Some months ago the members of this forum gave me a huge boost in understanding & coping with my ASD hubby of 26 yrs. Our life is complicated w/a profoundly special needs teen, a 20 yr old w/ASD, artist hubby well-known but perennially unable to support us, & my very long fight w/*** & endocrine cancers that I am losing. Frequently hubby embroils us in chaos & trouble due to inability to comprehend circumstances (words, explanations, implications, directions, facial expressions, ....), pure naivete & near complete rigidity. He is regularly taken advantage of & this extends to me & our daughters as he is unable to "see" the pawns he makes of us. This has extended to agreeing to allow a doctor to repeatedly sexually assault me because the doctor thought it was "okay", drugging me at the same doctors suggestion & refusing to engage in anything to do w/my cancer care because it's "unnecessary". Most recently we lost our home of 25 years on 60 days notice because my husband didn't think I needed to know when he was advised of the plans to close the house more than 2 yrs previously. In a new location now, more than 7 hrs from our community, we have no supports & he is continuing to make sure as always, that I in particular, make no new friends - difficult anyway as I am so ill. Hubby is thoroughly unable to comprehend his own behaviour & genuinely shocked - over & over - that anything he has said or done has resulted in such terrible consequences. Genuinely horrified. Yet he refuses to even attempt change or learning or taking advice of any kind. He recognizes no patterns in his behaviour & believes sincerely that nobody "should" be hurt or taken aback by his behaviour, refusal to modify or learn about his behaviour. Bottom line, he is a gentle man with extremely destructive behaviours, keeping his family hostage to his ASD due to my inability to flee w/ the children during over 15 yrs of surgeries (33), chemo & everything else part of living w/cancer. I sincerely wish I had never been lured into any treatments- much of which was "signed off on" by hubby despite him knowing my wishes & my objections.
Recently, recognizing my inability to protect my children's futures, the only reason I ever agreed to any treatment & in despair that the changes due to losing our home had driven hubby into even more entrenched ASD & unending passive aggressive behaviours - I tried to end my own life. I notified him of what I was doing at the time, explaining exactly the reasons why, from literal hunger to emptying bank accounts w/out consultation or notification. He did nothing then or since. My effort did not succeed obviously, largely because I have ever been hopeful & tenacious despite all the evidence of the uselessness of my accommodating & seeking to "help" & understand hubby. My problem has never been w/the fact that hubby has ASD. My despair has always been & remains, that hubby will not make any effort to shift a single behaviour or acknowledge that his behaviours are nuerodiverse rather than neurotypical. In recent years, he's taken to saying things like, "I know I have ASD but I just think I don't fit the diagnosis" & "I will do anything to make you happy" whilst doing nothing I have directly told him must be done. For example, I need to eat small meals regularly, but rarely have the capacity to fix a meal for myself. I say, "make sure I have food regularly throughout the day, here are the resources listing exactly what foods & quantities that will help." Yet I live on the odd yogurt & meat pies because he will fix food only when I literally beg him or he believes it's "time" for dinner. He makes me tea throughout the day & doesn't understand why this is not enough, why I'm often too dizzy to even get to the bathroom & remains oblivious & obdurate about at least trying to hep me have regular food. Yet, he repeatedly says "I'll do anything...." while ignoring black & white lists, sometimes literal lists, of what is necessary to just help me stay alive. As I was recovering, alone, from the after effects of the suicide attempt, nauseous, crying & exhausted, he came to me & offered to take me to a restaurant for dinner. He was surprised & dismayed by my anger & rejection of his offer.
Now he says he will "talk" to someone else with ASD, something I've begged him to do for years, because he really doesn't know what to do to "make you happy" & to "get help for my ASD". There is little therapeutic help available - the last "specialist" we saw spent the session ridiculing me & handling hubby w/kid gloves. I later found that she had no specialty & no license to practice as she told a gullible hubby who didn't check. I did find a social worker who also claims ASD expertise & may put us on her wait list in two weeks time.
Will those of you who have found some success in living with NT's please "speak" with hubby in this forum? There's far more than can be sorted here but perhaps you have some guidance to help him help me - just to survive. It's clear he has PDA (pathological demand avoidance). Perhaps those of you here w/the same "twist" to the ASD also have found ways to enable you to "engage" with an NT partner. I've found the people in this forum to be not only wise, but exceptionally compassionate in the past. Will you urgently try to apply those qualities to this crisis & help hubby & me? I'll ask him to identify himself as The Canadian in this thread.
TenaciousT said:This has extended to agreeing to allow a doctor to repeatedly sexually assault me because the doctor thought it was "okay", drugging me at the same doctors suggestion & refusing to engage in anything to do w/my cancer care because it's "unnecessary".
I am so sorry to hear of your illness and how terribly you have, and are being treated. Autism is absolutely no excuse for such dreadful behaviour. The doctor that has sexually assaulted you needs punishing. I would urge you to report what has happened to the police. Your account of everything that you have gone through makes harrowing reading. You should not have to put up with anymore of this abominable treatment. Please contact the authorities so you can access the help and support you obviously need.
That you are still trying to help your husband after everything you have suffered, speaks volumes of your humanity and mercy. Now is the time to think of yourself. I can’t stress strongly enough that autism is no excuse for your appalling treatment. You have my sympathy. I hope you can find some peace, Graham.
Thank you Graham. The doctor has lost his license to practice although he has faced no criminal investigation. His wealth & community position spoke volumes to local police who flat out refused to take my complaint or those of other women who had also come forward to the governing medical college, instead branding me & them, "lying whores". He was stripped of his medical credentials however & while may not legally practice medicine or represent himself as a physician, set himself up online as a doctor & has not been successfully shut down. The world is not fair or just or kind & I no longer expect it to be.
That said though - & I agree what I have & continue to experience is appalling - it is a result of the ASD. Hubby's grasp of the world seems so tenuous & his capacity to judge & respond so impaired, every day life becomes like this. He is manipulated & used by others all the time. I can't describe it well as he has perennially been unable to explain or respond to me except to say that he doesn't know what he doesn't know & instead believes he knows everything. He may dispute that, but it's how I experience him. He felt the doctor knew best despite literally viewing the results in front of him & feeding me the drugs - therefore presumably knowing i could not defend myself & needed help - but he did not. He made no global links, seeing only small tasks & single behaviours. At one point because of my eventual fury & more clarity as i withdrew from the drugs, he asked the doctor why he had done it. The response was along the lines of I didn't know how to treat her cancer so I sexually abused her instead. Hubby accepted this explanation, as he had the ones delivering me into the predator's hands, unquestioningly. Literally without response or visible emotion. To this day, some 6 years later, he will not discuss this or any other emotional topic with me at all. He says, cluelessly, for everything, "what did you want me to do? " & turns away with no further response.
He seems unable to do what an NT would do; "I am profoundly sorry I have acted in such a way as to hurt you & my god, you've been hurt. That you're even still alive is amazing. What can I do to gain forgiveness? Had I understood my actions I would have done anything to protect you & now, I'm going to learn what that takes." But he doesn't do that or say that & apparently is so frozen in place he cannot do any of it. Not for the behaviour with the doctor, losing our home, the same non-response to every grief, challenge & pain- many of which he is at least partially the author. My choices here are to see him as a sadistic monster or to recognize the ASD that so clearly impairs & encases him. I choose to recognize the ASD & his genuine puzzlement, rather than ascribe evil to his behaviour.
Two things however. I am broken & largely by his behaviour, specific instances & simply the day to day fact of not existing in any meaningful way to my spouse for decades. I deserve to be recognized by him for what I have endured & will continue to endure. I deserve to have my torment recognized by him. I deserve to have him express at least anger at what I have been subjected to. I need this as a human being. Hubby is not an unintelligent man & is perfectly capable of for example, using a list of the elements of a meaningful apology & crafting them to be spoken to me. In fact i have looked up & given him black & white directions of how to apologize before & he does not. At one point in this forum, i came to the realization that hubby watches frozen in horror as events unfold in front of him, unable to respond. A terrible position to be in. But he is not in it now. He can follow directions. He can use lists. He can use reminders. He has the capacity to succeed, with me at least. And he will not - not to apologize, not to remember things like food, not to perhaps use rote words to acknowledge that I'm in the same house with him daily. Not to improve executive function, not to help with theory of mind & certainly not to attempt to heal what he has broken. To me, this is the dastardly part. This is the part that destroys finally who & what I am. Learn, in however a basic & elementary fashion what is necessary to just improve things for me - for our family. Read a list made. Follow directions on apology. Heck, follow a schedule or list or reminder - handed to you on a platter by me! I don't buy PDA as an excuse for failing in this. It's the empathy thing & perhaps the ongoing belief that it's not necessary to learn or apologize - it's all kind of dream like perhaps for him. But I'm here, on this forum, because it's necessary to express sorrow & regret no matter how hard & what directions are necessary to do it. It's necessary to use lists & self discipline for the benefit of yourself & others if you've been told by a trustworthy person it's necessary.
Hubby doesn't appear to actually believe that this is a part of human interactions; that I've made up these "rules" & expectations. I have no expectations that he will someday become a warm, compassionate spouse. I do not expect him to live his life as a NT or submit to some idea that his ASD somehow makes him "less". I do not expect him to make an effort to honour some aspects of what i need because I'm "right" & he's "wrong". I expect him to make the attempt to offer me what is perhaps rote learning, but sufficient in the effort now. Follow directions for meaningful apology; follow lists of what to do & say & in doing so, perhaps learn that understanding of another's needs is not necessary to making the visible effort to meet them. I am not the same as you & trying to meet my needs in no way diminishes you. It has never diminished me to try to meet your needs.
Most folks I've interacted with in this forum seem to see there are differences between NT & ND. In varying ways, each of you struggle to find ways to meet the needs of NT intimates - to "fit in", to "succeed", because you love someone. Hubby appears to have none of this - he doesn't know what he doesn't know - but he says he's willing to learn from those who may actually understand his paralysis - how & why to follow those directions, follow those lists - how to try. Please help him. He is not a monster although his deeds smack of the monstrous. He has ASD.
Yes much of what tenacious t says about me is absolutely true. I don't really have any ability to express important stuff to me.I just freeze up. Its probably a fear thing ..It's given me lots of cause for anguish and regret.
...and that is why as a community we should offer you the advice and support you need. If we can help you in coping with your situation and help you to change so you can be greater support for your wife then this is a win-win situation. If you can change or adapt your routine to provide your wife with the regular small meals throughout the day that she needs to recover and maintain her strength then you are both in a better position to help each other. You will be building a foundation which can help you develop both a better understanding of yourself and others. I know exactly what you mean about "freezing up" but it helps to take things in small steps.
Thank you Andy & others. This is exactly the kind of suggestion I hoped you all could offer hubby. He's stymied about asking & I have to imagine the pressure & anxiety he's experiencing thinking about it. So, I've made the introductions & explanations he has been unable to give & now I'll go to another part of the forums. I profoundly hope he continues to seek the support of the wise people here, but he doesn't need me peering over his shoulder. Too, I need the sustenance of other NT spouses. Thank you.