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asd diagnosis impacting on relationship

(7 Posts)
marietheresewalter Sat 05-Sep-15 13:06:05

Hey everyone, long term lurker, occasional poster (under a different name). Have had excellent advice in the past from AF and others re relationship with DH. AF called him a bully, which I hadn't picked up myself and I addressed the various issues associated with this - his criticism of me/ kids etc etc. He doesn't criticise me anymore, this time last year I told him I would leave if he ever did it again (having asked him several times not to) and that worked. Simultaneously with personal stuff, DS age 11 was diagnosed adhd/ hfa. We have completed parenting course, altered our behaviour accordingly to accommodate son's behaviour which we now know was anxiety driven and things have improved for DS at school and at home.

This diagnosis and subsequently knowing more about the condition has turned my life upside down. We can see many ASD traits in DH dad and our other son has just started the assessment procedure - in many ways he presents much more typically and I think a diagnosis is just a formality. Although DH refuses to accept it, I can also see a lot of his behaviour could be considered archetypal of asd too. His obsession with routines, his catastrophizing (which comes across as relentless negativity), his seeming inability to get emotionally involved, social anxiety, his perfectionism (hence criticism of me and kids) - really I could go on and on. Either that or it is learnt behaviour from his own father.

For some reason, I now feel like a complete idiot - how could I not have known this all these years. I now know that things will never change or be different - he will never alter his behaviour to take my feelings into consideration - because he can't. He will always hide behind me socially - it's not that he needs to gain confidence or any of the other excuses I made to myself. The kids and I will always fall short of his expectations, even if he doesn't voice them to me anymore. I can see that he has destroyed the confidence of our eldest son, who is probably also HFA and who always needed extra support and love which he never got from DH who just projects disappointment at him.

What now? All I want to do is separate, move away with the kids so they don't have him adding another layer of stress to their lives. Every day when I come in from work I have to spend 30mins or so pouring oil on troubled waters - it seems to be my role in the family, calming everyone so they can be civil to each other, managing and explaining everyone's behaviour. This is never going to change is it, I feel it would be better in the long run if DH lived separately but was still involved in parenting as much as he likes. He is always telling me that having kids ruined his life but has also told me he will never move out. Are they better off with him around, he is very conscientious as a parent, obsessive about their food/ homework/ instrument practise etc but in a controlling way rather than a facilitating way - if that makes sense. For instance, when I supervise homework I often get the bag, check the journals, map out what needs to be done and check in with them from time to time. The adhd makes this level of involvement necessary imo. DH will nag every few mins, do your homework etc etc getting more shrill and annoyed but not doing anything practical to help. Eldest son gets so stressed out by this he hides from DH in his bedroom. Sorry this is so long, I could keep venting. Any advice on what is best for our kids would be greatly appreciated, thanks.

pocketsaviour Sat 05-Sep-15 13:13:25

I think separation will be far more in their interests than trying to keep everyone together.

^ He is always telling me that having kids ruined his life^
In earshot of the kids? confused

marietheresewalter Sat 05-Sep-15 13:15:37

No, pocketsaviour, never in their earshot.

JodieMacdonald31 Sat 05-Sep-15 20:39:23

All kids could do without living with that stress never mind hfa, they need extra love/support/understanding & patients

ooerrmissus Sat 05-Sep-15 20:49:26

You sound very unhappy. I don't have an easy answer for you. However I do know that when DS1 was diagnosed with ASD my DH took it very badly. He recognised a lot of DSs traits in himself. In effect he had been diagnosed too.
It took a while for us to get past that. In a way it helped me to understand some of his unusual habits. And eventually he came to a greater understanding and acceptance of his behaviour too.
Sorry this isn't an answer. What I'm trying to say is that it's a difficult process to go through but he may come out the other side. Whether you love him enough to wait for that is a different matter.

KevinAndMe Sat 05-Sep-15 21:06:56

I am in a similar situation than you. DH undiagnosed but pretty sure he is on the spectrum, dc2 diagnosed with AS,
Similar situation too re behaviour.

It took me years to realise that DH was on the spectrum and I think it's pretty normal. These are people who ARE 'well enough' to be able to lead a normal life. They have a job, relationship. Usually too, they are quite good at 'hidding' the issues at the start.
Add to that that there is no reason why you would be an expert on ASD and why would you pick that up?

When dc2 was smaller, we went through a phase when I was ready to leave just like you are. I thought the dcs would be better wo him. Except that he would have had them on his own at least EOW. And I know a case where the parent with ASD fighted teeth and nails to get 50/50 custody and got it. In that case, it would have meant the dcs been with DH 50% of the time and no one to be a bit of a buffer.

So I decided to try first. I stopped trying to convince him that he is on the spectrum but managed things so that they were as easy as possible for him. In effect, just as dc2 was riddled with anxiety so was he riddled with anxiety and stress. Reducing stress has been a big key for us.
Then I asked him to change one thing after the other, always things I knew he could do and never thngs that are clearly out of his 'abilities'. Again a very important thing was that he was ready to change (as your DH has shown too, see the parenting classes).

It has worked and things have become much much calmer, I and the dcs are happier and as things have calmed down, then he started to open up to the possibility he is on the spectrum too.
I thought though it was quite interested that it's not a diagnosis that triggered a change in behaviour. But it's the change of behaviour within the relationship/family that helped him del better with the situation and therefore opened up to a diagnosis. DH has now self diagnosed himself with AS but it's not something we ever talk about. Whatever quirks are part of who he is and what is needed to help him is what is part of our ways to do things as a family rather han something special done especially for him (or for dc2).

And YY to the fact that the 'diagnosis' helped me to understand him better but it didn't help him initially.

KevinAndMe Sat 05-Sep-15 21:11:29

BTW I'm not saying you should stay with him. I was more tying to show you it can get better iyswim.

There is a lot of things that I have fully taken over. Homework is one of them, any emotional issues, school stuff in general.
Initially, I was doing all the child related stuff and left very little involvement for DH. His involvement increased as he became calmer and he started to learn about new ways to deal with the dcs.
It's a constant battle though, (Explaining that it's not good to criticise the dcs isn't good enough. He still needs to be 'reminded' in each specific circumstance) but he has learnt and is a much better father as a result.

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