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Dr. Aston’s Study on Relationships August 10, 2010

Posted by asanmbchapter in Uncategorized.
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I was referred to this study, and decided to place it on the discussion board. I was enraged by it. I personally feel insulted by this, and feel that it does not properly reflect the ASC community. The only examples given are with the men having ASC, and the women being Neurotypical. She states that the relationship will suffer because of Cassandra Syndrome. This causes apathy on the part of the neurotypical partner. The individual with ASC will be thought of as a lesser person, and the relationship will deteriorate.

I would like to know what other people think of this, so please go to the Discussion Board and leave your two cents worth!

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1. T - August 11, 2010

My son has Asperger’s. He’s 10, and we have yet to discover what his strengths will be. When he was little, I thought for a while that he may have classical autism. I was terrified about what would happen to the rest of my life, and his. He did finally learn to read, tell stories of his own, act in small parts in school plays, etc. We may have even found his special pattern recognition gift. Time will tell. I’m proud of him, and I try not to push too hard. I’ll even tell his teachers and therapists to back off when he starts to appear stressed out about too many people and too many therapies being shoved at him at once.

Then and now, one of the worst things about dealing with our special relationship was the criticism and dirty looks from uninformed and misinformed strangers. People really do make some awful assumptions about AS people’s quirks. One woman even asked me what happened to his father and if he was a crack baby!!

It looks like the study deals with undiagnosed cases of AS, and women who don’t really know what this type of “wiring” entails. The personal stories actually sound pretty plausible, given the lack of education that these women seem to be suffering from. That’s NOT to say that it’s ok for them to accuse their partners of being unfeeling oafs. I’m just saying that the women don’t know what’s going on. Dr. Aston’s suggestions about teaching the couples better ways to communicate looks like a workable plan, but I’d have to read the entire book, and not just the abstract, to give it a proper critique.

Does the study properly reflect the diversity of relationships within the AS community? Probably not. But given that there are DOCTORS that still believe that people with AS don’t have relationships, my guess would be that this area of study is brand new. It’s the first I’ve heard of anything like it. They probably don’t have a decent sample size or any longitudinal data to work with yet.

So yes, the study’s not perfect, but it’s a start. Exploring the worlds within human minds is as huge, complex and delicate a process as exploring the ocean floor. Don’t be angry about the temporary shortcomings of the process. I’m pretty hopeful about every little baby step toward better relationships for my son, and more understanding within the broader community. We’ve come so far since Bruno Bettelheim. Focus on the positive, and keep striving for better.

2. Katie - February 12, 2011

One thing to consider about Maxine Aston is that she has made a lot of money off of these women, by claiming that all of their marital problems have a name, and it is “Asperger’s Syndrome”.

The truth is, these men don’t always have AS. In many cases, it can be described as a “spouse-diagnosis”. They prematurely settle on an answer based on limited understanding of a diagnosis that seems to be an “in” thing. There are several explanations for what it could be:

– The husband/boyfriend could be experiencing depression or anxiety due to workplace or home life stress.
– They could be experiencing the “three/seven-year-itch” (the period where the romance tends to drop off, and spouses tend to focus on the other’s flaws).
– The wife/girlfriend could be especially demanding or needy (“No, you can’t watch the game. I need you to go out with me to see my girlfriends!”)
– Or, he could simply be an abusive, controlling jerk.

What surprises me about these women is the fact that they married these men, despite the fact that the Asperger’s has always been there. If these men were truly that unbearable, then they would have called it quits after the first couple of dates.

Unless…the “Asperger’s” wasn’t always there.

When I read these kind of stories, it kind of gives me the feeling that these women may have some co-dependancy issues and may be looking for a way to complain about their spouse, while at the same time trying to absolve them of their behaviour by saying “Oh, he can’t help it. He has a disorder”.

It creates a convenient situation where they can get attention and sympathy while at the same time having a handy excuse for why they’re not leaving a relationship that they’re clearly unhappy in. These issues already have names, without having to create a seperate label in “Cassandra Affective Disorder”.


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