Hi, I'm new here! Asperger's and family life..

Hi, I’m new here.

I am a 32-year-old male and it’s recently come to light that I have Asperger’s. Whilst the discovery has helped explain my whole life and why I am like I am, I’m struggling to cope with normal life. The main reason for this is the drastic change in my lifestyle over the last 2 years. I’ll try to give a brief background without going into too much detail:

I had clear autistic traits from a young age from my peculiar playtime rituals to my OCD hand washing (I sucked my thumb and I needed it to be clean!). When I started primary school, I refused to talk. Something I now know is called selective mutism which I still suffer from today albeit in much different circumstances. I wouldn’t even answer my name for the register. The school phoned my mother and asked what was wrong with me.. After they got fed up with me their solution came in the form of a new boy joining school – it was known he could be a bit of a trouble maker. So, they sat him next me in every class to ‘bring me out of my shell’. It worked: my personality flipped on its head and my behaviour deteriorated rapidly.

I don’t specifically remember too much after that. I eventually developed a way to socialise and communicate with people by replicating their traits and language, I still do this today. I was very popular at high school and got on with every type of character, I felt fine. The only time this mechanism fails is when I come across somebody who is exactly like me, its horribly awkward. But I used to put that down to them, not me. I realise I’m dragging on so fast forward:

For 10 years I worked in the same company (from home) and was married to someone who worked shifts. This meant I was getting a lot of alone time without realising just how important it was to me. This allowed me to fit in perfectly with everyday life, I could adapt and cope. We have a child together but the marriage eventually broke down. This was the first big change. I then changed jobs – I managed a team of 10 and commuted to an office everyday, it was incredibly demanding. It was not to last though as the company went into liquidation and I was made redundant on the spot. I now how a different job but still have to commute to an office. During this time I have a new partner and we have 3 kids between us and we’ve moved house twice.

I’m forced to be social everyday and my senses are very often overwhelmed and I get very little alone time to recharge. I’m very bad at going and getting my alone time though – I don’t want to abandon my family; I feel awful doing that. I have days where I’m ridiculously high and I have more energy than the kids but I also have days where I’m so low I don’t want to be around anyone or anything in the world. The worst part is I can’t communicate how I truly feel because I lack the ability to. This is when words become physically stuck in my head again (my selective mutism, I can’t talk about my inner most emotions) – this causes conflict because I appear to be functioning very normally until I breakdown and need my space. The cycles of my ups and downs are becoming shorter and shorter and are causing arguments and problems. We both have read a lot about Asperger’s but we seem powerless to cope with the issues it causes…

If you’re still reading, I thank you! I think what I’m asking is does anybody have any coping mechanisms or suggestions I could try? (Or maybe just some supportive words) I’ve read a lot but not actually addressed the community – what are your experiences on coping with family life?

Thanks for your time, it took a lot to write this. I've spent the previous 5/6 hours lying in bed in the dark after a particularly bad episode..

Parents Reply
  • NHS are always going in stages, they need to show that they tried something else before trying the more sophisticated thing...

    For me though I generally feel I can cope with a lot, it's an accumulation of things that build up (sounds, socialising, expressing emotions, anything unexpected etc) - often without me realising until its too late.

    I think this is the experience of most high functioning people. I think we can and do cope with a lot. The limiting stereotype is just a stereotype. I think the insight, the knowledge of the dx should give the pointer to when to slow down and recharge in order to continue coping. Because otherwise a lot of autistic people have also experience of meltdowns, where everything suddenly breaks down and life starts falling apart. I personally can cope with a lot as long as I keep my balance, if I am really in overdrive and off kiel, I start making mistakes and might create more problems that I solve. So staying in the 'functional' zone where you can cope is essential.

    I don't have a schedule, for me it is just a manner of speaking, the way to conceptualise that it is essential and unavoidable for actually improving good time together. Without this down time you go off kiel and can't cope very well, can't actually give what they need.