3 thoughts on “Asperger’s and Marriage: He’s Always Looking for Debate

  • October 16, 2018 at 6:33 pm

    I’m starting to suspect that my husband has a mild form of Aspergers as my grandson is going through the process of being diagnosed. My husband has always been painfully shy and is very intelligent. He is also very sensitive to sound. He has been working as a software engineer and was able to work well while he had his own office but they moved into a New office suite where they all share the same space. It has become increasingly difficult for him to handle the situation and he was mildly reprimanded for saying something inappropriate. He was deeply hurt and wanted to quit on the spot because he thought he was just engaging in conversation. His supervisor has agreed to let him move to a desk in quieter area of the office but I worry that it may be pure torture for him to continue working there. I would love some insights.

    Reply
    • October 17, 2018 at 2:29 pm

      Hi, Rebecca. Thanks for writing me. While I obviously can’t speak to whether or not your husband has Asperger’s, I would say that if it runs in the family, and with your description, it is wise to consider it a strong possibility. I’m going to respond, though, as if he does have Asperger’s.

      The workplace difficulty you outlined happens often, in almost the exact same way you described. Someone has flourished on a job, but the trend of creating more “collaborative” workspaces and downsizing have forced many aspies who were previously successful to experience tremendous difficulties on the job. Research demonstrates that a social approach to productivity does improve operations, the cultural climate, and the bottom line; however, diversity is rarely considered when implementing these kinds of changes. I was recently speaking to a friend who is having the same problem. He shares a space with someone now where he was previously able to work alone, and it is creating a constant socioemotional tension. Her smells and sounds, and her constant sighs and passive aggressive comments, and her distractions, are making him miserable. It’s caused him to become a target as he operates outside the social “pack” of his co-workers.

      Also, being reprimanded for something that seems incongruous with the reality of what happened is difficult for anyone. For someone with Asperger’s, who does have to work harder (and enjoys hard work if the field is a match) than those around him because he is eternally operating at a social disadvantage, he knows that he has to be perfect all the time to maintain job security. He knows how precarious his position is at work. He knows how meticulously he has to perform. He knows how the penalties for a mistake will carry on in ways he doesn’t understand or can’t relate to (social isolation, gaslighting, passive aggression, microaggressions, disrespect). A sincere effort to communicate was misread by his boss, and he likely reacted so strongly because he is aware of the consequences of what happens with something seemingly small. He may not be at risk of losing his job because of that specifically, but he knows now that he is “outed” as an other.

      He has been punished because someone else lacks understanding, and he knows that trying to explain will be seen as “making excuses,” “shifting the blame,” “not taking responsibility,” or “not taking ownership.” He can’t tell the boss that his intention was misunderstood, but he’s left with the vast uncertainty of what future consequences will be. He knows that the same thing would not have received a reprimand for someone else who belongs to the “ol’ boys club.”

      I realize a lot of conjecture went into those insights, but having seen so many similar examples, I felt like the intuitive leap was safe conjecture. If your husband reads and identifies with what I’ve typed, then I would recommend that he seek formal diagnosis. At least, he cannot be at risk of losing his job for miscommunication or for needing accommodations (like a quiet space); however, if his supervisor is in the know, the leadership may be more understanding and accepting to his communication differences and give him more room to express himself.

      I’m going to send you an email as a follow up to this comment. Thank you again for reaching out.

      Reply
  • October 19, 2018 at 11:20 am

    Oh, this is wonderful. As a neurotypical to the nth degree, I find this to be the clearest description I have seen of the WHY of behaviors I’ve seen in people I know. They just seem rude to me, and the way they interact as off-putting. I have so often been complimented on my tact and politeness by my friends and acquaintances. But those traits are likely not seen as positive attributes by friends on the spectrum! This really helps me to understand why. Thank you, Terra!

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