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
  • The majority of the time my explanations are met with confusion and misinterpretation. I often feel alone surrounded by people who don't understand me, followed by guilt as to why they should all adapt to me. My adaptions to everybody else are completely invisible and go unnoticed because I'm fitting in, it's only ever my unreasonable behaviour that's noticed, when I'm totally overwhelmed by the world.

    This is autistic life in a nutshell, but family should not be like that, by definition, family is where we don't feel like this, where we feel at home and free and loved for who we are.

Children
  • The majority of the time my explanations are met with confusion and misinterpretation. I often feel alone surrounded by people who don't understand me, followed by guilt as to why they should all adapt to me. My adaptions to everybody else are completely invisible and go unnoticed because I'm fitting in, it's only ever my unreasonable behaviour that's noticed, when I'm totally overwhelmed by the world.

    I remember saying to my wife 10 or more years ago "Everyone thinks I'm selfish and never compromise because when I say what *I* want it's *already* a compromise. I've already written off what I'd like to do as never-gonna-happen and my voiced 'idea' is a moderated & compromised version that I think I might get away with." So I can really relate to your adaptions being invisible and people only noticing when you snap.

    I get the guilt too.

    Thankfully, having had this nearly kill me, I'm resolved to saying what I *truly* want and realising that it's "typical" demands that are unfair, not me.