April is autism awareness month. I have read that 1 in 88 children have been diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum (http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/index.html). I was surprised that his figure is so high. When you think about it it’s not just 1 in 88 people that is affected by autism. It’s their mother, father, sisters, bothers, and grandparents.
I have also recently discovered that spouses can be affected by autism as well…..
….I am writing this post for one of my friend, whose husband (probably) has adult aspergers.
Autism hasn’t just sprung up out of the blue! Surely it has always been there? What of the now adults in their 40’s who displayed characteristics of aspergers as children, before these symptoms were widely recognized? Like Albert Einstein, Mozart perhaps?
My friend believes her husband falls into this category. She truly believes that her fiercely intelligent, loyal, socially challenged husband also has aspergers. She believes that over the years he has developed strategies hide or mask some of his traits or to help him cope with the world. These include the desperate need for down time, complete immersion in work and hobbies, heavy reliance on routine and the written word, being in a different room to the rest of the family and self-medicating with alcohol.
Before this couple had children, this system seemed to work. However, I suspect introducing the chaos, noise, responsibility and unpredictability of children into this equation greatly changed the outcome!
Parents of children with aspergers have to contend with a wide range of behaviors in their children. These behaviors could include extreme anxiousness in social situations, inflexibility, being easily upset by noise, light and over stimulation. Having children so caught up in a hobby or pursuit to the exclusion of other things. Fixating on things or having tantrums when things don’t go the child’s way.
Now image what it is like to live, not with a child like that, but an other adult. An adult who also has the responsibly of also rearing his own children.
My friend does realize how hard life must seem for her husband. She has done an awful lot of reading around the subject and has begun to understand some of the reasons for his behaviors. However, understanding why her husband has difficulty coping with the unstructured weekends does not help her cope with her children all on her own. Simply understanding ‘why’ does not help my friend or her children contend with her husbands erratic behavior.
My friends husband is insistent that he does not have aspergers . He refuses to even listen to my friend about this issue let alone see a doctor or a councilor.
So my friend has to contend with his autistic aspergers-like behaviors without the help of any services or therapies. I believe that sometimes she finds this situations desperately difficult and lonely.
I wonder if there are others out there who’s partners have characteristics of aspergers, but were undiagnosed as children. If 1 in 88 children are being diagnosed now, than there must be quite a number of adults dealing with this.
So, in this month of autism awareness, this post is for my friend and perhaps other spouses of adults with undiagnosed Aspergers. These people are not often mentioned, but their lives and the lives of their families are being hugely affected by autism as well.
Linking up with the sparkly Jess at Diary of a SAHM for #IBOT and hoping that some of her sparkle can rub off on me!!