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
I think there may be a forum or two for NT's with Aspie parents, it's been a few years since I was doing the research for this article, so I can't give you anything certain or specific on that. But I think I saw such a thing, you might try checking out the links to the research articles that are at the end of my article.
Maybe do a web search, see what might turn up. It's been a couple of years since my research, maybe some new things have popped up since then.April 7, 2012 - 1:05pm
You obviously have grievance with one or two specific people with Autism while you are completely ignorant of the massive amounts who are actually amazing human beings and assets to this planet. I know several NT people who are horrible as human beings but yet I do not feel the need to write articles bashing the entire neuro-group based on my personal experiences. Once you met one person with Autism, you have only met one person with Autism.
Yes, it is a pervasive disorder and it makes my own life hell sometimes, but that does not mean that all NT people within my relationship circle of friends are suffering too. In fact my vast number of friends find me to be a terrific mentor, friend and human being. My daughters adore me. I am okay despite this disorder and so are many, many others.
Want to try again with the "generalizations?"
I have an idea! Let's start bashing blind people! Or how about blacks? I bet we can find a few of them who are assholes to make our case!December 14, 2011 - 3:50pm
Dear Anonymous,April 20, 2013 - 12:30pm
I'm not sure why you find the need to post your comments here. As mentioned previously this is a post for NON-Asperger children who happened to HAVE Asperger parents. If you want to personally message the author then please do but why go public? It's not about bashing it was about expressing her own opinions. If you are on the autism spectrum then this post was not meant for you to post on, please move on? It would be like a seeing person attending a meeting for blind people :) and then bashing their meeting.
Asperger's is a disability. It is not an other-difference or a little-difference or differently abled. It is a disability. Pervasive. There are true deficits. It is a disorder often not even noticed by the person with the disorder but it can cause life to be hell for those around the person. Not always, that is true. It is not the only diagnosis like that. Psychopaths rarely view themselves as having problems. Same with people with other personality disorders. But lets not kid ourselves here. These are pervasive disorders that often ruin the lives of those around the person with the disorder. And yes, Aspies aren't the only ones that can ruin the family but It can be very hurtful for a NT children to have to interact with an Aspie adult because they often don't filter anything that comes out of their mouth, they tend to be incapable of going with the flow and allowing children to be the center of attention at dinner, they can't stand not talking incessantly about their latest obsession and they can o be clueless when others are simply turned off to their incessant talking. Those of us upset by the Aspie will probably spend days contemplating it while the Aspie gives it little to no thought. Aspergers syndrome is a truly horrible disorder-particularly for the NT that have to deal with them.December 14, 2011 - 2:09pm
A lot of Neuro typical parents do not try and are assholes too. THAT is fact. Yes, having AS does make communication with NT very challenging especially in relationships of Parent/Child and Husband/Wife. But people with ASD can be excellent parents and partners if the other NT people are willing to speak our language and take our perspective as much as they expect us to take theirs. It cannot be just one way and the ASD person has to be open to learning. This may be a challenge since all of our lives we are told that we are wrong and we (as a result) build up a resistance to perspective taking. I have a facebook page (Karla's ASD Page) where I try really hard to help NTs understand the ASD perspective so that they can come from there when trying to communicate to their ASD counterparts. It is a plan that really works.
It is NOT one person at fault in a bad relationship but a combnation of cultural misunderstandings and blame. Just look at how the comments in this thread had turned against one another...November 28, 2011 - 2:06pm
"But people with ASD can be excellent parents and partners if the other NT people are willing to speak our language and take our perspective as much as they expect us to take theirs."
Even when the other NT people are *small children* and therefore aren't *able* to take your adult perspective as much as every small child needs his or her parents to take his or her perspective?
I feel sorry for any baby you have. I bet you'd accuse them of discrimination against Aspie culture for having any emotional reaction to bad treatment from you instead of automatically going "it doesn't count because she has Asperger's" or "it doesn't count because it's part of her culture" ever since birth.January 20, 2012 - 7:36pm
Be careful that you are not confusing AS with being an asshole or a myrid of other comorbid conditions. You guys are obviously bitter towards your parents and that is too bad but AS is NOT the only thing going on in your relatsionships. I have an amazing relatsionship with both of my adult daughters and I am actually DX'd with ASD.
So, yeah... Let us not just to correlation=causation conclusions here else we go off and write the book how blond haired parents are so horrible.November 27, 2011 - 10:19am
The more I have learned about Asperger's, the more I realize that it is just one factor of a myriad of problems. Many of the problems have nothing particular to do with Aspergers, but have been grossly exacerbated by Aspergers (and that, partly because it's hard for NT people to understand the person with AS) because AS affects any issue involving the processing of emotions and any issue involving communication, and most problems have some component of emotions and communication tied up in them. Thanks for your comment. We need to work from all sides to understand this thorny issue. It's true I'm bitter towards my parent, but at least she tries. It sounds like some parents don't try at all... For better or worse, learning that makes me feel better about my relationship with my mom. I am grateful for the openness on this comment board. I wish it were a real forum.November 27, 2011 - 11:35am
"Then when NT say or do something that shows that they have been impacted negatively by the Aspie, watch out."...yes, I often tell my AS mom, "You can dish it out, but you can't take it!"November 21, 2011 - 11:47am
A NT person tells a NT person that what they did or said was hurtful and both NT people ponder the situation feel badly about what was said and done and try to make things better for each other and themselves. A NT tells an Aspie that what they did or said was hurful and the Aspie says "you shouldn't feel that way". The Aspie's next thoughts are about her latest obsession or arcane useless hobby. The NT leaves feeling worse and ponders the situation. Regardless of how the NT feels, murder is not an option and it is too late for castration. The Aspie never tells a NT that what they did or said was hurtful because the Aspie doesn't notice that anyone else is in the room. Thanksgiving for me was a time to practice inhibition of impulses. I should really have carved the turkey to put those impulses to good use. It was a 4-5 hour mantra of me me me me me England England When I went ot England England England. When I went to England... when I went to Scotland...last time i was in England.....Wine in her made it even worse and there was not enough booze in the entire house to make it ok for me or anyone else. She could not be shut up! Most people just sat there amused by my response and amazed by her absolute lack of insight about the perceptions and feelings of others. 2 grandchildren and she could not bother to ask how either was. I'm guessing this is one women who probably had a pretty severe case of autism as a child but she had a nurturing mother and an Aspie father so at least the temperature in the home wasn't absolutely frigid. How do these people get warm enough to have sex? Must be good training for living in Alaska! This women would not know about dishing anything out-she would not notice. She must be spinning in her head.November 26, 2011 - 1:03pm