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NT Children of Parents with Aspergers: Looking for Information?

By HERWriter
 
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NT Children of Parents with Aspergers: Some Information for You LoloStock/Fotolia

Six years ago, I wrote an article for neurotypical children of parents with Asperger's syndrome. I wrote that some NT offspring of AS parents have grown up feeling unloved, that their parents were not able to tune in to their needs and their feelings.

As children, they blamed themselves for a disconnect between them and their parents. Often as adults they have continued to suffer from the lack they experienced in childhood.

The response from neurotypical kids to that article "Asperger's Parents and Neurotypical Children"was substantial, and still ongoing, six years later. So much so that I am writing on the subject again.

I received 154 comments and replies. Some were posted as recently as last month. Some readers used the Comments thread at the end of the article for a time as though it were a forum where they could talk to each other about their experiences.

When I started researching for today's article as a follow-up to my first one six years ago, my online research was interesting. That is to say, disappointing. Again.

Material about these NT children was surprisingly sparse six years ago. It's still challenging to find anything written from their perspective, or about their experience.

One differences I noticed was that my original article from 2009 was showing up as the first item in my Google search. And in second place came an Aspergers forum page that ripped my first article and my intentions apart.

Some comments by people with Asperger's syndrome responding to my first article were in much the same vein.They told me that I was attacking them all, which was not true.

They said that lots of Aspies were good parents, that they themselves were good parents. That plenty of NT people are bad parents, too. All of that is undeniably true.

But really, that's not my focus. This has happened too many times to these kids.

So often, they find their feelings and their needs pushed aside. Any suggestion that this happens is met with a reaction that is all about the parent with Asperger's syndrome and not about the child at all. If I needed to see proof that there is a problem, the comment column for that article was more than enough.

It is not my intention to condemn or attack people with Asperger's syndrome. I am not trying to say that every AS parent has done damage to their children. My focus in this article is on the children who tell me that they grew up lonely, that they grew up feeling rejected, worthless and unlovable.

Most comments responding to my first article came from NTs who grew up with AS parents. The parents' personalities were not in question, nor their intentions, nor their goodness. The offspring were taking this opportunity, which was meant to be all about them, to talk about their lives, to ask questions, and vent their thoughts and feelings.

The cry that I heard over and over again was, thank you for remembering us. Thank you for telling me I'm not alone.

Thank you for telling me I am not the cause this depression, loneliness, sorrow, grief. Thank you for helping me to understand where all that pain has come from.

Thank you for suggesting I can hope for something better, because it wasn't me after all. Thank you for saying it's OK for me to open my mouth and speak, and expect to be heard, to be visible to other people.

It's OK to expect, to require, something for myself in my relationships. It's OK for me to hold out for being an equal participant, and equally on the receiving end. Thanks for the reassurance that wanting such things is not selfish, it's just human, and part of any healthy relationship.

Many NTs mentioned that they can find next to nothing online for them. I suggested in a post that maybe they can write something themselves. They can post comments on my articles, or other writer's articles. They can start blogs. They can start forums. They can post on Facebook or other social media.

The feeling of invisibility and of having no voice, the fear of rocking the boat or of being called selfish for talking about yourself and how you feel may be deeply ingrained. It may be your first and biggest obstacle. But if you can climb over that one, and continue to climb over it, you may find it was your only real obstacle.

I spent several hours looking for resources for NT children of AS parents and I didn't find much. But I was able to accumulate some articles, book recommendations, websites, forums and a few writers and professionals who have reputations of being helpful to NTs.

In no particular order, here are some webpages that may be beneficial:

Asperger's Parents and Neurotypical Children
https://www.empowher.com/aspergers-syndrome/content/aspergers-parents-an...

Feeling Invisible in the Asperger World
http://psychcentral.com/lib/feeling-invisible-in-the-asperger-world

The Neurotypical Site
http://www.theneurotypical.com/index.html

Welcome to The Neurotypical Website
http://www.theneurotypical.com/about_us.html

Parents with Asperger Syndrome
http://www.theneurotypical.com/parents-with-aspergers.html

Parents with Aspergers
http://doris-mash.blogspot.ca/2008/02/parents-with-aspergers.html

What is Asperger's Syndrome?
http://faaas.org

There's something different about dad
http://www.independent.ie/life/family/mothers-babies/theres-something-di...

Links for family members of people with Aspergers
http://www.tonyattwood.com.au/index.php/component/weblinks/category/292-...

Visit Jody's website at http://www.ncubator.ca and http://ncubator.ca/blogger

Reviewed October 23, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN

Add a Comment63 Comments

EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

One of my older sisters was diagnosed with aspergers as an adult about 10 years ago. My other older sister was diagnosed with high functioning autism last year. And for the past decade, I have figured that my mom is on the spectrum. Despite the diagnoses, I have been in denial until recently that I grew up as the youngest child raised in a family of autism. I have felt blamed, hated, and like I am a problem, even though I also know they love me and don't mean to hurt me. They just don't understand. As an older child, I knew my mom was different. I knew she would say offensive things to people but didnt understand what she did. I would try to explain her to people and to smooth things over when she said something unkind, like when she gave my cousin a magazine article on weight loss and said she might be interested in it, or when she called a family friend a "half-breed" very matter of factly. Every time I've had a great joy or hardship in my life, the emotional support from my family is entirely lacking. Now that it is starting to sink in that they are all on the spectrum, it is beginning to make more sense. I understand now that maybe they focus on giving gifts or money because they don't know how to give emotionally. That blowups blow over like it never happened because they are not capable of greater emotional connection. Most times that I interact with my mom or sisters, there are things they say that feel rude, hurtful, judgemental, or egocentric. But all of this being said, I do sense that they love me. And that somehow I just need to see these things as their autism. My dad I think is also NT, but he is my mother's protector and always will support her, even in her tantrums or lash outs.
As I wrap my head around the reality of the autism in my family, I am realizing that I was never the problem. Even though that feeling is still poignant and painful, I hope it will fade. I've been realizing they cannot be my emotional support network. So I've been connecting with a new church community and finding a broader network for myself. But my family is still my family. There are good things. There is love behind the social and emotional ineptitude. But I feel I need to find my own peace and perspective to move forward in relationships with my family. And the approach I've taken my whole life, to explain myself repeatedly and with increased fervor to them each time I needed support or acknowledgement, does not and never has garnered understanding. It may seem like it momentarily, but till another conversation, it will be forgotten. My strategy now is to keep my feelings closer to my chest with them. I will share my feelings them with loved ones who can understand and respect them. Thank you for your artie and these comments. It's been about a year since the last comment but this is so needed.

February 21, 2020 - 6:29pm
HERWriter (reply to Anonymous)

Anonymous,

I'm glad my article was helpful. What you've been dealing with is made harder by the isolation that comes with the territory. It sounds like you have a good handle on things, and have been able to balance your understanding with forgiveness and also protecting yourself and finding other avenues for healthy relationships in your life.

I wish you all the best as you continue on your journey.

Jody

March 4, 2020 - 9:26am
Guide (reply to Anonymous)

Anon,

Thank you for sharing your story with the community. It can help others. I hope you continue to move forward and find the love and support you surely deserve.

best,

Helen

February 21, 2020 - 8:00pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Nobody cares about the NT offspring of parents with these conditions. We spend our childhoods unable to interact with our classmates normally because we never observe normal behavior, and we are isolated and even bullied because we never have a chance to find out how most people behave. And we beg our Aspie parents for help and in many cases they refuse to even try, because they're not capable of understanding the problem even when we spell it out.

And there's no books and almost no articles about our issues.

Sorry, someone else will have to feel sympathy for the Aspies. My life was hell because my father was an Aspie, I can't care.

February 22, 2019 - 7:24pm
HERWriter (reply to Anonymous)

I get it. I really do. And to grow up knowing something was seriously wrong without knowing what it was, to have wondered or assumed that it's something wrong with you ... It's the life story of the NT child of Aspies. 

I'm also astonished by the lack of information, articles, websites, forums for this community. Doing a search seems to bring up everything BUT this community that is starving for acknowledgement, for affirmation, for a little attention please. 

It's not a lot, I know. But we are finally seeing a little in the last couple of years. Maybe it's going to take some NT kids starting a forum or writing a couple of books. I don't know what it will take or what we can do about it as a whole.

But NT kids can talk to people about what life has been like. Refuse to apologize, break with the past from some old unhealthy habits incurred by childhood training.

If an NT kid can see for themselves that there was not something wrong with them as children and begin to break out of the old constraints from there ... there is the opportunity for personal change.

Knowing what you know now about your own past and your father -- this can make a difference for you for the rest of your life. Hard work, but change can come.

I wish you the best!

Jody

February 23, 2019 - 7:49am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I know this was written a while ago but I just need to say thank you. Thank you for acknowledging the invisible survivors of this type of trauma. I've searched the internet and never found one source of comfort or anyone who shared similar experiences to mine.
I have a parent and three siblings on the spectrum and now suffer from depression, anxiety, panic disorder, and complex post traumatic stress disorder because of the hell I endured growing up with them. There was violence, there was sexual abuse, there was denial, there was pain, pain and more pain. I first planned my suicide in my early teenage years, and my greatest accomplishment to date is not giving in to that urge for so many years now. So thank you for seeing those of us who are never seen. Thank you for noticing us. Thank you for writing this and not being afraid of the comments from those on the spectrum who are offended. Thank you for not being afraid of them. I've spent too many years being afraid of them.

October 23, 2018 - 3:41pm
HERWriter (reply to Anonymous)

I want to make sure that you are aware of my other article on this subject. It can be found here: 

https://www.empowher.com/asperger039s-syndrome/content/aspergers-parents-and-neurotypical-children

October 25, 2018 - 6:55am
HERWriter (reply to Anonymous)

Thank you for writing. You've really been through it. And even though you are grown and hopefully are able to stay away from the people who hurt you the damage doesn't just disappear, does it. 

Once the truth appears, and you realize that is wasn't some fatal flaw in you but came from outside of you, relief may come and some light may dawn. But the question can linger -- I've grown up all wrong, how can I change things?

I think it is a long process, and it helps to be able to get hold of information and to have people to talk to. 

But even when that may not be so available, the light you have seen will stay with you and if you are patient and kind to yourself, you may find that change -- in how you think, in what you do, in the types of people you open yourself to and the things you will now avoid -- will come. New opportunities can be handled in new ways. The past doesn't have to be your future.

Good luck to you:)

October 25, 2018 - 6:44am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

As my mother slips in to vascular dementia and Alzheimers she has become a sweet little old lady. Her self centred to the point of being greedy trait is now acceptable and she forgets to keep what was the life force of her relationship with my father going - the constant bickering.

Now that her personality is occluded by her conditions, I am reflecting on that personality - I suppose people with NT parents would call it being sad that the parent they knew is receding. I am wondering how my mother's life would have been improved if he had had a diagnosis, if she had known that she had Aspergers ( I am adopting the immensely arrogant position of the diagnoser here, I know). Probably not, although she would have found it a relief not to have put so much energy in to pretending she understood people's emotions.

But, and this is why I 'm offloading here, it would have been useful for me as a child. I could never understand why every single interaction, was very likely to end with someone getting anxious, upset or angry, with a row or a hurt feeling or a feeling of guilt, then fifteen minutes later everything was perfectly all right and would we like a nice cup of tea? (we are English).
I could not understand why the same patterns happened, even during my visits as a young adult and a mother with my own children - the same pattern, and the constant background bickering over minute details and perceived slights and unfairness between my parents.

My mother did love me, and she did show affection, however, she wasn't really interested in the details of quality of my life, just a long as she could summarise by saying "Oh that's marvellous, Darling". She used to say very hurtful things and would never stop talking, she always had the last word and was absolutely delighted if she could be right and demonstrate her cleverness and would poke at the embers of a row or an upset without having learned that it was time to stop sharing the contents of her head.

I suspected she may be Aspergers when I told her about my miscarriage in a phone call. She told me that she knew about my miscarriage because she had dreamed that she was visiting a museum and she noticed a baby hanging on a fascia board ( you know what a fascia board is, don't you Darling?) and as she had walked past it had let go its grip and slid to the floor. "So you see, I knew about the miscarriage".
At that point I figured that either my mother was a monster or that she had no idea what she was doing and how she made people fee. That was 18 years ago. I emigrated to Australia with my husband and kids and never looked back.

My sister copes much better with her because she has been a psychiatric nurse for 35 years.

Anyway, thank you for the links, and the therapy session. It is so useful to know we are not the reason we feel these varying levels of neglect from our Asperger parents.

March 17, 2018 - 7:26pm
HERWriter (reply to Anonymous)

You said you were "adopting the immensely arrogant position of the diagnoser" and I just wanted to say something about that.

Whether or not she was ever diagnosed, whether or not a professional would agree with your diagnosis ... whether she could be "proven" to have Aspergers or not -- you know what you know from years of a relationship with your mother.

Does she have it or does she not? You know that she has the traits that are markers for Aspergers and you know how that has made you feel all your life. You know that it has left marks on you, your expectations, you self-image, your relationships. And I don't think you are "arrogant" or presumptuous at all in calling it like you see it.

You are now enabled to see life in a different light, and be relieved of guilt for things you were not guilty of. It is OK to realize and to say aloud that it was not you that created this situation, but that you have the right and the ability to create something new and different for yourself.

I wish you all the best:)

March 20, 2018 - 7:17am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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