I am in the process of writing a book to offer emotional support to couples in which one partner has the symptoms or diagnosis of AS. The working title for the book is TWENTY QUESTIONS AND TWENTY ANSWERS for couples facing Autism Spectrum.
I chose this photo for the cover because it conveys so perfectly a combination of beauty, joy, hope, longing, sadness, solitude, loneliness, and expansiveness - all the conflicting emotions and sensations that converge simultaneously in the heart of the relationship in which one partner has AS. I owe a debt of gratitude to my friend Mauro Barsi, a gifted Italian photographer, whose evocative work also provides the visual imagery that accompanies all the posts on my blogs. This paticular photo was taken on a winter's afternoon along a deserted Adriatic beach in the vicinity of Venice. What I say with words, Mauro says with photos.
Why am I writing this book? Because I receive letters from individuals from all over the world who find my blog posts online and write to me to thank me for understanding their situation. They tell me they are grateful to hear that they are not alone. The most touching element is that the stories are so similar: each person, alone in pain, tells me of emotional isolation, loneliness, feelings of hopelessness and lost dreams, a loss of self-esteem, and concerns for children regarding the effects that AS has on a family, as well as whether children themselves may be on the spectrum.
There are many book available now that discuss AS/NT marriages. Primarily, they identify the traits and characteristics of an individual with AS and then offer suggestions for how the neurotypical spouse, in the language of psychiatry, can work within the framework of the diagnosis to help create a marriage that works. Typically, the neurotypical spouse is a woman, because four times as many men as women are diagnosed on the high functioning end of the autism scale.
I am writing in support of these individuals and the lonely journeys of loss, grief, and insecurity they travels as they discover the diagnosis, faces its implications, and make decisions about how to move forward. I am writing to offer strength to individuas who feel they can not make choices any longer, who feel they have lost their own identities in their attempts to make their relationships work. Finding ways to make an AS/NT relationship work is not the same as finding ways within a neurotypical relationship to create the emotional and psychological support that an individual typically expects from a partner.
It is not my intention to villify anyone with AS. To the contrary, as I work with couples in an effort to help them build bridges of understanding and communication. But the reality is that even these individuals often acknowledge that their relationships are difficult and that they can see the pain in their partners' lives, though they cannot often understand it, and they do not know feel they can ever understand it well enough offer authentic emotional support.
If you are interested in signing up to learn when the book will be published, please send me an email at Sarah@swensoncounseling.com.
You may also send me questions or issues you would like to see me cover in a blog post, or to contact me in regard to another matter of concern.
Once the book is published, we will create a book tour and series of media events and speaking engagements that cover the areas discussed in the book. I will post information about these events on both blogs.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have a question or concern of particular importance that you would like to see included in the book.