The secret weapon for helping people with Aspergers succeed as adults

I coached this guy Tanner who invented a thing to make milk flow smoothly in tubes and now he’s a millionaire tech CEO. During his fifteen-year marriage he’s scheduled sex with his wife, on a calendar, a year in advance. He was surprised to hear other couples do not do this.

And yes, he gave me permission to tell you this. He doesn’t care. He has Aspergers. Which is the point of this post. Don’t think of Aspergers as a social skills thing because smart adults can avoid social skills. I mean, think about it. Every time I make a public appearance, I find a place to hide.

So Aspergers is more like a social not-caring disorder. Because Tanner knows everyone has sex, so he has no idea why people care so much about sharing details.

Jacob is a music producer. I went to LA with my son to make a recording.

Jacob had car trouble on the freeway, so he drove off the side of a merge ramp that had a 70-foot drop to the freeway below. He said it was his safest option. I didn’t believe it until he took me to see the fence he landed on.

After a weekend with Jacob, we were hanging out in a big, oak-paneled auditorium, taking a break in between recording sessions, and my son said, “Mom, you and Jacob are crazy in the same way.”

“Like what?”

“Like, you don’t know your left and right and neither does he.”

“Wait. Jacob, you don’t know your left and right?”

“No. I can’t tell time either.”

“Me either! Because time is left and right, right?”

“Mom! I can’t take it. Call Melissa!”

Call Melissa is what my kids say when they think I’m messing things up. Like:

I can’t remember what airline we’re on.

Call Melissa.

We don’t have money because I lost both my bankcards.

Call Melissa.

Last week my younger son was locked out of the house and instead of calling me, he called Melissa. And even though she is 6000 miles away in San Francisco, she could help him: “Go to the knitting shop. There’s a key under the rock. I told Mom to hide it there just in case.”

It turns out that Jacob has his own version of Melissa. A roommate who manages his life for him. His roommate has been his roommate for 15 years and now thinks nothing of talking for Jacob.

They were talking to a potential corporate client for recording and the client said, “Can you just let Jacob talk for himself?”

Jacob sees all questions as an invitation for soliloquy, on any topic.

Five minutes later his roommate said, “You can see now that I wasn’t talking for Jacob for his benefit, I was talking for Jacob for your benefit.”

The most common reaction people have to someone who has a very high IQ and Aspergers is that that don’t have Aspergers. The most common thing I hear from Tanner’s wife and Jacob’s friend, “No one would ever believe what I deal with.” (Melissa’s version of this is, “Write that down. It has to go on the blog.”)

People have no idea what to do when confronted with someone who seems perfectly normal, and extraordinarily successful, but actually has Aspergers.

My husband was so frustrated when a reality TV crew filmed our family at the farm for three days. He thought people would finally see how crazy it is to live with an adult with Aspergers, but in fact, the show got canceled because TLC said “Penelope and her family are too normal.”

My husband said it’s because we never left our house and I can control my environment at home. He says the producers should have watched me shop in the grocery store because I run people over with my cart all the time. (To be clear, I have never noticed this but he says that’s the whole problem. He says people give me dirty looks like they want to kill me and I don’t bat an eye.)

People ask me all the time how to help transition kids into adulthood. Based on the very successful people I know who have Aspergers, there is always someone on the sidelines functioning as a safety net.

And this doesn’t appear to be something you can pay someone to do. In fact it appears that it cost people money to help someone with Aspergers. Tanner’s wife comes from a wealthy family, which is good because Tanner doesn’t share his money. (He says he loves his wife very much, and he will buy her whatever she wants. She just needs to ask.) So when he wears black shorts to a black-tie event because he didn’t like fabric on his pants, she uses her own money to have a new tux delivered in less than an hour.

The roommate pays extra rent when Jacob gets fired. Which is frequently. (The last time was when his boss said, “If I were you I’d record that kid first because his dad is a donor.” Jacob said, “Oh.” Jacob did not record the kid. He was surprised when he got fired.)

People with Aspergers routinely perform at the top of their class throughout school. Eighty-five percent of people with Aspergers are unemployed. Thirty-five percent of people with Aspergers think about suicide. Here are links. They are not exact. I do not care that I’m not giving you exact numbers. I think numbers are a feeling.

As a society we have become adept at identifying Aspergers. So adept that we still use the term even though the DSM has declared that term is not a term anymore. But we have a terrible track record for dealing with it.

Part of the problem is people cannot understand how someone so smart could fail so profoundly. Another problem is humans naturally project: you figure that if addition is easy for you and you could do 2+2 when you were in kindergarten then I must be a lying psycho idiot when I tell you I can’t do basic third-grade arithmetic.

Another part of the problem is there is little understanding of the special type of support that someone with Aspergers needs as an adult. After seeing people like Tanner and Jacob I see my own situation better. I think success hinges on finding someone who loves you. But that’s not enough. That person has to be good at doing the things the person with Aspergers is not good at doing.

The person also needs to be normal. Which is why Tanner’s name is not really Tanner. Because his wife might have an extraordinary heart but she has a standard sense of privacy. Still, I ask her if I can write about the time he called 911 for her and then finished watching a movie because the rental period would run out before they got home from the emergency room.

“Go ahead,” she said, “if that’s what it takes for people to start questioning what high IQ really means.”

71 replies
  1. Elise
    Elise says:

    Can you please explain me how Tanner’s wife manages to not feel hurt/to get over his callous behaviors (such as the 911 thing). My husband may not be to his level, but very insensitive at times, and I don’t take that so easily.

    • Mark
      Mark says:

      Elise – my guess is that your hubby is more of the “engineer” archetype, rather than Asperger’s. Engineers have the same cold hard logic and usually a distinct lack of social manner, but they lack the gentle kindness that is a somewhat typical Asperger’s trait. Tanner is an inventor, which makes him part artist. Tanner probably has a warm side that helps mitigate his shortcomings. Even though many engineers and architect subtypes are near-spectrum, or Asperger’s-like in many ways, they almost always lack these attractive characteristics. My guess is that you have an engineer on your hands or you would already know what offsets the lo-empathy behaviors.

      I’ll probably post something else later, but right now I need to see my angel-wife off to work so I can stay home in seclusion and safety. So much in Penelope’s post is absolutely true. Readers probably should be worried about her without the structure of the farm, which was probably provided a beneficial sequencing structure to her life. Chaos follows people with Asperger’s, and we are often good at exporting to those near us.

    • Gordana Dragicevic
      Gordana Dragicevic says:

      People with Asperger’s are not intentionally hurtful and, once they learn what exactly bothers their partners, they will make an effort not repeat it. They do it clumsily because what other people want rarely makes any (logical) sense, and it is hard to get exact information to work with (i.e. partners can be quick to say what they don’t like, but rarely describe exactly what they would like).
      There is another redeeming feature too – Aspies are very accepting of other people’s (including their partners’) flaws and eccentricities. I’m on the spectrum myself, and every (neurotypical) partner I’ve ever been with commented they never felt so accepted with anyone else, free to just be themselves with no need to prove anything.

      • Axxr
        Axxr says:

        It’s not just people with asperger’s. I’m an INTP and I think I’m rather socially adept in general, well-liked, no problems communicating in public or at work or with new contacts. We laugh, drink, get work done, are merry, etc. People often say I’m a good conversationalist, though I tend to get bored with conversation after half an hour or so and move on.

        But in close/intimate relationships, people seem to develop the expectation that one can read minds, that somehow the context of a relationship relieves one of the burden to communicate well. I was recently divorced after a decade of marriage because we just couldn’t stand each other any longer.

        The crux of the issue was that my (ex-)wife increasingly saw me as an inhuman monster. Why? Because I apparently constantly showed “constant disregard” by doing and saying the wrong thing. The thing is, she was never able to suggest a *right* thing for any situation in which she became upset, and more to the point, the idea that she should have to offer her preferences enraged her. I was “just supposed to know” what the right thing was, or it meant that I didn’t care. The fact that I was begging for an outline of the right thing so that I could do it did not, apparently, indicate any measure of regard.

        How on god’s green earth I was supposed to know is beyond me. But the result was constant yelling from her that I was horrible and unfeeling and me repeatedly stopping conversations with “this is completely unproductive, I’m not here to be yelled at; if you tell me what you want, I’m always happy to do it and to remember to do it from now on, but if you can’t tell me what you want and simply want to follow me around and berate me for not knowing what it is that you want, I see no reason to stand here and take it.” Of course, that never made her happy either (to say the least), but there are limits to how one is willing to be treated, even by loved ones.

        We tried counseling for a while. She said I was autistic (but said it like it was an accusation). The therapist said that I didn’t meet the diagnostic criteria and was simply a highly rational introvert (which I am) that was actually rather good at communication but did not have knowledge of her expectations, and that I was very tuned into my (ex-)wife’s emotional states (which I was) but was simply untrained the same common conventions that she was. Which is true, I suppose. Certainly there are more ESFJs and so on running around interacting than INTPs, and I come from a family of IT types.

        All she had to do was say “Please do X from now on when I say Y” and I’d have been more than happy to do it, and the marriage would still be intact. One sentence that leads to comity seems far preferable to hours of sweaty yelling that, in repetition, led to divorce, but apparently that’s too much for some folks.

        This is not to sound bitter, but rather to propose to everyone out there that:

        (1) People are different and there’s no getting around that.
        (2) One can understand emotional subtext and intuit objections very well and still be clueless as to what concrete actions are expected by an interlocutor.
        (3) Part of good communication is being able to express to others what you want so that they can do it for you.
        (4) If you don’t know what you want, or you are unable to express it, that’s something that you ought to work on and I suspect it is not serving you well not just in interaction with autism spectrum individuals, but also with some percentage of the population (that may be larger than you realize).

      • Lavett Karen
        Lavett Karen says:

        I have found that my aspie husband , actually is not so much accepting as it is that if something doesn’t directly concern or affect him in some way …he simply does not care ….about the person or happening …whatever it may be going on.
        Like I have people all the time tell me how lucky I am that my husband is willing to let me travel alone , and that he trusts me in all ways from being faithful to being able to handle myself in dangerous situations. Sad but the truth is …and I highly suspect this is true of most aspies, is I travel alone because as long as he gets to do what he wants he could not care less or be even a little interested in anything I do that is not about him, PERIOD And as far as trusting me , he is actually like most aspies paranoid but again only about things directly concerning him. He KNOWS I would be in big trouble if danger came my way ANYTIME …alone or with someone, again the sad truth is ..IT IS NOT HIM IN DANGER , so in his mind why should he care , and HE DOESN’T and this is the way of most aspies. I realize most NT’s married to aspies have to live pretending that there husbands care or are truly ignorant about Asperger’s disease and do not know what there limitations are to be able to even try to have a marrige . I have never met a happy NT that had an aspie partner, and I know quite a few and have spoken personally to hundreds.
        i know i wish I could go back in time .
        Thank you for having this forum and allowing me to honestly speak my truth.

    • Wendy
      Wendy says:

      You have to tell him. Directly. Don’t just assume he knows what he’s doing that hurts you (he doesn’t) or that he will figure it out on his own (he won’t). I think that’s the main thing anyone dealing with someone with Asperger’s needs to know. They’re not like other people in being able to take hints, understand implications, or read body language. You have to tell them DIRECTLY what they’re doing that’s bothering you.

      Here’s an example:

      Ineffective: “When you say/do such-and-such, it bothers me.”

      So in this statement, there’s the implication: “So please stop saying that.” The person with Asperger’s WILL NOT GET THAT IMPLICATION. Their reaction will be, “Oh.” They may even feel bad. But they will not pick up on the fact that they are supposed to stop doing that thing. Seems like common sense, right? But people with Asperger’s don’t have common sense.

      Effective: “When you say/do such-and-such, it bothers me, so please stop doing that.”

      The difference is that this statement comes with a clearly stated instruction.

      If it helps, people with Asperger’s usually won’t take offense at being told things straightforwardly and will be happy to do their best to comply.

  2. Lauren Teller
    Lauren Teller says:

    oohh….Beautiful..wise and deep–(you)
    No One is normal, (that is projection)
    but some people have it easier! yes___ no___
    who can know?
    Withdraw projections, send out _____ (love)!!!!
    A long process, not an out come.
    Is that a picture of you looking
    at yourself?


  3. Chris
    Chris says:

    I am a “helper” to 2 aspies, husband and son, but have lived with (undiagnosed) others, so innately know the drill (father and a couple brothers). I am very successful on my own, which I think helps, but wonder if my own mild asperger/logical tendecies, high iq and previous experience put me in a position to tolerate more of this without hurt feelings. Not always, but mostly, I just kind of understand where they are coming from.

    • Mark
      Mark says:

      I think you nailed it Chris. My wife is also a “half-breed” who is successful and very well mannered (mostly). Her mother came from eccentrics (father did large sums of numbers in his head and mother was a Missionary who ran off to Africa where they met in early 1900s). My wife’s father was social and gregarious, and it seems the combination of an Aspie mom and neurotypical dad produced an offspring (my wife) who had inherited some of the best of both worlds.

      While it is offensive to many (and premature to declare) a lot of Aspies like to think of the disorder as an evolutionary step forward. Where we do have empathy it tends to be of a cognitive type rather than biologically based (people who know who are like themselves just by looking at them). Causes of autism are disputed, but there is a pretty well accepted genetic component in addition to de-novo mutations. Its far more common than is known today even with all of the autism epidemic talk.

      The dispute Penelope mentions over DSM V is at the core of why an intelligent discussion regarding ASD’s is hard to have. Kanner’s autism is what most people think of when considering ASDs; Kanner’s autism implies cognitive disabilities and the need for extreme levels of support in early school years (which seems to be very helpful). The folks on Kanner’s side of the aisle tend to dispute the “high functioning” side of the aisle. When Jerry Seinfeld came out and said he thought he was somewhere on the higher functioning end of the autism spectrum he got eviscerated instead of commended for his courage.

      Liberal-minded and well-intentioned people just seem to have a real difficulty accepting neurodiversity as a reality (my opinion and observation). They are so used to having an easy to find large core block of like-minded people that they seem find it hard to accept different mindsets in others. It seems to make them uncomfortable regardless of outward expressions of global tolerance and acceptance.

      Penelope nicely expresses how people like us really need that one person in their life to make a difference and it is true. A sobering reality that policy makers might think about is that virtually all of the Silicon Valley mega-giants were started, and in some cases are still run, by Aspies. Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and Tesla among others all fit this profile. No one really wants to give a hand up to those who are already above average in many ways, but the economic wealth and well-being of our nation would seem to indicate that we do just that.

      Sorry for being so long….its a topic of special interest to me

      • Melissa
        Melissa says:

        Why do you assume that anyone, especially “well-intentioned and liberal-minded people” owe you any special understanding? Because they don’t understand *you* they shouldn’t try to understand anyone?

        • Mark
          Mark says:

          It is not special understanding for myself that is called for; a plea for general understanding and acceptance of “neuro-diverse” peoples across the entire spectrum of humanity is my desire. I am pretty mildly affected, but I definitely have the social-not-caring disorder that Penelope talks about. I have zero expectations about special treatment in regards to myself and it is not a big deal what anyone thinks of me.

          The quote that you pulled is meant to be a more global observation reflective of how divisive the general population is today, which I see as being based in like-minded empathy groups (D’s or R’s) in general being attracted to each other, and making asinine assumptions that the “other” group (D’s or R’s) is quite literally insane. This is what people think. To me, given the fact that both of these sides are basing their anti-empathetic feelings on the same basic set of facts (the news in general), but are drawing distinctly different conclusions from the same data, can only point to the entire population being “insane”, or illogical- it doesn’t make sense that only the core 30-40% of each voting block can be crazy. It must be all or none, and it seems to me that it is all.

          My call was for general acceptance and tolerance, not any special consideration for myself. Sorry for the confusion…

          We all have strong built in biases. Recognition and acceptance of that became much easier for me post Aspie diagnosis because the process led to a whole bunch of brain related research. I’m saying we would all be better off if we understood these biases and accepted that other’s opinion are valid in the minds in which they are created. Let’s start there.

  4. Terri Lynn Phillips
    Terri Lynn Phillips says:

    This article makes me say, “Hmmmmm….” It’s amazing that our universe is so stunted when it comes to diversity. The fear factor with diversity is extraordinary. We can comprehend that seasons, relationships, children, etc. come with extreme diversity but to conceptualize that each individual is so different that we need to throw away the measuring stick is incomprehensible. It makes my brain numb just reading this article, but my heart is filled with emotions. Thanks for the reminder that we all need to be accepted and endeared.

  5. jessica
    jessica says:

    Just because you accept something (condition), doesn’t mean you have to also respect it (behaviour).

    Do helpers have to ‘distance’ themselves a lot of the time to handle the condition?

    Who’s Melissa’s helper?

  6. Jim Grey
    Jim Grey says:

    I think it’s just part of a healthy relationship that the partners help each other out where they may have blind spots. It’s tricky sometimes to keep that from being codependent, but if you have or are willing to build good boundaries you can be better together than you are separately.

  7. B.Noir
    B.Noir says:

    I know this is a bit left of center on topic, but there are others who have simular needs for life helpers… I have adhd coupled with executive functioning disorder and good lord the two combined leave me day to day looking like a hot mess. I don’t tell people my IQ, as I’m worried there would be speculation more should be expected of me. Right now I’m in a forced life crisis, as my helper aka my male housekeeper of 6 years just abruptly had to take a court ordered vacation for 20 months, read between the lines, ugh. So that means my very carefully contained secret at looking all pulled together and organized and my personal version of sane to others outside view of me is locked up and I can’t call him to say where is that or this and my paper corner is now a mountain and slowly my world is fraying and getting ready to unravel like a sweater. So I get this post and I’m glad to see others brilliant, need helpers to get thru life too. Finding my Jose replacement for 20 months is gonna be tough. I guess there are a few people out there that understand brilliant doesn’t mean you are equipped to handle all of life’s responsibilities…. that means putting my socks away is now my job and my socks are now living in every corner of my home. True story! Ugh! I enjoy your blog…. thank you B. Noir

    • Mark
      Mark says:

      Exactly, my friend B. Noir. You have the same needs for understanding, acceptance, and help to mitigate some built-in shortcomings. You are part of a very large population who suffers because of the way your brain is built. Seems to me the issue is related to the fact that “our” types of differences – neurological based diversity – are not as easy to see as skin color, weight/height, or even sexual orientation. It is just where we are at this point in history. There seems to be a one generation lag time between the recognition of certain types of discrimination and efforts to eradicate them. Too late for me on this one, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t start to recognize neuro-diverse people for what they are and try to accommodate and improve their lives where we can. I make a next-generation type of argument.

      To bring this back to Penelope’s article – she points out that the lucky among us find one person we can rely on and trust to know us and guide us where we need it. I think she has Melissa, and regardless of her maybe flawed relationship advice ( I mean give her a break, I believe she has Asperger’s too) she is the one person that P can turn to. The fact that she helps the kids from across the continent amazes me. That is the heart-of-gold of many Aspies ,who while they suffer from empathy related issues often can be rather altruistic. It is a complicated condition.

      Sorry for hogging your blog Penelope. Low response shows most people really don’t’ care about Asperger’s – something we both already know. We, along with people like B. Noir, are more or less forced to hide our “disability” if we can. Not fair, but just where with are with today’s lack of understanding of ASDs, ADHDs, and the rest of the related spectrum conditions, which in truth are probably what defines humanity from the rest of the animal kingdom. I’ll save that for another time.

  8. Alex Younis
    Alex Younis says:

    Thank you for writing this Penelope. I’d still be unemployed without my “helper” but I had no idea the percentage of us stuck there was so high.

    Your kids are smart – why wouldn’t Melissa be the best person to ask?

    All the best.

  9. Tennille
    Tennille says:

    I have a black male 10 year old that is an Aspie.I am really concerned about the challenges he will face not just as an Aspie, but as a Black boy with aspergers. I scoured the internet and found two Black men with aspergers who both talked about feeling invisible because there were no resources or information that was specific to their Aspie experience. Both mentioned coming across many people in their lifetime who seemed to feel that Black people did not have Aspergers. I can see how it is challenging for anyone who is not neurotypical, but it gets even more complicated when you add in the impact of racism. If you do know of any info or resources that address these concerns, I would truly appreciate it.

  10. Bob Korolus
    Bob Korolus says:

    My wife lives with two people who fall under the ASD label. We are waiting for the final assessment about our son to confirm what we already know about him.

    I knew I was different from most people. I worked in the printing and packaging industry in estimating, purchasing and production planning and design.

    In my last job, we were in the process of installing a CPM system for estimating, purchasing, etc. The account rep wanted to meet the estimating department considering the size of our company.
    I was the department.

    When we added a new company, and two additional estimators. I discovered that I did more estimates then the two other estimators combined.

    My son’s Pediatrician identified me as someone who had ASD. As a typical Aspie, I went to the local library, and took out all 17 books , and read then in 10 days.

    I joined this group because we home school our Asperger’s Identified son and can use all the help, and information that we can get on the subject.

  11. Marie
    Marie says:

    Great writing. For those of us with challenges that intersect (autism & complex ptsd & poverty for example) we can’t always have helpers. I don’t have intimate relationships anymore because of my autism and ptsd. I have friends I see occasionally and I’m working on Being Very Good At Something (programming). I can’t afford therapy. I’m single parenting an autistic son. I’m too costly for neurotypical people to tolerate. I have found people who love me but it’s too difficult for them, I hurt them by being blunt and not understanding subtext. I guess if I were financially wealthy they’d put up with it. Eventually when I have enough income I can get therapy to correct these problems. I do expect to die from suicide, but I don’t do it now because I want to take care of my son. You have to find someone who loves you but you have to be able to give enough back to them that it’s worth it to them.

    • Allie
      Allie says:

      Your words are heartbreaking. Life with autism can really suck sometimes. Your son is so fortunate to have you there for him. I don’t think we need to subscribe to the idea that there should be one Special Someone (TM) who’s there to be our full-time helper. That’s an ideal from the neurotypical world that doesn’t necessarily work for us. I’m a person with autism, low-income, etc., never had a romantic partner in my 40+ years and not particularly hoping or planning to have one in the future. My support has come from completely different places. A lot of surprisingly strong ties with people from within my tiny little scientific sub-specialty. (You’re right about working on Being Very Good At Something. Do that and stick with it.) I also have a great church community – they can tolerate freaks, believe me, they’re used to it.

  12. Grace
    Grace says:

    Can someone enlighten me about why people with Asperger’s suffer from depression and suicidal tendencies?

    Penelope writes that “Aspergers is more like a social not-caring disorder.” If they don’t care about X, then they shouldn’t suffer any consequences from experiencing X. If people with Asperger’s don’t care what others think of them, then why would they get depressed by social exclusion (which is an outward expression of what people think inwardly)?

    Or does Penelope mean that people with Asperger’s want acceptance and love, but don’t care about performing the social conformity it takes to achieve the acceptance and love?

    • jessica
      jessica says:

      Most people with Aspergers are not successful, and as Penelope points out, most can barely keep a job.

      Social skills are their primary source of trouble and unfortunately for them, also one of the most important skills for success. I imagine if one has trouble with social skills and reading other people their isolation, compared to a neuro-typical having difficulties, is much more extreme. Everyone has trouble in prolonged isolation and feeling unrelatable, but for someone with Aspergers it is constant so it makes sense that depression and suicide correlate at a high rate with the condition.

      People with Aspergers care, but the difference is they have trouble putting themselves in anyone else’s shoes.

      Completely uncaring is a hallmark of sociopathy and I don’t think it fits the description of Aspie patients, although I understand the point she is trying to make.

    • Mark
      Mark says:

      Great observation Grace – that shows you are trying to understand. Regarding depression and suicidal leanings in ASD types…

      My opinion – Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is thought today to be somewhat wrongly structured. The first need is probably “belonging”, and the lack of intimate empathetic relationships (people who really understand and accept who you are) can lead to an isolated loneliness. The loneliness of being “on the wrong planet” leads to the comorbid problem of depression, which can lead to suicide for some.

      Your point is well taken, and I think a big part of the misunderstanding with ASD’s is that they are part of a “less-than-human” condition, when I think the opposite is true and someday provable. The arts and sciences are loaded with ASD types and even in severely cognitively disabled savants the skills that are present are art, math, and music -all things that define humanity. I wish Temple Grandin and the “animal-like” impression she creates of autism because of her singular experience would step aside and that the ASD community find another spokesperson.

      Aspies make extremely loyal friends and they usually have a deep desire for social connection but it just doesn’t work out except for when we are lucky enough to find that one special person. The lack of acceptance seems empathy based to me. In general humans desire and demand conformity. People with ASD’s are somewhat “rigid” and the not-caring-social disorder that P talks about means we do not conform well, and hence are excluded in general, and not invited to play reindeer games with the other boys and girls who fall more easily in line. The lack of acceptance by people with supposedly functioning empathy circuits seems to be at the core of our general loneliness.

      Dr. Tony Attwood, a well known author and clinician who really understands Asperger’s’ is quoted saying, “Asperger’s isn’t the problem, people are the problem.” So there you go Grace, its you.

      just kidding…great question

  13. Bryan Lee
    Bryan Lee says:

    I let my wife (undiagnosed aspie due to crummy medicaid) drive our car to the bus stop last month. She was like a teenager again, she has never had her license. Greenville, SC sheriffs office just so happened to pull her over after we left the bus stop to come back. Besides yelling shut up to her many times, they are taking her to jury trial for no DL. Never a ticket or trouble her entire life. Greenville just let off two officers that tazed an autistic man. I will not let them lock her up for thirty days, i will defend her with my life. I’m a veteran and i am highly skilled, expect to hear big news in the coming weeks.

  14. Michael Ahuja
    Michael Ahuja says:

    1. Omega-3 Fish Oil
    Omega-3 fats play an important role in Asperger’s syndrome treatment as the fat helps line the neural passageways. The addition of this nutrient helps the brain better communicate with the body and decreases erratic behaviors and improves brain function.

    2. Vitamin B6
    Individuals who are deficient in vitamin B6 often experience periods of agitation, aggressive behavior, irritability, and depression. Supplementing with vitamin B6 can help treat these issues and has the added benefit of improving auditory-visual and auditory-tactile developmental disorders, like Asperger’s.

    3. Vitamin C
    Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant often used in conjunction with other vitamins. This nutrient helps improve brain function, limits symptoms of confusion and depression, and improves general behavioral issues.

  15. dcline
    dcline says:

    I think you just pissed off a lot of ASD women and the parents of ASD girls. Young ASD women don’t have “a social not-caring disorder”. They often care very much but can’t seem to fit in any more than you can turn left or right on command.

    • Daniel Baskin
      Daniel Baskin says:

      I think P’s terminology taken to the extreme would describe sociopathy (as elsewhere alluded to in another comment), which is not what Aspergers is, or what P was trying to say.

      Aspergers people care about their own sense of belonging, and as well, they want others to feel good and belong. The real issue here is not having access to evolutionary instincts related to social nuance, not the ability to care or think.

    • Wendy
      Wendy says:

      I think she more specifically was talking about not caring about social norms, not socializing. Of course people with Asperger’s care about socializing, it’s just that we don’t inherently care about a lot of the aspects of social code that people without Asperger’s seem to care about. We can be taught to mind those aspects, though, and I think girls do tend to have more of a motivation to learn them.

      To illustrate, one of my friends is on the spectrum and was telling me about how she had her period and it leaked through her white pants at work. And she thought it was no big deal and tried to just keep going about her day. Then she was shocked when her coworkers were shocked by it. Even more so when they demanded she go home and change. Like, she didn’t see why it mattered.

      That’s the kind of thing Penelope’s referring to when she says “social not-caring”.

      • Bonnie
        Bonnie says:

        I agree with you, Wendy, about the difference between not caring about social norms and not socializing. My teen with Aspergers does want to socialize. However, he does not care about things that may make that easier such as decent table manners, paying attention in a game when it’s not your turn, and remembering friends names.

  16. Mariana
    Mariana says:

    P, IQ is less important than socioeconomic status regarding financial success. Your father studied in Harvard. Melissa’s mother is a doctor. It is very misleading to high IQ aspies from modest socioeconomic backgrounds to say that they can rely on their ‘smarts’. Be careful.

  17. Deb
    Deb says:

    I think it is also important to note that some characteristics of aspergers are found in people with a high IQ and vv. Which is the reason why often it is not diagnosed in gifted kids. It is equally important to understand that correlation here does not mean causation.

  18. IrisAlive
    IrisAlive says:

    Diagnosis – Does one need one? For United Health Care maybe. I dunno, we are all something. I certainly wouldn’t disregard the diagnosis or the process there of, after-all it’s awareness that turns the light on. We should be proud of our ways whether others relate or not. Or whether those who relate are not so bad, so, neither are we. We catapult ourselves from the depths of comparing ourselves to others. He’s tall, so, I’m short. She gets away with working part-time, so, why aren’t I? You cook well, I burn stuff. You have a green thumb, plants die around me. I have this disorder you see, but it’s an interesting one because those with this disorder are also interesting,and highly intelligent. . . . And also have hard time knowing what is their reality vs. others reality, a trait most people are so apt to doing. A life resulting in seeing the extraordinary in ordinary and ordinary in extraordinary.

  19. IrisAlive
    IrisAlive says:

    Helper = someone who understands the way you are.

    IQ Test = a measure of a way you already are.

    Diagnosis = a list of common behaviors that describe the way many people already are.

    Self Awareness = Acknowledging and considering how self behaves as we already are.

    Are = Current status

    Now = The moment that describes the current.

    Apologies for two posts, now much to sit and pull them together. Based on what I read here, we have a few things in common with the way we process things (keeps me coming back). I chose a different route per se towards my conclusion. I’m a bit anti-diagnosis, I know of the manual and it’s use. Anywho, I connected well with Gestalt Therapy. Not sure if that relates to any of this, but I plan a lot based on the knowing of how I am. Now. It took realizing I had two full time helpers, and I wasn’t treating them as I desired. Still struggling with it, but have evolved in being accountable for myself. It’s nice to be loved in the way the helpers love us, but I learned that relying on them so much was changing what their reality could be and mine if I just pulled my sh** together a little better on my own. #gestalt

    • IrisAlive
      IrisAlive says:

      It’s better than going without, the average response to sex in a long term relationship. With resentment, insecurity and bitterness put aside the real obstacle is timing. People with aspergers are swift in the mind enough to quickly identify that. Easy easy puzzle to solve with someone you actually do want to f$&#. “Every 3rd Tuesday, because that’s when I’m least tired and you aren’t at Yoga with Jan. Except for Christmas Eve, because you know? Company. So, we’ll double up the following session and fit in Saturday as well, I can cancel my flight? Sound good?” Win/win and years of pent up resentment prevented.

  20. Anonymous...
    Anonymous... says:

    Just a few accounts about my husband. He is an INTJ and I so wonder if he has some Asperger’s going on, too. Type 8 enneagram.

    I was in crunch time of labor (8 cm) with our first child, and no kidding, after 30 hours of it, he sat on a stool and pulled out his Greek text book and started studying for an hour. His expression said that I was somehow nuts and he was going to do something civilized. (He had also scolded me many times for speaking impatiently with the limited-English speaking staff when they kept wanting to touch my hand and arm and that made me feel worse.) I finally told him that I didn’t think it was a good time to study Greek and that I really needed him. Oh my oh my oh my. He did jump in and get back to being involved and was actually thrilled and moved by the whole experience.

    Another anecdote. Last month, I was stricken with a stomach bug after our two toddlers successively had gone through it. He came home to find me lying on the floor in the hallway, halfway between the bathroom and the room the one and three year old girls were in. That way, I could keep an eye and an ear on them to make sure they were safe, and not be as far from the bathroom, as for three hours, had battled throwing up every 5 minutes to 15 by the end of the three hours. He said, “Are you unconscious?” in the smuggest way and said that it was a bad model for the children, as if I was doing something uncouth. I had to explain that I was trying to be near enough to keep them safe, while also in aiming distance to beeline to the bathroom and feeling so horrible I couldn’t even sit up. I’m also pregnant, so I was dealing with all of the early symptoms from that at the same time.

    When I say I’d like to take a nap or a shower, he routinely says, “Then do it.” and when I suggest that I can’t just leave a one and a two or three year unattended, he either says they will be fine, or looks at me dumbfounded. When I suggest that he could help, he usually says he will be busy doing whatnot and as long as he can still do that, he’ll keep an eye on them. After a bit of explanation on my part, he then agrees to actually watch them and let me take a shower (not a nap as of yet).

    These are very strange behaviors and they are just a few among many others like soliloquies, routine-adherence, not physically affectionate (much), talks to a two year old like she’s in college, bad executive function a lot of the time, lack of the ability to visualize possibilities that don’t yet exist, linear conversation (gets frustrated by tangents and doesn’t tolerate them), one thing at a time, doesn’t like emotion in someone else’s speech, doesn’t like unpredictable behavior, really black and white sometimes, often an awkward driver, more things that this, and yet… he seems to be kindhearted and has many good qualities like trustworthiness, consistency, and good at being present (I never wonder if he is plugged into the family.)

    With a bit of research about Asperger’s on my part, our communication actually has actually gotten better. I don’t know. He’s an interesting case. He has told me that if I need help or need him to do something, I have to ask explicitly as he won’t be able to intuit it. So I’m trying to do that.

    Writing this to vent a little I guess, while I know I have not elucidated the positives that would balance all of this. Just a rare airing of the oddities.

    • YesMyKidsAreSocialized
      YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

      I’m an INTJ and an 8 on the Enneagram. You and my husband could probably share stories and have a laugh at our expense. I get called Data, Spock, and Sheldon quite often. But the most often repeated phrase my husband tells me is to “turn on my emotion chip” There may seem to be parallels to aspergers, but after reading and studying various materials on the subject it doesn’t fit. I’m not saying your spouse does or does not have aspergers. I am saying that he is not the only INTJ that gets called out by their significant other for similar issues.

  21. Austin SEO
    Austin SEO says:

    I think it takes understanding and acceptance in order to have both partners live with Aspergers. I think people with Aspergers are not intentionally trying to do harm. However, if the situation isn’t communicated to ones partner then it can cause fracture a relationship easily.

    • Becky
      Becky says:

      Me too Jana! Good word though. When I know how to pronounce it, I will start using it :)

      On-topic: a very good friend of mine has Aspergers. In the beginning she always tried to simulate eye contact whilst we were chatting because she wanted to make me feel comfortable and make sure I didn’t think she wasn’t paying attention. Because most people do not exactly know what Aspergers is people with Aspergers are often misunderstood.

  22. Anon
    Anon says:

    About this:

    “My husband said it’s because we never left our house and I can control my environment at home.

    He says the producers should have watched me shop in the grocery store because I run people over with my cart all the time.

    (To be clear, I have never noticed this but he says that’s the whole problem. He says people give me dirty looks like they want to kill me and I don’t bat an eye.)”

    It sounds like a different version of what happens, or is happening, when people begin to develop frontal lobe dementia.

    They become unaware, oblivious, incapable of ‘reading’ other people’s emotions — and they are also unable to recognize that they can’t recognize. Unable to understand that they can’t understand.

    Does Asperger’s have a frontal lobe component?

  23. Riverside, California ins quotes
    Riverside, California ins quotes says:

    This is the correct blog for anyone who needs to seek out out about this topic. You notice a lot its nearly exhausting to argue with you (not that I really would need…HaHa). You definitely put a new spin on a topic thats been written about for years. Great stuff, just nice!

  24. Tiny
    Tiny says:

    Sir, that is sweet!
    But simply not enough.
    Your helper can not be there for you 24/7.

    Example, helper can do everything
    For you to a certain point but it is
    Up to them to complete the task, like
    Understanding that an employer is not happy with you petformance before they’re fired.

  25. Marti
    Marti says:

    Caretaking is exhausting work. Caretaking an aspie is just as exhausting as caretaking a person with physical or mental illness or physical disability. Caretaking takes its toll on the caretaker, but nobody here seems to be addressing that issue.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Thank you for pointing this out, Marti. Here’s a problem I see: the only people who really see how difficult it is to have Aspergers are the caretakers. People who are really close to me are dumbfounded by how incompetent I am. But people who are not close to me think I’m a big whiner when I say I have Aspergers. They have no idea how hard it is, they just think it’s a crutch.

      So in order for people who take care of people with Aspergers to get recognition, people with Aspergers would have to get recognition. And it’s pretty slow going. I think most people are suspicious that Aspergers is a bunch of BS that gets people extra time, extra concessions, etc.


  26. Amy Cotham
    Amy Cotham says:

    My son will be 30 in a few months. He has asp, diagnosed since high school. He went to tech school and has a good job. He has more money in savings than we do. He lives with us and I make him pay rent. Cause I want him to understand that you never get something for nothing. My husband cannot understand why he has no friends or goes out. I get it, but as a social person, don’t really understand. I have trouble understanding not needing to be with other people or have dreams and goals. I respect how he feels but wonder if I should do more to help (push) him to interact. He’s never had a girlfriend, doesn’t do social media but loves gaming. He is very sweet and really helps around the house, so I don’t mind him living here. Should I push?

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      You should push him to talk to someone who isn’t his mom about if he wants something he does not have – a therapist who specializes in working with people on the Spectrum. It’s way way more work for people with Aspergers to connect socially or intimately than it is for other people. Everyone does a cost/benefit analysis to decide if the effort it takes to be close to someone is worth the difficulties. For someone with Aspergers the cost/benefit analysis tips differently.


  27. Alita Nicholas
    Alita Nicholas says:

    You could tell him about Wrong Planet, an online community of aspies and auties. There are stacks of gamers on there. He could interact with like-minded people who share his attributes. Just a thought! :-)

  28. Big Ol’ Dummy
    Big Ol’ Dummy says:

    NO!!! What do you DO when you can’t make a living, can’t think past the fog in your brain, never feel well, have a family that is aging fast (Dad is dead, my Dad is gone), have a family that doesn’t talk to you, have only a family that doesn’t see the huge train wreck coming at them a million miles an hour, don’t understand you, don’t want to understand you, think you’ll someday get it together (I’m 51!), no friends, they don’t understand either, so, I have some friends, but I don’t TRUST ANYONE, everyone leaves — HELP!!! It’s not funny. It’s not a “good question.” It’s life or death. How do I get food? I can’t go to the grocery store. I feel panicky. I don’t want anyone to see me. I can barely walk my dog in the yard to pee because I feel too exposed. I don’t have a way to make a living. I am a fine artist — painter, but I haven’t even been able to sketch in years. My hair is in mats. My mother doesn’t care. Neither do I, except I do. I haven’t showered this year. I want someone to care. I’m not a bad person. I’m not stupid. I’ve just been thru the wringer too many damn times. What do I DO??? I’ve tried social security. I haven’t been able to work the 13 years required to get social security. I could only get ssdi. But they rejected me. I have $2000. Wow, you’re supposed to spend that down until you have nothing? Or is everyone just really dishonest?
    I’ve been labeled “borderline.” If they ever figured out I have Aspergers, they didn’t tell me. Mild bipolar? Depressed. Yeah. I can guess too!!! But I don’t charge an arm and a leg for the privilege to muck around in my head.
    Suicide? I’ve TRIED!!! Finally, I had a gun. I pulled the goddam trigger. The gun jammed. The stupid gun jammed.
    What do I do?
    I finally learned my left from my right in my junior yr of high school. After 2 yrs of marching in the band, too! I had surgery and I could finally visualize left and right by the side the scar is on. I still have trouble with time. 60 mins doesn’t make sense! I can’t make change. I have fibromyalgia and CFS. I played with dolls until I was 15. I will never talk on the phone. I taught myself guitar. Piano. Concertina. Drums. HTML. I have paintings in NYC, Dallas, Houston, Salt Lake City, somewhere in Georgia, Boca Raton. I’m not too bad. I’m just really really lost. I need help, but I do not trust anyone. But I still have to freaking eat food. I wish I didn’t have to. I wish I didn’t have to keep breathing more qualified human beings’ air. I really wish I could disappear. I need help. I can’t think what to do. And I don’t TRUST ANYONE.
    I’ve been knocked to the floor, handcuffed and dragged by my arms behind my back, thrown in a bed and restrained with those wrist things. Because I said the f word to a security guard. I was trying to leave a hospital after a suicide attempt. I took all my Elavil and Ativan. They weren’t taking to me.
    It’s nice that some people have people that appreciate them and write nice things about them, but I need some damn help. I don’t trust my family to have the first idea of what to do, much less realize I need help. Not sabotage. Idk why, but nobody’s ever even helped me get a job. Well, my mom would send me to stupid stupid interviews so out of the norm I wonder if she set me up to fail. I would feel terrible. I would think I was stupid. She would send me to talk to somebody at the bank who needed a secretary and my dumbass went. In a stupid, ugly, dumb, stupid dress too. The lady acted like I had 3 heads. I can’t be a goddam secretary! No, I don’t know how fast I type. My God. Made me feel so stupid.
    I’m not stupid, I just need help with the logistics. Yeah. What do I DO???
    Oh, and the whole gender identity thing — whoa! At the ripe age of 3, when I found out what boys have and girls don’t, I KNEW that was IT, I had been given the wrong body. I stole my brother’s tighty whities, because I thought that might help God make me a boy. Uh oh, my mom found out when she took me to the bathroom. She jerked me around, mad, didn’t say a word. Well, that was wrong! I knew it was over when I started getting boobs at 8. Full puberty by 10. I was SO ANGRY. Why would you be made to endure that only to have severe endometriosis, surgery after surgery, only to have a full hysterectomy at 31? I probably was effectively sterile by 15. It was very very painful, but nobody believed me, nobody checked until it was so bad, my doctor thought it was appendicitis, and when he opened me up, it was all dark blood and cysts and everything stuck together. Anyway, blah blah blah… i cant wait to go home. I’ve wanted to go “home” for so very long. I just don’t belong here. This world is so harsh. Thanks for reading. =(

Comments are closed.