May 30, 2013,
D.G. asks from Salida, CA on October 27, 2008
Can My Husband Be Autistic?
Although many women have probably wondered the same thing about their own husbands from time to time, I'm completely and absolutely serious and sure that my husband is autistic. From the very beginning of our relationship, I wondered if something was wrong with him, but only heard the most wonderful things about how perfect he'd always been. We've seen many therapists to help us with our marital problems, but each and every one of them has told me that there's nothing wrong with my husband. They say that he's "sweet" and a little bit "different". None have ever detected the things I've noticed; the strange humming (he says that it's "cool"), the lining up of items at the table or on the counter (because it's "nice that way"), the occasional hand flapping (with him saying that he likes the sound), the tantrums (one of the things we're in therapy about), the loud speech (not knowing he's nearly screaming), the history of existing without friends and hating social settings, and the simple fact that since we've moved to this country (we lived in Europe for about a decade), he hasn't gotten a job (He's been out of work for a total of over 4 years now and doesn't seem worried about it). Doctors, psychiatrists, and psychologists never see any of these things. In fact, a recent psychologist accused me of trying to brand my husband as "damaged goods". I told him that I'm seeking help for my husband. The therapist said he sees nothing wrong with him, but can't "figure him out" since he seems like a man without motivation. When researching Google, I wanted to find out about symptoms and read this line, "Once you've met an autistic person, you've met an autistic person" referring to the myriad of symptoms one may come across when meeting someone with autism. I'm stumped.
Thanks for pondering my situation with me.
D.M. answers from Sacramento on October 28, 2008
I'm a therapist by trade (now WAHM) and have an adult brother who's high functioning autistic. Here's my question to you: Why are you seeking a label? Is it for validation? For services? The key for labeling someone with a disorder is to typically get the right treatment. If your husband is happy and functioning well, I would ask if you really need to address the issues that are impacting your relationship and not be overly concerned with a diagnosis. For instance, now working. Maybe there's a job coach that he can meet with and learn more about what he would enjoy doing. It sounds like you're already working on communication and "tantruming".
Best to you!
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P.W. answers from San Francisco on October 27, 2008
There is really no such thing as "normal", and everyone's brain is different. Maybe he IS just "different."
Does it really matter what he is labeled? Will sticking a label on him change him? He is what he is.
I assume there were things you liked about him when you married him? Did you notice these personality traits before you married? What did you think of them then? The worst thing you described was the fact that he's been out of a job for 4 years. That's a real problem. Maybe he's just not worried about it because you pick up the slack.
I think the main focus should be on his getting a job, not "why" he doesn't have one. I assume he worked before, autistic or not, therefore he can work again.
He does sound annoying, if you want empathy, but you've got 8 kids with him. Good luck.
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K.B. answers from San Francisco on October 27, 2008
I wonder what your husband's opinion is on this. Have you suggested that he might have autism? Does he see himself in the symptoms? Also, you say you are seeking help for him -- what kind of help? Does he want help? I have read some things about adults with autism and they often balk at the idea of needing to change, like why can't they just be different and live life their way? Of course it's possible that he is in fact autistic, but him being out of a job doesn't necessarily warrant intervention for autism. It would be more helpful I think to focus on his strengths and desires and help him find work that would suit his quirks. Just like you can't help an alcoholic who doesn't want help, I don't think you can attempt to cure or fix a problem in someone who doesn't see the same problem.
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D.A. answers from San Francisco on October 27, 2008
In our family, my cousin's son has Aspergers. One of the adults in our extended family who is an autism specialist at the Mind Institute in Davis did explain to me that my grandfather's non-social tendencies and some qualities in my uncle (the grandfather of this child) could be autism spectrum related. So perhaps you are looking at the right idea but not talking to psychologists with training in autism spectrum features that fall far short of actual Aspergers.
Also, the book Misdiagnosis and Dual Diagnosis of the Gifted (James Webb phd and others) talks about how highly gifted individuals can have oddities that resemble Aspergers but are not Aspergers. I highly recommend that book for help sorting out your theory.
Also Arlene Taylor (Realizations Inc - free website) has interesting things on it re: introversion. Our society doesn't accept introversion as okay.
None of this makes it any easier to have a spouse not working. Perhaps rather than thinking there is a "diagnosis" keeping your spouse from working, perhaps separating these two things from each other -- the not work from the "oddities" might help. There are plenty of people with quirks out there at work.
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A.W. answers from Sacramento on October 30, 2008
Sure sounds like Asperger's to me (I am married to one too). Whether you are able to get a formal diagnosis or not, educating yourself about Asperger's will make such a difference in your relationship. We've been married 11 years and our relationship has never been better and we have never been happier since becoming educated about aspergers and autism. We never knew my husband had asperger's until our son was diagnosed with autism, and he has no formal diagnosis of asperger's but he fits all the criteria, and on all the "asperger's tests" and questionaires, he always gets scores WAY into the asperger's range. Some great books are "Loving Mr. Spock" by Barbara Jacobs, "The other half of Asperger Syndrome: A guide to living in an intimate relationship with a partner who has Asperger Syndrome" by Maxine Aston, and "Look me in the Eye" (can't remember the author's name, but I'm sure you could find it on amazon or bn.com. You can also go online and search for Asperger's questionaire and find some assessments that will give you an idea of whether he is on the autism spectrum. The important thing isn't getting a professional "diagnosis", but to find out how your husband's brain works, and how you both can make minor changes that will improve your lives together SO MUCH! So many things surprised me as I learned about aspergers... things that I thought my husband did out of being inconsiderate or uncaring or that were just plain annoying/exasperating, make so much more sense now that I know how his brain is wired differently than "neuro-typical" (non-aspergers) brains. Things that I did that I never gave a second thought to, were absolutely like nails on a chalkboard to him (for example, he needs the lightswitches to be a certain way, can't have a double lightswitch with one pointing up and one pointing down) and I really don't give a rat's behind which way the lightswitches are pointing, but if it makes him happy that I don't "mess up" the lightswitches, then I am happy to accommodate that. Another thing that was an easy change but made a HUGE difference is that when my birthday or Christmas or our anniversary is coming up, I tell him "my birthday is in two weeks, and there is a down throw at Sears on the second floor near the escalators that I would really like for my birthday. It is on sale for $30 until Sunday. I really like the blue one and the green one, but not the red one". Then I am happy because I get what I want for my birthday, and he is thrilled and proud of himself because he gets to buy me a present that I will love. He just is not able to guess what I might like, or pick up on subtle hints like "I saw some really nice down comforters at Sears today". Making these kind of accommodations for him makes him willing to also make accommodations to make me happy. And that is really what a marriage is about, doing what you can to make the other person happy and to make it easier to get along and live together happily for years and decades. Good luck and best wishes to you and your family, and feel free to email me if you would like to chat further.
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T.H. answers from San Francisco on October 28, 2008
Your husband may have Asperger's Syndrome which is at the high end of the autism spectrum. They can't really read social cues, don't understand body language, social conventions, seem socially awkward/inept, constricted affect (emotions), sometimes they have self stimulating behaviors like hand flapping. Often they are highly intelligent. They don't develop age appropriate social relationships, and often don't want friendships,but sometimes are lonely. Google it and learn about it. You need to find a psychiatrist/psychologist who specializes in autism spectrum disorders. I'm a psychiatrist with some experience in asperger's/autism, but not an expert. I'd be happy to talk to you more.
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P.G. answers from Dallas on May 30, 2013
Hi D. - I know this is WAY late, but he might be on the spectrum. If you have explored this already and are doing fine, GREAT!
If you are still looking for resources, check out autismspeaks.org in your area. They may have resources for the family or a way to get him tested so you can clarify what's up and how to deal with it.