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'm so excited that someone is looking at the NT's and all they went through with marriages and a parent with AS. I've had both! I feel that not only are children raised by AS parents are overlooked but those that suffered in marriage/partnership due to it. I can attest that since I'm both, it needs to be written about, observed, compassion given and research done. I still struggle. Now having a child with a AS parent ( not in a relationship any longer) she is not AS and stil has behaviors as such, which is causing her a great deal of struggle in the world. Help is needed here.August 4, 2016 - 10:27am
Hi Anonymous 126.96.36.199
Yes, it is actually alright for NTs to be looked at and acknowledged as having existence and needs.:)
You and your child face challenges, trying to get a new handle on things, and developing new perspectives on your lives ... but knowledge can be power as you give each other permission to act and think in new ways.
Thanks for sharing your experience.
JodyAugust 4, 2016 - 7:08pm
I'm in my mid thirties and realizing that my dad is undiagnosed AS. I'm not sure about my mom. It's hard to go through life not knowing what it's like to feel loved; to try to undo a lifetime of learned AS behavior. It's good to know I'm not alone.June 12, 2016 - 1:16am
That's right. You're not alone. And maybe knowing now will help you to make sense of things and undo some old perspectives for you.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts.June 26, 2016 - 10:44am
I wrote my account of being raised by Asperger parents who had been unaware of their condition all their lives. It's worth a read for both people with Asperger thinking of starting a family, as well as those neurotypicals living with Asperger parents.
http://www.mathijskoenraadt.com/essays/raised-by-autistic-parents.htmlMay 18, 2016 - 2:19pm
I am an NT who grew up with a father who has AS. We actually had identified this as a family when I was about 12 or so; so knowledge is power, this combined with my mom's social work background led to probably at least a more clear idea of what the struggles we faced as a family actually were, so that's good. My parents both had extremely difficult and abusive upbringings. I did feel like a surrogate parent to both of them since I was young, and still find myself fighting that role today. My dad's shortcomings are understandable; but my mom feels like she has not gotten enough love and attention in her life and dealing with a husband with AS has made her life even more difficult. She is kind of chronically needy in an emotionally manipulative way. She will explode or be in tears if she doesn't get her way. She has always treated me like a best friend to lean on, an extension of her own identity and not a child to develop and encourage in my own individuality. I have always felt forgotten. I wasn't a problem for anyone, so my underperforming and ADHD and depression went completely unnoticed while everyone just wanted more from me. I actually have spent 10 years putting my foot down with my mother. Telling her it is inappropriate for her to vent to me about my father all the time, and that I won't stand for it. That I need my own life separate from her. That her calling me from Walmart while trying to pick paint samples is ridiculous when she is an adult and I can't see the paint colors. My dad, who has AS, is actually embarrassed by my mother's antics so he self-isolates from me as to not cause any more strain than already has been/is being inflicted. I moved away a couple years ago, and have no idea what I am going to do when I actually want to start a family. Common logic and my mother strongly dictate that I need to be near to them.....but in a way life is simpler apart.February 27, 2016 - 4:18pm
Thank you for sharing your story. Sounds like you have had your hands full. It's quite understandable that you're finding life easier being a distance away from your parents. It's OK to have your own life.February 29, 2016 - 6:25am
I'm looking for an online support group for Aspie parents. I love my child and want to be the best parent I can be despite my social challenges. If any one knows of one please clue me in.January 14, 2016 - 8:31pm
I haven't browsed through these to be able to say which might best fill the bill, but you could check them out and see where they take you.
Here's a facebook page https://www.facebook.com/AdultAspergersSupportCommunity/
Aspies Central is a forum to discuss Aspergers Syndrome, Autism, High Functioning Autism and related conditions. https://www.aspiescentral.com/
These sites have forums for Asperger's Syndrome
http://www.asd-forum.org.uk/forum/February 29, 2016 - 6:39am
Due to the powerful response to this article that I wrote in 2009 I've just written another for NT children of AS parents. You can read it here. https://www.empowher.com/asperger039s-syndrome/content/nt-children-paren...October 23, 2015 - 7:29am