholding privileges) leaving parents confused and desperate for fast-acting strategies.

1. Applied Behavioral Analysis— Therapies based on ABA methodology are customized based on the youngster’s ability, environment, and the behavior most in need of correction. For kids with a tendency towards defiant behavior, these methods focus on analyzing what environmental factors contribute to the behavior. As factors are identified, professionals, educators, and parents are able to use a variety of methods to help the youngster learn to replace negative behaviors with positive ones. ABA methods include Discrete Trial Training, Pivotal Response Therapy, and Reciprocal Imitation Training, to name a few. Often these therapies begin on an intensive basis in the youngster’s home. The theory being that the youngster’s own home environment lends to more realistic behavioral assessment and modification. However, for kids with excessively defiant behaviors, there are ways for parents to begin positive correction prior to or during the initial behavioral assessment period.

2. Low Expressed Emotion— Aspergers kids are taught early to mimic behaviors seen in others when they do not understand or grasp a social situation. Modeling low expressed emotions during difficult or frustrating experiences helps an Aspergers youngster learn to control their own response. For example, remaining calm and using a monotone voice no matter how frustrating or frightful a situation may be helps model a controlled response. No matter how hard the youngster tries to escalate a situation, remain calm, focused, and level headed. For most moms and dads, this is difficult to master. However, since Aspergers kids typically feed off the emotionally-charged responses of those around them, it is an imperative skill to learn and model. The more the parent and other family members model calm, peaceful responses to situations, the more likely the youngster will learn to model such behavior.

3. Mood Journals— A diary of an Aspergers youngster’s behaviors helps illuminate patterns that might otherwise go unnoticed. Make note of their moods, demeanors, and behaviors throughout the day, as well as responsiveness of the youngster to different corrective measures. Mood journaling not only illuminates patterns and documents progress, but also serves as a history for therapists.

4. Preparation— Kids with Aspergers and other developmental disabilities are understandably confused by and anxious during new or unexpected experiences. Planning ahead and preparing the youngster for a new routine, person, or environment helps ease anxiety. For kids on the spectrum, this requires repetition. For example, a new playmate can be both exciting and a cause for anxiety. As such, repeating age-appropriate reminders may help ease anxiety. Kids crave security, no matter if they are developmentally challenged or not. Knowing what they should expect of a situation and what is expected of them helps them prepare, thus reducing common defiant behavior triggers. Aspergers kids are no different in this regard, save their need for more repetitive exposure to expectations. In this regard, social skills training should begin early. A parent’s explanation of expectations cannot be vague like “play nice.” Instead, Aspergers kids need specific explanations of what “play nice” means. For young kids, modeling and practice playtime is an excellent way to illustrate what is expected. For older kids, short and easy to remember rules (e.g., “no hitting” and “ask first”) can help reinforce expectations.

5. Rewards and Consequences— Increase rewards for positive behavior and keep them in the youngster’s preferred currency. If their favorite activity is coloring, use this activity to reward positive strides in their behavior. Minimize consequences to focus primarily on targeted behaviors. As positive changes progress, shift the focus of consequences to the next behavior on the list.

6. Safe Rooms— Moms and dads of kids in the grips of excessive Aspergers defiant behaviors often find the youngster nearly impossible to reach. As such, there are times when parents must simply “ride out” a defiant outburst. In such cases, having a safe room where the youngster can safely vent their anger or frustration allows everyone time to cool down. Safe rooms can be the youngster’s bedroom or other room in the house. The key is the room should be safe, with nothing the youngster can throw, damage, or otherwise use to hurt themselves or others.

7. Start Small— Aspergers kids do better with shorter periods for new experiences. Whether a trip to the store, a play date, or new house rules, start with small changes and gradually increase duration as the youngster shows signs of being able to tolerate more. Play dates of a few hours may be more than a defiant Aspergers child can tolerate. As such, limit play dates to only an hour or so. Be available to help guide activities and take advantage of redirection strategies. Be prepared to cut the play date or other experience short if the youngster exhibits signs of heightened frustration or anxiety, or other common triggers that could produce defiant behavior.

8. Supervision— A youngster known to exhibit defiant behavior related to Aspergers obviously requires supervision at all times, especially when playing with younger kids. However, supervision is not a safety-only mechanism. It is an opportunity to observe and record. Make note of what situations and factors most often precede violence. Factors can include frustration, anxiety about a new environment or person, or physical discomfort. As moms and dads note common triggers for defiant behaviors, the opportunity for proactive solutions presents itself. For example, a youngster who typically throws objects or hits others when frustrated often shows warning signs of early frustration. These signs become a cue to redirect the youngster to another activity. Some parents argue that a youngster should prepare for life, rather than life being prepared for the youngster. However, the first step to correcting defiant behavior is to reduce its frequency, which often requires controlling the youngster’s environment temporarily until the youngster learns how to self-regulate.

9. Ten Words or Ten Seconds— Corrective responses should be calm and limited to under 10 words or under 10 seconds. Short, calm responses are easier for a youngster in the grips of an emotional upheaval to register.

10. The Jar Approach— Determine ahead of time what behaviors are most pressing in terms of correction. Prioritize corrective measures according to the severity of the behavior. The most dangerous or troublesome behaviors belong in Jar A, while less imperative behaviors like hand flapping are Jar B or C. Focus only on correction of or consequences for Jar A behaviors. As the youngster conquers negative or harmful behaviors, choices from Jar B or C move up to Jar A.

It is difficult and emotionally draining to deal with an Aspergers youngster who exhibits defiant behavior. In some cases, parents and doctors may find that adding medication to help relieve symptoms that lead to defiant tendencies is necessary. In other cases, moms and dads may need access to emergency response professionals trained to help de-escalate defiant outbursts in kids with this disorder.

The most important thing for parents to remember is that they know their youngster best. The parent is in the best position to help the youngster overcome defiant behaviors simply by listening to the youngster and responding on a level that works for him/her. As a mother or father, it is crucial to have supports in place, not only to help the youngster, but to help the parent as well.

Overcoming defiant behavior in an Aspergers youngster involves changes in parental responses, being prepared, and modeling therapeutic principles taught during behavior modification therapy sessions. The key to success is the parent and his/her willingness to advocate for the best solutions for their youngster.

My Aspergers Child: Preventing Defiant Behavior in Aspergers Children

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

Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the ASD 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 Children on the Spectrum

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 or HFA child is totally out-of-control. When it ends, both you and your 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 Teens on the Spectrum

Although Aspergers [high-functioning autism] is at the milder end of the autism spectrum, the challenges parents face when disciplining a teenager on the spectrum are more difficult than they would be with an average teen. Complicated by defiant behavior, the 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 ASD 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 ASD 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