Both Loving Someone With Asperger’s , by Cindy N. Ariel, Ph.D and The Journal of Best Practices, by David Finch, reviewed in my last post, are about the topic of marriage between a neurotypical and an individual on the autism spectrum, but other than that similarity, the books could not be more different. While The Journal of Best Practices is a lighthearted, and distinctly readable memoir, Loving Someone With Asperger’s is really a handbook for understanding each other, communicating, and ultimately changing.
The author, Cindy Ariel, is a psychologist with years of experience working with individuals on the spectrum, and that experience is reflected in the material she writes about. The book covers every conceivable topic, from communication, to anger, to emotional connection. Appropriately, it begins with a focus on the strengths of autism and what autism can bring to the relationship. This is important, because struggling couples so often focus on the differences between them, it can be healing to remember why the marriage began in the first place.
Although I admire the book, I hesitate to recommend it. Any couple with the insight to examine their marriage to the depth and detail this book suggests is probably in a pretty solid relationship already. For those couples who are struggling, the introspection and self awareness the book requires is probably too much to expect a couple to reach independently.
I do think this book would be an excellent adjunct to therapy. Along with the guidance and impartiality provided by a strong professional, many couples could use the workbook exercises to deepen and further their understanding and expectations for each other.
Patricia Robinson MFT
I'm a licensed therapist in Danville, California and a coach for Asperger's and ADHD nationwide. I work with individuals of all ages who have special needs, like Autism Spectrum Disorders, ADD, ADHD, and the family members and partners of special needs individuals.