Maxine Aston is a qualified counsellor and supervisor, and presents Asperger Syndrome awareness workshops to counsellors and professionals who may encounter clients affected by AS. She also runs workshops and support groups for partners and parents that live with a person with AS. Maxine has an MSc in Health Psychology and is a regular speaker at National and International ASD conferences.
Top Tips for both partners:
1. Develop an understanding of what is due to Asperger syndrome and what is personality.
Asperger syndrome (AS) does not change the personality; it will only affect a small part of the brain causing difficulties in very specific areas. It is important for both partners to be aware of what is down to AS and what is down to personality.
2. Accept the difference you both have, rather than fight that difference.
An AS/non-spectrum (NS) coupling will mean that each partner will have a different way of processing information and perceiving themselves, their partner and the world. Relationships are never about being the same or making the other the same as you. Both of you bring your own positives and strengths to the relationship, where each will be as valuable as the other. Learn from the difference and do not see it as a threat.
3. Allow one another the space and time to thrive in your own worlds.
Being different will mean needing to spend time in ways that will allow relaxed growth. How each chooses to do this may be very different and may sometimes make no sense to the other. Respect the other’s needs and allow them the space to spend time to indulge in their pastimes and hobbies.
4. Avoid having expectations that are too high.
Keep expectations realist and achievable, otherwise there will always be a risk of disappointment. Both of you should avoid making promises that neither of you will be able to keep; no one is perfect and the reality is that we all make mistakes, and don’t always get it right. It is called being human and that’s OK.
5. Avoid taking responsibility for one another’s happiness.
We are all responsible for our own happiness and it would be unfair to expect our partner to be responsible for making us happy. No one can do that. In an AS/NS relationship both will have different needs and requirements and, therefore each will have a responsibly to themselves to find a way to meet those needs.
6. Having AS is not an excuse to avoid making changes.
Making improvements and progress will require a certain amount of change and effort on both parts. Having AS is not a reason not to try or make an effort to work at improving the relationship.
Look out for Maxine’s forthcoming book, Everything a Man with Asperger Syndrome Wants to Know about Dating, Women and Relationships but is Afraid to Ask – July 2012!
Copyright © Jessica Kingsley Publishers 2012.