It is well known that 1 in 68 children are diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum. What this means is that 1 out of every 68 children display symptoms of autism to some degree ranging from full blown autism to other milder forms. Everyone knows someone who’s child is on the spectrum. In fact, if you have a child on the spectrum there is a very good chance you or your spouse also fall somewhere on that vast spectrum. Many come to this realization after a child is diagnosed. Often, marriages suffer difficulties because of the issues that can arise in a relationship where one partner has a social/communicative disorder such as ASD or Autism Spectrum Disorder.
ASD marriage difficulties
While there are many ASD marriages that work well, some signs of ASD marriage difficulties include the non-ASD partner feeling:
This may be due to frustrations with the ASD partner that may be difficult to explain to those on the outside. In turn, the ASD partner may display symptoms such as extreme literal thinking, blatant social mistakes, withdrawal, anger, frustration, improper use of non-verbal communication including body language, finding and keeping a job, inability to handle criticism, seemingly cold or emotionally muted but also capable of displaying great love and loyalty that confuses the non-ASD partner due to such conflicting messages.
Couples therapy is always a good option for partners who are struggling in their marriage. In cases such as an ASD marriage it is extremely important to find a professional who is acutely aware of the highly complex difficulties these types of marriages encounter. As a trained therapist I am a big believer in therapy and its effectiveness. However, when it comes to ASD the traditional avenues of therapy are ineffective as they are emotionally focused and the biggest issues are best dealt with by teaching social skills and communication skills to both partners in a logical manner. A marriage’s complexity is often overwhelming to someone with ASD. Likewise, a knowledgeable professional is difficult to find due to a lack of understanding and training in the therapeutic community.
A life coach specializing in ASD can help fill in the gap
He/She can help in understanding where therapists are frequently lacking. We work on the specific difficulties in the marriage caused by ASD and take two people who have often grown far apart from one another emotionally and find a middle ground where both partners can feel heard, understood and content in their relationship. It is important to stress that we do not “cure” ASD. ASD is a different way of thinking. All a successful ASD marriage requires is two people who can understand each other’s perspective and learn to compromise on issues once they are truly explored and understood. I find the majority of couples are willing to compromise when they fully understand the other’s perspective. Compromise is not sacrifice; it is instead an agreement to keep both partners happy. This is true for all marriages. It just takes a different path to get to that point of contentment when one partner falls on the Autism Spectrum.