It’s big. It has a massive body on four legs, an utter, and gives milk. It makes a distinctive mooing sound while flopping it’s ears and tail around in an attempt to eradicate flies.
It looks like a cow, but something is off. It is pink and black. That can’t be a cow.
That’s how it is with an Asperger partner. They look like a regular person, often in a ‘Sheldon’ sort of way, but when they open their mouth to speak their Aspie logic, or launch into a fourteen hour discussion regarding their single focus interest, we realize that something is off.
I love my hubby dearly. There are days, however, that I have to respond to him as if he were a surely teenager, best ignored.
In one of our therapy meetings (and yes, I find it very helpful to have a trained professional work with us on various issues), Steve complained that I sometimes treat him like a child. Tis true, when he is acting like a child. I can’t help it. I’m a mom.
For those around me who don’t know us well, I am sure that my attitudes can be confusing if they don’t understand that many times I have to be the sole grownup in our relationship. I am 24/7 mom to our kids, running the entire household and social calendar for us all.
Granted, Steve has a great job that he has maintained for over twenty-five years now. I am grateful for that. He attends local AS meetings and says that there is a recurring theme of unemployment for many of the participants as well as singleness and lack of personal relationships. He is about the only married person who regularly attends. (And no, he does not name names, just tells me generalizations about what he hears.)
Is AS truly on the autism spectrum? I don’t know. I starting to think that AS is something separate. Can Aspies ‘outgrow’ AS? That I don’t know either. Steve’s family all deny that he has Aspergers. But they haven’t been in close contact with him on a daily, weekly, monthly or even yearly basis since he was a kid. For me, the Hubster was just a very awkward, shy man when we met. I quickly recognized his genius, and chalked his lack of social skills up to his engineering mind.
Steve’s AS traits, at least for me, have become more pronounced as he ages. Perhaps they are more prominent because I’ve lived with him daily for longer than anyone else he knows. I’m not sure which it is.
John Elder Robison had a great post last month 'Can We Outgrow Autism?' (please keep in mind that this is Mr. Robison’s viewpoint and that I personally am not convinced that AS is ‘high functioning autism’)
One comment was particularly revealing to me. It said,
"As we use coping mechanisms meant to make us appear NT, the internal stress grows, the exhaustion builds up and the meltdowns can be spectacular (albeit out of public sight.) The behaviors/skills we learn to "pass" changes others perceptions of us but do not change us. Public life may go better (somewhat) and the NTs feel less threatened but, at the end of the day, we are the same."
I’ve often wondered if Steve really feels so safe in our home that he is able to ‘let his hair down’ and be ‘himself’. Perhaps the meltdowns are just something that he bottles up at work and in public because he realizes that he couldn’t act that way anywhere but ‘home’. Our home is his castle, his sanctuary. With that in mind, I wonder if I ask too much of him to be social towards us when he comes home. Or, for that matter, whenever he is at home. His brain must be tired.
Whichever bandwagon you choose to ride, within the autism spectrum or not, I do believe that we can all agree that AS is absolutely a ‘cow of a different color’, lol.