Dec 5, 2011

What's Aspie for "Love"?

Summary: Waiting for the WOW Word of the Week? Try "Aspie," a derivative of Asperger for Hans Asperger, who first discovered the mild form of autism known now as Asperger Syndrome. And read on for the book of the week ...

 Do you speak Aspie? Have you even heard of this interesting 'language' of sorts? Often made up of sound effects and repeated phrases, it can frequently lack emotional terminology and understanding, in no matter what primary language one speaks it.

Aspie is a self-applied term by some members of the autism community who have Asperger Syndrome or High-Functioning Autism or other forms of otherwise "high-functioning" (read: more socially adaptable) autistic disorders. For decades, experts in the U.S. believed that anyone on the wide-ranging autism spectrum—including those on the more socially functional end—do not marry or partner in long-term relationships. And while relationships do hold a unique set of challenges for people with ASDs, or autistic spectrum disorders, they are not impossible.

So, here's another question: What interest does a Communications Coach have in Asperger Syndrome?

Well, this coach has a vested interest—especially now that I've co-authored a book on the subject. The Partner's Guide to Asperger Syndrome contains information gained in interviews with over 100 women married to men on the spectrum, plus some of their spouses, as well. As one woman has said, "If men are from Mars and women are from Venus, these couples feel like they come from different galaxies!"

Here's one story directly from the book:

Processing of emotional communication
  As we have seen, the ASD person likely finds it difficult or impossible to process large streams of verbal information that is shared by the NS person during a typical conversation or even a brief verbal exchange. This becomes even more complicated if the message is on an emotional level. This may be processed by her ASD husband as merely sounds with little meaning.
  This becomes even more complicated if the message is an emotional one. Even if he is able to hear all the words being spoken, the ASD person may not know what the NS speaker sees as important, so that he can understand the intended message.
  Many spouses have shared with us that positive emotions can become overwhelming for their ASD husbands, too.
  NS Kaye, for example, says that her husband Pete, who is on the autism spectrum, sometimes shouts at her in anger when she excitedly points out a rainbow in the sky. Kaye explains: "He can't tell the difference between when I shout for joy versus when I shout from anger."

Each chapter—including chapter 2 on Communication Differences, as quoted above—ends with a list of "Lessons Learned." In this case, these include directives to "Be concise in your communications and point out what you think is the most important part of what you are saying. Leave out unnecessary information" and to "Ask (if you are uncertain) how your spouse has interpreted a communication" among other suggestions. These lessons came directly from the couples interviewed who shared what's worked for them.

The Partner's Guide to Asperger Syndrome is available at Jessica Kingsley Press or

© KiKi Productions, Inc. 2011

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