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Emu Egg
Emu Egg

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Joined: 4 May 2012
Gender: Female
Posts: 1

05 May 2012, 2:17 am

My boyfriend of five years was diagnosed with Aspergers syndrome about a year ago. At the time, his diagnosis didn’t really surprise either of us; when he first came to read about AS and its symptoms (quite some time before he was officially diagnosed), he identified with it instantly – saying that he felt like he finally had a name to describe the sense of ‘social difference’ he’d felt all of his life. My younger brother is an aspie and it was he who first pointed out that some of my boyfriend’s behaviour could be linked to AS.

However, since his official diagnosis, my boyfriend’s behaviour has taken a turn for the worse and he’s increasingly isolating himself from his friends and family (and naturally a lot of strain is placed on our relationship). I want to be able to help and reassure him, but I don’t understand what exactly he’s feeling and why he is responding the way he is....

My boyfriend’s always had some issues with self-esteem, although in recent years the severity of such issues had lessened. Yet in the pass few months he’s become exceptionally critical of what he considers to be the awkward characteristics of his behaviour. If I try and reason with him that characteristics like not making eye-contact or his slightly formal way of speaking don’t bother me (and shouldn’t anyone else), he’ll adamantly refuses to believe me. Yet, at the same time, although he places a great deal of needless ‘blame’ on himself, he’s also been getting angry a lot towards me.

He’ll often say something to effect of ‘if people were clearer in expressing themselves, then I wouldn’t feel so confused’, so I try and clarify things with him, but this sometimes results in him hearing certain truths he’d rather not hear. For instance, a couple of months ago he made a comment that unintentionally upset his neighbour; I tried to explain that his neighbour was hurt by what he said and that he could easily make it better by just apologising the next time he saw her, but he then became overwhelmingly upset and angry at the thought having to apologise. He burst into tears and start shouting at me, but I don’t understand why he responded in such a volatile way – from how he reacted, you’d think I’d been bullying him and marched across the hall to his neighbour’s flat, when all I’d said was ‘if you just say ‘sorry’, she’ll forget all about it’.

In the past month, however, he’s been going through these odd periods of just not responding at all, which I find much more concerning then when he’s seemingly overreacting. If I say something that seems to ‘set him off’ (it can be something as simple as affectionately repeating a particular word he uses which sounds quite distinct), he’ll practically go into hiding for a few days – he won’t pick up his phone, open the door, or respond to anyone. This has happened a few times since the start of April. What worries me the most about it is that I don’t think he eats during such phases, as he’s lost a lot of weight this past month.

My brother suggests my boyfriend may be feeling quite helpless after his diagnosis, primarily because after he was diagnosed there was no real follow-up support. My brother’s never expressed the sort of behaviour my boyfriend has, but then they have had significantly different life-experiences where AS is concerned. My brother was diagnosed well before his teens (he’s now 22) and has received a lot of support and has a large group of friends – he is very confident and because he’s my only sibling our family’s always been able to devote plenty of time to explaining and clarifying anything he doesn’t understand. My boyfriend’s had a very different life – he’s the middle child of five children, had an exceptionally strict father and his mother described him as being ‘hopeless’. Both his parents passed away within the same year, when he was only 25 (four years ago).

I’m sorry that this has been such a long-winded post. I really need and would appreciate advice on what it is that he may be feeling and why he is responding with emotional outbursts. I never want him to think he has change to his personality to suit other people, or that his AS makes him somehow flawed - I just wish he'd recognize that his personality is his personality and stop punishing himself for it...

Sea Gull
Sea Gull

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Joined: 5 Apr 2012
Age: 51
Gender: Female
Posts: 218

05 May 2012, 2:35 am

It looks like he needs to see a counsellor/psychologist or such, someone to help him work through past issues & gain some self esteem. His problems are clearly stemming from childhood, and the diagnosis is simply shedding more light on aspects of himself that needed care, way before now, but received none.
I would be worried about him too, if I were you, as his behaviour suggests increasing depression.
Try not to magnify his idisyncracies, as at the moment it just feels like he can't get anything right & he's incurably, bafflingly alien, no matter how he tries to do things well. I relate to his frustration there.

AS 169/200
NT 23/200