Google Ad

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Asperger's in Adults or What the hell am I dealing with?

“One thing you can't hide - is when you're crippled inside.”   ― John Lennon

Being married to someone with Asperger's is the kind of marriage where you're married to someone with no emotions, no physical reaction to emotion and refuses to be anything but "logical".

According to the medical journals, DSM and other professional diagnostic books and such, Asperger's is:

Excerpted from the DSM-IV (but with the introduction of the DSM-V, Asperger's is no longer a recognized diagnosis, being placed now inside the Autism Spectrum as "High Functioning")

1.  Qualitative impairment in social interaction, as manifested by at least two of the following:

  • Marked impairments in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, body posture, and gestures to regulate social interaction
  • Failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level
  • A lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interest or achievements with other people, (e.g., by a lack of showing, bringing, or pointing out objects of interest to other people)
  • lack of social or emotional reciprocity
2.   Restricted repetitive & stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests and activities
3.  The disturbance causes clinically significant impairments in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
4.  There is no clinically significant general delay in language
5.  There is no clinically significant delay in cognitive development or in the development of age-appropriate self-help skills, adaptive behavior (other than in social interaction) and curiosity about the environment in childhood.


Let me break this down for you, using the above as a guide (And I'm not a psychiatrist, just someone who's seen many of them with my STBE ASH):

1.  They have higher than average problems with being in a social situation, and to be diagnosed with Asperger's, it should be at least two of the following:

  • Trouble with the use of the average non-verbal social actions most of us use.  Actions such as making eye contact with the person with whom they're talking, changing their facial expression to match the conversation such as laughing when something's funny, showing sadness when something's sad, etc., having a more relaxed body language - not crossing their arms over their chest, sitting with crossed legs, etc., and more relaxed gestures directed at the other person to show engagement and to facilitate the continuance of the conversation, such as a pat on the shoulder, the shaking of hands, maybe a wink to show solidarity.
  • This is all about having real friends in your age group at the same maturity level as you.  Aspies tend to make friends with people who are either older or younger than themselves, generally younger since they suffer from a frozen maturity level around that of a pre-teen or so.
  • This means sharing their lives with others, such as "Honey, I got a promotion!" or "I got an A on my final!"  Aspies tend to either not say anything at all or downplay it when they do.  They'll also fail to recognize your accomplishments, not really caring.  They're not ones to share photos of their kids or family at all and it's rare you'll actually see a photo of an Aspie, and when you do, they're tense as all get out, not smiling, not looking at the camera or wearing sunglasses.
  • This is the hardest part of living with an Aspie full-time, as a spouse, child or significant other - the lack of engagement in day-to-day life.  Not only do they not share their life with you, they don't want you to share your life with them.  Also, these are the guys who when you say, "I love you" respond with a smile, nothing at all or "Yeah, me, too."  Any conversation with them is stilted and awkward because they simply don't take part in it beyond grunts or an occasional, "uh-huh".
2.  Aspies have MAJOR focus when it comes to their "special interests".  They'll have a hobby and their whole life is about that hobby, to the detriment of everyone and everything else in their life.  They'll do this hobby in every single free minute they have.  Some Aspie might even have a tic of some kind (called a "Stim" or "Stimming", which is short for "Stimulation or Stimulator") that brings them comfort in stressful situations.  The Stimming is different and individual to the Aspie, but you'll know it when you see it.

3.  Asperger's causes them problems in most facets of their life, be it with friends, or at work, or in another environment that requires them to interact with others. ( My STBE ASH was recently challenged at work over his knowledge of a certain subject pertaining to his job.  It was a mild challenge, but a co-worker had to come into the room to prevent my STBE from slugging the poor man)

4.  They seem to have pretty normal speech patterns and such but to those of us who live with them daily, we tend to notice little "idiocyncracies", such as a slower speech pattern, saying the wrong word in certain situations, etc.  Once, my STBE was told by a psychiatrist he felt my STBE was mildly retarded because of his slow, careful, measured speech pattern.

5.  Aspies generally have higher than average IQs and if employed are generally EXTREMELY good at what they do.  This is part of why it's so hard to get people to see just what the matter is.  They can be extremely good problem solvers if you can get them to focus on the problem at hand - which is difficult to do.  Most Aspies, by the time they are adults, have honed their skills of adaptability to suit most social and external (meaning outside the home) situations.  They are very chameleon-like and can easily fool people.

Okay, all this being said, my STBE has ALL these problems, with the exception of stimming.  I don't know I ever saw him stim at all.  However, he came from an extremely dictatorial father and an apathetic and childish mother who allowed her feelings to be hurt over the slightest infraction to the extent it would send her to bed, what I've come to call the "Shrinking Violet Routine".  She's a Drama Queen to the nth degree, as is my STBE.  Anyway, the stimming - if I had to guess, it would be that his father spanked it out of him.  His dad was never strong on letting people be who they are.  It was his way or the highway.  And the STBE got spanked A LOT.  

But he hangs onto stuff longer than he should and makes it sound worse than it really was.  Unless it was him committing some sort of action that had you gasping at its violence.  Then he downplayed it completely to become the single most innocuous act known to man and wasn't I the proper fool for seeing it any other way?  My STBE had a particular fondness for being too aggressive with my dog, which he hated with a passion.  He told me once he hated her so much because she and I had similar personalities.  However, he would get pretty aggressive with her and when she reacted the way a dog would, he'd haul off and hit her either with his fist or open hand; every so often, he'd kick her.  When I'd deign to tell him what I thought of this abuse, he'd start in on me, drumming into me just how wrong I was, that I didn't see what I saw or heard what I heard.  If my dog would yelp in response to his hitting her or harming her in some way, and I'd hear it and say something, he'd start in on, "That's just how she is!  She over reacts to EVERYTHING!"  (now he's gas-lighting a dog?)

Speaking of the "hanging onto stuff longer than he should"...  My STBE is 53 years old and is STILL upset over a dirt bike his younger brother got when he was 15 and his brother was 12.  He's STILL angry and hurt about it because HE wanted a dirt bike and his parents KNEW it!

He can also give you a litany of the last 21 years of every transgression he believes I've committed against him, either real or imagined.  But, ask him to remember saying something horrible to you, like the time he told me he couldn't stand to see me without clothes on because I was so fat it made him nauseous, and he'll take to the grave with him the insistence he never said that and that I'm making it up because I need to find something wrong with him.  (Seriously, I never had to look hard - he was always doing something that was either hurtful or annoying)

I'm starting to ramble, now.  I've been forced into silence for so long, I have too much to say, all the time.  That's the reason for this blog, to get it off my chest and try to help others at the same time.  Misery loves company and all that, you know.

Be on the lookout for my next post and tell me what you think of this one.