How Can Family Cope When Mom Has Aspergers Syndrome

mom has aspergers syndrome Even though it is more common for a husband to have Asperger’s Syndrome, it’s quite possible for a mother to have it too. Recent statistics from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention show that five times more males are diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome (AS) than females. And while males can reliably be diagnosed as early as 18 months to two years of age; females are often not diagnosed until adulthood.This presents a real challenge to family happiness, because culturally women are revered as the nurturers of the family. And while women with Asperger’s generally accept that it is a woman’s duty to care for the children and maintain the household and in general keep the family happy and healthy, they just are not very well equipped to handle this role. As a result they are viewed as cold, uncaring, and selfish because they can’t live up to what’s expected of them.

Because women often go undiagnosed, dads are clueless as to why their family dynamics aren’t working. Neuro-Typical (non-Asperger) men need to learn about Asperger Syndrome and be able to talk about their experiences in order to learn how to cope and indeed help themselves and their families to thrive under these challenging circumstances.

How do many Neuro-Typical (NT) dads react when they are faced with a spouse that has Asperger’s Syndrome?

On the surface their reaction is the same as many NT mom’s. They’re angry and hurt. And since they see their wives as neglectful of and abusive to their children, because they expect their wives to be the more nurturing parent, these feelings are magnified for an NT dad. Without help, the NT father gets angrier and angrier. This clouds the real problem—his undiagnosed Asperger’s wife and her limited parenting skills. Anger and withdrawal are common ways NT dads deal with parenting problems associated with marriage to an Aspie wife.

NT dads should recognize the anger for what it is, depression. They feel trapped by the double bind of wanting to protect their children and wanting to be free of the emotional neglect in their marriage. Even in our contemporary society, the role reversal for NT dads is hard. Besides working full-time, these dads must come home and do much of the cooking, cleaning and caring for the children.

Something that exacerbates the problem is that many NT dads grew up in families with members who are autistic. These men may unconsciously have sought out an Aspie spouse, because it is a dynamic with which they are familiar. If they have not learned how to cope with Asperger’s in their childhood, which is very likely the case, they will carry this dysfunctional behavior into their married lives.

What can NT dads do to help their families to thrive?

Recognizing the problem is an important first step. If you’re a dad dealing with an AS spouse, get professional help immediately for your own sake and that of your family. Trust that your anger is not without reason, and realize that staying angry will only make you sick and destroy the family. Family counseling is good, but it’s also advisable for dads to find a personal therapist, separate from the marital therapist. NT dads need a safe place to talk and resolve their feelings of anger without being destructive.

Read a free chapter of “Our of Mind – Out of Sight: Parenting with a Partner with Asperger Syndrome (ASD)”. This book discusses the science behind Aspie behavior and how you can initiate the rules of engagement that help your Aspie give you and your children the emotional support you need.

4 Replies to “How Can Family Cope When Mom Has Aspergers Syndrome”

  1. I suffer from being Aspergers . It has taken me a lifetime to realise that is what has caused me so much unnecessary suffering in my life. I have just become a mother for the first time at 43 years of age, and I am so frightened and feel like my baby senses everything and makes strange with me as a result. I pick him up to comfort him and he squirms and writhes and eventually cries inconsolablly until someone takes him from me. My heart is breaking because I love him so much. What is it about me? I think perhaps my anxiety is written all over my face and he can see that. He only calms down when I am breastfeeding but that only lasts 10 minutes because my supply is not good. I have never recieved an official diagnosis for Aspergers because the waiting lists to see a specialist are so long and I have been discouraged by other health care professionals to even try to be assessed. I feel without an official diagnosis I am lacking the kind of support I need. Please somebody help me.

    1. I am sure all mothers reading your post feel the same anguish you are feeling. All new mothers fret excessively over their babies. It’s absolutely normal because you were perfectly designed to give 150% to this new little miracle. Fretting comes with the territory and your new little one is lucky to have you care so much.

      Secondly, it really might not be you. Babies need time to adjust to the world when they have had a comfy, warm womb to sustain them. Give him some time to squirm, and cry, and recognize that love and safety are there for him. He’s trying to figure it all out, just like you.

      Thirdly, get yourself on that list for evaluation. Now that you are a new mother, tell the clinic that you have more urgency than you did before. Some clinics actually bump you up on the list when they find out you are inquiring about your family and a new child.

      Fourth, you can have your child evaluated too. Yes, there are developmental pediatricians who specialize in identifying Autism in infants. What a blessing it will be to know if this is the case for your son. Modern therapies have amazing results with very young children. A baby has more neural plasticity than adults. This means that many children identified early with Autism, actually can have their brains retrained. Believe it or not, this retraining can change the diagnosis eventually. It is stunning.

      Congratulations New Mommy. You have participated in the miracle of life and now you get to share all that love in your heart with a beautiful baby boy. Find other new mommies too. Together you will help each other and learn to laugh at all of that fretting.

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