Asperger's Syndrome is finally moving into the spotlight. Questions that have perplexed Asperger's (AS) and neurotypical (NT) family members alike are now finding answers. Marriages between Aspies and NT's can improve as more becomes known about how to bridge the neurological gap.
People with Asperger's are writing articles, blogging, and being heard. Their voices have been given a platform that's been long in coming. They certainly deserve this understanding.
One group, though, that seems to be under-represented in all this new information and support, are the neurotypical children of Aspie parents. There's a certain irony here. From what I've read, this has been the story of their lives.
A cornucopia of material is available, finally, for AS children, and Asperger's / NT marriages, and Asperger's in adults. But their NT child is — still — overlooked.
An Asperger's parent might say everything is fine. They're not aware of any problem for their child. However, there's that Catch 22. Neurologically, they are unable to be aware of it. But that doesn't mean there isn't a problem.
The neurotypical parent's view may be completely different. They'd see the hurt feelings the Aspie would miss. They'd be aware of the emotional distance the child faces. Inevitably, the AS parent would not.
Some NT children of AS parents, now adults themselves, would say that as children they felt unloved. Their Aspie parent wasn't able to be sensitive to their feelings and their needs. As NT children, they couldn't understand the neurological disconnect. The present generation of NT adults with Asperger's parents had no way of knowing what was wrong when they were small.
Children assume, and internalize, that there is something wrong with them, that it is somehow their fault when their parents can't show them love and affection in non-verbal ways they can understand. To compound the situation, Asperger's was unheard of at that time. Who knew?
Many offspring of Aspies are dogged throughout their lives with depression and low self-worth. In their early lives their thoughts and feelings weren't acknowledged so the ability to develop healthy relationships later in life was stunted.
They don't expect to be heard. They don't expect to be understood. They have no frame of reference for it. And though they don't have the Asperger's neurological profile, some never learned how to fully express and receive love and affection for those around them, and so the ripples of isolation spread.
- Due to a substantial response to this article from 2009 I wrote another for NT children of AS parents in 2015 called "NT Children of Parents with Aspergers: Looking for Information?" You can read it here.
Frequently Asked Questions About Asperger Syndrome. Aspergerfoundation.org.uk.
FAAAS, Inc. Faaas.org.
Asperger Relationships. Autism.lovetoknow.com.
About.com:Adults and Asperger Syndrome. Autism.about.com.
Feeling Invisible in the Asperger World. Psychcentral.com.
Children of a parent with ASD / Asperger’s Syndrome. Aspergerpartner.com.
Visit Jody's website and blog at http://www.ncubator.ca and http://ncubator.ca/blogger
Add a Comment201 Comments
You're welcome! and it's much easier for me now, to speak in ways that she finds easier to hear, and act in ways that she needs, now that I realize that to do so merely helps her not to be overwhelmed. And as result she's able to experience the feeling of our love better. I cherish our time together.October 11, 2012 - 10:57am
It's great to hear of freedom coming out the other side of Aspergers awareness, for other family members as well.
You have done something that can be very difficult, especially after years of perhaps feeling unloved or ignored. Your mother is fortunate to have such a daughter. And you are fortunate to have a mother who is willing to try to work with you for the sake of your relationship together.October 11, 2012 - 11:08am
as a daughter of an Aspie mother... I will say it helps a lot that she apologizes after she wakes up from her temper tantrums. If there are any aspie parents reading this who "lose it" sometimes, learn to apologize to your kids. It really does help in the minor cases of arguing, but if you find you are dishing out actual physical abuse, that is crossing a line where apologizing is not enough. You seriously need help and and should find ways to limit your stress so that you don't get so overwhelmed. Perhaps hiring a "mother's helper" - either a babysitter to be with the kids while you are also there, or a housecleaner so you can enjoy time with the kids.July 19, 2012 - 5:14pm
Thank yo ufor your post, very helpful about asking for forgiveness and thank you for the concrete help (heh you probably already know aspies can be very "literal") about getting a "mother's helper" / house cleaner and for making your response palatable to Aspies, I hope me and others with these personalities will take heed to your advice!April 20, 2013 - 12:32pm
I've just recently discovered my ma had Aspergers and I'm 44. I have lived through every circle of hell concerning my interpersonal relationships (with men, I'm a woman) and have become a doting co-dependent with every baby child under my care... leaving me a wisp of who I really am and who I was supposed to be. I hated my mother for the longest time and became everything she was not, overly attentive, loving, giving all in an attempt to fix my inner child's heart. Understanding that it was a disorder in her and not that I was a bastard child worth hating really frees me up and I can now start battling the thoughts in my head that undermine my self confidence. This is a completely new battle for me and I'm hoping for quick victory, any encouraging words are helpful and thank you to all the people who have commented here..it was my miracle.July 3, 2012 - 7:17pm
Thank you so much for this article. It is hard to find people who understand how my father's aspergers hurt me growing up. He is not a bad man, just oblivious to the need for a child to form an attachment. He never said cruel things to be malicious, he just didn't have the theory of mind or ability to mentalize to understand how hurtful he could be. I think there are some good aspie parents, but it is a challenge for others and they and their children will never get why they need if there is not an open an honest discussion.
I hope the angry AS people will realize that there are many websites providing support for them, but very few sources for adult children of asperger parents. Everyone deserves love and support.April 7, 2012 - 11:11am
I agree, there are many supports available to Aspies, from children to adulthood. I searched the net for hours for information on NT children of Aspies and was very disappointed to find there was so little. And there needs to be alot of information, because many NT children of Aspies grow up having felt invisible, unimportant, in their families and even in their own lives. Some have been angry, some have felt guilty, because they thought they were somehow wrong in chafing against this vacuum that many of them have experienced.
I think it's important for NT children of Aspies to be able to say what they feel, and what they felt growing up. Many have never had the chance or felt they had the right, or till recently the understanding, to be able to talk about these things.
I've seen a number of people saying that not all Aspies are like that, and I would just point out, my article has not try to say all Aspies are alike in any respect. In fact, this article is really not meant to be about Aspergers syndrome at all. It is about AS offspring.
I would also like to say that this article was not written with the intention of giving everyone equal time. The comments in that vein are really off topic. This article was written for NT children of Aspies. If anyone is offended that that's all I wrote about, please be aware, that is what I set out to do.
I felt, and still feel, that many NT children of Aspies have a life experience where they are somehow left out of the picture, from the time they are small. They are unheard in a way that may be unique to NT children of Aspies. This has not been discussed anywhere that I know of, until very recently. It needs to happen more.
Am I saying that all Aspies will raise wounded children? I will say one more time, of course not.
But this article is not about them. It is about the forgotten ones. Today, in this thread of comments, in this article I have written, they are not forgotten. And the subject will not be turned from them to someone else. Not this time.April 7, 2012 - 12:40pm
sorry for the late reply....THANK YOU DEARLY..for keeping the attention and focus on little old NT child of an ASPIE. I needed to hear such bold and encouraging words..I do matter.July 3, 2012 - 7:30pm
I am sorry for MY late reply. Especially to a comment such as this, where you are taking a stand, on a piece of truth that perhaps for many years has eluded you -- that you do matter.
Yes, indeed you do. You are not invisible and you do not need to shunt yourself aside to make more room for anyone else simply because they want you to.
You are very welcome.October 21, 2012 - 8:54pm
Thank you Jody. I deeply appreciate your comment just now and of course the original article, with this place to talk. It is a sign of just how twisted the problem is, that I must post anonymously. Still, I wish that someone would set up a private forum for NT's with Aspie Parents, so that I could speak more freely. Sorry I'm terrible with computers or I'd do it myself.April 7, 2012 - 12:49pm