Anyone have experience with adult Asperger's diagnosis?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by canthandleitanymore, Nov 24, 2008.

  1. canthandleitanymore

    canthandleitanymore New Member

    Hi all,

    I'm new to this board. And I've been "scolded" by some of you for staying (or being) with my boyfriend, who has the child who brings me here. I shared some of his parenting habits and they didn't go over so well! They were met with comments that basically said, "what kind of idiot are you to stay with this man?" I have backed off for awhile just to give myself some thinking room. But something bothers me...something has always bothered me about my boyfriend. I know that maybe I've presented him as "bad" or an awful parent. That's really not how I meant bash him, I mean. I'm trying to understand him and why he is the way he is with his son (ie., uninvolved and clueless).

    I don't know how to explain it, but he just doesn't seem to "get" things. He has NO clue how to empathize or consider things from another's viewpoint. It's not that he's a bad person, he truly just doesn't get it. He'll look at me with a blank look when I try to explain it. It's not defiance or a sociopathic personality, he truly just doesn't seem to comprehend the notion of empathy. He's a very black-and-white thinker -- he just can't grasp anything abstract. But it's not for lack of intelligence. I believe that intellectually he is very smart. He fixates on TV and the computer to the exclusion of any other hobby or interest. He has his own issues with anger management, but in a very different way. He goes from completely calm (which is 99.9% of the time) to explosive anger in a nanosecond. Never toward me, it's only toward his son. It ALWAYS happens when his son, B, defies him or is acting out. He is not violent or physically abusive (although he will spew out swear words like nobody's business). However, he has on occasion physically dragged B to his room. And it's not every time B is acting out...just certain occasions trigger these explosions. Then as fast as the rage came on, it goes away -- he's perfectly calm again like nothing ever happened. No "simmering down" or talking it out. It's just over and he is "normal" again.

    He has odd social skills. It's not something you would probably even notice upon meeting him, but I know him well enough to know that most social situations make him uncomfortable. His gestures, his eyes darting about, the sometimes inappropriate comments he makes -- they're all things I've noticed. He has peculiar habits in public. He REFUSES to ever sit at a table in the middle of a restaurant where people can see him -- to the point of almost panic. He'll leave if no booths or hidden tables are available. He avoids crowded places.

    Could this be adult Asperger's Syndrome? On a whim I Googled it and was shocked to find that my boyfriend holds MANY of the characteristics. Maybe I have been getting angry with him for something that is a neurological deficit and out of his control? Maybe this is what his son suffers from, as well?

    Does anyone have experience with this?? I don't know how (or if I even should) approach this with him. Maybe it's none of my business and like the previous advice...I should just stay out of it.
  2. everywoman

    everywoman Active Member

    I'm sorry that you felt unsupported by some here. I think that many here empathize with you. It is very difficult on such a board to understand the whole situation that someone may find themselves in. I don't recall your previous post, nor have a read the comments, I can tell you from my years here that you have to take what is valuable, look withinm and understand that sometimes people tell us what we need to hear instead of what we want to hear. The truth is that you are the

    If you truely think your boyfriend has some social issues, you want to approach him with it very gently. My husband is most definitely socially inept. He has a hard time listening and assumes an awful lot. After 22 years I understand that I have to accept that about him. I can not change who he is. I have pointed out time and time again his social faux pas, and my comments have virtually fallen on deaf ears. He can't see it. So, I have learned to look past those things.

    Could this be adult aspergers? Maybe. But no one here can diagnosis your so or his child. That has to be done by a someone in the medical field.
  3. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member


    As Everywoman said, we can't diagnose. I'm not a doctor by any means, but I do have a diagnosis of mild Aspergers, which I received as an adult. I was relieved to finally have a label to attach to things I'd wondered about all my life, but didn't fully understand.

    It's entirely possible that your boyfriend does fall somewhere on the autism spectrum. That being said, if you choose to broach this subject with him at all, I would tread very very carefully. I don't know that it's a path you want to go down at all. If your boyfriend is questioning himself, noticing characteristics and wondering what's "wrong" with him, then it might be a safe topic to pursue. If he's not, then he's not likely to hear, acknowledge or agree with anything you have to say on the subject, and you may be opening yourself up to a world of hurt if you try to raise this sort of thing to someone who doesn't want to know.

    I don't really know what to tell you...I would just be careful.

  4. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    Hi Can't! Ah prunes! I hope I wasn't one that made you feel like a toad for staying with your boyfriend! I don't think I was, but the way things have been going around here it's entirely possible. If I did, I'm sorry because that's just not an easy decision to make. I think I did suggest though that your difficult child may be an aspie (like my boys).

    You may have hit the nail on the head when it comes to your boyfriend. Like I said, they were very kind but matter-of-fact, so don't be offended if they seem a little too direct (you know...Aspie-like!).

    We're here for you - I'm sorry again if I was cold (I'm not sure, but I have to tell you I'm on the "self-doubt" wagon constantly right now!) or if you felt a little picked on. Many of our members are going through the wringer with our significant others and I think we get our collective hackles up every once in a while!

    Let me know if the site helped!

  5. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    HI can't!

    I may be the one who left you feeling unsupported. i didn't mean to, honestly. I know how hard it can be with our kids, and esp with a partner who has a drastically different idea of how things should be.

    I truly, honestly meant you don't have to justify your relationship, not at all. I understand that people are drawn together for different reasons and in different ways.

    Your boyfriend may be an aspie. So may his son. Or not. None of us here can really tell you. I would strongly urge caution on speaking about this with your boyfriend. Esp if he thinks nothing is wrong with him. Heck, my MOM still hasn't broached the subject with MY DAD, and she started thinking it quite a number of years ago. We just don't bring it up iwth him. wouldn't help anything, and he would be very very very extremely upset. So for us and my dad, bringing it up would be lose/lose.

    It owuld be good to think of that before speaking of it to your boyfriend.

    That doesn't mean that learning about Aspergers and maybe using some of the ideas/techniques you learn on boyfriend may not work. Many of us recommend the book, "The Explosive Child" to help with our kids. But also with other family members. Some of it seems counter-intuitive, but it really works. And it is an easy read, not one of those books that you pore over, flipping back to references and charts (I really hate those lately! - We just started homeschooling my daughter for 8th grade - wayyyy too many appendixes!)

    I honestly and truly didn't mean to make you feel hurt or bashed or unwelcome. I just wanted you to stop and think. I said I can't see all of your relationship, and I can't. All I can see is the picture you paint with your words. I don't get body language, or the look in your eyes, or that glow you may get when you talk about boyfriend. And with-o those I sometimes step wrong and say things that hurt.

    So I am sorry. I did want you to THINK about the relationship and what needs it fills in you. We ALL have needs that our relationships fill. But if we are struggling with different values sometimes we don't get what we truly need, or get something very different than expected.

    Please don't let my rudeness the other post chase you off. I hope we can offer support to you.

  6. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Hi again, Can't. Glad you're braving us again.

    Sorry this reply is so long - I also had husband looking over my shoulder occasionally and he may stick his oar in later on to reply, if he has time.

    I think I understand where people would have been coming from before; a bloke with a tendency to violence who is basically a bully and aggressive because that is how he's been taught, is unlikely to change and is more likely to become MORE controlling and aggressive.


    Just as we can't diagnose what is wrong with the child, neither should we make assumptions and "diagnose" the adults. Again, all we can do is discuss and suggest possibilities for you to consider.

    Clearly something has made you choose this guy, something about him appeals to you and 'clicks' with you. If he's Aspie, then I think I understand why you are so generous and forgiving; because you sense this is NOT what so many of us have feared for you, but something else entirely.

    difficult child 3's best friend is also high-functioning autistic. I am concerned that his father is a violent, aggressive person of the former type; controlling, at times physically abusive because he wants his woman in her place. A short fuse, a bloke who takes steroids and at times can lash out and do harm. I don't know, but I really am afraid of him sometimes especially when he's been drinking.

    In contrast, husband has a short fuse sometimes and has in the past been very verbally explosive. But I have never felt afraid of him, never been afraid he would hurt me and we have always been able to resolve any differences. It has taken a lot of work to help him really understand how to use "Explosive Child" methods and we often have to have our quick refresher discussions. However, I can see he is a product of both his upbringing, and his built-in nature (which he and I both feel includes Asperger's).

    husband is not diagnosed Aspie. It wouldn't really serve much purpose at this stage. The process of trying to get a diagnosis for him would cause too many difficulties for mother in law, who doesn't like to consider any faults in her son. When the speech pathologist described difficult child 3 as having similar speech dysfluencies as his father (husband), mother in law was outraged and wanted me to hassle the therapist to change her report.

    We use "Explosive Child" techniques but husband himself says that although he is aware of them and uses them, when he gets angry his ability to use them is lost for that moment. He is aware when this happens but it still happens. This is something to always remember with the children, too - sometimes they are aware of what needs to be done, but when they "lose it" they are unable to comply. And you really shouldn't discipline what can't be helped. By all means discuss it and try to learn from it, but don't punish what a person can't control. Just try to learn from it.

    And a really important thing to consider - if you feel the father is a probable Aspie, then this greatly increases the chances that what is wrong with the son, is also something in the Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) range.

    This can get better, but I feel at some stage you need to sit your SO down and discuss this with him. He needs to be calm, to feel supported and loved in this, in order to be open to the possibility that his own "inflexible explosive" nature (as described by Ross Greene) is what he is clashing with in his son. And that there are good techniques which can help both of them in so many ways. But go carefully, only you know how this will be received.

    I suspect if your SO is like my husband (who is now a member on this site - a great guy who really wants to help his child) then he will probably not be able to "get into" the book. What I did was to write a summary or book review of it and I also discussed it with him to explain how it works. (PM me if you want a copy of this for you or him). At first he was resistant because it seemed to fly in the face of everything he had ever been taught. However, he soon learned that this works. He learned by watching me and also by letting me take the lead for a while. It was like trying to teach someone to cook - he watched, he tried a few simple things on his own under my supervision and then he began to try more challenging tasks. But underneath it all remained the willingness to try. And before that must come the understanding that there is a NEED to try.

    What happens when you begin to implement these methods, is that the person who is trying this becomes the hero and any person who is not, rapidly becomes even more of an enemy from the child's point of view. It can get very ugly and you can get even more resistance from a non-compliant parent. It turns into "good cop, bad cop". This can make a non-compliant parent even more resentful and non-compliant. Over longer time, though, as the child's understanding and self-esteem improves, they learn to begin helping the non-compliant parent, at least in our experience.

    If you are right and your SO is Aspie, this could explain a great deal and reduce a lot of the concerns expressed here. Too many of us on this site (not me, luckily) have been badly burned by abusive partners and see the warning signs. I know my own best friend was married to a violent abusive man and is far less tolerant than I am of any hint of aggression when out in public. She will either freeze in fear or get verbally aggressive with someone, while I choose to handle them with quietness and calm. We had a drunken, aggressive man take shelter on our church veranda one stormy day and my friend took herself off inside and locked the door, leaving me outside with the man. She apologised to me afterwards but I hadn't been afraid or upset, I had no problems with the man because I could see where his aggression was coming from. But her husband had been violent for the love of violence; as she described him, "he used his fists as foreplay." He would beat her up then the sight of her bruised and bleeding would arouse him and he would want sex.

    I worked with men, a few of whom were like this. One nearly hit me once, I was very afraid at the time. However, I learned how to sidestep verbally and to defuse a situation without degrading myself in any way.

    Please examine yourself and your motives. Are you a person who is attracted to "bad boys" or are you someone who is a rescuer of people? What is it about your So that attracts you? Is there something in his strength that appeals, or is there a basic honesty in him that you find refreshing? Is there something about him that you sense, some level of goodness, that isn't immediately apparent? What of your past relationships? What were they like?

    If you have had a history of finding yourself in relationships with violent men, then now is the time to consider your provisional diagnosis may be wrong, and you may need to walk away. However, if you are right then you may be the best person to help this man and then his son.

    I know for myself, I was always attracted to extremely intelligent men. I also have valued humour and honesty. While Aspie humour is often simple and slapstick, it can also often include considerable word play, especially in those who have prodigious memories.
    I can look back through past relationships and see that pattern. Whereas in my friend, she grew up with a father who was emotionally and physically abusive who destroyed her self-esteem. She married the first boyfriend who showed an interest in her and he turned out to be violent, verbally abusive and a sexual predator. After he left her she was alone for 20 years before she met her current partner - in that time she has reconciled her bad choices and slowly recovered her shattered self-esteem. Her current partner is gentle, loving and kind. No trace of violence - he wouldn't last if he tried anything. She has grown and is now inoculated against any chance of violence against her. Even the last person who tried to steal her handbag, found to his cost that it was not a good idea. She learnt and will never make the same mistakes again.

    Susie expresses caution about discussing this with your SO. All I can say is, you are the person on the spot, you are the one to make that call. But at some stage, you need to be able to talk with him. Don't ever try to discuss it with him while he's angry, stressed, anxious or uptight in any way. You have to choose your moment and be prepared to back off it the idea upsets him. Be prepared for the merest suggestion to potentially end your relationship. One ex-boyfriend of mine had problems (with the benefit of 20:20 hindsight) and I made the mistake of trying to discuss this with him and he got very angry with me. I was young and inexperienced; hamfisted. That relationship was doomed anyway, for too many reasons. The failure of that relationship taught me a lot about how to stand up for myself in future relationships. It also taught me that when a relationship is dying, sometimes you have to let it go. When I look back at that relationship I am grateful to the young man for loving me for a while but doubly grateful to him for dumping me. He was a manipulative, lying, two-timing ratbag who would have made our (undoubtedly short) marriage a misery. I don't know where he is these days and really don't care. I wouldn't feel a need to avoid him but I certainly don't want to seek him out. And when I look back from where I am now - I don't think he had any Aspie tendencies. Of my other past BFs, I suspect at least half were Aspie. Probably more. I valued their honesty, their intelligence, their refreshing word play. Conversation was stimulating. And I believe I married the best of the lot.

    I have another good friend. She is having some marriage problems at the moment as well as a lot of health problems. I really like her husband (as a friend, of course!) but I can see why she finds him so frustrating at the moment; he seems so incredibly self-centred, can't see any viewpoint but his own and was not able to step up to the plate as needed when his wife was in hospital but instead of getting apologetic about it, he got abusive and angry with her, for HIS shortcomings! But I see in him a lot of what I see in husband - the honesty, the intelligence, the sharp wit especially with words. Interestingly, he is a professor in Special Education issues! I find I 'click' with him and his wife has said something similar - he talks to me as he doesn't talk to any of her other friends except maybe one, and he LOVES to talk to husband, they get on so well.

    Aspies like other Aspies as friends and often choose their partners similarly. difficult child 1 got married on the weekend, to a lovely girl. She is more like a carer to him sometimes, but she left home to get away form her controlling mother. And over the wedding days, we got to see why for ourselves. I've been hinting for some time, "I think girlfriend's mother is Aspie!" Now I'm certain - I was prepared to really dislike the woman as a controlling, manipulative, thoughtless person, but she really is someone I like a lot, as a person. But oh boy! Did she cause chaos at times! But when you talk to her, you feel the directness and honesty. She genuinely wants to please you, to make you happy. In other words, she wants to fit in and to belong, and to do the right thing. For me, that is a BIG signpost to Asperger's and Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD). If the person is sufficiently socially aware, they will do whatever they can to try to seem to blend in. difficult child 3 said it best when he was 6 years old:
    "Mum, I'm getting very good at pretending to be normal."

    Hang in there, keep us posted on how you get on.

  7. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    Hi can't.........I think I also may have been one of the ones that made you feel icky. Sorry.:(
    Unfortunately the reason I was so bossy is that I have lived in the scenario you described, and I know how much it really, really hurt me and my son. I would hate for anyone for else in this world to endure anymore pain. I think some of us here are very opinionated simply because we do not want anyone else going through anymore pain, so we try and share our wisdom, just sometimes it is not cast as gently as it could.

    Anyway........yes, certainly your boyfriend could be AS, and his son. Certainly, entirely possibly, bordering on likely.

    Unfortunately I am not sure if that helps you or not. If boyfriend is AS, that makes things even more difficult to change. He would have a neurological disorder, and be unable to change, rather than just some personality quirks. Possibly it makes you more empathetic to him and his boy, and understand more of what is going on - and why it is going on - but will it still leave you in a roll of trying to parent and be the person that can hold them all together?
  8. janebrain

    janebrain New Member

    I probably made you feel bad too. I didn't mean to, in fact I was trying to support your choice to just leave if that is what you want to do. Sorry, glad you posted and let us know how we made you feel and hope you will forgive us!
  9. Star*

    Star* call 911

    Are you the gal that broke up with him this Summer and just recently got back together? I can't remember. You care for this little boy and take him to the YMCA with you?

    IS that you?