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NT Children of Parents with Aspergers: Looking for Information?

By HERWriter
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NT Children of Parents with Aspergers: Some Information for You LoloStock/Fotolia

Six years ago, I wrote an article for neurotypical children of parents with Asperger's syndrome. I wrote that some NT offspring of AS parents have grown up feeling unloved, that their parents were not able to tune in to their needs and their feelings.

As children, they blamed themselves for a disconnect between them and their parents. Often as adults they have continued to suffer from the lack they experienced in childhood.

The response from neurotypical kids to that article "Asperger's Parents and Neurotypical Children"was substantial, and still ongoing, six years later. So much so that I am writing on the subject again.

I received 154 comments and replies. Some were posted as recently as last month. Some readers used the Comments thread at the end of the article for a time as though it were a forum where they could talk to each other about their experiences.

When I started researching for today's article as a follow-up to my first one six years ago, my online research was interesting. That is to say, disappointing. Again.

Material about these NT children was surprisingly sparse six years ago. It's still challenging to find anything written from their perspective, or about their experience.

One differences I noticed was that my original article from 2009 was showing up as the first item in my Google search. And in second place came an Aspergers forum page that ripped my first article and my intentions apart.

Some comments by people with Asperger's syndrome responding to my first article were in much the same vein.They told me that I was attacking them all, which was not true.

They said that lots of Aspies were good parents, that they themselves were good parents. That plenty of NT people are bad parents, too. All of that is undeniably true.

But really, that's not my focus. This has happened too many times to these kids.

So often, they find their feelings and their needs pushed aside. Any suggestion that this happens is met with a reaction that is all about the parent with Asperger's syndrome and not about the child at all. If I needed to see proof that there is a problem, the comment column for that article was more than enough.

It is not my intention to condemn or attack people with Asperger's syndrome. I am not trying to say that every AS parent has done damage to their children. My focus in this article is on the children who tell me that they grew up lonely, that they grew up feeling rejected, worthless and unlovable.

Most comments responding to my first article came from NTs who grew up with AS parents. The parents' personalities were not in question, nor their intentions, nor their goodness. The offspring were taking this opportunity, which was meant to be all about them, to talk about their lives, to ask questions, and vent their thoughts and feelings.

The cry that I heard over and over again was, thank you for remembering us. Thank you for telling me I'm not alone.

Thank you for telling me I am not the cause this depression, loneliness, sorrow, grief. Thank you for helping me to understand where all that pain has come from.

Thank you for suggesting I can hope for something better, because it wasn't me after all. Thank you for saying it's OK for me to open my mouth and speak, and expect to be heard, to be visible to other people.

It's OK to expect, to require, something for myself in my relationships. It's OK for me to hold out for being an equal participant, and equally on the receiving end. Thanks for the reassurance that wanting such things is not selfish, it's just human, and part of any healthy relationship.

Many NTs mentioned that they can find next to nothing online for them. I suggested in a post that maybe they can write something themselves. They can post comments on my articles, or other writer's articles. They can start blogs. They can start forums. They can post on Facebook or other social media.

The feeling of invisibility and of having no voice, the fear of rocking the boat or of being called selfish for talking about yourself and how you feel may be deeply ingrained. It may be your first and biggest obstacle. But if you can climb over that one, and continue to climb over it, you may find it was your only real obstacle.

I spent several hours looking for resources for NT children of AS parents and I didn't find much. But I was able to accumulate some articles, book recommendations, websites, forums and a few writers and professionals who have reputations of being helpful to NTs.

In no particular order, here are some webpages that may be beneficial:

Asperger's Parents and Neurotypical Children

Feeling Invisible in the Asperger World

The Neurotypical Site

Welcome to The Neurotypical Website

Parents with Asperger Syndrome

Parents with Aspergers

What is Asperger's Syndrome?

There's something different about dad

Links for family members of people with Aspergers

Visit Jody's website at http://www.ncubator.ca and http://ncubator.ca/blogger

Reviewed October 23, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN

Add a Comment66 Comments

Hi All,

First thank you for all sharing your experiences, it is so valuable to read this and know that I am not alone, selfish or crazy as some folk seem to think.

I'm 40 and have just realised that my mother 73 may have aspergers which would explain a hell of a lot in regard to family life and outcome.

I've always felt like I have parented my mother and been walking on eggshells in good child mode to keep things ok for her to prevent her emotional sad weeping outbursts. I have felt guilty all my life that I have not been able to connect with her and even guilter now as my parents are divorced and she is living in a nursing home with myself as her main support. I still feel huge resentment and frustration that I continue to care for her as a child and can not leave the country (I returned to my home country to check on my mother's health and have been obliged to remain as there is no one else to help her. My sister simply isn't able to deal with her). I feel like I have had enormous parts of my life devoured by 'this', I even left the country to escape her hopes for me to be a check out chick on finishing high school.
I know she 'loves' me but she has no idea how to express this and everything seems to be on my shoulders to support and comfort her through life. Recently her sister passed away (whom I am not very close to) and all I could think was dear god what will I say when it's her turn I have sooooo much resentment and frustration I can't remember the good things. SO I really tried and I thought of a few things but my childhood was numb, I'm sure my father was in numb mode to survive until his children were 18 and he could finally leave.....
I don't want for this to be the story of my relationship with my mother for the rest of our lives. I want to want to visit her and not feel like I am her employed carer. I want to be able to have some kind of connection or relationship even if it isn't deep. The disconnect is so huge for me and it's a real struggle to take care of her how I would like to as I block myself all the time feeling the burden lumped on me and that makes me feel even worse about myself.
I have done a great deal of work on myself to break through the emptyness, depression, anxiety etc and it's helping but I really am not in a great place as a single 40 yr old woman. It's all beginning to make sense but where do I go from here. How can I best help myself to lead a full filling life on all levels including having a loving relationship? And how can I salvage some kind of relationship with my mother before her time comes?

December 10, 2016 - 7:27pm
HERWriter (reply to Nutritionista)

You are dealing with big questions. It may take some time to work out the answers you seek. 

For what it's worth, speaking as a 61-year old woman, the fact that you are single at 40 should not cause you to lose hope for love in your future. You aren't old:) and you have time to change, to grow, to question, to learn new ways of relating to people. 

Your mother is probably not going to change at this point. You can't change her, but you have the right to protect yourself and take care of yourself. It will be an interesting journey!

December 29, 2016 - 5:43pm
EmpowHER Guest

OMG - I read your two articles after finding out after strong suspicion that my dad has autism spectrum (formarly aspergers). When you wrote "they don't expect to be heard, they don't expect to be understood. They have no frame of reference for it" it was like holy smokes - this person actually gets it. Thank you for writing this (and I apologize if I mosquoted you slightly I typed on my phone and can't go back right now to read exactly how you worded it)

September 9, 2016 - 4:05am
HERWriter (reply to Anonymous)

lol Yes, I do get it.:) And no, I don't mind if the quote isn't exact, you certainly caught the spirit of the thing. And, you know all about what that's like anyway.

Happy adventures ahead.:)


September 9, 2016 - 10:58am
EmpowHER Guest

The Aspie's saying they are good parents. Plenty of NT's are bad parents. This is so typical of a NA person. They think they are right! They would totally argue to the death about being a good parent, b/c what they base it on is their actions. Feeding, sheltering, clothing, playing with them, taking them to the dr. etc. I can tell you from being a child raised by a AS parent, he was abusive as hell and will flat out curse you down if you suggest he wasn't a good parent. They see things differently. They cannot GET that is is more than those things, it is actually feeling emotion around your child, the warmth ( that they cannot get). It is the energy that NT parents project. That is something an AS person won't get. Unless they are on Oxytocin and have it balanced to a good level, that helps them bond. Don't stop what you are doing, and keep in mind what you are dealing with. AS people are going to get fired up.... that is what they do when someone doesn't agree with them. Of course they will they cannot see outside of themselves.

My daughter ( unfortunately) has an AS father. He didn't get diagnosed until after she was born. You can ask her how she feels around her DAD..... she will tell you. Something big is missing.

August 9, 2016 - 3:00pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

I know what you mean! I remember once suggesting to my AS Dad that we seek family counseling. He yelled so fiercely that the walls shook, "We don't need counseling! We're fine!" One of many clues that something was very, very out of place. Fortunately I've been of the mind to at least continue seeking out help for myself! My heart is with your family!

August 14, 2016 - 10:39am
HERWriter (reply to Anonymous)

Hi Anonymous

Sounds like you have been on an intensive journey and are getting lots of insights. Good for you! 

Keep on your path, continue your growth, share what you learn with others. Nurture your child, help her to see how things should be in a relationship.

Thank you for writing:)


August 10, 2016 - 7:29am
EmpowHER Guest

Thank you for writing this! My father is on the autism spectrum. I have spent so much of my life believing that I was inherently broken. A couple of years ago I finally committed to pursuing a career that is important to me - and it has been this wonderful journey of learning to trust myself and believing that my wants and needs are valid. But it's still a struggle. Some days I feel very capable and normal and others I feel torn - like guilty. It's a strange dichotomy of feelings that being the NT daughter of an Aspie stirs up. On the one hand my dad is has this child-like wonder at everything that is endearing and lovable and on the other he has this really short fuse that is ignited by unpredictable things. We're always just supposed to "know" what those things are and made to feel stupid when we do them. There's just so much I'm feeling! So many people belittled and ignored my feelings on the subject that I began to think that maybe I was a bit crazy. Even writing this I wonder, "Am I nuts? My father's fine. I'm the problem." What you've written here really speaks to that self-doubt and helps me understand a little more why I'm so cautious. Thank you!

August 2, 2016 - 9:09am
HERWriter (reply to Anonymous)

Old habits, including old patterns of thinking, can take some time and some effort to disappear.

It's OK to trust your own feelings and perceptions. It sounds like you are on a good path, to greater freedom and self-realization.

Thank you for sharing your experience:)


August 2, 2016 - 7:38pm
EmpowHER Guest

I'm the wife of a very high-functioning Aspie who is in therapy and dealing with feelings of neglect and lack of protection and love and interest from a mother who I am now all but convinced is on the spectrum herself. My husband even invoked Harlow's wire mother experiment tonight at dinner, which another commenter referenced. My husband doesn't think she's an Aspie, but he's struggling to come up with why she's the way she is. He can't point to any family trauma, and her sister is - in my husband's words - normal.

My mother in law is a lovely person, very loving, wants the best for her sons... but she also has no concept of why her son would want more from his life than to work at Starbucks, and as she seems to have LDs, and so does my husband, she constantly recommends things to him that are part of HER life, and can't relate to him. Someone else's comment about the way his mother saw him really hit home... My husband's mother is a school lunch lady, and she recently told my husband - who left the military and put himself through university on the GI bill + scholarships he earned - that he should "become a school janitor" because it's a secure job with benefits. He was crushed, not because he thinks being a janitor is bad but because he's told her so many times what he wants from life and she doesn't appear to listen or care. He said to me tonight "She doesn't know me at all. She doesn't know who I am." It's heartbreaking.

Now I'm putting 2+2 together. She was very strict when they were children, and because she didn't believe in modern medicine (she's Asian), she didn't take her kids to the doctor - my husband had suffered terrible sebacious dermititis (think dime sized flakes of dandruff) through school, and been teased mercilessly ... through some online sleuthing, I figured it out. She'd been putting olive oil in his hair (ew, so greasy!) for years - the answer was simply to leave dandruff shampoo on his head for 5 full minutes every day for a week. Gone. She never considered how cruel the kids at school were. He suffers terrible allergies, too - she does too, but she doesn't take allergy meds ,and wouldn't let him either.

The thing is, she's really a sweet person. She loves her boys. She talkes foldly of them to me when we've been alone, but there's no doubt she's very, very awkward talking to my husband on the phone. She talks only about what she's *doing*, never about emotions, never about hopes or dreams - for herself, or for her son. People call her "pragmatic". She's Asian, so there's also people who give her a pass, I think, for being a 'tiger mother' cliche.

In fact, thanks to all of you I now believe she is on the spectrum, and that is likely an underlying source of a nagging feeling that his mother didn't love or protect or care for him the way other mothers do... He never considered it before, but now I also know why he has such a strong bond with my own mom - for the first time, he's got something to contrast his own experience with, and it's left him feeling uncomfortable. It's hard to see him struggle with this, but I feel for the first time like maybe now there's a big piece of hte puzzle in place. THANK YOU.

July 11, 2016 - 5:54pm
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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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