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
Yes. The NT children who must have had a really awful time because Autistic people could not possibly be great parents like NT people can be. Because the facts are that Autistic people do not lack empathy nor are they bad parents as a rule. The people commenting on this thread who have bad parents, it isn't because of Autism in and of itself. Autism does not cause differences that would inherently negatively affect an NT child. There are many numbers of NT children raised by Autistic parents who are very happy and successful as adults. This article implies that it is not likely or possible for that to happen.September 21, 2015 - 2:58am
Same here. It's no fun being a son of an Aspergers dad. Not in the least because it takes time and effort to get rid of all the copying behavior I picked up.August 14, 2015 - 1:41am
Who else then my dad was the prototype of who I should function in relationships/society? And of course dad still puts me down for behaving 'neuro-typically' (not that he has any idea that is what I do, I'm simply not being like him, and that's 'wrong'/illogical)
I'm sorry you've found yourself hedged in like that. You have the right to make your own choices about how you want to act and be, no matter what your father thinks and says about it. You are free to change your path. It can be difficult, but it's always a good thing.August 17, 2015 - 5:30am
I can understand the question and I wish I knew the answer. I do know that it wasn't something wrong with you, that you share in the conundrum faced by so many NT offspring.
Sometimes loneliness causes us to create our own family, to no longer stand looking at the backs of those who aren't interested in us, but to look beyond them in search of other people who are seeking the things we also want in our own lives.August 6, 2015 - 5:13am
You are not alone. Just a few weeks ago had that ah ha! moment when I ran across an article about adults with AS and their NT spouses and family members. My father (in his early 80s) is undiagnosed AS. I've been wondering all of my life why I got the father that ignored his children (and still ignores them). The one that never called to say hello or happy birthday or came to visit. Nothing. Ever. I had a sad and miserable childhood but fortunately left home the first chance I got. My younger sister didn't get away, and has never been able to find any joy in life due to severe panic attacks and depression. This is what happens when you aren't nurtured. I'm dealing with a great deal of sadness with this new discovery. All of a sudden the "great mystery" that has haunted me all of my life may have been solved. More attention is needed to the damage that is done to theAugust 4, 2015 - 5:07pm
typical children of AS parents.
I understand that it leaves you with a great deal of sorrow, and baggage that has weighed you down. I hope that knowing something about why he is the way he is may make a significant difference for you over time.
It's ok to look for new individuals and groups. to form a new family, create relationships with people you can relate to and who will be interested in your life as well. Older people, as father figures perhaps, and people of all ages.
We don't have to remain stuck staring at the backs of people who can't show interest in us. There is a wide assortment of people in the world, and some of them are going to care about you when you reach out.
Best of luck to you.July 20, 2015 - 5:43am
This article has been very helpful to me. I am a woman with Aspergers who is planning on having a child in five years. It is good to see the viewpoints of how other people felt being raised by a parent with ASD.December 1, 2014 - 12:53am
I believe the asperger traits shine through on a continuum. I have asked NT people only to join the forum, but that doesn't mean you have to feel completely normal and can never feel a trait of aspie yourself. It's interesting for me to question some of my own behavior: was it learned because I learned from an aspie mom? or is it really me? The main question is, have you suffered because of an asperger relative/ friend? do you want to create peace in your life? then you might benefit from joining the new facebook forum, Neurotypical Friends and Relatives of AS People. Search on facebook if you are interested, and request to join.April 20, 2013 - 12:43pm
Great article, thanks!April 20, 2013 - 12:44pm
I have just started a closed discussion group for this topic on Facebook. It is for NT members only. Please search by the title: "Neurotypical Friends and Relatives of AS People" and request to join. It will be a safe place to express troubles with your loved ones who have AS. NT members only, so we can feel safe and relaxed to blow off steam and not have to speak perfectly. I wanted it to appear in searches and be easy to find, so it is a closed group rather than a secret group. I love my Aspie mom, and I have much experience on both sides of the issue. In this group we will help each other understand Aspergers, how it affects our loved ones, and how it affects our own development. We will focus on ourselves and we will not let Aspergers run our lives. We will not bash Aspergers either. We understand Aspergers as a genetic disorder, and those affected as disabled/ differently abled. We will support ourselves in finding peace with our Aspergers friends.April 20, 2013 - 12:13pm