More Words from the Aspie Mouth!

I like it when Justin writes blogs for me to slaughter.  I mean–edit (ahem).  I hope that you can find some relation to what he feels, and vice versa.  I’d like Justin to know he’s not alone with this weird brain he’s got, and that I love him no matter how hard it is to get him to speak to people (or to stop talking!!!).

Shit Justin says:

I don’t know how it is for other people, but for me there is more than one factor as to why it’s hard for me to speak to people. One is if I don’t know the person, I will first notice their mannerisms and how they speak.  Then, however they speak, I will mimic them and their cadence because I don’t know how to speak to them.

From beginning to end of a conversation, I really don’t know when to start and when to stop, so I have a tendency to start a conversation and then I will trail off. Sometimes I feel like my brain’s moving so fast I can’t slow down my thoughts.  I do know that when I get excited, I will talk really fast, and that also happens when I get really nervous.  It drove my wife crazy when she first met me because I had so much I wanted to say I had to slow down how fast I was talking.

It’s also hard to know what to do with my hands, and I don’t know if other Aspies have that problem.  I try to focus on their body movements and try to copy them, but if they’re not moving, I start to fidget and play with my phone or goatee.

I also HATE eye contact.  It’s the worst thing in the world.  Okay, well, I take that back. It’s not THAT bad.  But it’s really stressful.  I try to look people in the eye because I know it’s rude, but when someone looks into my eyes, I feel like they can see into my soul or memories.  I know they can’t, obviously, but that’s what it feels like.  I barely look at anyone in the eyes, and if I do, it’s my wife, and only for a minute or two.  It’s not me trying to be disrespectful or being a dick—that’s just how it is for me.  I also feel like a creeper if I stare at peoples’ eyes too much.

Socializing is a weird thing for me—if the conversation lags or if I don’t know what to talk about, I’ll bring up random crap, like family memories or something else weird.  I just don’t know what to talk about.  This happens if I don’t see someone for a while, too.  My best friend in the world and I barely see each other, because it legitimately stresses me out because I haven’t seen him for a while.  I worry what to talk about (though my wife says we don’t ever shut up anyway).

I feel like avoiding socializing altogether is easier.  The day after I socialize or play games or just hang out with people I’m exhausted.  It’s like a physical thing for me.

Are any other Aspies like this too?

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The Intimate Details

“Autistic people can’t have intimate relationships.”

“Autistic people can’t feel emotions or love.”

“Autistic people die virgins.”  (Yes, that’s legitimately a real statement)

I’ve talked about sex on here before…it’s a topic people avoid, but I don’t.  For some reason sex is given this “hush hush” attitude, when we should be celebrating it.  You’re trying to tell me that the closest you can get to someone is something we should almost be ashamed of?  Well, sir, I disagree.  This is something that we should celebrate.

When we first started dating, as most of you know, I didn’t realize Justin had Asperger’s.  I didn’t think he liked the hugging, kissing, snuggly stuff, and I was totally fine with that.  Just because someone doesn’t smoosh you with their lovey stuff doesn’t mean they don’t feel it.  A lot of people thought that we weren’t really close or comfortable with each other, but that certainly wasn’t the case.  I was comfortable with Justin after the first hour (and my dog also approved).

When it comes to intimacy, part of Asperger’s and being on the Autism spectrum does mean they have a hard time connecting and being able to display affection.  It made so much sense when he was diagnosed, because he does have a hard time with affection.  He doesn’t randomly hug or kiss me, or snuggle me, or that stuff (did I say I’m okay with that?  I promise…I am).  Since he started smoking pot, though, it’s really helped him with his confidence, and now daily he is more able to show his affection for me.  He kisses me and hugs me more, and I can’t support it enough (obviously).

Sex is something different for people on the Autism spectrum.  I see portrayals of Aspies and ASD people in relationships and sex is some foreign, weird thing for them.  Oddly enough, Justin said he’s never had problems with that aspect of a relationship.  I think because he can focus just on that, and it’s the easiest way for him to show his love.  How much more intimate can you get, really?

I will spare you the graphic details of it all (but it’s GREAT), but I want to get the word out that just because you’ve got an Aspie or ASD partner doesn’t mean that intimacy needs to be some foreign thing.  And even those without Autism.  Everyone should celebrate the joy that comes with being in one world for a minute with someone else.  Nothing else matters but that.

How awesome is that?

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Marriage Advice from Someone Who Never Thought She’d Get Married (and still can’t believe it some days)

It’s true.  When I was younger, I was never asked out on dates.  Guys didn’t pay attention to me.  I was never told I was beautiful, attractive, etc.  I was always just “smart.”  I was awkward, plus size, and didn’t have a pretty face.  I still don’t think I’m attractive (sorry babe–I know you’ll be mad at that!!!).  My first boyfriend wasn’t until I was 19, and then he dumped me the day after he met me for the first time.  So safe to say, I was over the whole “marriage” idea.  I was going to be a career-driven woman, with a few fun flings along the way, and I was completely cool with that (though I don’t think my mom was!!!).

Then Justin happened.  Most of you know it wasn’t love at first sight, sparkles and cutesy love music in the background, kissing me and my foot popping up, chick-flick style love.  It was natural, it took a little while, and it wasn’t very romantic–no flowers were involved in the courting process, and he didn’t stand outside my window blaring music.  But it was absolutely effortless, and that is why it was so amazing.  It was just so natural and meant to be.  It was just hey…here’s Justin…here’s Tara…yeah, you guys belong together.  We didn’t fight or wonder if we liked each other.  It just was, like it was our destinies.  And I couldn’t have been happier.

Anyway, now that we’re a year into our marriage, I want to share some thoughts about why our relationship works so well.  I’ve gotten questions about how we manage to never argue after living together for 3 years, and how we don’t drive each other crazy.  I thought I’d share how our simple love is made possible.

  • SPEAK.  The biggest issue with relationships is communication.  I’ve mentioned this before, but I really can’t stress it enough.  Does it piss you off when they leave their socks everywhere?  SAY IT.  Do you love when they fill your gas tank (Justin does this for me–it’s better than flowers)? TELL THEM.  If you’re afraid they’re going to get pissed, oh well.  If they do, really?  You’re going to get pissed about that?
  • Encourage each other.  This is one in every marriage advice article you’ll find, but it’s true.  It’s really important for people to hear that someone has faith in them (besides parents, because parents always think you could rule the world), and having a partner who keeps telling you this is the best feeling in the world.
  • Don’t use sex as a weapon.  Apparently people do this.  They will reward their husbands with sex or intimacy if they take out the trash or do household chores.  And in reverse–they won’t have sex with their husband if he misbehaves.  This is TERRIBLE.  Sex is the most intimate you can be with someone, and it’s a form of showing how much you love someone, and using it as a weapon is so harmful.  Just don’t!  Along these lines…
  • Have sex–a lot.  Don’t be shy about this part.  Sex is super important in a relationship, and being able to share this with someone is amazing.  It’s not dirty or shameful or “gross.”  How much closer can you get to someone than this?  Do it (literally) a lot.
  • Compromise.  I hate going to the store.  I hate going places after work.  It just sucks and I just want to come home and chill after a tiring day at work.  But if Justin has been stuck at home all day and he wants to take a mini trip, I will do my best to go.  It’s not fair that I make him be bored just because I’m tired.  He’ll also compromise for me.  He doesn’t like going to doctor’s appointments with me, but he’ll do it.  Because we will compromise.
  • Don’t tell them they’re not allowed to do things.  I’ve seen this happen a lot.  Wives will tell husbands they can’t buy something when they can afford it, or that they shouldn’t buy something just because they said so.  Granted, if you’re broke and an ATV s on the top of someone’s wish list, yeah, don’t do it.  But if your husband wants to start a new hobby and you just don’t want him to buy it because you think he has too much stuff or he’ll fail, this is pretty shitty.  Encourage–remember.  Let them explore and grow.  It’s part of being alive.
  • Leave the house.  Get out together.  Go for a drive together.  Go see and do and learn new things.  Staying inside in a cramped space drives you crazy (and makes you irritated with the other person) and is very damaging over time to your relationship and brain.  Hop in the car and go drive and take loads of selfies (Justin loves them–haha!!).  It’s worth it.
  • Have fun together.  Part of being with someone is just enjoying and having fun together.  Justin makes me laugh and makes me feel beautiful every day–regardless of how I think I look.  Nothing makes me happier than just being around him, and this is how it should be.

Besides being married to someone with autism, I think this advice is helpful in any relationship.  Finding someone that you never thought you’d ever find is the best feeling in the world, and it takes work to keep it–but it’s worth it in every sense of the word.

Childfree by Choice

I am 32 years old, and Justin is 34 (going on 12).  We have been together for 9 years this July 4th, and married for one year on the 13th (holy crap).

Translation:  WHY HAVEN’T YOU HAD KIDS YET???

I hear this constantly.  It’s just something that we’re going to have to hear probably for the rest of our lives.  Our friends and families near us are out having child after child, and we’re just expected to do the same.  Well, here’s the thing.  You’ve got kids–cool.  You want kids–cool.  I respect that, and all the more love and power to you to have those kids.  I will love them too…and then give them back.

Justin & I don’t want kids.  Period.  No, we’re not “going to change our minds.” No, I don’t have a biological clock that’s ticking.  And no, we don’t care who’s going to take care of us when we’re older.  And no, I’m not just saying that because I secretly want kids and I’m too scared to tell him (that’s a terrible thing to do anyway).

Part of the reason, besides the obvious (we like our time together), is Justin’s autism.  He doesn’t want any future children seeing his melt downs.  He doesn’t want a change in routine (which is constant with kids) to mess him up and have his entire day ruined because of a change.  He has full on panic attacks when he gets nauseous.  Kids puke a lot.  If he’s around people who are throwing up, he’s booking it out of the premises ASAP.  And what do kids do for the first part of their lives?  Puke.  He doesn’t want to risk having a child with autism either.  This doesn’t mean that we’re bad people.  We’re making the conscious choice to not have children and enjoy the family of two that’s more than enough for us.

To be honest, I get tired of hearing about people getting pregnant and having kids.  Why isn’t just having a husband enough?  Why do they think they have to have kids?  Do they think their lives aren’t complete without them?  I never thought I’d get married when I was younger.  I didn’t even think I’d have a boyfriend, let alone actually get married.  So when I met Justin and we got married, I’m fulfilled.  I don’t want another kid taking away our time with each other.  It’s how we both want it.  And no matter what people tell us, that’s how it’s going to stay.

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Melt Downs in Adults with ASD

This last week has been hard.  By hard I mean stressful.  Which is why I haven’t really posted anything (1,000 apologies).  Justin doesn’t have a job right now (my choice) to get some therapy and help sort of rediscover himself with his new diagnosis.  He’s getting bored during the day despite his hobbies and helping me keep the house clean (this is amazing by the way–get yourself a house husband–it’s awesome).  So he gets feeling a little down, and then in a true Aspie sense, he can’t handle his emotions, and everything goes to shit, and he melts down.

Children with autism have meltdowns a lot.  It’s been described as feeling like a volcano, screaming, yelling, punching, throwing, having a hissy fit.  Children can’t help it, and neither can adults.  And yes, adults with autism can have melt downs.  It’s happened a few times with Justin during our relationship, and almost caused us to split.  I’ve posted about these before, but I want to recap for those who are reading us for the first time (thanks!!!).

I found this article helpful when we first started learning about Justin’s autism.

http://www.autism.org.uk/about/behaviour/meltdowns.aspx##causes

The first time he had a meltdown, it was the first summer we had together.  It was hot,  was whining about not having a job, and complaining about it.  He threw a hissy fit and got all pissed.  I grabbed my dog and booked it out of there.  “I don’t need this,” I thought, tears in my eyes as Waffles and I high tailed it home.  Within a minute of leaving, he was messaging me to tell me he was sorry and he felt stupid.

The second meltdown was one that almost caused me to leave.  We were following his parents somewhere and we got lost.  His parents were pretty carefree about it, but Justin was losing his shit.  He got pissed and started punching the steering wheel, freaking out.  I was legitimately scared, and remembered thinking we were done when we got home (I didn’t want to tell him then of course).  But he was quick to apologize, and after I told him he actually scared me, he has stopped.

This week was rough, as you read.  We’ve been broke and worried about it, and he had to deal with family that knows how to push him.  He had a melt down on his family member and yelled at her (all things considered with her…we all wish we could do that to her, FYI).  He called me upset and crying, feeling stupid and embarrassed.  I never know what to say when this happens except “I’m sorry,” and “It’s okay, things will be okay.”  I don’t think it helps at all (but he does).

His mom was told we were borrowing money, and was upset we didn’t ask her.  We didn’t want to borrow from her because we didn’t want to put her in a bad financial situation, so we didn’t.  He got PISSED when she called because she’d been told by someone else that we were asking to borrow money.  This absolutely confused me.  Why did he care if she was told?  Yeah, we’re broke, who cares if people know?  But he was upset and acted out.  He went outside, really upset, punching something.  When he came back in he was still upset, but I said babe, why do you care?  And he didn’t really know why.  It wasn’t the actual fact that someone told his mom that.  It was just the money thing that got him all freaked out.

The bottom line is–meltdowns are scary.  He doesn’t know how to express his frustration and it comes in the form of absolutely freaking out.  It looks like a rage burst, but it isn’t.  He has never ever done anything violent towards me (or anyone).  He doesn’t cause damage.  He just…freaks out.  It’s okay to feel scared by them, I’ve learned, and it’s okay to not be able to fix them when they happen.  It’s usually followed with feeling exhausted, embarrassed, and sad.

I have learned how to cope better with Justin’s meltdowns (I used to cry because I wasn’t sure why he was reacting so much).  Now I tend to stay away while he starts, not touch him, and let it run its course.  They generally don’t last very long.  His mood usually changes back to normal, and I just forget about the meltdown.  I can tell when he’s starting to feel overwhelmed, and I can help take him out of the situation.

From a wife’s perspective, it’s hard to see him experiencing these.  I want to fix everything and make sure he’s 100% happy, 100% of the time.  But seriously–does this happen with anyone, ever?  No.  I have to watch him go through these, and it’s okay.  The fact is, he knows I’m there for him before, during and after the meltdowns, and that will never change.

How Do I Say I Love You?

For someone with ASD, communication is incredibly difficult (obviously).  They get frustrated easily because they can’t find the words they’re looking for.  They get upset when people don’t understand them.  They don’t know how to talk to people, including their close relatives or significant others.

Justin said “I love you” first.  It caught me off guard big time.  We’d only been dating about a month or so, and he was headed off to an evening store meeting at his job.  I was so shocked I said “Drive safe!”  and went into the house, where the roommates teased and loved that we were progressing in our relationship.

Then, we didn’t say it.  He didn’t say it.  We weren’t living together at the time, so when we said goodbye, it was a kiss and a bye.  It wasn’t I love you.  I was starting to think he thought he’d made a mistake, or one of those, “OMG I said I love you too early!”  …but then again, our relationship didn’t have any of that awkward drama, so I didn’t really know what was going on.

For the first few years, Justin didn’t show much affection.  He didn’t cuddle me or hug me or do any of the “normal” relationship things like that.  We went camping once and he had hugged me from behind.  His mom was shocked and made a comment about it (nothing mean) and I could FEEL the awkwardness in Justin.  And of course he let go.  Affection is HARD for Aspies.  They are afraid you’ll reject them, or that you won’t show it back, or just plain don’t know how to do it.  I was never worried he didn’t actually love me.  He just didn’t know how to show it.  I assumed it was because his family wasn’t affectionate and he didn’t grow up that way, but when I hugged his family, I got genuine hugs back from them.  Hugging Justin is like hugging a statue sometimes.  An awkward statue.

Justin expresses his love in lots of ways.  Obviously, sex is a big one.  But he also writes notes to me constantly (last night I was complaining about feeling ugly with my broken out face, braces on my wrists for carpal tunnel and crazy stupid hair, and I woke up this morning to a note about how I’m gorgeous to him no matter what).  The key for helping affection with Aspies is finding the way they can relay this.  Justin can text me and write me notes all day about how much he loves me.  He makes me coffee.  He cooks me dinner and will back my car up (yes, that means a lot to me).  Little things that you’d think “normal” people do in an Aspie world are magnified 10 times.  That “I love you” that he says to me once in a while means more to me than hearing it 100 times a day.

Just because they don’t show up with flowers, tell you they love you constantly, hug you or caress you all the time doesn’t mean that they don’t love you.  Which means that when they are able to say it the few times they can, you know in your heart that there’s no lie, and it makes you feel like the luckiest person alive.

Communicating with an Aspie

I’ve asked Justin several times since he was diagnosed how we communicate so effectively.  People with autism don’t read sarcasm or body language very well, and I am pretty much the definition of both.  When we first started dating, I didn’t notice anything unusual about the way he communicated, but I did notice he spoke FAST.  I just thought he was nervous!

Justin often tells me that I’m not a “typical” woman because I say what I feel.  If I’m mad at him, I tell him.  If I’m sad, I tell him.  I guess a lot of women don’t speak or tell their significant others what they’re feeling (which is really weird to me–good communication is the key in any relationship).  I just don’t hold back because it’s not fair if I’m unhappy and he’s perfectly fine.  This behavior, as it turns out, works great for communicating with someone with ASD.  I just tell him what is going on, and I’m blunt.  If he’s talking too much, I just tell him to shut up.  It doesn’t hurt his feelings–in fact, it’s the opposite.  He is happy that I tell him because he finds it so hard to try to guess what people are thinking or want to say.

I found a great article from this website about communicating with someone with Autism.

Communicating with Autism

I don’t try to make him guess what I’m thinking.  I was like this even before we thought he had autism, just because I never understood why people don’t just say what they think.  He doesn’t take offense to anything, so I’ve never been worried what I said would hurt his feelings.

Other people have noticed things about communicating with Justin is how he speaks back to them.  He talks fast and he mumbles.  He tries not to, but he doesn’t know how to accurately speak about his feelings or what he wants to say (typical Aspie trait).  He just has a difficult time getting what he wants to say out into words.

MY ADVICE

If you are dating someone with ASD, don’t worry about being blunt with them.  In fact, I encourage it.  If they do something that pisses you off, just tell them.  It will frustrate them more if you are holding something back and then tell them later how mad you were (holding back your feelings leads to melt downs–trust me on that one).  Try not to use sarcasm or expect them to read underlying messages.  They just don’t really understand it.  Justin gets my sarcasm–but yeah, we’ve been together for 9 years, so he gets it now.

 

I hope this helps shed a little light on communication and relationships in those with ASD.  Feel free to comment or ask questions of Justin or myself!