Most Living with Asperger’s Syndrome information is about the individual who has it and how they can best function in the world. A great deal is written about children and maximizing developmental growth for someone with AS. But what about the people who live with the adult who has Asperger’s?
Living with the adult who was never officially diagnosed with AS, because they never did that back in the day (Asperger’s diagnosis in the 1960’s? Just didn’t happen.).
Living with the adult who learned via trial and error to survive in a world that didn’t understand what having AS meant – you were just always a bit “different”.
Asperger’s Syndrome is on the autism spectrum. Like much on the spectrum, an individual can have many or few of, and to varying levels, the “common characteristics” of someone with AS. Some of the more common ones are:
– Difficulty understanding social nuances/cues and body language.
– High discomfort/anxiety in crowds.
– Inability to express emotion or empathy.
– Difficulty in forming friendships.
– Love of routine. Anxiety if routines are broken.
– Excessive interest in one or two topics, with those interests often overtaking all aspects of life.
– Excellent pattern recognition and above normal intelligence.
Yes, many people will indicate that they might have one or two of these characteristics to some degree. But few people will have most of these characteristics and at high levels.
Imagine living with somebody who has all of those characteristics. And continues to be that way not because he won’t learn skills to change, but because he truly can’t. You as the one “living with Asperger’s” learn new skills to compensate. You become adaptive, recognize his routines and adjust your own, plan activities what will be within his comfort zone, adjust plans when you sense anxiety starting. Sometimes you don’t even realize it until those moments when you’re walking on eggshells to avoid an anxiety attack.
Retirement transition is about change. Most retirees talk about finding a new life rhythm (new routine). There’s enough research to indicate that multiple activities and social engagement in retirement is key to longevity. Now, imagine going through a retirement transition with someone who has AS. How do you create a new routine with someone who has anxiety with changes in routine?
I realized that part of my retirement transition challenge is fear that my changes will create un-resolvable tension in my relationship with my AS husband. I also realized that I can not impose my beliefs of what is good (multiple activities, social engagement), even if based on a lot of research, on someone else, especially someone with AS. And that is very, very hard when I want longevity for both of us.
Transition challenges resolved. No.
Living everyday with love. Yes
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