Hello. I would like to know how to cope with my friend with Asperger’s.
We were good friends. However, the more we become close, the more we argue. I think this is because that we do not understand to each other. Or I should rather say thay it is so hard for me to understand her way of thinking or perceptions....(she says she understands me but she does not sadly...)
We both had tough times last year. We were so stressed out in own issues. I do admit that I was sometimes nasty and horrible to her. I am shamed to say that I have shouted at her so many times. If I am allowed to excuse for it, this was because I was just not be able to put up with her extreme negativity and strong obsession with wanting to tell her favourite things which I do not like to hear and to correct the meaning of the words I used (my mother language is not English) during having important discussions and/or everyday conversations.
Since she was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, for me, she now excuses everything that she cannot do or change because of having Asperger’s. It really does not work for me... She has said to me once that I am neurotypical that is why I do not understand her. It may be true but sounded really cold and I felt a big barrier between us.
She found a kind of soul mate who has also Asperger’s in SNS. She is very happy and it makes her strong. She said to me that that person really understood her and made her feel very comfortable. I felt very jealous and was not happy at all because I am suffering from not being able to understand her as a real life friend exchanging many private and life issues but she admires her virtual friend....
I almost decided to end up our friendship because I do not know how to manage my emotions with her. I do not want to but I do become short tempered. Also, she believes in what her SNS friend says and telephone Asperger’s psychiatrist advice only now. She ignores my calls eventually. That is actually psychiatrist’s advice because I shout at her...My close friends advise me to finish this friendship because of wasting time...I really liked her and thought that I could make a great friendship with her though.....I do not know why our friendship became so bad...
Could anyone kindly tell me how to cope with this situations and a friend with Asperger’s, please?
There's such a lot I could say, but the main thing is...
Do you still want to be friends with her?
If so - if she means more to you than superficialities - then perhaps try to accept her. Talk to her about her condition and how it affects her. Find out about it yourself.
'Since she was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, for me, she now excuses everything that she cannot do or change because of having Asperger’s. It really does not work for me...'
You could, perhaps, try to understand that when someone gets a diagnosis like this - as I did myself a couple of years ago, at age 56 - it can make a profound difference. Suddenly, all of those problems you had in life - people not seeming to like you, never feeling like you fit in, feeling anxious around others a lot of the time - make sense. It's like someone's given you a code that breaks the puzzle. And of course, when that happens, it's natural to use it to try to explain so many things. Is she making excuses? Or are there genuinely things that she cannot change, or will struggle to change? I work with highly-autistic people. If they do something that most people would perceive to be 'wrong' - such as shout in public, or try to flush clothing down the toilet - you can't just stop them doing it. It's a behaviour trait that needs time and patience and careful work before it can be moderated or changed.
It makes me wonder if your attitude towards her - your self-confessed short-temperedness - is making her react in the way she is by saying she can't change. She feels like she's under attack. Maybe you need - if you wish to retain her friendship - to show a little more patience and understanding. Also, it might help to take a look around on some of these threads. See what other people with Asperger's are saying. Try to learn a little from it.
She's not like you. She's neurodiverse, not neurotypical. She doesn't see the world in the same way you do, and she's in a minority. It's not an easy place to be. And other people can often make it much harder.
Thank you so much for your response.
I too am a kind of minority here in England. I am foreign.
I too felt that I was so different from others when I was in my own country because my way of thinking was very different from others. Also, others saw me different from them because of my appearance. I do not look like people who are in my country. I still feel that I am very different from people here because of cultural backgrounds. I do get depressed and feel difficult to change things. I have experienced to stay home for nearly 2 years and avoided contacting others. Therefore, it is so hard to accept that there are huge differences between me and my friend. She is not the only one who feels different from others and suffers from it.
However, I always try to appropriate what I have, where I am, being able to see and hear, being able to eat and drink, my heart beats and my organs do function and well-being of my parents and myself although I become negative so many times. It is very hard to keep gratitude when things are so tough, but that is my attitude of life: appreciation and gratitude.
I was very patient at first when I met her. I even liked her eccentric nature. I tried to understand her tough experiences and was empathetic. We discussed life attitudes many times but it did not work for her and our friendship, especially we both were so stressed in own issues...I did not shout at her from the beginning though...
If she keeps listening to only her SNS Asperger’s friend and psychiatrist, then I do not think that I can continue this friendship because there is no actual communication with her...
We are so different from each other, aren’t we? We have diversity, don’t we? But we all are just human beings. Why can’t we accept it and keep continuing our life with appreciation and gratitude?
She excuses negative things because of Asperger’s now, I am afraid. I do not want her to be like that. She was much open-minded before.....
NAS36152 said:I do not want her to be like that.
Hint: It's wrong to try to impose your wants on other people. You are trying to change your friend against her will. She is not your robot.
re-write your complaint using "I" language.
When <<impersonal event>> happens, I think <<meaning>> and I feel <<emotion>>. I need <<change>>.
Thank you for your response.
I am not a robot, either.
NAS36152 said:She excuses negative things because of Asperger’s now, I am afraid. I do not want her to be like that. She was much open-minded before.....
'Negative' in what way? Negative in your perception? Which isn't, perhaps, her perception at all.
Maybe it's that she felt - as many undiagnosed autistic people do - that she had to try to fit in, in order to gain acceptance. So, she had to try to learn to do things that NTs - of whatever race or culture - take for granted. She also had to wear masks to compensate for her perceived deficits. It's often very hard to do these things. It's exhausting. Many late-diagnosed people have had real struggles in life. I myself have never been able to make or keep friends, sustain relationships, etc. I can't read body language and gestures very well. Although some of that can be culture-specific, there is also a good degree of universality to such things. Less than 10% of communication is verbal. So, that puts people with autism at a severe disadvantage. And then, with mild autism - Asperger's - you have the added problem of seeming to be 'normal' in most other respects: you can live your life independently, manage a home, study, work, drive, etc. So others look at you and see a human being just like any other. But you're not. And if you're undiagnosed, what else can you do but simply try to keep up? Do things that aren't natural to you, perhaps - like go to parties and clubs - simply because everyone else is, and you don't want to feel left out.
With a diagnosis, you finally see that there's a reason why you struggle with such things. It's because you're wired differently. What others can do without a problem, and seem to enjoy - you struggle with, and possibly dislike. So the tables get turned a bit. No longer do you have to change to suit everyone else. Everyone else (hopefully) needs to accept you for who you are instead. Unfortunately, that often doesn't happen. Even with me. I work in an autism unit, alongside neurotypical staff who are trained to understand autistic behaviour. Even so, they get it wrong - expecting me to be able to do things simply because they can do them. Expecting me to be flexible. Expecting me to accept change quickly. I used to struggle enormously in these areas. I still do - but at least now I have something on my side defending me: my diagnosis, which says I struggle with these things, and therefore need people to make allowances for me. You wouldn't expect someone with one leg shorter than the other to walk without limping, as you do. They'd need help with that. It's the same kind of thing. It's just that, being in the head, you can't see it. Or you can - in 'eccentric' behaviour. Eccentric behaviour is relative. What's eccentric to an NT isn't necessarily so to an ND.
I too feel difficulties and complications with human relationship. Guess I am too sensitive and feel/think things differently. I sometimes never understand others and others ‘s perceptions regarding me are quite different from how I feel inside.
However, I think that is life. It is impossible that everyone understands you and so do you. I sometimes do not understand myself! So how others can understand me even though I do not!
We all are completely different from each other. We are individuals having own nature and characters. There may be 10 different ways to feel/think things differently when there are 10 people. People do misunderstand each other. So, there is no point to focus on considering why others do not understand you or why you do not feel/think things like others. It is easy to say, difficult to do, but I learned this from my life experiences. Not focusing on ‘you are at the centre in the world’ is really helps me to cope with all difficulties with others. Appreciation and gratitude are the most important for us to have to cope with living our own life. I still struggle with loads of things though.
I use the word ‘eccentric’ because I thought it was the most suitable. There is no other deeper meanings. This is just what I struggle with my friend. She points out and tries to correct/discuss the meaning of the words. She focuses one word if she thinks that I may use it incorrectly. Then she does not see the point we discuss...
Generally she tries to explain how she feels/thinks and expects me to feel/think like she does. I do to her and others sometimes but it is not a big issue when they do not do so. Because we are different. But she always tries to judge things/people in a manner of right or wrong, good or bad or should or shouldn’t when she see them. This is getting worse since she met Asperger’s SNS friend and psychiatrist.
It would be wonderful if everyone understands to each other. But we had better know that is impossible. You see others are doing well but they may not. You see they enjoy their life but they may not. It is impossible for us to see things behind people. This can say for all people regardless you are diagnosed with Asperger’s or not. So no point to keep considering why others do not understand you.
PS. Please do not start to discuss what is ‘normal’!
PPS Like other person said, and it is a common sense, that you cannot change others. I think I should stop struggling with her. Because it is not my issue. Eventually, it is her choice to select how to live and who you want to have as friends. If she wants to connect with only people with Aspergar’s and its doctors, then it is her life. My friends are right. It is wasting time.
You helped me to make my mind to end up friendship with her. Thank you.
Hi, that does seem quite sad now. Maybe it is the best decision you can make, but maybe there is also something in between. Giving it a bit of time and see what happens perhaps? You seemed to get something out of your friendship until your friend was diagnosed, didn't you? She may be a bit overwhelmed right now by finding that there actually other people that tick like her in areas where she felt like a misfit so far. I certainly found this rather mind-blowing and it seems to happen to quite a few people when they are new on here. But somehow there must be some connection between the two of you too, so perhaps after a while and calming down a bit she will also find those important again? Have you told her that you value her as a friend, and that it makes you sad to lose her? Quite plain, I mean, because she may not be so great picking up subtle comments.
To me it actually sounds like you are really nice person to be friends with (and from your description she did too), and not being a therapist I think you are perfectly entitled in a friendship to also have needs and get a bit stroppy when things are not great for you and so on. And while it might be true that she had been putting a mask on for a long time and you liked the mask rather than her in some aspects, I think it is o.k. to be sad and frustrated about this, somehow it's a loss for you after all, and that takes some time to accept. There are probably things you can only accept or give up on your friendship, the focusing on details thing for instance and losing sight of the bigger picture, that's a pretty typical Aspie thing. She's probably not aware how much that irrititates you. Maybe you need to tell her that the exact word you used may not be totally correct, accept her correction if it makes sense (because that may matter to her and she can't just let go of it until it's perfect), but then tell her that you really want to talk about the issue rather than the word. Seeing things black and white, right or wrong, that's another typical thing - maybe knowing about this helps to get less frustrated about it?
Like you I'm not convinced of that me ND - you NT attitude either because even though there are distinct differences in some aspects the separation line is artificial, neither "NDs" nor "NTs" are all the same within their group, and all are human more than anything else. So looking at it that way, I think it's o.k. not to accept what you called "fixed ideas" above. Maybe having rather rigid ideas about certain things (while maybe being unexpectedly flexible about others) is a typical Aspie thing too, but if she says she can't do something because she has Asperger's then it's probably worth to find what the problem is. Like Tom's example with the night club - that's pretty clear, that may not be for her, now she understands why, so makes an informed decision that she can't do it. That kind of sensory stuff can't just be switched off and working against it is very exhausing. But this may not be the kind of thing you were talking about. Maybe it helps to remind her that you thought she was amazing at those things before and ask why she doesn't think she's able to do it now any longer - essentially being told you are not normal (by means of diagnosis) is quite a big shock (even if she doesn't seem upset about it) and may have made her feel more different from others than she actually is, or in more aspects than she is. Don't think reminding her of things you thought she could do well is a matter of you trying to make her be someone she isn't.
Anyway, it's totally up to you of course, but given that you both had some difficult time maybe this would be a good reason to forgive each other some less pleasant behaviour. Seems strange to me that her psychiatrist recommends to drop you instead of encouraging her to explain the things you may not understand so far.
Like octanol, I too think that's rather disappointing. From what you've said I saw little evidence that your former friend only wanted to connect with people on the spectrum.
Did you actually try the template I wrote out above with her? You might find that you both get on better if you are able to understand each other's positions, motivations and responses better.
If she thinks you are just going to shout at her again, it's not surprising she isn't taking your calls. Wouldn't you do the same?
Why not try mentally putting this person aside for a while, so you can cool off and she can process what she needs regarding her recent diagnosis? It is a lot to go through, and she will be needing support herself, not demands from other people.
You could always send her a card or something in a few months, to say sorry for shouting, and ask how she is doing?
Also, there’s a difference between feeling different and being different. Not because of appearance or ability but because our brains literally work different to nt’s. You may have bonded initially because you shared the feeling of being different and being in a minority, but the difference is, you still know you’re a human being. Before we get our diagnosis we are doing everything we can to appear neurotypical, to appear like a normal human being, even though we don’t feel like a human being and it’s so exhausting, but nobody sees that. When we finally get the answer to why we’re not like other people, we can stop trying, but with support snd understanding we can learn to ‘fit in’ but in our own way, being ourselves, which won’t necessarily look like other people. We have to be allowed to be ourselves, it’s crucial to our survival and now your friend is learning about who she is, you could help her by saying you’d like to get to know the real person and have a friendship with her. She won’t ever be the person you thought she was, because that was her mask, her false self she created to help her survive in the world, but underneath all that, is the real person, who you bonded with and made a friendship with. She needs time and lots of support to come to terms with the diagnosis. Even if we were expecting it, it can still come as a shock. She’s lucky she has a friend like you and if you help her to keep the friendship going, she will be the best friend you could ever wish for. But right now she needs support and understanding and reminding of what she can do and not what she can’t do and that she’s valued for who she is, not for how she behaves or what she can give you. She needs a friend right now.