Monday, 20 June 2011

Marriage under pressure - dealing with autism

So... we've been going to the NAS Early Bird Plus course for the last few weeks, I just wanted to let people know how we're getting on.

Out of me and my husband, we have adopted opposite approaches to our kids being diagnosed. I have gone into research hyper-drive (natural aspie response!) and he has opted for the classic NT male 'let's ignore it and pretend it isn't happening' response. It's been a year now, and I try not to get angry with him, and I never beat him over the head with my research, but we are on very different pages. He's still a brilliant and intuitive Dad, and loves our two little conundrums to pieces! So I can't get mad with him too often (just sometimes).

We finally managed to get onto the Early Bird course, and I was so thrilled, as I thought this would be an opportunity for him to ingest some information about autism. I'm not so sure that's what happening though. I'm really enjoying it, getting to know Pippa's Teaching Assistant, (who is not allowed to talk to us at school, all communication has to go through the Teacher.) It's been an excellent opportunity to exchange our experiences of Pippa and Lucas, with other parents/TAs who have had similar experiences. And it's great to be given strategies to use in understanding our kids better, and how best to interact with them.

Some of the most basic advice, is to reduce/simplify language, and give them time to process language before expecting a response. Both of these are really useful, and I'm trying to put them into action on a daily basis now. I haven't noticed my husband using either yet, but I'm ever (idiotically) optimistic. He's still on defensive mode in the classes, 'there's nothing wrong with my kids' kind of attitude, although that's not what he's saying on the surface. I'm not interested in challenging his emotional shit around this, I have my own emotional shit to deal with (see previous post), and I can't be a counsellor for him.

We've been together nearly 20 years, and just having stayed together that long is a strength in itself, I guess you could call it inertia! That's part of the joy of marriage (irony). But it also means that our conversations can be very short and still cover massive amounts, we have verbal shortcuts, when talking about emotions, I have learned the hard way that he can't do long chats about feelings (his or mine), so I have to restrict myself to saying what I want to say, then shutting up (excellent marital tip). Then I give him a couple of days, then I ask him what he thinks, and listen to the answer. (more excellent marital advice! lol)

Anyway, it didn't start out as an essay on communication in marriage, but that's where I ended up! It suddenly occurs to me that I've been applying the Early Bird communication advice in my marriage for years. Hmmm, maybe he's not as NT as I thought. I would be the last one to know...

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