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Asperger's Parents and Neurotypical Children

By HERWriter
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Asperger's Syndrome related image Pixabay

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)

Wow, anon -- this is my mother as well, to a T. All she cares about are her narrow interests (for the last few years, Harry Potter), and everyone and everything else can go to hell, as far as she's concerned. Her paralyzing anxiety, bizarrely antisocial behavior in which she unintentionally insults anyone who might become her friend, and complete inattention to any cleaning or order (I grew up in an embarrassing, filthy pig sty -- the floors were never mopped, windows never cleaned -- I am being literal, not figurative here -- NEVER) were absolutely emotionally destructive to me growing up.

At age 44, I'm still coming to terms with the neglectful emotionally distant squalor in which I was raised -- and, of course, my mother DIDN'T NOTICE a goddamn thing, and would swear to this day that she gave us sufficient love and affection.

Yes, it was a weight off my shoulders when I realized she had Asperger's -- after reading Oliver Sacks' bio of Temple Grandin, it was suddenly, blindingly obvious what was wrong -- but I'm still really, really angry. I am sick of the thoughtless insults and neglect, and sick of having to be the thoughtful adult and emotionally take care of *her*, as I've always had to do.

September 18, 2011 - 9:01am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

"bizarrely antisocial behavior in which she unintentionally insults anyone who might become her friend,"

...and then when the insults drive away those people, they get accused of rejecting her for her alleged Asperger's even though IRL she used rejecting behaviors on them first!

June 10, 2012 - 1:49pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

"Horrible and sad for the grandchildren. "

I bet some people would accuse those grandchildren of discrimination against the disabled or Aspie culture for having any emotional reaction to how she treats them 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. >:(

July 14, 2010 - 9:55am

Hi babyfacemagee,

Knowing what you're dealing with can make a huge difference in how you feel. All this time, you didn't have all the information.

I think for many people, knowing about Asperger's allows a piece of the puzzle to finally fall into place. It can make forgiveness of some hurts possible, and make it possible to change some patterns for healthier relationships in the future.

That's why I wrote this article, at any rate. I'm glad to hear you found it beneficial.

March 8, 2010 - 7:34pm

I have been looking for an article like this. My father shows the signs of being an Aspie...even though he was a doctor himself. He finds it very hard to show emotion, intiate any kind of communication or emotional connection with me or my siblings. He also is not the greatest communicator and although when talked to he responds just fine I noticed that it is very rare that he initiates conversation. Growing up with him like this was extremely difficult. My brother and I always felt ignored and we developed self esteem and depression issues that lasted to the present day that I can see are directly related to us feeling he was 'ignoring' us throughout our developmental years. He never played with us or held us or even showed much interest in us. Our saving grace was our mother, but she has ADHD herself...which is probably why they were a good match. Both dysfunctions complimented each other.

Anyone that says growing up with an Aspie parent doesn't affect the kids is simply wrong. The low self worth caused by always feeling ignored growing up causes self-sabotaging behaviors and deep seated self doubt in the kids that haunts them through life. It was only in the past year or two that I finally 'figured out', at the age of 35, why my feelings about my father were so angry and confused. Only when I realized he probably is an Aspie...but undiagnosed because as a doctor he is in denial that he might have something wrong with him. To make matters worse he 'doctored' his own family so my primary care physician was an undiagnosed Aspie. Talk about lack of observation. I myself while not an Aspie, did suffer from a mild form or tourette syndrome and my father was so 'inside himself' that he didn't even diagnose it in his own child. I realize my situation is unusual with this extra 'twist' of not having objective medical care...but I have a feeling this kind of thing happens more than many realize. It certainly made my life much, much harder than it should have been and wasted many, many years and opportunities because of it. The more people get educated about Aspergers the better.

March 5, 2010 - 10:37pm
(reply to babyfacemagee)

I am a parent with AS of 4 young children (including a set of twins and a surprise baby). I really would like (need!) to hear from other adults/ teens how it was growing up with an Aspie parent. Here in US it would cost around $29, 000 USD to send them to day care or hire a nanny. We will God willing be hiring a part-time nanny to help out. But I get enraged at stupid small things. My dad is Aspergers/ autistic and so I know how it was to be raised by a strict, angry dad and I try to do the opposite but then I see dirty baseboards, a cupboard not closet, dust in the drawers and I loose it. All the information comes at the same time, I feel helpless and then the WORSE is that I allow myself to feel ENTITLED that my oldest kid (usually) should clean, for no good reason. I've been in therapy on and off 2 years total. I took severe parenting classes on my own will but that were designed for parents whose children were taken by Child Protective Services (6 months).

What is helping the most is praying and realizing God does not accept my nasty behavior, especially towards innocent human beings. Now I am at the point of writing empathy statements when I hit, or am mean with the kids and it is tearing me up inside, which is good, I do deserve it and I am realizing how shitty it is for them. How do I release my rage? I am in an apartment and can't easily scream/ break stuff, would a boxing dummy work? Any ideas? Also how to get my husband to understand that I seriously am not nice sometimes with the kids, and that this is NOT normal? Like he is kind of a pushover and just doesn't want to deal with my moods at times or thinks yeah ok one of the kids was misbehaving and deserved to be punished (he doesn't really think about it). Any comments for him I can forward too so we can both make sure our kids stay happy and live a half normal life.
Another thing is when I was 9 I was taken from my mom and I hated it so much, I really wanted my abusive mom back. My son has been going to family for longer stays (half a month) but then he cries so bad to come back it tears me apart. I seem okay with the other kids when he is not there and hubby has noticed that too, that I unfairly take it out on him. Please anyone raised by an Aspie parent help me know how it was. if you can message or reply with email then I can also get back confidentially.
Thank you humbly.

July 19, 2012 - 5:00pm

Hi Nikki,

I sympathize.

Fortunately, there are resources on the net that you can go to for more information. It would be nice if your dad was to show an interest in this as well, but it's also true that the more you can learn and understand about this syndrome, the better you will be able to deal with the effects.

Many NT people have found that simply by the fact that they now have a clearer idea of what they're dealing with, with their Aspie loved ones, things have changed some for the better. They have seen the real need to be more clear and specific in their verbal communications for instance.

And the realization that what has felt like rejection or being ignored for all these years, was not out of malice or indifference, has caused a huge weight to be lifted off the shoulders, and the hearts, of many lonely neurotypicals. Some begin to be able to believe perhaps for the first time, that maybe they are loved after all. It's just a matter of ... translation, two different worlds being able to communicate better.

I wish you the best of luck in your relationship with your father, and with other people of all kinds in your future life.

January 29, 2010 - 10:05am

I'm a NT girl being raised by a AS Father. I agree 100% with this article. It's always been just him and I. I've never got a hug by him, when I say I love you to him all I get is a comment in return to go to do something. I really wish there could be more edcuation on this to parents with AS :(

January 29, 2010 - 3:09am

Hi there.

I'm glad you wrote. I sympathize with the difficulties you have faced and are facing.

As you have pointed out, there is no Asperger's personality or temperament. People of every type can have Asperger's Syndrome. Your father's anger was part of his personality I think and not a part of Asperger's. The fact that he did not pick up the usual cues and boundaries, due to Asperger's may have made the expression of his anger worse.

I agree with you that what matters is character. As you have mentioned about your boyfriend, many Aspies are kind and gentle people. They have no desire to hurt others.

Sounds like you are busy trying to sort things out, now that you've become aware of Asperger's Syndrome -- what it is and how it has affected your own life. I expect it is a tricky process, but you have my admiration and respect.

I hope that as you sort out what you need, and re-evaluate your expectations, that you find yourself in a new life, with the levels of connection that feel right for you. I hope that the feelings of invisibility and isolation will become things of the past for you and that all your relationships will be warming and fulfilling.

Thanks for writing.

January 7, 2010 - 12:18pm
EmpowHER Guest

Thank you for this article. I am an adult NT child of an AS father. He has not been formally diagnosed and probably never will be. But it has been strongly suspected by many people in his life, from family to friends to work colleagues. I am just now beginning to understand about AS, as well as deal with all my issues from childhood, now that I have a child myself.

My dad's behaviour was devastating to me as a child. HOWEVER, I'm not sure the AS is to blame. My dad has always been an angry man, and at times he resorted to verbal and mild physical abuse. I have come to a place where I can truly say I have forgiven him for what he did to me. I know he loved me the best he could. But he was either distant and detached, or angry. I have only a few memories of him being warm, engaging, and happy with me. Even now, he never asks questions about me or my life. I have taken this as him not being interested, and now I understand the AS may play a role.

I think what is important is character, not AS vs. NT. I also currently have a boyfriend who may have AS. There are alot of similarities and I strongly suspect it may be the case. He has a very different character from my dad. I don't think he would ever display anger or behave abusively towards me. He is very gentle and humble. He is accountable for his behaviour. There are still alot of relationship difficulties, but I can't fault him for not being a loving person in any way.

That being said, the effects from my father have left me with issues of feeling unimportant, unworthy, unloved, and insecure. I have repeatedly found myself in unhealthy relationships with men who were emotionally detached or even abusive. I have suffered from severe depression, drug addiction, and other self-harming behaviours. I could go on and on. Was it because he had AS, or because he was angry? Or a mixture of both? (Beyond what is my own responsibility for making poor choices, obviously....)

My bf says that his level of connection is sufficient for him. But it is not sufficient for me, and I don't know that it would be sufficient for my child. I am very conflicted in this. I can see how difficulty empathizing could lead to dismissing a small child's behaviour as "irrational" and how being disconnected and not able to verbalize love could have devastating effects on a small child's sense of self-esteem and worth. Then again, I have a physical illness and I know my disability has an effect on her and is stressful for her. No parent is perfect and there must be room for grace. If we are humble enough to accept it and always keep trying to be better. Any feedback is welcome!

January 7, 2010 - 11:52am
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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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