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harvey1982 08-31-2009 05:33 PM

confused yet hopeful - is it autism?
Hi Iíve been with my boyfriend for over 5 years. We're both 27. I might be totally wrong but Iíve been wondering for a while whether he may be autistic. He has real difficulty in expressing or describing his emotions. Sometimes it seems impossible for him. I used to think he was just your Ďtypicalí guy who doesnít feel comfortable taking about feelings. But I realised a long time ago itís more than that. He says he doesnít understand most emotions and just cant find the words. I know he cares about me but sometimes he comes across as very cold. When I tell him he seems genuinely shocked. He finds it incredibly difficult to express himself a lot of the time and has trouble reading body language, especially if subtle. Goes completely over his head. If I try to explain certain gestures he still doesnít understand. When weíve had arguments he doesnít seem to understand why its happened or why Iím upset. He cares. He just doesnít get it. And he canít put himself in someone elseís shoes. So if say a friend is upset about something and I ask him how he thinks they feel. Heíll say ĎI donít know. Iím not in that situation so I donít knowí. He just canít imagine how they feel. His difficulties have resulted in awful arguments as he is very bright so I used to think he just didnít care. But I started to wonder if thereís another reason to explain. If he was, it should have been picked up years ago right? But his dyslexia wasnít picked up until he was 19. Please can someone help?

DannysMum 09-02-2009 10:11 AM

Re: confused yet hopeful - is it autism?
Have you talked about it with him?
You are certainly describing charactersitics which could suggest something...but it seems unfair to comment on an adult that I haven't met.
Once you proceed down this route there is no turning back..maybe you need to, maybe you'd prefer not to...but be careful, you are dealing with something that could be devastating to him, or may be a relief?
Not easy for you I imagine.:)

harvey1982 09-02-2009 04:54 PM

Re: confused yet hopeful - is it autism?
Hi. Thank you so much for replying. Yes i have talked to him about it. Only quite recently though. I've even told him about this post. He said he thinks it's a possibility, not upset by it, but not sure what to feel until a diagnosis was made. I think he'd feel some relief if anything. He said he would like to investigate it further but doesn't know where or how to start. So he asked me to take charge. I'm a little worried about that as i wouldn't want to put him in a position he's not ready to be in. So i'm not sure where to go from this point. I siggested he post something himself but again he doesn't know where to start, what to say. What do we do next? :)

roses4lace 09-02-2009 07:49 PM

Re: confused yet hopeful - is it autism?
Your boyfriend could have Asperger's Syndrome, or a number of other things. I would suggest hunting for an online Asperger's test, Wired has one that seems to get a lot of use. That's how both my son and I found out we had the characteristics. It was actually a relief for us, because we finally had an answer, and a direction. I called a counselor's office where I had been before and asked for someone who was an expert in Asperger's. Most counselors help in a general kind of fashion, but an Asperger's expert helps our specific glitches. We are "normal" to ourselves. We don't know what we need to learn, because we don't know we are missing anything. So when conversations go "wrong" we don't have the slightest clue what happened.

I was a mass of strong emotions inside, but had no words associated with the feelings, and no "scripts" to verbalize them. People accuse us of having no feelings, but what most of us have are feelings so strong they scare us with their intensity. We don't give typical people the feedback they are "expecting", because we don't know what they are expecting, so we are perceived as "unfeeling" because we aren't playing the "communication game" correctly. We understand "logic", but not necessarily how it makes you "feel".

We can learn over time, but it still won't be done the same way typical people do it. For example, for many situations, I learned that "Situation X" generally causes people to feel "this way". So, if a friend encounters Situation X, I can say to her "you must be feeling sad/frightened/angry", or whatever I have learned. I appear more "normal and caring", but from learned behavior, not from the inner knowing or intuition a typical person may have. As long as I keep my mouth shut that it was a wild guess, the other person doesn't seem to care. It keeps the "conversation game" going the way they "expect" and keeps me out of hot water. And people wonder why it is so hard for us to be around social situations!

If the self-administered test shows nothing, at least he can look in a different direction for help.

Cathy01 09-05-2009 08:49 AM

Re: confused yet hopeful - is it autism?
My son has Aspergers, high functioning. After he was diagnosed my husband and I think that he, my husband, is touched with a bit of it also. Has trouble in crowds, all the noise can at times be just to much. At times his thinking is very rigid and concrete. Whats the need to say exactly what you mean, no beating around the bush with him...doesn't take subtle hints, have to be direct...there are numerous things. So yes, your boyfriend may be touched with a bit of Aspergers...but doesn't everyone have quirks that make us all different and different ways of looking at things. If we were all the same it would make life a bit boring.

harvey1982 09-05-2009 03:05 PM

Re: confused yet hopeful - is it autism?
hi im the boyfriend and mygirlfirend is seeking advice to help us i dont no why i struggle with this like emotional discription but i took this test that you suggested and gota score of36 i dont no what that means and i dont no where to start and its all v scarcy for me but thank you for helping us i look forward to any reply

Cathy01 09-05-2009 04:29 PM

Re: confused yet hopeful - is it autism?
How is your life though? Are you happy, sad, frustrated? If you want to delve deeper them maybe a bit a therapy can't hurt, but get someone who really understands Asperger's, it's such a buzz word lately, for good reason though. Check out some books at the library and do some reading on it. It may help you understand your thought process more, and also those around you will be more understanding. Tony Attwood has some good books. Though it seems they are a bit more geared towards children more disabled with Asperger's that don't function well. If you are in a relationship you are truly not so dis-abled. There are so many levels of dis-ability with Aspergers, from low functions to very high, think Einstein, There are a bunch of people who are suspected of having Asperger's: Bob Dylan, Bill Gates, Issac Newton, Keanu Reeves, you can google this.

roses4lace 09-09-2009 03:32 AM

Re: confused yet hopeful - is it autism?
With a score of 36 I'd say there are a lot of areas that match Aspergers Syndrome. If you're functioning pretty well, able to hold a job and have some friends, then the impact on your life may not be as obvious to you. When I discovered I had it, I read lots of books. Some didn't make sense, and I found they were written by "doctors" or "researchers". When I read books written by Aspies, it all made sense, so I'd suggest reading several books until you connect with one of them. So many things I struggled with - but didn't know I was struggling. The books answered questions I didn't even know I had. The books helped me see that "typical" people think and do things very differently than I do. Not that my way is wrong, it just doesn't fit into how other people want me to do it. Also, I found a counselor who specializes in Aspergers Syndrome. When conversations go haywire, she gets me to tell her what was said, sort of he said/she said. She can usually pick up on where I didn't give some feedback that was expected, and help me understand what was going on underneath that I was missing. Also gives me tips for handling it the next time. Or if I have to attend a social function, she walks me through steps to cope. Where can I go that's private, how long can I stay before meltdown occurs, are there going to be annoying people there, etc.

Some things we will never understand. The best I can hope for is to have things explained to me, what the "typicals" expect, then try to give it to them so they won't create arguments with me. And sometimes I unknowingly hurt people's feelings because I don't understand how important something is to them. Then they get mad at me and I don't know why. But having a counselor to talk to about the "bad" conversations, helps me learn to have better conversations next time. We aren't stupid, we just don't pick up the social undercurrents like others do. We can learn how to fit in and "pass for normal" under most circumstances given enough feedback from the right kind of teacher.

All counselors are NOT effective with this, so if you find one who doesn't seem to understand what you're going through, or tries to push you into doing things (saying things, social activities, confrontations, etc.) without explaining the behind the scenes pieces so you can understand the dynamics, just move on, eventually you will find the right person.

I also found a group of high-functioning Aspergers friends (even had a support group for a while). When we talked with each other about how we do things, there was total support and understanding, and we could dig into the ways we were affected (noises, smells, shopping, handling fellow employees and the work environment, riding bikes, learning to drive, going to new places, meetings at work, verbal vs. visual, etc.). We shared how we managed to cope with various situations.

Another major thing that helped me was ACA and Al-Anon meetings. (I am also from a dysfunctional family.) People talk about feelings, and changing their behavior to make life better for themselves. Seeing the wide range of emotions, reactions, and lifestyles, and hearing people actually naming their feelings in various situations, helped me get "educated". I had no names for my feelings, and so couldn't describe what was going on inside me. Listening to others say things like, "this situation generated these feelings" was like light bulbs going off in me. It gave me words to talk about me. I need "scripts" to talk sometimes, and I was finding my "scripts" by using other people's words (that also fit me). It's ok to sit and say nothing at these meetings; if they attempt to force you to talk, they haven't learned to stop controlling, so find another meeting.

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