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Autism & Relationships 1: Dealing with Diagnosis

Autism diagnosis requires both autistic & non-autistic people to work together to understand the new knowledge. Whether a spouse, a life partner, a lover, a friend or a family member is diagnosed, it can cause tension. There's many things than can go wrong, but they don't have to. Both sides need to know where they can help the other AND where they can go wrong. #Actually Autistic #AllAutistics #AskingAutistics #Autism What Next After Autism Diagnosis? Relief, Grief & Belief - Feelings After Autism Diagnosis Find more at Made with Shotcut, open source video editing software Images, stock video, sound effects and music not created by the channel have been obtained from YouTube creator resources or from the following sources: (author - Videvo) Every effort has been made to ensure that copyrights are respected and that material used is in the public domain. Where copyrighted material is used it is under the terms of "fair use" for educational purposes. All copyrights remain the property of their respective owners.


Autistamatic 0:03

One of the first videos ever uploaded to this channel was about what to expect after receiving an autism diagnosis. It's been one of the most popular on the channel. So it was recently re edited and re uploaded. And it's linked up here. The vast majority of autistic adults who already have a diagnosis received it in adulthood. Many of us who have already built lives for ourselves had jobs or careers, and were married or in long term relationships. How we and our partners handled the news of a fresh diagnosis, and how our relationships might change for the better or worse,

Unknown Speaker 0:40

there's something I've been asked to cover many times. So here we go. Before we start, I don't claim to be a relationship expert. I'm 50 years of age autistic myself, and I've been happily married to a wonderful non autistic woman for 12 years.

Unknown Speaker 1:08

She's the first woman I ever told that I was autistic right from the moment we met. Before I met my wife, I had my fair share of girlfriends. I live with several and I was married once before. Like almost every person in a successful relationship, my previous failures way outnumber my single success story. I'd like to think I've learned from my mistakes. And that has helped me in making this series. I've also spoken to dozens of other people who have been diagnosed whilst in a close relationship, and learn what worked for them what didn't work, and how they've overcome any hurdles they've got in their way. Whatever our gender, or sexual preference, relationships are about two people wanting to be together, we all want to be loved. And we all want to feel secure. Like anything in autistic life, or life with an artist for that matter. No one can explain it better than the people actually living it. I'll be mentioning no names, but to everyone who has helped me put this together and has given me permission to use their stories to build up a picture of the challenges facing couples in this situation. I can't thank you enough. And I hope others who find this useful will want to pass on their thanks as well. It's important to remember in any relationship between autistic and non autistic people, that both partners have feelings and considerations of their own. in learning about the challenges that face relationships involving an autistic partner, I've also talked to many of the non autistic people who've been through the process, including some for whom the relationship has since ended. autistic priorities can sometimes be different than those of our neurotypical partners, and it has an impact on their lives, as well as ours. They may be extremely supportive and want to help us through those early days following diagnosis. But there's no rulebook to tell them how to do that. We have to be as kind and understanding of them, as we hope they will be to us. So I'm going to talk about their points of view as much as those that I see more easily as an autistic man myself. This is the first of what will be an open ended series. Looking at different relationship challenges that can arise within autistic and non autistic couples was the main focus is long term relationships where one partner is autistic. Some of what we'll cover will apply to couples who are both autistic. And there will also be useful information for people in platonic friendships, and even family members.

Unknown Speaker 3:57

autism diagnosis can be a roller coaster of emotion for everyone involved, and the more we understand where both sides can fail and succeed, the better for us all. I made a film some time ago about the common feelings of autistic adults following diagnosis. The first thing most of us describe feeling is an intense sense of relief, a purging of remorse and regret of sadness and self doubt, leaving us feeling as empty as it does newly whole decades of bottled up negativity, which is know that our souls has been plucked out of our hearts by the knowledge that there is a reason

Unknown Speaker 4:35

for why and how we felt like outside observers of life rather than participants. What might that relief look like to those closest to us?

Unknown Speaker 4:46

In a healthy relationship, the non autistic partner is likely to be almost as relieved and as happy as the one who's just been validated by their diagnosis. But there's another side we don't often notice. having talked to so many partners who've been in that position, I was surprised by how often they told me that they'd felt almost

Unknown Speaker 5:08

left out of proceedings. When we discover that we're autistic, we inevitably embark on a journey of self discovery. Even if we've spent years learning about autism and talking to autistic people, the feeling that we're taking the first steps toward a different kind of future

Unknown Speaker 5:28

is palpable.

Unknown Speaker 5:31

Most we have spent a lifetime being on the outside looking in. For our partners, this may be the first time they experience that sensation with you at the center of it. Their perspective on themselves has not changed. They're still the same as they were yesterday. However much they may want to make try to share the journey with us, they are on the outside looking in. They have no revelation that explains their own mistakes in life, no sense of validation, no doors opening to a new way of looking at themselves, that you have. In the worst case, it may cause resentment. Leaving in the most solid partnerships is going to feel a little awkward at times. It can sometimes be perceived as the autistic partner, having just picked up a get out of jail free card that absolves them of all their past transgressions. That's rarely what is actually going on in our hearts and minds. But think about it from their point of view. Few relationships have a perfect track record. In almost all relationships. There are times when we've been selfish, thoughtless or simply haven't recognized when our loved ones are in pain. Most people accept a certain level of imperfection in our relationships, because it's outweighed by the good. We forgive the transgression and expect to be forgiven ourselves when we make mistakes of our own. If we feel that the other partner has just absolve themselves of responsibility for all their past mistakes, it can feel unfair. It loads all the responsibility onto our shoulders whenever there are disagreements or tension in the future. Whilst an autism diagnosis may provide us with context for some of the missteps we've made in our lives, it's never an excuse for willful bad behavior. Yes, it might explain a great many misunderstandings, and even certain instances of negligence. But it's not a whitewash. It doesn't absolve us of responsibility for our actions. When we hurt others, we still have a duty to their feelings and a responsibility to make things right. Our autistic natures might give vital context to our mistakes. But when we slip up, we still need to apologize and make amends for the inconvenience or emotional trauma we might have caused. There's a great many common preconceptions and outright myths in circulation about autistic people. Some of them are very harmful to us as a community. But for the individual, they can provide a quick fix solution to some relationship problems. If we are selfish and attentive or emotionally unresponsive to our partners, family or friends, it's easy to say, I can't help it. I'm autistic to shut down any criticism. But it's only a short term fix. any relationship is built on mutual trust and communication. So we still have to take responsibility for such behaviors. selfish and attentive and emotionally unresponsive people don't make good life partners. And if we were always like that, it's unlikely we'd be in a steady relationship in the first place. Our diagnosis may help us understand why our interactions with people might have been difficult in the past. But it also gives us an opportunity to recognize where we have failed in the past and do our best for the people we care about in the future. For the neurotypical partner, there's also a level of responsibility. If you've got to the point of making a long term commitment to an autistic partner, you're most likely you've learned that their communication style, their view of the world, and the way they make decisions are different for most of the people you know, it might even be what made them attractive to you in the first place. None of that has changed. Having context doesn't change a person's nature. This will be a difficult time for them though, even if as most are they are delighted and excited at finally having the differences confirmed. The period following diagnosis can be emotionally exhausting, and raises individual challenges of its own. Who to tell is an immediate question that you can help them answer as is dealing with fallout from the negative responses they will get from some of those they do tell. Now, more than ever, they'll need your emotional strength and support to help them adjust to their new knowledge. They may not always know to ask for it. But your empathy and your willingness to learn with them will be key to both your futures.

Unknown Speaker 10:22

It's a time when they will likely be very engaged with learning more about their tribe. And they may well spend more time than usual on the internet learning about other autistic experiences, and making connections with other autistic people. They might feel like neglect, as if they've developed a new special interest which is pushing you to the sidelines. It doesn't have to be there. Couples who have approached this time as a mutual learning experience, have often found it to be a time of bonding. If we learn together, we stand a better chance of staying together. There is so much to learn. And often it's not in the most obvious places. medical authorities and autism charities are usually heavily biased towards information for parents and about children. They also tend to have a heavy bias towards deficit and scare stories too. The resources for adults are sparse in comparison to those for parents, and help for the partners of autistic people to understand their loved ones is practically non existent. I hope this series will help to change that the relationships of all types succeed and fail on the basis of how well we communicate with one another. When we realize that one of us is autistic, and the other one is not. It is understanding how and why we communicate the way we do. That will not only get us through the change in our understanding, but leave a stronger on the other side. Knowing where we differ, and adjusting for those differences goes both ways. And couples who know this are the ones who will thrive. If you want to learn about autistic life, how our minds work, how our senses can be different and how our thought processes emotions and communication might function in a way you're not familiar with. Then autistic writers, speakers and filmmakers are without doubt your best source. We've learned not just from books and observations of others, but by living autistic lives. We can help both autistic people and those who love us understand our shared worlds better. If you'd like to hear more about how to make relationships between autistic and non autistic people succeed or just learn more about autistic life in general, then please subscribe and click the bell icon below to be notified of new videos.

Unknown Speaker 12:51

Thank you for watching.

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