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Asperger's Parents and Neurotypical Children

By HERWriter
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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

EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

"How do these people get warm enough to have sex? "

Oh, they have the same *hormones* as everyone else.

Hence some autistic guys demanding opportunities to shove their penises inside other people even when nobody is sexually attracted to them, as if rape is better than involuntary celibacy: http://astridvanwoerkom.wordpress.com/2010/07/15/autism-celibacy-and-christian-weston-chandler/

June 10, 2012 - 2:03pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Thank you for this site. It feels much better to vent! It is so much more legal than killing the women although that would feel much better and would end the torture for those who have to listen to her endless praise of herself. I count on that lack of insight to keep her from recognizing herself in my stories. So, I guess lack of insight has some advantages. Anyway, thanks for the site.

November 26, 2011 - 1:07pm
EmpowHER Guest

My undiagnosed AS mom does feel bad later on when she "wakes up" from her Mr. Hyde episodes, especially if, when she comes back to Dr. Jekyll, I yell at her and tell her that something she said hurt me. She will often try to "make up for it" in treats of one kind or another. It still doesn't feel like she empathizes, only that she wants to stay in people's good graces. She has told me that she has trouble feeling empathy because she doesn't want to get dragged down into the bad feelings of others. I believe that's due to the linear, one-thought-at-a-time mode of the Aspie. It's very hard for her to stand outside and stay strong for someone else who is suffering. I'm sure there are many degrees of the syndrome, and I believe she is slightly more aware (she's also a genius) than others. However, our world is still crazy.

November 21, 2011 - 11:31am
EmpowHER Guest

Yes, have you considered a book? It is a great forum. Great idea! Surviving Asperger parenting is not that different from surviving child abuse except that the damage is done inadvertently-without intent. But in some ways that is also what makes it even more damaging. Usually abusive parents often apologetic and guilt ridden afterwards. They are aware of the damage they cause. The Aspie is oblivious. They don't experience guilt. They are mind blind and lack soul. A Guide for Survivors of Asperger Parenting.

November 19, 2011 - 11:18pm

I couldn't be more pleased. :)

November 19, 2011 - 7:36am
EmpowHER Guest

Well, it probably makes her feel important and generous.

November 18, 2011 - 2:18pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Really? Why would she care if they thought she was generous when..ahhh. I am being a NT...My bad! You are spot on! It's not about how she wants them to perceive her but how she wants to feel herself. That is the key right there! She is only concerned with her own likes and feelings because she is clueless that others really exist. as separate feeling and thinking entities. I think about how I impact on others and, while not driving everything I do, I like to consider how others will feel about me but also how they will feel in general. Will they be comfortable? Will they be relaxed? Will they be glad to come over and will they enjoy the evening. What can I do to make their evening even better? Do they have any favorite foods? Can I get them? What can make the meal more fun for the kids? How about interjecting some fun thanksgiving themed activity for them? What do the kids think is a special treat for their drinks. And I have to admit that I also think about how they will view me. Will they feel I was thoughtful about what they like/needed/enjoyed. If they think I was thoughtful and attentive they will like me and will also enjoy spending time with me. So, maybe we can get together more often in the future. So,.... the key is that offering dinner to people makes her feel important and generous. And she can feel that way even though she has been nasty towards the very people she is placing in a position to make her feel generous. If I were her, I would presume everyone would be uncomfortable since she has made it so clear she dislikes them. But she does not consider their perspective and so she is protected from any negative thoughts about her own behavior and its impact. She is driven only by what she likes-as simple as that-and as simple and shallow as she is. That is why she does not feel compelled to do the things most people would do to make others feel comfortable and included. I'd also be totally embarrassed to invite people over who I had alienated because I would think they would view me as being "off"-but she has no such embarrassment. If she read this, she would say "well of course" she would invite them over. And she would not see that as conflicting with her negative view of them. It really is a disorder that is so hard on those around the individual while many Aspies have a "who me?" view -never seeing the awful impact they have on others. Moving through life saying and doing things that send the people around them into apoplexy while being oblivious to that fact. Then when NT say or do something that shows that they have been impacted negatively by the Aspie, watch out.

You are right! Sad! I think I need an Aspie translator. Thanks for your post.

November 18, 2011 - 4:44pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

You're welcome, and it's so clear a forum for NTs is needed... suddenly this is one.

November 18, 2011 - 5:49pm
EmpowHER Guest

While the Aspie dx does explain so much,some things are still perplexing . Maybe someone out there has some insight. I'd like to understand.About a month ago my undx Aspie mother began her , annual, suggestions that she have thanksgiving at her house. By way of background, this women has been married for 50 years to an anxious successful husband who supports all her obsessions, is devoted to her and does not seem to notice things like the disgustingly messy household. He views her as the social one and relies on her social judgement (Susie, do you think we should bring something with us to dinner?" Oh no dear, it's not necessary" "Susie, the children are asking to go to the zoo. Do you think we should take them ever?" "No, dear its not necessary". Now fast forward to thanksgiving. She dislikes her offspring and their partners except one very aberrant Aspie son who lives across the country and who she has had no interest in even visiting for 20 years. They talk on the phone every day. Maybe she is comforted by distance or maybe the idea of a person is the same as actually seeing him so she has no need. Who knows. When she talks of thanksgiving she has no intentions of inviting him and I think she actively discourages him from ever visiting or seeing his other relatives. I always feel guilt that he is probably alone but she is clueless. Anyway she dislikes her own grandchildren and has a litany of reasons for it. This one did that and that one did not do this. She can rattle off these things about each. She says things under her breath that are heard by all around her-including the person who is the target of her criticism. She dislikes merriment, music, surprises, and makes it clear that what most people like are far beneath her. We have a small family and she has alienated the inlaws for 3 generations and all of them for the current generations. Now she wants all the people she has ignored (relatives living close by) and criticized to come to her house for thanksgiving dinner. So my question is, why? What does she get out of it. She doesn't like them. She doesn't like fun. So why the desire to have these people she hates for dinner?

November 18, 2011 - 2:10pm
EmpowHER Guest

Thank you so much for this article!
I've been searching for information on this topic and there is certainly a dearth.
I just wanted to say that it's so wonderful to read others' experiences of that lack of connection. It broke my heart that my mother didn't (and still doesn't) want to get to know me and implied that I was a drama queen if I displayed any emotion. My emotional needs were totally unmet. I realised a couple of years ago that she is AS (undiagnosed). I've been trying to figure her out all my life. I see myself as quite an empathic and insightful person (psychology wise) & I always felt totally at a loss when it came to understanding what made her tick. It's been such a painful relationship. I remember once saying to her "it's as if you only love me when I'm doing exactly what you want me to" and she said "Yes" as in - yeah, of course, how else would it be? I was flabbergasted.
I have bipolar disorder and PTSD and my psychiatrist and psychologist both feel strongly that there was trauma in my childhood. I've been searching for answers - sexual abuse, perpetrators etc, and now I'm just wondering if it was unintentional neglect / abuse by my mother.
I just don't seem to have a foundation within myself if that makes sense.
Best wishes to all, Suki

May 30, 2011 - 8:17pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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