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Does anyone have a parent with (or they suspect) autism/aspergers/asd/hfa?

(36 Posts)
Athenaviolet Tue 21-Jul-15 14:07:52

I have very recently come to the realisation that both of my parents show lots of autistic traits.

I'm trying to note them down as I think of them so I have a clear picture if they fit the diagnostic criteria.

But this process has just opened up my entire life, especially my childhood to analysis I've never had before.

I feel like my parents aren't who I thought they were. I'm seeing DM in a more sympathetic light and my DF in a very critical light.

I can't blame them for not recognising their behaviours as there was no public knowledge of adult aspergers etc in the 80s.

But I do feel like I've been dealt a rubbish hand in life in parenting terms. Sometimes we were quite well off so from the outside it seemed like I had an enviable childhood but I was thoroughly miserable and now I see that my parents weren't really fit to parent.

I'm quite scared that I've learned a lot of not great behaviours from them and have blindedly copied some of their parenting into my DCs. I'm worried about not repeating their mistakes and possibly limiting their contact with DCs from now on, esp with DF.

I do feel like the way I saw my world has now been swept away and now I'm trying to piece it together and make sense of it.

Has anyone else had experience of this?

Most I can find online is about parents parenting asd DCs not the other way around.

Athenaviolet Tue 21-Jul-15 21:38:11


thornrose Tue 21-Jul-15 21:44:54

I believe my dad was somewhere on the spectrum. He was a terrible father and husband.

I went on to have a relationship with a man who looking back probably had Aspergers and our dd has been diagnosed with Aspergers.

mrstweefromtweesville Tue 21-Jul-15 21:46:16

Asperger's. Me, db, df. late dm, My dd, her dh, his late df, and his dsf, possibly dgd.
Not sure I could say anything that might help, though.

Athenaviolet Tue 21-Jul-15 22:57:16

Mrst- wow that's a lot!

I never met my mums df but from the odd comments she's made I think she married a very similar man. She really isn't ready to see that yet though.

I think DF's DF was probably where he got it from too. He was a very quiet, bookish person. Didn't like change and had obvious 'special interests'. Also a very strong moral compass. He died when I was very young though so I don't know much about him.

I've told my eldest about my suspicions about their GPs, so they can understand their behaviour a bit better.

buttonmoonboots Tue 21-Jul-15 23:02:03

My dad almost certainly has ASD. There have been a few threads on this lately so worth a search x

dangerrabbit Tue 21-Jul-15 23:29:11

My mum has been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome in her 50s, I suspect 3 of her 4 brothers and her dad also have/had it.

Athenaviolet Wed 22-Jul-15 00:06:45

So for anyone in this situation how do you think it affected your childhood and your child development?

Do you think it's had a long term impact on you as an adult?

How has it affected your parenting?

thedevilinside Wed 22-Jul-15 00:27:11

Yes, both parents. Sister and I were left to our own devices much of the time, but I think that has made it easier to cope with being on the spectrum. I am glad I had children later though, I was very socially immature until late 30s

Athenaviolet Wed 22-Jul-15 00:29:11

I had mine young- because I craved the 'normal family life' everyone else had and I didn't. Not the best reason really. blush

thedevilinside Wed 22-Jul-15 00:48:08

My young parents were more interested in their special interests than raising us, so we were left alone a lot. Perhaps this helped us to develop coping strategies, I don't know, we have always been quite self sufficient. Perhaps this is a better way of raising children on the spectrum, who knows.

Athenaviolet Wed 22-Jul-15 07:56:44

Yes, I was left alone a lot to, and as an only child it was such a lonely existence. I can't think of what would count as a special interest of my dm's though. Apart from house cleaning that is. I would always be asking her to play with me but she was always too busy cleaning. I remember still being in the high chair at an age I should have been out of it- I think this was so I was contained and not messing up her immaculate house. I don't know how she filled her time, she only worked 3 days and only had one child. How much mess could there have been?

I did become very emotionally independent from a young age. I felt like they just wanted me to grow up quickly and go away. I never even told DM when I started my periods.

mrstweefromtweesville Wed 22-Jul-15 21:07:51

My parents were pretty poor at parenting, due to mental health issues (mum) and Asperger's (dad, very, very reserved. He stopped talking to me for two years and I didn't notice until he started talking to me again. The first thing he said was 'Pass the salt, MrsTwee'. Because, he spoke to me after I was married).
But they were also products of their time (1930s born) and social group (school ended at 14) and most of their parenting happened in the sixties and seventies, when adults were too busy enjoying free love to give two hoots about their offspring.
Also I'm Aspie, and a fairly good mum, so I don't blame my parents faults on being Asperger's.
I like Asperger's, its some of the 'good news' of autism. Without Aspies, there would be little progress.
I was emotionally independent from 14 - well, as emotionally independent as I've managed so far.

kuriousoranj Wed 22-Jul-15 21:23:24

Hi Athena,

There is a lot of description of behaviours that you might recognise in this thread

MakeItACider Wed 22-Jul-15 21:30:04

Recently I've started to believe that my DSister has aspergers. When trying to talk to my DM I ended up having a similar style of conversation with her that I had just had with my DSister - it suddenly dawned on me why I hadn't made the connections about my sister before, because her behaviour was quite similar in many ways to my DM and I knew no other type of behaviour.

I now wonder whether some of my behaviour places me on the spectrum or whether it was learned behaviour that has shaped me.

Hoppinggreen Wed 22-Jul-15 21:54:06

My stepdad is an absolutely text book case of Aspergers.
It actually helps to know so we understand that some of his more unusual behaviours have a reason.
My mum doesn't accept it and got quite upset when I suggested it, no idea why possibly because she is of the old school where " that sort of thing" isn't discussed.

sanfairyanne Wed 22-Jul-15 22:26:35

oh the entire family apart from, (imo) me
they are all great people but it was a shit way to grow up to be honest. i have always had to cope with emotional stuff entirely on my own
i love being a mum - finally people to truly share emotions with, hug, who 'get' me and i understand them

Athenaviolet Thu 23-Jul-15 00:20:43

Yes, I never did hugging until I had dd.

thedevilinside Thu 23-Jul-15 00:44:57

Female aspie special interests can absolutely be housekeeping/cleaning, (Looking at you MIL) it has never been socially acceptable for women to have special interests outside the house, although this is changing. My mother's special interest was writing, dad's chess.

motherofallhangovers Thu 23-Jul-15 01:15:45

I only realised in the last few years that my mum is on the spectrum. A RL friend suggested it and the penny dropped. Her brother is very definitely on the spectrum, I don't know why I didn't see it before, it's so obvious really.

It has made me reassess a lot of things.

The knowledge has made me massively more sympathetic to my mum. When I was growing up thought she didn't love me and we clashed awfully. I felt a lot of resentment and anger towards her for a long time. I still have a bit I guess, but I now also feel protective towards her and less rejected by her.

My mum's not particularly into housework, she's super intelligent, one of the smartest people I've ever met. She had a high-flying job, a very responsible, senior position and her work was her passion.

She doesn't do small talk. She will talk about the subjects that interest her. She's so smart and on the ball though, it's hard to keep up. She's not interested in my thoughts or feelings really. My friends and interests - outside of academic persuits - were of no real interest to her. If you'd asked her my friends' names at 14, she would have been hard pressed to name them I think.

I remember coming home at 15 and announcing that I had a new boyfriend. She said "oh". I said "aren't you going to ask me about him?". I was frustrated and she seemed genuinely lost. She said "what am I supposed to say" I said "you're meant to want to know mum. You could ask his name and his age for a start".

We had awful screaming matches most weeks from when I was about 10 till when I left home. I now can see clearly that I just wanted her attention. She wouldn't engage with me in conversation at all and I felt deeply rejected. But in a row she would be fully focused on me, our brains working quickly together as we battled each other. These rows usually happened at the end of the day, when I felt disappointed that we had had no real contact yet again that day. I didn't consciously do it for her attention, it's just obvious now I look back.

She didn't hug me ever. She did hug my little sister though. This really hurt. But now I understand that she's a creature of habit, and she likes to put things in boxes. I think my sister, as the youngest, got put in the box of "the one who likes cuddles" and it simply never occured to her that I might like one too.

She was very critical and rarely praised me.

As a teen and young adult I was desperate to be loved and although outwardly very confident, I was actually very insecure and needy, and I had very poor ideas of boundaries or how to look after myself. I had very unhealthy relationshops incuding two abusive ones.

Sorry for the essay! But it's good to get it out. It's something I've only become aware of in recent years and I haven't had much of a chance to talk about it.

Athenaviolet Thu 23-Jul-15 07:59:00

Mother- so much of that mirrors my relationship with my DM.

I hated her from 12-22. She showed me no love, so critical, no praise. I don't think she could tolerate sharing her space so would have frequent 'rages' which I can see now were autistic meltdowns. She was such a mother martyr who thought parenting was all about cooking, cleaning, clothing (very harlow's monkeys) but never thought about the social and emotional aspects of parenting like play and encouragement.

Her expectations of me were so rigid. Very black & white thinking- I was good (adequate) or bad. She wanted me to be completely obedient but also independent and out of her way.

But I look back and she had had no decent parenting herself so how was she meant to know any different? There was no mn in the 80s!

I think ironing could be classed as her special interest. She spent hours a week doing it and there were only 3 of us! She ironed everything-handkerchiefs, pants, socks, tea towels-she probably ironed the oven glove!

I can't really think of a special interest my df had. He did go fishing but it wasn't that frequently. He mostly just sat and watched the tv-bbc1 was always on from 6-10 every night.

Neither of them had much of a social life. No dinner parties. I couldn't name a friend of DF's. DM had colleagues and did do things with them occasionally but no regular social life. And this wasn't a childcare issue-she did 3 night shifts, df did m-f 9-5, they had GPs who helped.

When DM got a pet cat she showed it so much more love than me- I was jealous, which is so pathetic!

Thinking about the extended family dm's DB is extremely anti social, very rigid, almost lives off the grid, he's probably on the spectrum too.

Dd is going to dm's today. But we worry about her safety awareness. Don't know how to address this with her. She just gets really defensive and laughs at us. She wants us to take her bike but we won't because she has taken DCs on 60mph roads with no cycle helmet! She once left a 3yo playing outside unsupervised- was too engrossed watching tennis (!) who was found On the other side of a nsl road near a bend- she hadn't even realised he was gone! She just doesn't get that this is neglectful and dangerous!

Df is definitely not babysitting again.

IsItMeOr Thu 23-Jul-15 08:38:10

Athena I wonder how helpful it is to you to focus on attempting to diagnose your parents?

Since DS was diagnosed with autism/asperger's, I have found myself wondering whether I am on the spectrum too. I've also wondered about my parents.

The thing is, that we are none of us are defined by the parenting we experienced, or by any diagnosis. And as adults, we are expected to take responsibility for ourselves and our behaviours.

It is useful to be aware of the experiences we have had, especially as it informs how we want to parent ourselves.

Beyond that? I suspect it might be a distraction. There are loads of ways to find out about different styles of parenting, and to figure out what feels right for you and your DC.

It has helped my relationship with my parents to hold in my mind that they did the best that they could. And then to focus on what it is that I want to get out of our relationship now.

As an aside, why are you leaving your DD with someone who you don't trust to keep her safe? That sounds incredibly stressful for you.

buttonmoonboots Thu 23-Jul-15 09:13:30

The thing is, that we are none of us are defined by the parenting we experienced,

This isn't true. It can be very very helpful to gain insight into why your parents acted as they did. The parenting we experience has a profound effect on us. It's not a distraction to sort through it.

buttonmoonboots Thu 23-Jul-15 09:14:12

Especially for those of us who lived with parents who had meltdowns.

sanfairyanne Thu 23-Jul-15 11:06:20

it makes me sad for my younger self now i understand my family is all on the spectrum. i really enjoy parenting my own children as a kind of compensation for my cold upbringing. a lot of posts here ring very true. the worst part is they didnt even do a good job parenting my asd siblings, so its not like they just didnt 'get' nt children but were good at raising asd children

i dont usually talk about this. i wish there was a support group tbh. it has left me feeling hollowed out sad

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