Handouts for Having a Partner or
Parent with Asperger’s Syndrome
Having a Partner or Parent with
Asperger’s Syndrome
New Zealand 11th September 2010
Falling in Love with an Aspie
What Attracted You to Your Aspie
• The silent, handsome stranger.
• Admiration of intellect or abilities.
What Attracted You to Your Aspie
• Compassion for his/her limited social skills.
• “Better looking than I would expect my
partner to be”.
• Belief his or her character was due to
childhood circumstances and the person will
change in a new relationship.
What Attracted You to Your Aspie
Shared interests (hobbies, animals).
The degree of adulation.
Fidelity in relationships.
‘I saw the heart not the behaviour’
What Attracted You to Your Aspie
• ‘Pillar’ of the community.
• Child like quality, a ‘Peter Pan’.
• Creative in his/her work and good career
• Similar characteristics to a parent (learned the
language and culture in childhood).
What Attracted You to Your Aspie Partner?
Confident about opinions
Kind & gentle
What Attracted You to Your Typical
Good in social situations, network of friends
Accepting & listening, good to talk to
Good looking
Executive secretary, well organized
Other Qualities
• “Someone who likes me, doesn’t want to
change me”
• Expressiveness and compassion
• Translator of the AS point of view
• A tutor in terms of what to do socially
The Social Quotient
Choice of Partner
• Women with As may prefer a relationship with
a man with As.
• Extreme neurotypicals more likely to fall in
love with an Aspie.
• Adults with High Functioning Autism less likely
to seek a partner.
High Functioning Autism and Celibacy
• ‘Can I deal with sharing a house with someone
who might possibly touch my model airplane
• ‘Model airplanes do not decide that they want
to be built by someone else who is more
attractive or less needy’
The development of the relationship
• An initial extremely deep love for the partner with
• In the early years of the relationship, not expecting
the partner with As to know what the person is
thinking or needs.
• The extreme neurotypical can imagine the As
perspective but the partner with As can have great
difficulty imagining the NT perspective.
What signs indicated he/she was different?
• Indifference e.g. early attentions in courtship stage
• Dominance of hobbies in time
• Resist being changed
• Reduction in social life
• Emergence of obsessive compulsive routines
• Less need for social relationship with partner
What signs indicated he/she was different?
Different conceptualization of marriage, love
Major decisions made without consulting the partner
Planning, organizing and executive secretary
Not knowing what is emotionally important
information for you
• Needing you at home and inhibiting your social life
What is Love?
Neurotypicals definitions
• Love is: Tolerance, non-judgemental,
• Love is: A complex of beliefs that tap into our
childhood languages and experiences; it is
inspired when you meet someone that has a
quality that maybe you admire, or do not
have (admiration and respect) – or that they
(someone you admire) reflects back to your
ideal self – which is what you want to be or
see yourself as.
• Love is: Passion, acceptance, affection,
reassurance, mutual enjoyment.
• Love is: What I feel for myself when I am with
another person.
Aspie Partner Definitions
Aspie Partner Definitions
• Love is: Helping and doing things for your
• Love is: An attempt to connect to the other
person’s feelings and emotions.
• Love is: Companionship, someone to depend
on to help you in the right direction.
• Love is: I have no idea what is involved.
• Love is: Tolerance, loyal, allows ‘space’.
• Four aspects of love: everybody, friends,
family, erotica.
• Love cannot be observed.
• Love is yet to be felt and experienced by
• What is Love? I don’t know the correct answer.
• Opening the door and letting a new world into
your life, then building a new world that
combines your world and their world.
• Someone that will try to understand the Aspie
way and still be there in the morning.
Euphoric feeling without logic
A good roast meal
Understands needs and how you feel
Looks after the kids so I can pursue my special
Expression of Love and Affection
• To frequently re-state the obvious or known is
• Overly attached or detached.
• Love expressed by a practical act, such as
repairing the verandah or building a new
Temple Grandin
• My brain scan shows that some emotional
circuits between the frontal cortex and the
amygdala just aren’t hooked up- circuits that
affect my emotions and are tied to my ability to
feel love. I experience the emotion of love, but it’s
not the same way that most neurotypical people
do. Does this mean my love is less valuable than
what other people feel?
The Effects of the Relationship on Each
Partner: Neurotypical
Affection Deprivation
• Fixes rather than empathizes
• Love and affection as an emotional
• Affection capacity (bucket or a cup).
• ‘Mirror’ the Aspie partners behaviour, life
style and thinking to survive.
• Aspie is dominant in a household and
• ‘I have developed into the person necessary
for him”
• “Take your self-confidence and energy”
• “The essential me had disappeared along the
• “Not that something had died, but the greater
tragedy is knowing that something that
should, has never lived”
The Cactus and the Rose
by Marguerite Long
Soft and vulnerable inside
Prickles to protect them from predators
Happy in a desert
Can withstand long periods of
relationship ‘drought’
Do not understand that roses need rose
Keep a distance from other plants to
A cactus in full bloom is magnificent and
very difficult for a rose to resist
The roots must not be allowed to dry out
Needs to be in a rose garden to connect
with other roses and be watered, fed and
Need intimate emotional connection,
communication and love
Can a rose survive in a desert?
• How to respond to
Cassandra Phenomenon
Aspie Partner
• May also feel irritated and depressed.
• Feeling of being unable to meet his or her
partner’s expectations in terms of social,
emotional and intimacy expectations.
Aspie Partner
Expression of inner thoughts and feelings,
Coping with change,
Household responsibilities from budgeting to
taking care of the children.
What Strategies Strengthen the
1. Recognition of the diagnosis.
2. Motivation of both partners to change
and learn.
3. Relationship information and
Achieving a Diagnosis
• Access to expertise in the diagnostic
assessment of adults.
• The diagnostic criteria.
• Asperger Personality type.
Motivation of Both Partners to Change
• Usually a greater motivation from the extreme
• When motivated and having access to
knowledge, the person with Asperger’s
syndrome can change.
Relationship information and
• Problems with conventional relationship
• Access to expertise.
• Access to literature.
• www.jkp.com
Local and Internet Support Groups
• ASPG in Brisbane
• www.aspiepartners.com
What Strategies Strengthen the
• Support from other family members and one’s
• Having good friends (soul mate).
• Having an independent social life.
• Not to feel guilty about having an alternative
social life.
What Strategies Strengthen the
• An occasional escape.
• A mutual understanding of two different
cultures and ways of thinking.
• Emotion management strategies.
• Guidance in social skills.
• Open and effective communication.
The Parent with Asperger’s
Issues for the Aspie parent
• Understanding natural childhood abilities and
• The role and responsibilities of being a parent.
• Wants the children to succeed but using
criticism not compliments.
Child’s Perception
• Lack of affection, understanding, emotional
support, acceptance, reassurance,
• Feel invisible or a nuisance.
• High expectations.
• Embarrassment in public and with friends.
• Not understanding the child’s perspective.
• I almost had an Australian pen friend when I
was 6 years old. I was very excited to receive a
letter from the other side of the world, long
before the Internet existed. I could hardly
contain my excitement and couldn’t wait to
write to this new friend and exchange my
news. I had read the letter and wanted to
answer her questions, but my mother had
other ideas. ‘There are spelling mistakes in this
letter, first you must correct her spelling
mistakes and send the corrected letter back to
her. This is how she will learn to spell’. I don’t
know whether this little girl learned to spell
because I never heard from her again.
Child’s Perception
• Fear of the parent’s mood and not to
• The ‘cold’ touch of affection.
• Affection for pets or time spent engaged in
the special interest greater than for the child.
• Educates rather than plays with the child.
• Two magnets - that either attract or repel
each other.
• Adored or despised.
• Attract: Seek affection and approval.
• Seek a partner with a similar profile of
Child’s Reaction
• Repel: Desire to leave home or move interstate or abroad.
• Hatred.
• Escape using imagination, solitude, alternative
Brisbane Support Group
• Support group for children and teenagers with
a parent who has Asperger’s syndrome
• Run by the Asperger Partner’s Support Group
• My dad sometimes can be in a childish mood
where he would be silly or jealous. It is very
difficult for me to have to boss him around.
• Controlling and anger
• Sometimes you question their love for you
• Favouritism
• He does not know how to join in other’s happy
moments. When I shared an achievement or
happy news, he would always respond with a
‘but’. Whenever there is anything exciting or
enjoyable, he would take you down.
Give him the signals to show you are upset
Tell my friends why he does it
My dog comes to my rescue
Lock myself in my room
• I force him to hug me
• I Know that his actions don’t always portray
his love
• Visiting homes of extended family and friends
• Mum jumps in to back me up

Handouts for Having a Partner or Parent with Asperger’s