Going Over the Edge? Protect Yourself from ASD Empathy Dysfunction

People with high functioning autism want to have loving relationships. It’s just very challenging for them and their partners when they can’t connect the dots. As a result, there are some “Not So Ordinary Moments” with our Aspies that are confusing and exhausting, which makes you feel like you’re going over the edge. For example, in my book, “Out of Mind – Out of Sight: Parenting with a Partner with Asperger Syndrome (ASD)” I share a true life experience of a married couple I counseled (names changed to protect privacy) that illustrates this point:

Joe and Katrina planned a short trip out of state to attend his mother’s wedding. She had bought airplane tickets for the couple. So they decided to make it into a mini-vacation, with time away from the kids.

A couple of weeks before the wedding, Katrina’s sister was killed in a terrible auto accident. Of course, Katrina wanted to scrap the wedding and stay with her sister’s family. Not only had she lost a sister, Katrina’s children had lost their aunt, and her brother-in-law was in such a state of grief he could hardly function.

Joe, who has Asperger’s, didn’t understand his wife’s feelings. His logical thought was not to waste the airline tickets, since he had already arranged the time off work for the vacation. So he insisted that Katrina go to the wedding. He reasoned that she’d already had a full two weeks to help out her family, so she could leave to go on the wedding trip.

Do you get why Katrina was still upset? Empathy allows you to understand how other people feel. Unfortunately, Autism is a brain disorder that restricts the brain connections that are so necessary to connect empathically with others.

When you’re confronted with ASD disconnect, here are a few principles that will keep you from going over the edge…

1. If it feels like abuse, it is. Even if your Aspie doesn’t mean it, your heart, mind and body respond as if it is abuse. Protect yourself.
2. Always believe in yourself. Even if you can’t justify your position to your Aspie, you don’t have to. Trust that you know what you are talking about and have the right to your opinion.
3. If you can afford it, hire things done. Don’t wait for your Aspie to remember to mow the lawn, or whatever. It may not seem fair, but why take it out on your health?
4. Take time out with friends. If you don’t have friends after years of Aspie isolation, make friends by joining group activities. It’s like rain on the desert to be with other NTs, even those you hardly know.
5. Find a psychologist skilled in NT/ASD relationships who can work with you and won’t tell you to adapt!

Because some in my family are on the Spectrum, I understand what you’re going through. If you’re a member of my Asperger Syndrome: Partners and Family of Adults with ASD Meetup, please join us for the next free international, teleconference, Going over the edge? Don’t let Aspies grind you down. It will be held on December 13th at 3:00 PM PT. Let’s use the time together to suggest more ways to pull yourself back from the edge.

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