Asperger’s in a relationship

How can I change when I don’t know where to begin?

Our elder wonders if it’s more a matter of understanding each other as your relationship grows.

Dear EWC:

Ever since I was little, I knew I was different from the other kids. When I was seven years old, I was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome (AS). One of my most predominant symptoms was my eating habits and my fear of trying new foods.

What I eat is basically anything on a typical kids meal. Things such as chicken nuggets and fries, grilled cheese, and pizza are my favorites. As I grew older, I learned to function in an extroverted world, however I still could not overcome my eating habits.

One year ago, I met the love of my life. The more we came together, the more he expressed disappointment towards my eating habits. Next year we really want to start settling down in a place together and maybe even get engaged. Which is all so exciting for me except the fact he wants me to get rid of this habit before we do anything because he doesn’t have that kind of money to fund my eating habits.

As much as I love him and want to get things going, I do not feel motivated to start changing because I don’t know where to begin. I wanna start things small but then again I don’t want to. I just don’t know how to commit myself to change. I really want to just be normal but I cannot even put some food in my mouth. I don’t know what to do.

Ms.JuliaJ replies:

You write very well and I want to thank you for being so clear in your presentation about your situation.

Congratulations on your relationship; you sound excited and happy! As you described your boyfriend, I am wondering if he understands what Asperger’s syndrome is all about? He may not have enough information and may be thinking that you are just being difficult, instead of the fact that you are dealing with a neurological condition in which your brain processes information differently than his brain. That does not make you wrong and him right. Being able to eat only certain foods is very common and often it is due to the texture of the food—the way it feels on your tongue, not just because of the way it tastes.

Your boyfriend may be worried about what he sees as an unhealthy diet. Are you able to eat any fruits or vegetables? Are there foods that you could not eat as a child, but you might be able to try now to see if you can tolerate them? Is there a new food that you might consider trying—and commit to trying one new food a week? Just try a bite of the new food, not a whole serving of it. If you can tolerate it, then the next time, eat two bites; go slow until you can eat a serving or about a half cup. You will need to build up to this.

Did you work with an occupational therapist (OT) when you were in school? They help with learning independent living skills and they are really good at working with people diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. An occupational therapist would be a great person to help you with learning to try new foods. You could get a referral from your medical doctor. The OT would also be a good person to help your boyfriend understand more of what you are going through and the support you need from him.

I am listing two books that you and your boyfriend may want to buy and read together. All individuals with Asperger’s are different; all of us as humans are different, but there are some things that people with Asperger’s have in common that may help your boyfriend understand you better. These books have been out a while and can be found online (new and used). I have not read them but the authors have good reputations and knowledge about Asperger’s.

The Partner’s Guide to Asperger Syndrome, Susan J. Moreno, Marci Wheeler, and Kealah Parkinson

The Other Half of Asperger Syndrome (Autism Spectrum Disorder): A Guide to Living in an Intimate Relationship with a Partner who is on the Autism Spectrum, Maxine Aston

I hope these suggestions and my thoughts will be helpful. Please write back if you would like to share further or have other concerns we can help you with.

Letter #: 431743
Category: Self-Improvement

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