In all our needing to be understood, this page provides links to the views of all our Asperger partners, family, friends and colleagues – in the hope that we too can learn to understand better.
My friends see an absent-minded professor and think it’s sweet. They think I am unreasonable, that it is either just part of what every woman puts up with, or that all professors (or equivalent with that brain power) are like this. I have learned, painfully, that even my closest friends have no concept of what living with someone on the spectrum is like. Yes, I can see that all men have something of this. But this is, as Simon Baron-Cohen points out, extreme. And if he were a child with very obvious behavioural difficulties they would sympathise. Because he has learned, self-sacrificingly and painfully as part of the compromise of our marriage, to be an excellent host and I have taught him to have at least six subjects for small talk at any one moment, they think he copes. He only does on the surface and at what cost. Life is excruciatingly difficult for him unless he is in his comfort zone with no risk; it is exceptionally wearing for me too. I have to try to protect, forewarn, comfort, the whole time, or I feel I do. If I don’t, the outcome is even more wearing. I try to make us seem like swans swimming beautifully and normally along, the effort going on underneath, but swans have a natural ability to glide gracefully. We are more like a crocodile pulling a hippo or vice versa.
Funnily enough, once he had got used to the fact that there was a noisy unpredictable smelly object that produced revolting body fluids – all typical problems for the person on the spectrum – he was a far better parent than me. I made him hold the baby before I did and he fell in love. He changed nappies reasonably willingly (initially very fearful, but so was I), held, cuddled, adored, and developed a wonderful relationship with our baby. It has stood them in really good stead.
Although it is very hard for our child to have an AS father – think Jem in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ not understanding Atticus at the beginning – they both love each other and our child appreciates his special qualities. But I have worked very hard since the age of about 7 to explain that Daddy is not very good at x but he is really special at y. And I have worked very hard with Daddy to explain that from our child’s position that he too is taking a logical position from his stance. It’s not always good but the underlying affection is there. And the result of this is that they now point out, together, when I am being illogical and demanding and they are always right!