This blog isn’t all going to be about Lush. I’m sorry if that is what you wanted. I also apologise for the length.
This post is about autism and relationships. My autistic partner Oliver came across page on Blogger called – My Asperger’s Child; within this blog there is a post called ‘Married to an Aspie: 25 tips for spouses’. If you want to take a look for yourself it can be found here.
I have asked Oliver and had his input throughout writing this blog to ensure I am not writing on his behalf without his concent.
Before I begin; I have to admit I have not read any of the other pages on the website, so some of the content may be great. However I find this particular article very questionable for a number of reasons. I will talk through these reasons below. I should also add I am not autistic myself, I do not know everything and am still learning new things everyday.
Firstly, they use the term high and low functioning autism. I could write why this is problematic however; there is a great blogger called Amythest Schaber who has summed it up perfectly in this video !
So now to the so called tips –
“Although Aspies (i.e., people with Aspergers) do feel affection towards others, relationships are not a priority for them in the same way that it is for neurotypicals or NTs (i.e., individuals without Aspergers)”
I find this offensive and wrong on so many levels. Firstly EVERYONE is different. Different relationships work in different ways, different people face different challenges. Not every autistic person is the same. You don’t have to be autistic to have different priorities on things. Sometimes I have to put myself first in my relationship, and that is not a bad thing; infact its important to do in order to maintain a healthy relationship.
“A relationship with an Aspergers partner may take on more of the characteristics of business partnership or arrangement.”
This makes it sound like every autistic person is like Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory and has a relationship contract. This is just ridiculous and a stigmatised stereotype which is damaging to the autistic community.
“Although he genuinely loves his spouse, the Aspie does not know how to show this in a practical way sometimes.”
I know my partner Oliver loves me he shows this all the time. He sometimes needs hints for ideas of surprise gifts. But then in every relationship I have been in I have hinted at presents. I am very hard to buy for unless it involves Lush or glitter.
“An Aspie is often attracted to someone who shares his interests or passions, and this can form a good basis for their relationship.”
This isn’t the case just for autistic people; its the case for all people. You would be unlikely to be in a relationship or friendship with someone if you have nothing in common. My partner’s special interest is the Tudor period of history. I know hardly anything about about this, however I find this strengthens our relationship. He loves teaching people things so he teaches me about the Tudors and gives me little quizzes every now and again which I find is great fun. This works both ways. Since being in a relationship with me I have taken him to his first gig and to his first musical. He now loves musicals and we go regularly.
“An Aspie needs time alone. Often the best thing the NT partner can do is give her Aspie the freedom of a few hours alone while she visits friends or goes shopping.”
Again everyone needs alone time not just autistic people. Some autistic people may need more alone time than a NT person, but this isn’t and shouldn’t be a problem. It should just help strengthen the relationship. Also this statement is very heteronormative, cisnormative and very steryotypical. Remember people of any gender can be autistic.
“An Aspie often has a particular interest or hobby. While this may border on obsessive, the NT partner would do well to show interest in it. It may even become something they can do together.
Some of this is true; but I find it makes interests seem like a bad thing. I don’t think I would share a interest in the Tudors, but i enjoy learning things about it. Later in the year we are both going to York to the BBC history weekend. Also a special interest is different to a obsession. A special interest is something get enjoyment out of where as a obsession is compulsive and often causes anxiety, pain and is exhausting.
“An NT partner needs to understand her Aspie’s background in order to work with him on their marriage. She will need patience and perseverance as well as understanding that he functions on a different emotional level to her.”
You need a understanding of your partner in any relationship. You need to know their boundaries and what they are happy or not happy with, what makes them happy and what their limits are. This needs to be done to make sure a relationship is safe, healthy and consensual. Again everyone deals with emotions differently. I have never met a person who is on the same emotional level as me. Yes I have to be more patient when he struggles to express emotions when he doesn’t know what is wrong. But that isn’t his fault.
“Aspies do marry, and while NT partners can be frustrated by their lack of emotion and physical contact, their Aspergers spouses do bring strengths into the relationship. If there is open communication, the NT partner can help her Aspie to improve in areas of weakness and encourage him in the things he is naturally good at.”
This to me just feels patronising. I don’t believe that Oliver needs to improve any of his weaknesses, they are what make him himself. Also, he knows what he is good at and doesn’t need constant encouragement. He brings just as much to the relationship as I do, he helps me just as much as I help him. As I have previously mentioned Oliver doesn’t lack emotion or physical contact, if he is overwhelmed or has had too much sensory input then human contact is too much and he needs space. But again that is fine.
“Aspies often has a specific area of weakness in marriage. They often do not feel the need to express love, and the NT partner can help them understand that this is important. Discussions about how to display affection, holding hands in public and buying small gifts can be beneficial, but don’t be surprised if the results are amusing.”
Me and Oliver are not married; we are however engaged and plan to marry in the future. We have been friends for over 6 years and in a relationship for 2. I understand that every autistic person is different, but he definitely feels the need to express love towards me. He holds my hand, kisses me and surprises me lots. He understands my needs and I am understanding his which change on a daily basis.
“Aspies typically mature later than NTs. As young adults, they are often emotionally immature and have poor social skills. As time passes, however, they can develop to a point where they are able to enter into a relationship with the opposite sex.”
What about relationships with the same sex?
People don’t change overnight, yes you can learn things but your autism isn’t going to just disappear. People can have relationships with a variety of things going on in their lives. Some people won’t ever want to be in a relationship. That’s completely valid…its the same for autistic and NT people.
So there goes the first 10 points…I have decided due to the length I will continue with the other 15 as another blog as to not overwhelm.
Thanks for reading so far.
Bye for now