Support and advice for partners & friends of people with

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Genevieve
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26 Aug 2008, 12:16 pm

Hi, I’m new to this forum and have joined in the hope of trying to understand Asperger’s Syndrome, and how to communicate and respond to it. I think that my boyfriend of 10 months may have some form of Aspergers. He is 44. I would like to persuade him to see a professional to get a diagnosis, and to get some further help. In the meantime, I’d really appreciate some advice from the people on this site. These are the symptoms he shows:

- He is awkward in social situations, and cannot easy converse about topics outside his specific area of interest, unless someone else is talking and he is asked direct questions.

- His specific and encyclopaedic areas of interest are film and comics. He is so knowledgeable about film (for instance) that his friends always ask him first, rather than Wikipedia or IMDB. He always insists on sitting in a movie right up until the end of the credits. He always remembers all the names of who did what, even the technicians.

- He has jeopardised his jobs in the past, by being so interested in his discussion forums about film and comics, that he will use the internet at work, become engrossed in it, and will forget to work

- He often says he is ‘confused’ by the practical, day-to-day world.

- He is not very aware of his body, or of his body in space, and is quite clumsy. Being with him is like dancing with someone who is always out of step.

- He has difficulty maintaining eye-contact, and other people have described him as dishonest, but I cannot intuit any guile or dishonesty in him.

- He has depression and takes medication (Citalopram) for it.

- He often forgets to bathe or wash, or to generally take care of himself and wash his clothes. This may be a symptom of depression.

- He drinks socially in order to feel more relaxed, and is only ever able to feel OK socially if he is drinking.

- He is very good at maths, and can instantly calculate things like which day a birthday is going to fall on 4 months in the future.

- He is very good at language and has an excellent vocabulary. He is pedantic about the use of language.

- He finds it very hard to imagine another person’s experience or feelings, and consequently appears to only care about himself and have no forethought about how his actions affect others. He seems to understand a situation if it is gently and directly pointed out to him, but he cannot work out a situation for himself. This has lead to him having a series of unsuccessful and stressful personal relationships in the past.

- He is a gentle person, and will generally follow someone else’s lead, and is therefore relatively easy to live with, as long as the other person is willing to point out what needs to be done, and not expect him to be first to offer to do things or suggest things. Eg: today it would be a good idea to have a shower/clean out the cat tray/wash your clothes.

- He doesn’t know how to deal with angry or emotional people. Cross and confrontational people upset him and he tries to avoid this.

I feel that people judge him unfairly because on the outside he looks attractive and striking (6ft 7inches, long dark hair, handsome), speaks well (an English private-school accent) and uses language really well – but this raises their expectations so that when he doesn’t behave as Neurotypical people do, they feel let down, and get even more upset or angry than usual.

I have only guessed at his neurological status, so what I need to know is how and where to get a professional assessment – he will need to do this himself as he is an independent adult – and, also very important, where to find advice for partners or friends of people with Asperger’s Syndrome. Are there any good books out there that you can recommend?

I realise that I cannot expect him to change, and that it is more a matter of helping him to cope in every day living, and for me to understand what is reasonable to expect from him.

Thanks

Genevieve



irikarah
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26 Aug 2008, 12:35 pm

Have you actually talked with him about your concerns?



corroonb
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26 Aug 2008, 12:40 pm

irikarah wrote:
Have you actually talked with him about your concerns?


This would be best. Talk openly with him and maybe show him the Wikipedia article about Asperger Syndrome. If he can't see himself there, then he may be angry if you try to push him. I have AS and I also suffer from depression and need medication. It's not unusual for us to neglect our appearances on occasion.



Tracker
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26 Aug 2008, 1:15 pm

Well, as the other 2 have said, trying to diagnosis him behind his back is ineffectual at best. If you want to improve your relationship with him, then he has to accept that he has AS. If he doesnt accept his AS, then trying to convince him that he has AS related difficulties that need to be addressed will not be easy.

Wikipedia has some decent info, but if your looking for other good info, try your local public library. Certain books you might want to check out are:

Solutions for adults with Asperger syndrome : maximizing the benefits, minimizing the drawbacks to achieve success / Juanita P. Lovett.

Living and Loving With Asperger Syndrome: Family Viewpoints / Patrick McCabe

There are probably a couple more books available at your library, but those are 2 good ones to start with. Keep in mind that most books about AS are written for children. Simply put, AS wasn't commonly diagnosed in children till the turn of the millennium. So there are fairly few books about AS in adults.



Genevieve
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26 Aug 2008, 4:13 pm

Thanks all, for your comments, they are very helpful. I will follow up those book suggestions.

I have tentatively discussed this with him before, and he is open to discussion. Unfortunately, previous partners and others have angrily flung the 'Aspergers' word at him in an unhelpful and accusatory fashion, particulary when he can't give them what they want in the way that they want. The accusations certainly have never offered any practical understanding, and he has never been professionally assessed. As it happens, I don't think there's anything 'wrong' with him that needs 'fixing'. He does have a very great deal to offer, just not always the usual things that society expects.

Also, I believe that the current view of what is expected from romantic love is skewed by our own egos. If we were to take a hard look at ourselves (difficult), we would find that so-called romantic love is an inward-looking, self-regarding thing, that demands of the object of our affections that they behave in certain ways to make us feel good about ourselves. And this is completely unrealistic. To place these demands upon someone who is neurologically different, just unfair.

So, I'm just trying to figure out someone operating in a reality that is quite different from mine. I'll certainly find out what he thinks. :)



Genevieve
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26 Aug 2008, 4:27 pm

I forgot to say, an small example of modified communication that I might make with my (possibly) AS partner:

Before my birthday, I had commented to my partner that I 'didn't want a fuss on my birthday'. On my birthday, he did not volunteer any acknowlegment of my birthday at all. I was hurt, and several days later told him I was upset and dissappointed. Which quite understandably ended up with one very confused boyfriend!

Much later on and with hindsight, I realise that if my partner is AS, I might have said something much more specific and helpful, like: 'I don't want to meet a lot of people on my birthday or have a party, but would much rather celebrate it at home with you. Could you choose a DVD that you like, to watch together'.

A small and almost insignificant example, but one that just makes a relationship with someone who interprets things literally, much easier.