When we think about a diagnosis of autism, we tend to think of it happening during childhood. But sometimes people on the spectrum are not diagnosed until later in life, and diagnosis can be a wonderful boost for the health of their relationship with a neurotypical partner.
An article has been published in The Guardian, highlighting how a diagnosis of a spectrum disorder can suddenly bring clarity to a relationship, helping both the sufferer and their partner find new ways of being together.
This was the case for Karen and David. For the first 12 years of their marriage, the pair struggled to raise their children together on account of David’s sometimes confusing and frustrating behaviour – such as simply getting up and walking out of a restaurant when their toddler became loud and excitable.
It wasn’t until one of their own children was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) that it became clear that David had the condition too, and their marriage is much happier for the news.
“I am now much better equipped to understand why I may find neurotypical relationships so confusing,” says David, “and it has been the foundation of improving my relationship with Karen.”
The article states: “Karen says she often used to feel exasperated by David’s mood swings and what she saw as his tendency to blow small problems out of proportion. ‘I couldn’t understand it because he was the most loving, generous person much of the time.’
“Thanks to the diagnosis, ‘after 12 years of not understanding each other, I started to see that he couldn’t help his behaviour. He wasn’t a bad person.’”
The number of adults being diagnosed each year with ASD is on the rise.
Earlier this year, US comedian Amy Schumer shared news of her husband, Chris Fischer’s autism diagnoses. In her Netflix film, she says: “All the characteristics that make it clear that he is on the spectrum are all of the reasons that I fell madly in love with him.”
“He says whatever is on his mind. He keeps it so real. He doesn’t care about social norms, or what you expect him to say or do … he can’t lie. Is that the dream man?”
Once one party in a relationship with a neurotypical partner is diagnosed, it enables the pair to find new coping techniques, such as keeping mealtimes quiet, not sitting around a table together because the person with ASD can find it too intense, or finding new ways to get through disagreements that do not involve heated conflict.