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Help for Neurodiverse Couples topic

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  • #9913

    I would like to start a discussion about neurodiverse couples who want to improve the quality of their relationship. By neurodiverse, I mean a couple where one person has Asperger’s and the other is neurotypical. The topics I have in mind topics include:

    Analyzing the Relationship dynamics
    Setting Limits
    Typical Communication Patterns
    Embracing Differences
    Dealing with Anger
    Sex and Intimacy
    Choosing to Leave

    Are there any other topics that you would like to discuss? Let me know and I will add them to the list.

    I hope to get this forum off and running soon. Look for new posts in the near future.


    I want to share a portion of an article I wrote recently about communication difficulties with neurodiverse couples:

    The non-Asperger’s, or Neurotypical (NT), partner typically communicates his or her desire to be understood, validated and cared for by the Asperger’s partner through various instructions, explanations and requests. These are referred to as prompts, much like the instructions used by classroom teachers to encourage and guide the learning process.
    The Asperger’s partner, on the other hand, is in the role of a learner. The difficulties he or she has with social understanding and social interactions, the core features of Asperger’s, make it hard to communicate with, and respond effectively to, the NT partner’s need for intimacy. They are skills that are lacking and in need of development.
    The result of prompting, on the one hand, and skill building, on the other, has been termed a “communication roundabout.” One person pulls for an emotionally connected intimate relationship by requesting certain behaviors and responses from the other person who is often confused, frustrated, anxious and/or angry with these requests. The negative reactions of the Asperger’s partner then lead to more prompting by the NT person, which generates even greater resistance by the Asperger’s partner, creating a downward spiral in which many couples find themselves alienated, discouraged, and exhausted.



    Hello, Dr. Roberson. I am just now reading this blog for the 1st time, and am very interested in what you have written about neurodiverse couples. I’m the A.S. half, married to an NT husband for over 46 years, now, & we’ve been together for over 50 years. (! it’s still hard to believe when I see it in writing!) I didn’t even suspect that I’d been born with high-functioning autism until I was almost 60, but I’d been diagnosed with ADHD decades ago. And I have no idea how we’ve managed to stay together for all these years, because we literally had years of the downward spirals you speak of. There’s no doubt that my husband is NT, but sometimes he (jokingly?) says he thinks he must have Asperger’s, too. Maybe it’s just that we’ve been together for so long that some of my AS has rubbed off on him. Anyway, I do hope to learn more about communicating better, even at our age! Thank you for all you’ve written and done to help those like us.



    Dr. Roberson,
    Your write-up described my husband and me perfectly. I am an Aspie. There, I said it. He is NT. We have a continuous on and off battle of his need for physical intimacy, and my hypersensitivity to touch. It seems like we are polar opposites when it comes to any physical interaction. Your “communication roundabout” analogy makes sense, and it’s an accurate analogy!
    So, how does one break out of the circle, and take an “exit” so to speak? I am assuming that as the Aspie I would need to learn how to anticipate his physical needs, which I can do. The struggle comes when I have to force myself to act on them. He takes it personally, thinking that I don’t like to touch him. I DO, I just don’t know how to get beyond the hypersensitivity piece.
    Sometimes I feel like I should live in the woods by myself and just forget trying to have a relationship. I just don’t get them. I really feel alone.

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