Monday, May 18, 2009

New York Times Article on Asperger Marriage

As people struggling with the stigma of not being able to empathize with others, one of the major concerns for those on the spectrum is the ability to successfully date and marry. With this in mind it is interesting to read David Finch’s article in the New York Times, “Somewhere Inside, a Path to Empathy.” David Finch did not discover he had Asperger syndrome until after he had been married for several years to a speech pathologist, who works professionally with autistic children. It was his wife who finally fingered him as an Asperger person. As someone who lived for years as someone who was not exactly normal and was only diagnosed with Asperger syndrome as an adult, I find David’s discussion of trying to fit in and lead a “normal” life to be remarkably touching.

Dealing with members of the opposite sex has certainly been a challenge for me. I have had my ups and downs and am still looking. Because, as an Asperger person, I put so much emphasis on what people say, I have often been taken aback and have felt betrayed by members of the opposite sex who fail to follow through with the words that come out of their mouths. I have often felt lied to. In a very technical sense I may be right. Part of learning about neurotypical thinking for me has been learning to accept these failures with some sense of charity and to try to not take it as personally.

1 comment:

Dylan said...


I can understand your feelings towards the opposite sex. Bear in mind that I am in no way undermining your opinions and personal feelings towards the opposite sex. However, understand that these feelings of uncertainty about the opposite sex are not uncommon, even among neurotypical people.

Although I draw much of my opinions for my own personal experiences with relationships (most of which have been unfortunately negative), I can easily understand that my case is not only common with those on the spectrum, also with people not on the spectrum, or neurotypical.

Feelings of betrayal and uncertainty often stem from a lack of an understanding of the other person. However, as a defense mechanism that in innate in the human process of thought and understanding, we tend to place uncertainty as a bad thing, coupling the unknowing with a negative mindset. Although there is nothing wrong with that, it is also necessary to understand that this sort of behavior is more instinctual than anything else, and it is our job to sort out the premonitions we create from what is factual and tangible.

I can fully understand the desire to have the partner speak to you more. That is to say that I understand your desire for the spoken word rather than subtle facial expressions and the like. Often times the replacement of actual spoken word with expressions and gestures of the face, hand and body is quite an evident aspect in human interaction. Keep in mind that I fully understand that the thought process of someone with AS (Asperger’s Syndrome) greatly differs to that of a neurotypical, but, and I say this with the upmost respect, it is also imperative that we understand the other side to that statement, being that although our thought process differs from “neurotypicals”, is also applies for them. This means that, with each side having differences than the other, it is important to find middle ground between each side, and finding mediation that works with each person.

This means that although you may desire more spoken word than gestures, and the other person may be acceptable with more gestures than spoken word, it is not unreasonable to explain to that person that understanding those subtle expressions may be difficult for you.

As understand the other person and their behavior is vital in social interaction, asking the other person for this will only strengthen the quality of the connection, revealing that although you struggle with subtle expressions, you are still willing to engage in an interaction, and that you may require more spoken word than expression.