Published on 12, July, 2020
Just before I post at any length, could someone please let me know that I am writing this in the right place? I’d love to have contact with someone about my husband who I think is undiagnosed autistic. He may be Aspergic, I have no real idea. I just know that he has some behaviour which is extremely challenging for me and also quite antisocial at times. He presents to the world as a highly capable businessman, but at home he is often more childlike. He has tantrums and tempers. He has unusual aversions and equally unusual fixations. We’ve been together 35 years. I’m exhausted and frayed and he has no idea. He’s also fraught at times but that passes and he’s forgotten it. Id love to be in contact with anyone who has any understanding of such a situation
If we go on the premise that he's Asperger's, then there's a couple of things I can point out.
We usually become aware we are different and a bully-target when we're at school - out intense hobbies and nerdiness stands out so we create a fake persona that allows us to survive the day - our mask.
This mask has a load of set responses to the world which seems to fit most situations. It's incredibly tiring to have to run 2 operating systems in parallel so we get tired easily. It also means we don't have the processing power to analyse situations on the fly so things that make no sense to us get stored up through the day - all the stresses of unresolved social contacts or events are stored for later so by the end of the day, we're either totally overloaded or close to it. It's why we try to avoid unnecessary social situations.
Home is our 'safe space' where we can relax and unpack all of this internal conflict.
Unfortunately, you are there too - so as we walk through the door, we're brain-fried and need time to unwind before we're 'in the room'. During this period, we can be twitchy - like a grenade with the pin pulled out - we're at 99% stress so if you add any extra, you will get the full blast as we 'go off' which from your point of view will seem totally unreasonable - what you said was not deserving of all that blast. It's just us venting in a safe space all the things we've had to hold in because of being unable to vent in the work environment.
Bad things can be said in this time - and probably not meant - it's just the level of frustration needs to be dissipated in one go.
It's why a lot of us like to play video games or do strange hobbies - it's a world we are in control of that doesn't cause stress - it's therapeutic to be able to push all the stress away in our little world.
We often get bullied for liking things like Lego or making models so we hide things away from everyone. Doesn't stop us liking it though.
What things do you call fixations and aversions?
AuroraC said:He presents to the world as a highly capable businessman, but at home he is often more childlike. He has tantrums and tempers. He has unusual aversions and equally unusual fixations.
Being autistic simply means our communication (and sometimes sensory needs) are different to the majority. My husband is autistic and he is nothing like your husband. He is a Director of an engineering dept and manages a large team of people. He is measured and thoughtful. If he is facing a stressful situation he does what is needed to manage his emotions in a grown up and healthily way, such as going for a run. Furthermore, if we face an issue we talk it through calmly and sensibly, plus we try and find a solution that works for us all.
Autistics all have similar traits but this is true of PNTs (non-autistics), for example, you tend to like small talk, crave social acceptance etc yet your personalities are all different and are affected by your socialisation, personal ethics etc. Within both communities, there are some kind and lovely folk but there are also some arseholes. Being autistic doesn't mean you can't also be a tw*t.
If he acts like a child, has a temper and throws tantrums etc, for me the big questions are:
Who you have in your life and the behaviour you accept is your choice.
We have stayed together because he supported me while I cared for/nursed/educated and generally brought up my severely disabled daughter. Not his child. He has loved only me and her in his life. I took the tantrums and temper (never physically violent) in exchange for unquestioning support for her, her needs and financial stability for us both.
She died and he coped as best he could. He has tried in his way to help me grieve, it isn’t his fault he doesn’t understand. I also love him.
He is far from being a twat. His is ultra kind, to the point that he gives ‘the shirt off his back’ type of behaviour. I didn’t ask for insults for him. I just would like to chat about whether he might be autistic.
Please re-read my post, I haven't made any personal insults in relation to your husband and only used your own words when describing him. I explained that there are good and bad autistic individuals, in the same way, there are good and bad PNTs.
As I mentioned my husband is autistic (like I). My brother is autistic, my BIL, my father is and my husband's mum's OH is. In addition to this, I have spent ten years working with HE autistic students. I have met a lot of autistic men!
The following is not specific to the autistic neurotype. Only the OH of my husband's mums has many of these traits and he's a very unpleasant man who does not have the self-confidence to accept and embrace his differences and he's nasty and abusive,
In relation to the first four points, I've seen many men who are not autistic act like that. One example, would be a Saturday night in a deprived area, you'll often find PNT men demonstrating that behaviour,
In relation to whether your husband's interests would be classed as an autistic special interest, this depends on the level of intensity and passion he displays. For example, I am aware of an autistic lawyer whose special interest is her job. Her husband has to physically remove her from her office at times as otherwise, she'd be so engrossed in her work she'd forget to eat or sleep in an evening.
From what you've written there isn't enough information to guess whether he may or may not be autistic.
Why is it important for you to investigate why he is autistic or not? What difference do you think it would make if he was/or was not autistic?
Thank you. I’m glad of your further response. I haven’t written everything I want to as I wasn’t certain I was getting through. I can’t do it now for lack of time, but I will elucidate later. I would like to know if it is autism because I would then try harder to understand instead of thinking he’s just being a twat!
Thank you so much for this. He’s never been bullied. If he has been, he hasn’t noticed. Theres much he doesn’t notice. I didn’t know about masking. It explains a great deal, although he actively seeks out stressful situations. I suppose, on reflection as these are self selected he will react differently from those he can’t control.
It seems to be me that is his biggest challenge. I just can’t quietly accept his behaviour. I always have to ‘have a go’ at him about it.
I know that in many ways I feel disappointed in the relationship and this must come out in my carping and criticising. If I knew for sure he couldn’t help the things he does, I think I’d try harder to shut up.
It's often at school - we learn to fake our responses. What you also get is that as we grow up, we analyse everything in great detail - and so we *know* the right way to do things - the logical, simplest way to solve problems. It's EXTREMELY frustrating to see people doing things the *wrong* way (Our way works for us - therefore every other way is wrong).
You will also be seeing the 'comfort venting' where when small things occur, he'll discuss it it forcefully with you - it actually him processing his mixed-up thoughts out-loud - although it might sound aggressive.
We are often driven by the logical 'greater good' - we will forsake our own needs if the bigger picture dictates - we are seen as kind and honourable.
The problem with that is users and manipulators quickly spot this feature - and so take advantage. It's such a deep-seated compulsion that we will carry on doing 'the right thing' even though we are getting very annoyed inside - but are unable to break the programming - so we get very, very stressed.
I don't know if you are familiar with Star Trek the Next Gen - but if you think of Cmmdr Data - very knowledgable, very skilful, but limited in expressing feelings. Not quite enjoying the full human experience.
With your inside knowledge of how he functions, you must notice that it's stress that drives his difficult behaviour - so do you know how to de-stress him?
Thank you. reading this is like a pen portrait Of my husband. Although it’s still too early to say, I really believe he is autistic. According to him, his way is the only way. Although more recently during lockdown, he has been asking for my opinion slightly more. he is highly respected amongst his peers and really doesn’t get used or taken advantage of BUT he always goes the extra mile for them...Probably to avoid anyone doing so!
You have given me a lot of food for thought here. Would it be ok to contact you again later?