Our hypothesis is this: Aspies are suffering with crippling anxiety. They often don’t even know it because they don’t understand their own emotions. All the hellish traits we have to deal with are all because of this anxiety. So the key to the Aspie Way is to communicate in a way that does not trigger stress. Once stress is triggered, ASP can’t learn, will forget, and will either meltdown or withdraw, either immediately or later.
We also believe that underneath every ASP is a scared little boy who wants to please us more than anything. The problem is that every time they believe they’ve failed, that little boy goes deeper and deeper inside himself, where, you guessed it, he can’t learn how to please us.
So the answer? Get that little boy to trust you. Show him that he can make you happy by being very vocal about your appreciation of his gifts. You have to watch for those gifts, so many of them are easy to take for granted because they’re things we think they “should” do anyway. But regular tasks are more difficult for them and should be appreciated. So say lots of “thank you’s” over every day basic things. Say it even if you don’t feel it. As long as you don’t sound sarcastic or upset, he will hear it, will know he is succeeding at making you happy, and therefore will keep trying.
What about all the things he’s *not* doing “right?” You simply ask for what you want. Ask politely without emotion. Emotion scares the little boy. Just ask for what you want without explanation and always say please. Never add stuff like “…like I asked you already.” This will shame him and bring his walls up. Keep it very simple, monotone, blank face.
Depending on how bad things are you may have to start with small requests. You will have to ask for things you want him to figure out for himself. You will have to accept that he might not be capable of knowing what you want unless you tell him. You will have to change your expectations to be in line with his disabilities.
I am also a strong advocate for professional help for both the NT and the AS in the relationship. Medication for anxiety, ADD and depression for your ASP can bring miracles. The NT may need medication just as much to be able to control herself while learning the Aspie Way. I think the Aspie Way will work without meds, but I believe it will be a longer and more difficult road.
Last but not least, making these changes is hard. Expect to slip. It’s okay. Your ASP will forget bad days when they’re replaced by good ones. Go easy on yourself and take good care of yourself. Do what you need to do to process your anger and set boundaries for yourself. There’s no way I could have done any of this when I was drowning in bitterness and hopelessness. I had to fix me first. I think often the first thing the NT must address is sleep deprivation. Good sleep = calmer you. And a calmer you = a you your ASP can trust.
What do you think? Any thoughts?