How to Speak to your Aspie so They Listen and Understand

Have you noticed any patterns that get in the way of your Aspie listening to you? Here are some some things to avoid and to include in your conversation. When you want to have a relationship with someone who has Asperger’s Syndrome, you have to learn a new language…Aspergian. This involves understanding their unique patterns of thought and speech. With this understanding, you can neutralize everyone’s distress.Something clicked for me when I recognized the mindset of Aspies. I started developing an awareness of what they meant, why they do what they do, and how to communicate with them in their language. The mind blindness, the context blindness, the lack of empathy – understanding all of this helped me to think like an Aspie. Once I got it, I could speak to them so that they would listen, actually hear me.

This is no easy feat of course. Step one is to get our emotions and traditional beliefs out of the way. Step two is recognizing that Aspies want the same things we do, though they go about it differently. Step three is to speak their language – because they can’t learn ours.

If you’re a member of my Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD group, you know we talk about context blindness frequently. Each “aspie” is different, but you will find that there are communication patterns they all follow. Come prepared to write down your own Rules of Engagement, as you identify problem areas in your communication. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

Things to avoid when speaking with your Aspie

  • Sarcasm
  • Double entendre
  • Ambiguity or vagueness
  • Hints
  • Passive-aggressive speech
  • Slang or colloquialisms
  • Metaphors
  • Beating around the bush

Things to include when speaking with your Aspie

  • Say what you actually mean.
  • Be open with your intentions.
  • Voice your feelings but remind them this isn’t a criticism of them.
  • Speak clearly and concisely, without rambling.
  • Ask direct questions.
  • Ask them to do one thing at a time.
  • Withdraw from circular arguments.
  • Accept that sometimes communication will hit a brick wall.
  • Remain patient and calm.

Have you noticed any patterns that get in the way of your Aspie listening to you? Join me on Facebook and let’s start brainstorming some solutions.

13 Replies to “How to Speak to your Aspie so They Listen and Understand”

  1. It always hits a brick wall with me and my boyfriend who has AS. I’m close to a nervous breakdown with it all. I’ve done everything the experts say, and while it does help it’s next to impossible due to their selective hearing and false memories. 🙁

    1. I understand your frustration. Hang in there. Remember that your boyfriend probably means well, but he has “mind blindness,” which means he cannot fully fathom what is going on in your mind. Instead of expecting him to understand your feelings, you have to make the first move. Understand where he is coming from, but don’t stop there. Be direct and explicit and let him know what you want him to do . . . not to miraculously understand your inner feelings. This may not be what you want to hear, but it’s what works.

    2. You are not alone. Mine also makes assumptions about everything I say to suit his own screwed up understanding of what I have or have not said.

  2. Being and doing things together when you can is more important than talking.
    Having some things you enjoy together such as hiking or beach walking l found the most rewarding. My husband and l enjoy art museums and music at local pubs. Forget discussions,avoided this most recently. Discussions are just too difficult.l no longer ask him would he like this or that. I plan our social activities and if he chooses not to join me fine l just go. I enjoy meeting new people and make it a habit to meet up with friends. Yes l would like a more affectionate partner with more hugs and intimacy. It just ain’t going to happen. So the more l get out and meet up with others the happier l am. Yes it’s not what you planned and it can be lonely but developing your own interests can be rewarding.

    1. You have figured it out Sharon. It’s not for everyone, but staying sane really requires facing the truth about your relationship. Bravo.

  3. I married him in 1965, three little boys, unhappy all the time, no emotional. support, no validation. The youngest boy died and I just went to pieces, thought I was going crazy, he exposures to boys to danger as he could not see the dangers. We went for counselling, I left him in 1980. After all these years now to discover that this husband was/is an ‘ Aspie’. I am 75 and still suffering from PTSD!!

    1. The shock of discovery is profound because it affects our sense of self too. It’s one thing to bE “shell shocked” for decades. It’s quite another to wake up to the fact that you were,conned out of your life. Take back your life Valerie.

  4. I married a text book Aspie at 17 and lost ten years of my life. What a nightmare! No emotional support, concern, care, love, validation, security, or human connection. They are robots with their only concern being themselves. From having to live with an emotionally unavailable and abusive Aspie I developed a irregular heart beat, PTSD, chronic fatigue, and anorexia. Finally when he started to endanger my life with his lack of common sense I divorced him and have never looked back. If you find out your partner has it RUN away. And run fast.

    1. Kate, this is such a common story. Without intervention, relationships with ”Aspies” can massively deteriorate. Plus chronic illness and depression among the NT partners is, sadly, the norm. Good for you that you found yourself again.

  5. I have been in a marriage for 10 long years with an undiagnosed but clearly Asperian spouse. I have been in denial that he is incapable of learning how to manage or understand his issues and am sadly now dealing with my own depression and negative emotions due to the strains of our relationship or lack thereof. I need to separate from him to gain back my sanity but that will lead to many other complications that include among other things, our 8 yr old daughter. We are not happy and always arguing because of his lack of common sense and life intelligence. There does not seem to be much of anything ever going on in his mind, and all he can do is act on the first impulse of thought, without even thinking whether it ever makes logical sense to do so. To compound things, he also has short term memory issues, dylexsia, and certain auditory and visual dysfunctions. Yet, he operates completely functionally and efficiently as an EMT in the ambulance/EMS field, where he is regularly praises for his good work and patient care. I don’t understand this, because, on the home front, that is not even the case, and when there is an emergency outside of work with his own family, ie, my son nearly passed out from a serious hit to his knee and my spouse did not even know what to do, and SAT son UPRIGHT in a chair where he began to fall over and had I not walked in on the scene, would have hurt himself further! I had to tell spouse to lay my son down with his legs elevated! This is well known protocol for him in the workplace! How does that even make sense? Nothing he does ever makes ANY sense. I am at a loss what to do and the thought of trying to accept that I will never be able to expect any change from him is unbearable. I’d rather he be a handicap. At least THEN there would be no pretenses. And I wouldn’t have to carry on like there is some kind of normalcy when there is not and will not ever be any.

    1. Hello Renay. I am so sorry that you are so stressed. This is certainly a common reaction when living with an “Aspie”, even though this knowledge is little help. Yes, they pull it off elsewhere, particularly work, because the boundaries are clear. When they get home, they find that family life is more fluid than that. Plus they have the advantage of an NT spouse who guides them, so they often don’t think about the Rules of Engagement (ROE) at home. They can learn, though, and you should teach him, if he will listen. I don’t know if your marriage is retrievable, since love dies when it is not nurtured, but if there is a chance he will go to therapy, I’d encouraged it. As an EMT, he might see the common sense in talking with a doctor.

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