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
Feeling Invisible in the Asperger World
The Neurotypical Site
Welcome to The Neurotypical Website
Parents with Asperger Syndrome
Parents with Aspergers
What is Asperger's Syndrome?
There's something different about dad
Links for family members of people with Aspergers
Visit Jody's website at http://www.ncubator.ca and http://ncubator.ca/blogger
Reviewed October 23, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Add a Comment66 Comments
Hey. We have very similar stories. Did you find a counselor who had specific experience with our situation? I'm not sure how to find a therapist who will understand this.February 12, 2018 - 12:58pm
It sounds like it has been a tough journey. And never being told he loves you -- and in fact being informed that he never did love you -- must have been gutting for you. You have my deepest sympathy for what you went through.
Healing could begin once you learned the truth about him and his treatment of you. And being on the other side of the world doesn't hurt either. I hope you are able to experience love and peace now and in the future.December 12, 2017 - 6:50am
I’m a young woman with ASD… and I hope to one day have a child of my own once I’m out of college… and I worry I’ll have a neurotypical child, and won’t be able to raise them well… with a neurotypical mom and dad, i room it upon myself to figure out where everything went wrong, and paid attention to the things that upset me that my parents have done… but I don’t know how I’d raise a neurotypical child. Any neurotypical offspring of autistic parents have any idea what your parents did or didn’t do? Like… what it was that you wish they had done to raise you better. Now, I’m not saying you were raised wrong, or that your parents are bad parents. My parents weren’t that’s for sure; they just didn’t know how to handle me because I was both the first born and different. But there were some things that, having neurotypical parents helped me prepare for an eventual autistic child… but I don’t know what to do with a neurotypical child. If someone can inform me of this, and explain what’s best to do for a neurotypical child, I’d really appreciate it!October 5, 2017 - 3:59pm
I was raised by a NT parent and an ASD parent. I remember my childhood being fairly normal until I was 12 and my NT parent unexpectedly died. Things fell apart from there, and I am just now as an adult realizing my father was an ASD parent through therapy for panic attacks and sexual abuse in my teen years (not by my ASD parent, just unnoticed by my ASD parent). To my knowledge, at 69 years old, he is unaware of what makes him different.
My advice is if you have children, do not isolate them from others. Make sure there is a large familial support system of NT family members who can identify and address a NT child's social and psychological needs. If you do not have that support system, do not have children. If you do, I think it is okay to have children, but make sure your partner or a relative is the primary caregiver for the child. Also make sure whoever is the primary care giver has a support system.
Isolation was the most difficult part of being an NT child... I do not really have a relationship with my ASD parent anymore... and I am not sure he knows that. That hurts more than the isolation.June 6, 2019 - 1:54pm
Thank you for sharing and speaking from your own personal experience. You have learned a great deal from the relationship with your dad. I hope what you've shared can make a difference for other people struggling with similar types of challenges.
JodyJune 8, 2019 - 7:31pm
Thank you for sharing your story, it will help others.
I agree with you about not having children unless there is a support system in place. Good advice.
HelenaJune 7, 2019 - 3:12pm
Thank you for writing on this topic again. I'm (an NT) married to an NT who was raised by a likely Asperger's mother. I was the first person in my husband's life to start articulating how dysfunctional his childhood family unit was and still is. I've met a lot of resistance from other family members in my efforts to address issues openly, and have been researching for help/support/understanding for the siblings for the past 4 or 5 years. I'm almost always "in trouble" so to speak.December 29, 2016 - 8:54am
You've taken on a huge task. I know it's not easy.
I wish you and your husband great happiness, and healthier family relationships.December 29, 2016 - 5:30pm
I suspect that my ex has Asperger's. As a result of a series of false allegations, and intense and groundless fears on the part of my ex, I see my daughter 4 days/month. This is typical in most western countries. My fear is for my daughter who, as a result of my arrest and alienation has become very reluctant to speak to her desires. Almost any question as to what she wants is met with "I don't know." At times she speaks so quietly that I cannot hear her. She has asked for more time with me since she was very young, but this has been repeatedly refused by the courts, so I don't blame her for her silence. I am looking for any information on how to support her.December 18, 2016 - 7:45pm
I'm afraid I have no knowledge or information to offer your particular needs. Perhaps you might find something helpful in the links at the end of my article.
Good luck!December 29, 2016 - 5:34pm