A lot of people, usually women, call me because they suspect or wonder if their partner or spouse might have Asperger’s or autism. They might be looking for a way to understand, a solution to a specific problem, or a way to “fix” their partner. (If you’re wondering, no I can’t fix your partner, that would be like trying to fix my left-handedness. Asperger’s is a neurological and behavioral difference, not something to be fixed - which doesn’t mean that all couples can’t learn to communicate and relate to each other in a healthier way.)
There are many reasons a person would choose to be involved in a romantic relationship with an individual on the autism spectrum. Often the autistic partner is more reliable, honest and steady, there’s usually a relief since there’s so much less game playing. A lot of men with Asperger’s seem to really see the woman for who she is, not being drawn in to the cultural limitations that women must fit a certain mold. And of course, the intellectual depth can be very appealing.
At the same time, autism and Asperger’s really do involve a different way of seeing the world and dealing with it, especially socially, in the context of relationships. This fact can mean real difficulties within marriages. All marriage counselors quickly see that the very things that draw a couple together in the first place are the same things that really bother them later on. The strength of Asperger’s that draw a couple together can also pull them apart.
For those neurotypical spouses and partners looking for support, GRASP has an new online group. GRASP, The Global and Regional Asperger Syndrome Partnership, has a number of local support groups, primarily on the East Coast, as well as online support groups for various Asperger’s related issues. One of the great strengths of GRASP is its strong support of adults on the spectrum, as well as the focus on having autistic individuals running the organization. If you’re a neurotypical partner of an individual on the spectrum, why don’t you check out this new group?
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.