Sensitivity doesn’t mean Disability

Firstly, I would like to thank the massive support Dale and I feel right now about this blog. It’s very encouraging to know so many people are reading, loving and encouraging us for more, and we will hopefully oblige abundantly, even two days in.
We are excited to even hear it’s reaching NT’s who are parents of young AS’s. We hope we will embolden your hopes and dreams for your young Aspie’s.

Setting new limits for each other is part of a healthy relationship…

Part of being in a relationship and growing together is knowing what each other are comfortable with. As I previously said in my last post ‘It’s who I am (Full Stop)’, Dale and I have set Physical Boundaries which keep us physically moral to ourselves, each other and to our Christian Faith. It stops us from moving to quickly, making the other person feel uncomfortable or pressured and inevitably trapped in the vicious cycle of a ‘[Purely] Physical Relationship’.

Setting these boundaries are healthy for both of us, both spiritually and non-spiritually. I remember years ago (I think I was about 14 years old) I made a promise to myself to keep my body mine until marriage. Yes, I was Christian at that time but I wouldn’t have considered myself a devout believer. So, it was more just a personal decision rather then one influenced by my belief. Hard to believe? It was my mum who actually inset this into me. I’ve always grown up with the morality of ‘If you don’t see yourself marrying him don’t date him‘. Now, of course I’ve dated or been interested in other men. That’s a natural and good thing to do. But eventually we saw that we weren’t right for each other and went our separate ways. ‘But you’re only 20. What experience could you possibly have?’ Not much, however, enough to know what kind of man I’m looking for in a partner. So I credit my high self-morals to my parents – BIG TIME!

Being a young female humanism, and being very self conscious about my body and how I look, some of my boundaries factor in this insecurity. For example, I’ve asked Dale that if he feels uncomfortable with what I wear (which isn’t often as my clothes are normally vetted by my dad) or if he likes what I wear, but doesn’t feel comfortable with me wearing outside, he tells me. I have made mistakes in the past, like wearing a slightly transparent dress or shirt and not put a vest/long t-shirt on underneath. Does this encourage him to look at me inappropriately? I don’t think so. I think it trains him to look after me morally, and also lets me learn what he thinks as morally appropriate. He’s pretty good at it too.

We set a new boundary today…

As Dale has said in his own post, Dale has some extreme obsessions (which is characteristic of an Aspie), all of which I’m okay with and doesn’t impede on our morality or Christianity, and we were talking about one of them today. I brought up a sensitive issue about one, which made Dale feel uncomfortable. He quickly told me that he wasn’t okay with it, and after assuring him and (hopefully) settling his anxiety about the issue we promised each other it would not be something we spoke about.

I normally am able to tell when he isn’t comfortable or when he’s not okay, even after telling him it is okay. He has certain mannerisms which I can pick up on which are tell-tale on his emotional state. He is slowly learning mine, some of which he misunderstands, but he is learning. One of his, which is after I assure him, is that he says “I’m Okay; I’m Fine”. At first when I was getting to know him, this would settle me and we would just carry on. However, now I’ve learned that this doesn’t necessarily mean that he is okay. I can now tell his “I’m Okay… but not really” from his “Yep, I’m okay… Where’s my cake?” (much like a woman in this instance).

I think I briefly annoy him in this instance, I don’t know, but I don’t like leaving him if he’s not okay. So I impress on him that it is okay until I see My Dale back (My Dale is happy, jokey, smiley and relaxed). It works at the moment. Sometimes if he thinks he’s offended me, I give him a peck-kiss on his lips so that he knows I’m okay and that I still love him. That works too.

When we were first talking to each other (before we were dating), we actually agreed on a code-word. I think it was ‘Lemons’, which he would use if the topic of conversation was beginning to make him uncomfortable. I think he used it once for a real thing, but we haven’t used it since. We are generally like-minded, so things that offend one person tend to offend the other.  I still mess up and sometimes need to repair the damage, but we both understand that we aren’t perfect.

I love learning about him and his little quirks…

And I’m certainly never bored. I’ve heard other people refer to the ‘Honeymoon Period‘, which is basically when the relationship is still new and shiny. I’m not too sure how long this period is, but everything about him is still fascinating. What he would class as ‘becoming a better person’, I can see the way he deals with things change. The other day, he actually came to babysit some children with me. I’ve noticed too, when we cook together, he doesn’t ask whether something needs cleaning or whether it needs cleaning before we use it anymore. Either he assumes that I’ve already cleaned it when he’s not looking, or he’s becoming comfortable that it’s not going to harm him.

One time, I actually was worried about telling him something incase he went into extreme OCD Dale (my household family took some tablets for something) and, not wanting to tell him the reason for the tablets, but assuring him it won’t effect him, I was worried he might press for information and continue to worry. I was pleasantly surprised with how well he actually took it.

When I see a weakness, he surprises me with huge strength.
When he sees a weakness, all I see is his strength. 

Tip #1 on dating an Aspie: Aspie’s are very literal… but can be complicated like a woman.


It’s Who I Am (The Aspie)

Hi, this is the boyfriend!

I thought it might be an idea to introduce myself. I intend to post alongside Alli on this blog, not to correct or contradict what she writes, but merely to present things from the perspective of the Aspie in the relationship.

First, I guess a little about myself. I’m Dale, I’m 28 years old, and while I have a had a few relationships that never really went anywhere, I consider Alli my first proper girlfriend. I was a very different child, “floppy” as a baby, and had a lot of strange rituals and ways of thinking. For quite some time all I wanted to wear was a Manchester United football (soccer) kit, despite my never really liking football. My parents knew something was different, and I was finally diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome around the age of 13.

Growing up was a bit different for me. During my teenage years I developed a number of extreme obsessions. I had a collection of Star Wars toys in their original mint packaging, and pretty much learned the scripts back to front. I also had a love of physics, often trying to work out the physics of something during a lesson at school and exclaiming to the other children “I’ve worked out the physics (of this device)”. I even attended two or three of the Institute of Physics conferences which as luck would have it, were held in my home town.

A party trick of mine was that I could read out loud about two or three times faster than anyone else, quicker than most people could take in, which annoyed my classmates in English classes, who exclaimed in one voice every time to “SLOW DOWN”.

Over the years I also developed other mental disorders (although Aspergers is NOT anything wrong) including Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Generalised Anxiety (both diagnosed) and Depression (self-diagnosed).

After some time, at around the age of 17 I started to attend a church in my home town, and became a Christian some months after. Unfortunately, around the same time I had something of a mental breakdown over the course of 9 months, something I still take medication for now.

Over the last 11 years it’s been a long journey. I made friends, learned how to socialise, and slowly worked on my anxieties and how to cope with more difficult Aspergers traits.

And that’s when I met Alli. I had asked out girls before but the story had always been the same. They liked me as a friend, or things just fizzed out and we lost contact. Alli agreed to a lunch date, and things went on from there until 1 month after that lunch date, when we officially became an item.

Both of us have learned a lot in our short time together (about 3 months). I am learning how to relate to Alli and how relationships work, and Alli is learning how my brain is wired.

That’s what Aspergers is really. It’s a different wiring of the brain. What other people can do or determine almost instantaneously from instinct and unspoken social cues, I have to exhaustively calculate. Everything, including love to some extent, has to be worked out from a purely logical perspective. If A then B, otherwise C.

I cannot read tone of voice, nor body language and take many things literally, most often not being able to “read between the lines”. I also cannot extrapolate from incomplete information. If I am to do something, I need exact steps, or better yet, a hands on demonstration, even something as simple as using a new washing machine for the first time.

Its not all bad though, and this is why Aspergers is not a disorder, nor a disability in the eyes of myself and many other Aspies. I learn extremely quickly, and while I struggle with basic arithmetic at times, can handle abstract logical or numerical concepts easily. I am extremely competent with computers, having a degree in Computer Science and working in the software industry, and while some people may think I don’t consider the feelings of others because it simply doesn’t occur to me – I am actually very empathetic, perhaps excessively so. I have a childlike fascination with things, and like many, many other Aspies, I am EXTREMELY loyal.

It’s worth noting, that many of us, myself included, do not want to be “healed”. There’s nothing to be healed of. Aspergers is a crucial part of me, not a tacked on illness to be gotten rid of.

Some people reading this may think that a relationship with an Aspie is difficult and unpleasant, but judging from my own relationship with Alli, I would say it isn’t. All we need is patience, kindness and a little help when we need it. All of these are things that any NT-NT relationship needs in some degree in order to survive.

Date an Aspie – we’re pretty cool.

It’s Who I Am (Full Stop)

I finally plucked up the courage to ask my partner if I could do this… so…

Hi. I’m Alli. I’m NT (Neuro-Typical) and I’m jut a regular 20 year old girl who goes to University. I play Guitar, want to eventually learn Ukulele so I can walk around all hippy. I’m fairly introverted, geeky, DC Comics fan and have a good amount of obsession of dragons. I consider myself a designer/illustrator/designer. I’m Christian, so yes I go to church every Sunday and do all the Christian thing. I have two happily married parents, two younger siblings and about 7+ pets. The rest of me is fairly typical. I love my life and who is in it.

English tutors may be reading this and deducting marks for my poor grammar and writing skills, so let me justify myself. I. Don’t. Do. Essays. I’ve always wished I could just write a novel straight off and even planned them in my head, written the first chapter, but about a month later, deleted the document. But. This is not an Essay. This is not some scientific or academic research document. I have another blog which focuses on one other aspect of my life, but this blog is for something and someone who is close to my heart.

This blog is going to focus on the first thing about me. (no… not my name, after that).

I’m NT (Neuro-Typical). Other NT’s may be thinking, well, what does that mean? Is it some disease. That’s what I thought, cause I’m dumb and didn’t understand the simplicity behind it. Basically it means I’m [medically] mentally normal, although my family may disagree (joking). Why is this so significant? Why should this be the focus of a blog?

Because I’m in a happy, loving and wonderful relationship with someone who is not NT. 

My boyfriend who I love dearly is AS (Aspergers; One of the Three most common forms of Autism). To get an idea, AS is, (for ease of reference), think of Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory or Mr. Spock from Star Trek. My boyfriend compares himself to Sheldon, but I see him more as Spock (I’m a trekky too). You see, where as Sheldon (most of the time) can be void of emotion completely, self appreciative, doesn’t quite understand sarcasm and quite a bit of a bum head sometimes, Spock just finds it difficult to process emotions because of his Vulcan upbringing.

Did any of you fan-girls scream when we found out Sheldon was about to propose to Amy, but Amy wanted a break? I sure did.

Is it difficult being in a relationship with an AS? To be totally honest, no. No more then being in a relationship with another NT. In fact, even with my limited experience with relationships, I find it better. I find that in an NT NT relationship, where both people totally understand social situations, they seem to lack the ability to consider each others feelings. How do I know? I’ve done it before. I’ve done things without even thinking about it and effectively treading on peoples toes. In a healthy NT ASD relationship, we seem to consider each other more (hence why I asked ‘permission’ as such to write this public blog). Is it easy? No, it isn’t. What relationship is?

My boyfriend (on my request actually) bought a book; Loving Mr. Spock – By Barbara Jacobs, which I’ve heard is to help NT’s understand their AS partner and also help AS’s understand their NT partner. He’s reading it first and he’s making notes so that when I read it, I’m reading the book but also getting his opinion on what is said. He’s already leaked some information that some of what is said isn’t accurate to him.

You see. That’s all that I really need to make an effort with; Understanding My Aspie. Everything else comes naturally, easily and sometimes with time and training. Because we are both Christian, we set boundaries for ourselves (what we’re comfortable with in regards to physical contact) which, we have altered because of how our relationship is progressing. We talk about our future aspirations, hopes, dreams. We tell each other we love each other (actually, we’ve only been doing that for the last three days… reasons may be revealed later). We go out on dates. We have pizza and movie nights. We cook together. We go to ASDA  together (for Americans I think the equivalent is Walmart or Target). We hang out with both sets of parents. Y’know? Normal couple stuff. All I need to understand is what his Asperger’s enables him to do and understand.

My Aspie is amazing, however, like all men, he does have his flaws (the non medical kind). He has an appalling taste in drink (he drinks beer… YUK!), he tells awful dad jokes and he has this fascination with Toy’R’Us. He seems to collect out-of-date food (I think we found some out-of-date canned food, which takes three years to go out of date, in his cupboards), and he laughs at weird cat pictures.

In all seriousness now, he does have flaws. He’s self depreciating (completely opposite of Sheldon), he tends to keep what’s troubling him to himself (which I think is actually an Aspie trait) but he’s slowly learning to open up, but he’s doing it in his own time. I just let him know that if he wants to tell me, I’m there and I won’t judge him. He’s had a bad past, but even though he is quite good at hiding it, I can tell he’s somewhat afraid it will happen again and catch up with him. I assure him, even if it does, we will deal with it together, and that I won’t leave him. All in all, he’s a typical man. But he’s My Man. My Aspie.

So. I’m an NT dating an AS.

Translation: I’m a Girl dating a Boy. No strings attached.