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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

HERWriter (reply to Anonymous)

lol Yes, I do get it.:) And no, I don't mind if the quote isn't exact, you certainly caught the spirit of the thing. And, you know all about what that's like anyway.

Happy adventures ahead.:)

Jody

September 9, 2016 - 10:58am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

The Aspie's saying they are good parents. Plenty of NT's are bad parents. This is so typical of a NA person. They think they are right! They would totally argue to the death about being a good parent, b/c what they base it on is their actions. Feeding, sheltering, clothing, playing with them, taking them to the dr. etc. I can tell you from being a child raised by a AS parent, he was abusive as hell and will flat out curse you down if you suggest he wasn't a good parent. They see things differently. They cannot GET that is is more than those things, it is actually feeling emotion around your child, the warmth ( that they cannot get). It is the energy that NT parents project. That is something an AS person won't get. Unless they are on Oxytocin and have it balanced to a good level, that helps them bond. Don't stop what you are doing, and keep in mind what you are dealing with. AS people are going to get fired up.... that is what they do when someone doesn't agree with them. Of course they will they cannot see outside of themselves.

My daughter ( unfortunately) has an AS father. He didn't get diagnosed until after she was born. You can ask her how she feels around her DAD..... she will tell you. Something big is missing.

August 9, 2016 - 3:00pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

I know what you mean! I remember once suggesting to my AS Dad that we seek family counseling. He yelled so fiercely that the walls shook, "We don't need counseling! We're fine!" One of many clues that something was very, very out of place. Fortunately I've been of the mind to at least continue seeking out help for myself! My heart is with your family!

August 14, 2016 - 10:39am
HERWriter (reply to Anonymous)

Hi Anonymous 66.169.92.223

Sounds like you have been on an intensive journey and are getting lots of insights. Good for you! 

Keep on your path, continue your growth, share what you learn with others. Nurture your child, help her to see how things should be in a relationship.

Thank you for writing:)

Jody

August 10, 2016 - 7:29am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Thank you for writing this! My father is on the autism spectrum. I have spent so much of my life believing that I was inherently broken. A couple of years ago I finally committed to pursuing a career that is important to me - and it has been this wonderful journey of learning to trust myself and believing that my wants and needs are valid. But it's still a struggle. Some days I feel very capable and normal and others I feel torn - like guilty. It's a strange dichotomy of feelings that being the NT daughter of an Aspie stirs up. On the one hand my dad is has this child-like wonder at everything that is endearing and lovable and on the other he has this really short fuse that is ignited by unpredictable things. We're always just supposed to "know" what those things are and made to feel stupid when we do them. There's just so much I'm feeling! So many people belittled and ignored my feelings on the subject that I began to think that maybe I was a bit crazy. Even writing this I wonder, "Am I nuts? My father's fine. I'm the problem." What you've written here really speaks to that self-doubt and helps me understand a little more why I'm so cautious. Thank you!

August 2, 2016 - 9:09am
HERWriter (reply to Anonymous)

Old habits, including old patterns of thinking, can take some time and some effort to disappear.

It's OK to trust your own feelings and perceptions. It sounds like you are on a good path, to greater freedom and self-realization.

Thank you for sharing your experience:)

Jody

August 2, 2016 - 7:38pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I'm the wife of a very high-functioning Aspie who is in therapy and dealing with feelings of neglect and lack of protection and love and interest from a mother who I am now all but convinced is on the spectrum herself. My husband even invoked Harlow's wire mother experiment tonight at dinner, which another commenter referenced. My husband doesn't think she's an Aspie, but he's struggling to come up with why she's the way she is. He can't point to any family trauma, and her sister is - in my husband's words - normal.

My mother in law is a lovely person, very loving, wants the best for her sons... but she also has no concept of why her son would want more from his life than to work at Starbucks, and as she seems to have LDs, and so does my husband, she constantly recommends things to him that are part of HER life, and can't relate to him. Someone else's comment about the way his mother saw him really hit home... My husband's mother is a school lunch lady, and she recently told my husband - who left the military and put himself through university on the GI bill + scholarships he earned - that he should "become a school janitor" because it's a secure job with benefits. He was crushed, not because he thinks being a janitor is bad but because he's told her so many times what he wants from life and she doesn't appear to listen or care. He said to me tonight "She doesn't know me at all. She doesn't know who I am." It's heartbreaking.

Now I'm putting 2+2 together. She was very strict when they were children, and because she didn't believe in modern medicine (she's Asian), she didn't take her kids to the doctor - my husband had suffered terrible sebacious dermititis (think dime sized flakes of dandruff) through school, and been teased mercilessly ... through some online sleuthing, I figured it out. She'd been putting olive oil in his hair (ew, so greasy!) for years - the answer was simply to leave dandruff shampoo on his head for 5 full minutes every day for a week. Gone. She never considered how cruel the kids at school were. He suffers terrible allergies, too - she does too, but she doesn't take allergy meds ,and wouldn't let him either.

The thing is, she's really a sweet person. She loves her boys. She talkes foldly of them to me when we've been alone, but there's no doubt she's very, very awkward talking to my husband on the phone. She talks only about what she's *doing*, never about emotions, never about hopes or dreams - for herself, or for her son. People call her "pragmatic". She's Asian, so there's also people who give her a pass, I think, for being a 'tiger mother' cliche.

In fact, thanks to all of you I now believe she is on the spectrum, and that is likely an underlying source of a nagging feeling that his mother didn't love or protect or care for him the way other mothers do... He never considered it before, but now I also know why he has such a strong bond with my own mom - for the first time, he's got something to contrast his own experience with, and it's left him feeling uncomfortable. It's hard to see him struggle with this, but I feel for the first time like maybe now there's a big piece of hte puzzle in place. THANK YOU.

July 11, 2016 - 5:54pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

I hear you, my parents are somewhat like that too, and did their best to teach me to be like that...

...which makes me think they're not autistic or Aspie, they were taught to be that way themselves.

October 4, 2016 - 4:09pm
HERWriter (reply to Anonymous)

Hi Anonymous,

It sounds like you are making some good progress. It's hard work but every piece of the puzzle makes so much difference, doesn't it. 

Thank you for writing and sharing your experience with us.

Jody

July 12, 2016 - 9:20am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Thank you so much for this. I have just had a major epiphany about what's "wrong" with me: chronic depression, low self-esteem, feelings of loneliness and isolation, of never *really* being seen, heard, known, or validated. I am sure my father has undiagnosed Asperger's. He's 80. When I gently suggested this to my parents recently (after my daughter and husband were diagnosed), they both immediately shut it down. I'm not sure it's worth pursuing with an 80-year-old, as he is unlikely to change at this point. But the realization that my feelings are not my fault is pretty mind-blowing.

July 9, 2016 - 8:58am
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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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