Nov 26, 2008
I've just come back from a (solo) counselling session. During the session I mentioned to the counsellor that I realised a few years ago that I have some symptoms of Aspergers Syndrome (AS).
For those not aware (most people), AS is like a mild version of Autism. Autism isn't a you've-got-it-or-you-haven't thing, it's a whole spectrum that starts at the stereotypical computer geek, stretching to Rain Man (and beyond). Asperger syndrome describes a mild variant, people who are mostly average to above average intelligence, can get on OK in the world, but are socially awkward, a bit geeky or inept, a bit of a loner, don't communicate so well (particularly face-to-face or by 'phone), have few if any real friends. The kid at school who was bullied 'cos he just seemed a bit odd and different and didn't really stand up for himself? He had AS.
A few years ago, when my daughter started school and was having some problems, we looked into things and realised she exhibited some symptoms of AS. In the process, we realised that I did too (it's often hereditary). Possibly not strong enough to be officially categorised as AS (despite it all being different shades of grey, professionals still like to define you as either having it, or not), but quite a few of the typical symptoms are undoubtably there.
Anyway, I mentioned to my counsellor in passing that this was the case. She picked me up on it and we discussed it for a short while, and she suggested I check out some publications by this guy Tony Attwood. I checked out his website, it recommended quite a few books, and so I checked those out on Amazon. Wow!!! Just reading the excerpts, and the reviews, it is already abundantly clear that the issues we face, the exact reasons my wife gave me for falling out of love with me, are the same issues faced by almost any relationship between a man with AS (it's far more common in men) and a woman who is NT (neuro-typical, i.e. normal. People with AS, and their families, like to have a label for "normal" people, it makes us feel like they're the wierdos, not us!).
Given that I already had an awareness of AS, and the descriptions my wife gave of why she wants to separate, it's amazing I didn't really make this connection earlier. I knew it was because of who I was, my inability to give her the emotional support she needed at times, the way she felt like I didn't always understand what she was saying to me or I responded inappropriately, everything she said ties in, why didn't I spot that these are all symptoms of my AS?
I've ordered a couple of the books and will read them assiduously, and I'll give them to my wife and hopefully she'll read them too. From the summaries it seems that plenty of AS/NT relationships do work and survive and thrive, but there is no real magic solution, the main thing is that each partner needs to understand the differences and allow for them. But this may be what my wife feels she's already been doing for a number of years, and has had enough of, so there may be nothing new in there for her. What the hell, it can't hurt to try.