Partners of people with Asperger syndrome

Awareness of autism has exploded across the western world.  Since 1991 when Hans Asperger's work was first translated into English by Lorna Wing, a transformation has occurred in our consciousness.  From academic research through popular books and films to personal blogs, we are waking up to the presence of autism - in particular autistic people - in our midst.

Much activism in the world of autism has been led by parents determined to get the best for their autistic children.  Research and services have focused on children, leaving autistic adults invisible.  Yet we know that autism in the whole range of its forms (including Asperger syndrome) is a lifelong difference.  Autistic children grow up to be autistic adults.  Many form relationships and have children themselves.  Furthermore, many parents have awoken to the presence of autism in their husbands or partners on the diagnosis of their child, realising that those traits that qualified their child for a diagnosis are present also in themselves or their partner.

There is a cohort of people in their 40s, 50s and 60s who have faced particular struggles in their lives and their relationships and who are beginning to wonder if these difficulties might be explained by autism or Asperger syndrome.  Where autism is present, whether diagnosed or not, a particular constellation of challenges tends to emerge in intimate relationships, forming a recognisable pattern about which the authors listed below have written.  The same difficulties are likely to impact on both partners, though they may be understood and experienced in very different ways. 

I have a passion for supporting partners of adults with autism and Asperger Syndrome
, and a familiarity with this pattern that enables me to offer tailored support.  I recognise that if you are in a relationship with someone on the autistic spectrum, you may experience challenges that are difficult for others to understand, and you can sometimes feel you are going crazy.  (Some authors have called this the Cassandra phenomenon, or Cassandra affective disorder.)

Through counselling, I offer
you a chance to explore, whether your partner is diagnosed or not, what you need for yourself in your relationship.  Counselling can validate your experience and help you find yourself again, for example by building up your confidence and self-esteem, exploring your choices and encouraging you to create a strong support network and pursue your own interests and friendships.

You may feel you have difficult decisions to make; we will explore these gently and without judgement to help you feel confident in the way forward you choose.

A few caveats: I offer individual counselling to either the person with Asperger syndrome/autism or their partner.  I am not currently qualified to offer couples counselling (also known as relationship counselling or marital counselling) as this is a specialism that I have not trained in.

Please note also that I am not qualified to offer a diagnosis as to whether someone is on the autistic spectrum; however, I can help you weigh up the pros and cons of seeking a formal diagnosis and signpost you to places where you can get this. 
  • If you'd like my support to reflect on your relationship in the light of suspected or diagnosed autism/Aspergers, details of how to set up counselling sessions are here.  My contact details are here.
  • Read on for other resources for partners.

My two favourite quotes for partners

"...the optimal balance is to realize the full extent of what you're dealing with and temper that with a hearty dose of optimism."  Ashley Stanford in Asperger Syndrome and Long Term Relationships, p.48.

"The partners of adults with Asperger syndrome are remarkable people: they are my heroes."   From Tony Attwood's foreword to The Other Half of Asperger Syndrome, p.7.

Resources for partners of people with Asperger syndrome

I sometimes hear partners say that there are lots of resources available to help children with autism and their parents, far fewer for adults on the autistic spectrum, and even fewer for partners of people on the spectrum.  Well there is some truth in that, so I have gathered together some of my favourite resources to help redress the balance.  I hope you find one or more of these useful.  (I'm aware that as of autumn 2019 this list now needs updating - which I will do when I have read a few more of the new books myself!)

Books: Advice for partners

Rudi Simone 22 Things a Woman Must Know If She Loves a Man with Asperger's Syndrome

Louise Weston Connecting with Your Asperger Partner: Negotiating the Maze of Intimacy

Ashley Stanford Asperger Syndrome and Long Term Relationships (now in its second edition)

Maxine Aston The Other Half of Asperger Syndrome

Maxine Aston Aspergers in Love

Maxine Aston The Asperger Couple’s Workbook

Books: Stories of people’s relationships

Katrin Bentley Alone Together: Making an Asperger Marriage Work

Sarah Hendrickx and Keith Newton Asperger Syndrome – A Love Story

Barbara Jacobs Loving Mr Spock

Gisela and Chris Slater-Walker An Asperger Marriage

Liane Holliday Willey Pretending to be Normal

Books: General guides to AS

Tony Attwood The Complete Guide to Asperger's Syndrome

Websites

Different Together http://www.different-together.co.uk/

Maxine Aston http://www.maxineaston.co.uk/

Hendrickx Associates http://www.asperger-training.com/as-and-relationships/

Rudy Simone http://www.help4aspergers.com/

Aspia http://www.aspia.org.au/

Aspires http://www.aspires-relationships.com/

Louise Weston http://www.louiseweston.com.au/

Tony Attwood http://www.tonyattwood.com.au/ 

National Autistic Society http://www.autism.org.uk/