I am looking for some support or advise for a situation I find myself in.
I have a 4 month old baby, and her father and I separated when she was 2 months old. I am sure he has undiagnosed ASD, which has caused many problems and confusion in our relationship. We met only 7 months before we accidentally became pregnant, and half of our relationship was long distance as I was living in another country, so I have been getting to know him increasingly throughout the pregnancy.
I believe he was diagnosed when he was a young boy, and his family are ashamed so have kept it a secret. He mentioned he went to a special school when he was young, because he was deaf and had speech problems. I believe this is because of his ASD but his mum just says he had gromits and couldn't hear. I think she is trying to cover it up, as when our daughter was born, she had difficulty passing the hearing test and when my ex asked his mother about his deafness as a child, she just 'shooshed' him and said "No, no there was nothing wrong with your hearing". His mother has no idea I know. The first time I met his sister, we were at his parents house, and his sister called him "autism boy" when they were arguing. They are both in their thirties, and in getting to know her, I believe she may have mild ASD also. There was no mention of it since. I am an artist, and when we were first started dating he said to me "I'm artistic too. Oh no... I mean I'm autistic." and then he jumped out of bed and had a shower with no mention of it. I have tried to talk to him about it but he refuses to talk- he says he does not have autism and that everyone wants to put an ASD label on people these days. He says he would never seek a diagnosis and that he has no idea what I'm talking about. I am scared to talk to his family about it as I know they are ashamed. He also has a cousin with aspergers, and they are very negative about him.
Some of his symptoms include hitting his head over and over when he is excited/ tired/ cold/ nervous, he rocks himself back and for when he is asleep lying down, he gets so anxious about things like walking into town/ going to a coffee shop/ going somewhere new (he says he feels everyone is looking at him when we are in a public place), he made a big fuss about going to any antenatal classes with me or being at the birth (but now I suspect is because of his ASD), he has a jam-packed schedule and has several hobbies including sport, warhammer, and several other hobbies and interests where he is incrediby talented (he can not miss one of these and gets extremely stressed with fitting it all in), its like he has a split personality and full of contradictions- he is so shy and quiet with my family and with people he doesn't know, and is the loudest man in the room with his friends- he loves clubbing (he says he likes to sit in the VIP area and look at the bright lights) and he gets extremely drunk with his friends and is congratulated for being able to down a pint in no time, and yet he won't drink a beer with me, he earns a huge wage as an engineer and never has any money as he gambles on 'stocks and shares' and takes lessons to be a pilot. He refused to go on holiday with me, and when I asked him if he'd like to go for a drink with me he says "I've seen you all day, what do we have to talk about?". He didnt say these things in a malicious way, but it hurts all the same. I broke up with him when he started calling me a weirdo for going for a walk with the baby on my own, and bringing me down when he didn't want to spend time with me and the baby over his hobbies- he once had such an anxiety attack when we were in a busy coffee shop, he just walked out.
He also has OCD, and needs to turn off every socket before leaving the house, he won't use a public toilet, and is afraid of leaving the house if he feels he might need to go to the toilet, he is squeamish, and says he used to visit the sex health clinic every week although he wasn't having sex- the nurse told him he couldn't catch an infection if he wasn't having sex. He is constantly at the doctors having tests as he thinks he has back/ bowel cancer- no signs in MMR scans, and he is off sick from work for months on end, several times a year, and is always in trouble for it. I believe he suffers from depression too, and this coincides with his back problems. I think he is a hypochondriac, and after we broke up, he went to the doctors and had his appendix removed- I believe this is in reaction to our break up, and when I realised this, I felt so afraid! What if he can't process his feelings so takes it out on his body? How can I know he is safe?
We had tried living together, but I could only stay over once or twice a week as it was really full on. He is a very loving guy, in a sweet, childlike way, always telling me he loves me, hitting his head when he is overwhelmed with happiness, and I started to think his quirky ways were endearing and that they made up for his difficult ways. He was very affectionate, and always hugged me, and was lovely about the growing bump, and totally in love with our baby, but there is a definite feeling of detachment there. The pressure of having to move into his tiny flat after the baby was born was hard, he was constantly on the xbox talking to friends, and I felt imprisoned- his mum (who has shown little interest in me before the birth) was overbearingly smothering and in the first day after giving birth, came over and did a photo shoot with her whole family, while i sat in my pjs excluded. She kept asking if she could have my baby on her own at her house in the first week, and when I said no as I am breastfeeding, she said "you can't be like that, she is my grandaughter!"- I didn't feel like I could get away, and he couldn't understand, and I ended up staying at my folks house after 2-3 weeks, and he would visit me. But the visits became less and less and he expected me to rush around after him. I asked him one week if he could please stay over and help with the baby but he said no as he wanted to go out for the day with his friends. He copies jokes and phrases from sitcoms and relays them to me and his friends.
Since we broke up, he visits me as I am breastfeeding. At the beginning I said he should visit as often as he could, and he only came twice a week. I offered for him to stay over so he could spend more time with the baby, and have has his own room, and for us to go out for the day but he said no. His mother and father came once to visit and she was very cold, and asked if she could pick me up so that she could have her granddaughter at her house but I said its best if she visits me for now- she has not visited since. I feel they are a strange family to communicate with- I have sent several messages throughout my relationship asking for help from his mum or sister but they just say 'oh sorry!i don't want to get involved' and don't reply. When I was four months pregnant, he bought a new place around the corner from his mums- he didn't tell me, he just viewed it with her and they bought it on the same day. I had no choice in where it was, which was difficult as it was out of town compared to the old place.
I'd really appreciate any advise on how to navigate a relationship with an ex with undiagnosed ASD who refuses to seek diagnosis- I've tried talking to him about it and about being aware of any signs of ASD that our daughter may have but he refuses to talk about that and says she's as likely to have ASD as any other baby. His family are almost ignoring me now, and his sisters baby has apparently started hitting his head like he does.
Does anyone please have any advise about how I eventually start to date in the future? I don't have dating on my mind at all at the moment, but I am only in my twenties and don't want to be alone forever- am I at risk of hurting his feelings later down the line if he ever finds out Ive been dating (will he do something like get his appendix removed etc??) He has had many other girlfriends before me, all of which have broken up with him, and sometimes he makes me feel no more important than any of them. His one ex contacted him when our baby was born, and when I was upset about it he told me he would never shun her and always had time for his exes as they are all important to him. He has said he is no longer interested in dating and in his words 'I have a baby, I feel I've done that now'
How do I navigate around his family who are in denial about his ASD? He says his mum and dad would beat him up and lock him in his room when he was a boy, but he needed to stop being a 'pansy' so they did the right thing. I'm scared of them ever being mean or abusive to my daughter, although they are all smiles and fake politeness to my face. His mother is so controlling she has gone on every holiday with his sister and her husband since they met- she even went on their honeymoon. She says he is a 'genius' which he gets from his dad (who is definitely on the spectrum and is exactly like him). She was a bit overbearing when we were together but as soon as we broke up she has not visited him at all at his house and they have not seen him! Seems odd.
Sorry for the long and rambling message, it is therapeutic to write it down. I am not slating ASD symptoms, only saying how hard it can be as it feels like I have been his carer and ex girlfriend rather than a partner. He has some amazing qualities- reliable, honest, childlike affectionate, but he is tight with his money and controlling tendencies with the me and our baby. When we first became pregnant he was a different guy- we were in a sexual relationship and very in love and he said he wanted to get engaged and be a family- since I found out i was pregnant he stopped all physical affection and said it weirded him out as i was pregnant- it made me very lonely. He also suddenly said i had put a gun to his head and he would not get engaged until he became a pilot (which is unlikely for many years to come). He was very cold and a different guy altogether. Im a bit afriad to ever leave our daughter with him alone as i don't know if he sees her as an object to make him look good or if he can be relied on. He is so squeamish he can't change her nappy and washes his hands as soon as he touches her nappy.
Many many thanks for any help or advise!
Hello just wanted to say that, I am afraid I haven't any good answers for you,he may be autistic but given his family and the overcontrolling mother he is more than just autistic! He is a product of the influences in his life which are far from great, you are doing right so far,staying safe and caring for your daughter, I cannot see him changing any time soon,his mother will see to that.
There is no easy next step but you are very much aware of the situation which gives you choices.
As an adult with ASD I can see who he is and what he is,strange thing to say but true, he will adapt to be whatever fits the situation like you say being shy one minute and out drinking in large crowds the next. He is what his strongest influence is"his controlling mother" I know despite all he has done you still want him and will probably try to get him back,be careful! He will try to be what you want but not for long,outside pressure will take him away again.
He isn't really being himself,he is just what everybody wants him to be as and when they want it.
I really wish I could give you a collective hug from us here,maybe a virtual hug then,most of us with ASD Asperger etc are very caring people.we may not show it but in our heads we care more than most.
takecare and look after yourself and your daughter.
Apologising for long posts here of all places, always makes me brim with smiles and giggles, thanks, being that we have far longer (and as far I am concerned better yet still epic) posts as a reliable feature here along the way, and as far as therapeutic processes go ~ you are entirely welcome in the birds of feather flock together sense of things.
Obviously, if you want to write shorter posts, that is entirely welcome too. Dealing with "bite-size" issues is of course easier, but learning about how we and others think and deal with things ~ pure proverbial gold!
So, given what you describe, considering autistic traits and behaviour patterns does not seem unreasonable at all, and I recommend getting a book called, 'The Complete Guide to Asperger's Syndrome', by Tony Attwood, PhD, at just under twenty pounds sterling when brought anew, as it covers everything to do with pre-adolescent and adolescent child-hood development stages, for both typical and atypical children, and covers adult issues and coping methods also too, only just not as extensively as the childhood stuff.
Another thing with the T.C.G.T.A.S. book, it is written with the Aspergian reader in mind also, so the linguistic patterns of thought and action and communication can be learnt and made sense of either way ~ i.e. neurotypical to atypical; atypical to neurotypical. Getting wise to the understanding of the words but not comprehending the meanings problem can really make life easier, which it really did for me, still though working on making it easier for others . . . hey ho!
The thing with the Grandmother bringing the whole family round and making you feel like a spare part, ~ believe it or not this is not entirely unheard of, as having the biggest focus of attention on the baby can be very difficult shift of experience, indeed, but the thing with her not understanding about *** feeding and as such mother-child bonding time, and the other stuff too, I believe your concerns may in part at very least be very much justified.
About the deafness thing, it may be so, or not, as in some cases the sensory stimulus gets lost amongst all the others, so it does not at that time register ~ 'lost in the post', 'where did I put the keys', 'oh sorry I drifted off' and all those very much likewise and familiar state of affairs. There are sensibility latencies also due to not having developed as yet, which (humour attempt warning) is not so unusual for very young children, although not letting children develop at their own time and pace ~ how nice would it be for that not to be the case?
With your daughters father being a hypochondriac, that does seem to be the case, yet the intestinal problems and aching back, that is a problem being that the hypertension you describe him having involves adrenaline, and cortisol, and the hangover from which is rather toxic and can really really muck up digestive and intestinal functioning, and is also psychology problematic therefore also too. The drinking issue may well explain the back ache, but the cortisol problem needs to be addressed at the very least.
Check out or mention to your daughter's father checking out Cortisol and Gut-Flora levels to make effective use of his hypochondria, perhaps. Worthwhile focus and all that maybe.
Have a good one,
And many more.
Thank you so much for taking the time to reply to my post! You are right about the influence his mum has on him, and I'm afraid to talk to her about what I know about his autistic traits, as I know she thinks ASD is something negative and shameful, and would refuse to accept it. She is a smiley, polite lady on the surface, although she can be so overbearing so hearing all of his stories about his parents hitting him and his sister growing up is hard to understand, which makes it more confusing for me. He has told me stories of his dad stealing cars when he was younger, and being in a gang who killed a dog, which is horrible to hear, and makes it hard to think about leaving my baby with them, despite the fact they are very smiley and friendly when I see them. Obviously they don't know i know these things about them. I'm going to wait until she is older but until then, I prefer to meet them at my home or in a coffee shop. I am just taking each day as it comes. His mum and his sister are best friends. It's important to me that my daughter has a good relationship with her dad and his family, but it is very confusing.
Some days I feel really guilty about us breaking up and living back with my folks, especially as he is a big character in our town and all of our joint acquaintances love him, and I'm not sure that they can see his ASD traits, which makes me feel isolated and like the bad guy for breaking up. He wrote a Facebook post after breaking up, thanking me for everything and saying how although we have broken up, he will always see me as a close friend and role model to our daughter- it was nice to read, but also upsetting as I thought it was a sad situation, and he seemed so happy with it. Its hard as he can be really kind and caring, and I know he is a good person, but struggles with his problems. Anyway, thank you so much for your reply. It was really kind and has made me feel less lonely in the situation. Take care
Thank you so much for all of your helpful advice and your links. Really appreciate it.
Bless you, You are a very intelligent and caring type of person,anyone reading your post can see that, I really hate having to say"drop him" as I can understand some of his issues, but and it's a big but! He doesn't like change and will be most comfortable being in his own world,
a real shame his mother has been such a bad influence on him,beating him to toughen up,locking him in his room etc.shameful, I in no way condone her actions but maybe having lived with her apparently autistic husband and then a son and daughter showing similar traits was just to much for her,let's imagine, she had to take control of her husband to keep things going then having children who needed her guidance possibly she was in charge of everything? She had to be hard to survive? Maybe she was to embarrassed to entertain having a dysfunctional family so hid it? Her son seems to be repeating his father in some ways.
Please keep searching on here to get some idea of what we go through, we are all different but share some traits,outside influences ultimately make us what we are today.I count myself extremely lucky for having a pretty good family although i had many issues they were my issues to deal with.they were unaware of most of it.You are doing the right thing in my eyes,take care.