Realizing the Diagnosis of Autism
As we talked, Cindy realized that there are a lot of similarities between her son and her husband. She took an online quiz about the symptoms of autism, and her husband’s score indicated that having autism/Asperger’s was likely. Cindy and I talked about how this may explain a lot of what she was struggling with. But, she felt that Doug would not be open being evaluated or getting help. Her experience with Doug was that he didn’t take responsibility for things going wrong, but blamed her or someone else. We talked about what it would mean if her husband was on the autism spectrum, and that this neurological difference would explain a lot of their marital problems and Doug’s difficulty parenting. Mary decided to bring the subject up to her husband, and showed him an article about adults with Asperger’s. She was surprised that her husband was more open to this possibility than she thought. The three of us met, and Doug talked about being bullied as a boy and that he never felt he fit in. He still finds it difficult to relate to others socially. He was actually relieved to know there could be a reason. (He was formally assessed and diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.)
Understanding How Autism Impacts the Family
As we continued to work together, both Cindy and Doug were able to identify and understand his strengths and weaknesses. They know that Doug had little patience when Bobby didn’t listen and he would argue and then yell at Bobby. It was agreed, that when he felt himself getting angry, he would leave the room and let Cindy handle the situation.
Important and Useful Strategies
• We developed a behavior plan for Bobby, so they both knew how to provide structure, and what to do when Bobby was misbehaving.
• We worked on how Doug and Cindy could communicate better and resolve conflicts between them.
• The main strategy was that they began to understand how they processed information differently and to have more understanding for one another.
• Doug learned not to blame Cindy.
• Cindy learned it was best to take breaks from each other when things get heated. She learned not to argue or to try to get Doug to understand her, until they were both calm.
• Doug was able to spend more quality time with Bobby by finding something they were both interested in, which was historical documentaries.
The family is a work in progress, but they are all much more accepting and supportive of one another. They also learned that they sometimes need outside help to sort things out. If you need help with your relationship, contact us for a free 15 minute introductory phone call.