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
I am so furious right now. I went to one of the links you gave https://aspar.wordpress.com/response-to-critics and looked at their page. They have a group you can join for private support if you fill out a very personal and private questionnaire. I did this. Now I find out the group with that name which was a yahoo group is closed. Someone has started a group with that name. So now I've given a stranger my extremely personal information.
Completely irresponsible. They could have taken that page down instead of just leaving it there. I am livid. I wish I knew how to contact them. Please people, if you go to that link, READ ONLY. Do NOT try to join.October 26, 2015 - 10:13pm
I am so sorry you found yourself in that position after following a link I gave you. I didn't do the questionnaire, would never have thought that something like that could happen.
I will delete the link from my list of resources at the end of the article.
Thanks for letting us know what happened to you.October 27, 2015 - 6:45am
I've deleted that link. Thanks again for letting us know.October 27, 2015 - 6:47am
Sorry you were so heavily attacked for your first article, but it comes with the territory. I've just been through a year of therapy with my father with limited success, but I've learned some interesting things. He thinks of himself as loving, but that love is not communicated with what the therapist calls "mirroring". To say that Aspies lack empathy can be misconstrued as saying that they are cruel, but in the psychological context is simply means that they don't read the emotions of others and therefore do not communicate in the realm of feelings. My father thought that because he felt love it was obvious. The flip side of not being able to put himself in the shoes of another person is that he thinks that his perspective is the same as everyone else's. My father's disconnects had to be carefully and gently explained to him. Getting him to understand that other people experience his actions differently than he intends was a struggle. Like other Aspies described in the comments of your other article, he is extremely defensive and never wrong. I suspect that many of those angry Aspie responses stating that there are good Aspie parents out there do "protest too much", because they are afraid to face their own shortcomings. Many of them probably think they are good parents because they know that they mean well and are unable to see their own failings. With coaching my father has improved his behavior and is less frequently inadvertently rude, but it is like he has memorized something out of a book that he doesn't really understand. He can imitate normal behavior but it is just a mask. His inability to fully "grok" another person hasn't changed. I'm sure that most Aspie parents are good people with good intentions, but unless the other parent is NT and can compensate well for the Aspie's shortcomings, the kids are going to be confused at the very least, and possibly severely damaged depending on other factors in their childhoods.
Children of Aspergers parents my find more value in looking up "Developmental Trauma Disorder" than in looking for specific help about Asperger's parents. The specifics around why you were not seen, supported and protected as a child is less important than the resulting trauma and the treatment.October 23, 2015 - 9:17am
Gzip, everything you stated is dead on! My ex-husband is an Aspie and is in complete denial that he is such. My 7 year old son has been diagnosed as having mild autism and his father refuses to accept that. In fact, he goes above and beyond to prove it wrong which only hurts my son. He is denying him of any therapy where he could learn coping mechanisms and help in any other areas that he is affected. We have joint custody so both have to agree on treatment, etc. for him. With him being in denial it leaves me unable to get the help that my son would greatly benefit from. Does anyone have any case studies or answers to help me in addressing the court to see that the father is only hindering the development of the son in his own arrogance of "not wanting to label him"?March 28, 2016 - 8:12am
Sounds like you have learned quite a bit in your year of therapy thus far. I agree that it is probably more important for NT kids to put their own trauma and experience first, learning how to heal and to have healthier relationships with others and with themselves.
I'm hoping some of the resources I listed might offer some of that to NT kids who are trying to make their way to a happier present and future.
I haven't seen the word "grok" for many years. Thanks for that unexpected pleasure.:)
I got a notification that you posted on my 2009 article, but for some reason I can't seem to find your comment. I will keep looking. If you don't see a response from me later, you'll know it's because I couldn't find your comment.:)October 23, 2015 - 10:10am