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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)

As the child of an Aspergers mother... I understand this completely. It is interesting because I just realized my mother possibly has Aspergers and all of this makes total sense to me. I didn't realize that there were people out there who had these same issues. Not that I relish in others misfortunes, but I am so glad I am not alone.

May 3, 2012 - 2:28pm
HERWriter (reply to Anonymous)

You are absolutely not alone. And with your new knowledge, you may be surprised as time goes by to realize that there are many people with Aspergers syndrome. And in fact you may come to find there are more people with Aspergers in your life, your family, than you realized. This is not unusual. It can be quite eye-opening however. And freeing.

May 3, 2012 - 2:44pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Jody Smith)

Thank you for actually replying (and so quickly)! I feel like I keep trying reaching out, but it is always into darkness.

I would assume since you wrote this article that you come from a similar situation? I know that there are hardly any resources for NT children with AS parents, but I'm curious for any information you do have. I'm still in the phase of discovery. I really want to understand my mother and to have an actual conversation with someone who knows what all of this feels like. I reached out to the only Autism and related disorders support group that I could find in my community, and the person who wrote back to me basically told me that as a NT child, realizing my mother had Aspergers was impossible. I've emailed psychologists that specialize in AS in my area and one answered, but it always feels short and sometimes condescending.

Everything in this article makes absolute sense with who I am. Near the end of it, all I could do was cry, because it hit so close to home. I always felt like life had just dealt me an unfortunate hand--having a mother that was so emotionally negligent, and having no regard for my emotional problems what-so-ever. I look at my friends' mothers and it is hard for me not to feel resentful. I've never felt the freedom to run to my mother with my troubles and find a hug and some solace waiting there. As a child, it is hard not to take that to heart and for it to feel very personal... and that is something that stays with you and is constantly in the back of your mind. From an early age, I made a vow to myself that I would be a better mother, if I should ever have children. I sought out counseling for various reasons, most concerning my mother... but while going I felt like it was hopeless, because my mother would always be my mother and nothing would ever change that. I don't know what made me realize that my mother could possibly have AS, but something told me that I should do some research one night, and I listened. And by some miracle, everything that I found was so in tune with who my mother is... things I didn't even realize could be related to a disorder.

I'm only 22, and I feel fortunate enough to have realized this so early in my life. But now I am stuck in this NT child/AS parent purgatory and I feel so lost. I have been avidly searching the internet for some sign that I am not alone... I knew there had to be others who shared in a similar situation.

To clarify (for my own sake, I guess), I love my mother. Even before realizing all of this, I knew that was truth. And I know my mother loves me in her own way... but it isn't a way I understand. Since realizing all of this though, I have felt such an overwhelming sense of relief. It is easier to take a step back look and see all of the pain from my past in a new light, but it doesn't make the pain from them easier. I am currently in this limbo of when/how to tell my mother what I suspect, as I know she will not take it well.

Sorry, I feel like I just wrote a novel! Having someone reply to me is such a relief that I couldn't hold any of this in, I guess. I have been emailing like crazy trying to find some peace of mind.

May 3, 2012 - 4:56pm
(reply to Anonymous)

Aspergirls by Rudy Simone, might be a book your Mum might relate too, dunno. You would have to read it yourself and see if you think so. I am thinking that her reading rather than being told might be a way to get the info to her. You would know her better than me. Often an Aspie would need time to adjust consider etc without emotion (in the form of a person there) or time pressure. Just a thought.

May 18, 2012 - 4:33am
HERWriter (reply to Anonymous)

I sympathize with how you feel and with what you have been going through, are going through. Never apologize for writing "too much" about how you feel.

Remind yourself that what you have internalized is not normal or healthy -- that you should not expect to "monopolize" someone else's attention, that you should note expect to be heard and understood.

But this can also change. You won't be able to change your mom. But you can change the types of choices you make. You can decide not to "settle" for people that you know in your life who do not value you; who do not listen to you; who dismiss you; who use you for their own needs. You can raise the bar of what you will accept and you have the right to choose. 

There may be people who drain you, who you should walk away from. It is ok to do that. It is ok to protect yourself; to see yourself as having value and as having currency with the world whether the people you have known have treated you that way or not.

The situation is not your fault. But there are things that you can do to change your scenario. Dare to matter, to yourself, and to expect to find other people to whom you will matter. There are such people out there in the world. Dare to seek out a whole other class of people. 

Your mom may not be able -- or may not choose -- to change. It's ok to find other people to care for, and who will care for you. It does not make you callous or unfeeling. It just means you have finally accepted -- or are in the process of accepting -- that what you feel and what you want in life matters. That this does not make you selfish. No matter what anyone else might say.

I wish I could direct you to some websites or forums. The only ones I know of would be mentioned in my article, or as resources at the end of it. I think that, you are in a good place in some ways though, you are pretty young, and have your whole life ahead of you.

You are at an age where people often make big changes in their viewpoints, in their activities, in their friends, in where they live ... Embrace this knowledge and encourage yourself that you will be able to make choices that will be healthy and nurturing for you and that you will find others who will nurture and hear you as well.

May 3, 2012 - 6:16pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

To concerned citizen 4--the very symptoms that categorize someone as an aspie are also behaviors that are very detrimental to offspring of Aspies. If the parent does not have the destructive behaviors he/she is not an Aspie. By definition, the criteria for Aspergers and/or PDD (that had been called Aspergers) are the very characteristics that are damaging to offspring.

November 26, 2011 - 1:11pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Please read Tony Attwood's statement that people with autism or Asperger's Syndrome do NOT necessarily make bad partners or parents simply by virtue of being on the autism spectrum:


Thank you.

November 27, 2011 - 11:26am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

"...People with AS face enough condemnation throughout their lives from both family members and from society at large...."

Within a household where the people who do have Asperger's (or who don't have it but behave as though they have it because they're dedicated to upholding cultural customs that value tons of rote studying/sticking with the extended family and arranged marriage/etc. and scorn emotional expression/making friends and dating/etc.) are the adults in charge...

...and where the people who don't have Asperger's and can't thrive passing for Aspie are children who live under those adults' thumbs and need to see, hear, and feel emotional support from those adults (because they're only human, they don't have ESP, and "my never hugging you doesn't count because I have a doctor's note that says so, so it shouldn't have the same effect on you that an NT parent never hugging his or her child has on that child" doesn't make any sense to a baby)...

...those Aspies are definitely *not* being oppressed by those NTs for their Asperger's.

July 14, 2010 - 4:08pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

I so agree with everything you say, being an asperger parent myself, if anything growing up with NT parents and not being understood makes me over compensate... both my NT and aspie children are loved and we have brilliant relationships, like most aspie parents I know make exceptional parents, if anything over parent, if that is possible...My apsie child even thanked me for not forcing him to be or act like what he will; never be, says it all really!

and 200% agree:
"People with AS face enough condemnation throughout their lives from both family members and from society at large. They do not need extra guilt and anxiety piled on by "experts"- telling them what bad parents they must be, simply by virtue of having AS. "
in fact as an asperger parent I find this article offensive, but us to being discriminated against has happen all my life! Individuals need to remember we are there AS childs voices.,the brilliant insight mainly comes from spectrum adults, and I feel should be praised not criticized!!! its so frustrating with every step we take forward, some one wants to knock us down...Aspergers Parallel Planet

October 22, 2009 - 3:02pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

As the NT child of an AS mother and father, I'd like to encourage you to ask your NT children(if they are old enough) to read this article. Then ask them their opinion, maybe you will gain some insight.

November 7, 2009 - 11:17pm
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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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