Interpersonal Relationship Skills for Male Partners with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Interpersonal Relationship Skills for Male Partners with Autism Spectrum Disorder is a downloadable eBook (PDF, 230 pages) designed to help those who are experiencing relationship difficulties related to Autism Spectrum Disorder (Level 1). This program also includes a series of instructional videos (2 hours +).

Woundedness in People on the Autism Spectrum—

I want to describe an unfortunate phenomenon involving individuals who think and behave differently (i.e., people with ASD), and as a result, have been misunderstood and mistreated to one degree or another throughout their life.
The mistreatment may have started as bullying in school, and continued in the workplace (perhaps to a lesser degree). Through years of perceived rejection and ridicule, the ASD adult may now feel a sense of shame and unworthiness.

The “wounded” individual on the autism spectrum:
  • believes that he is misunderstood and unappreciated, a view that is exacerbated by the negative responses he receives from others for his consistent defeatist stance
  • believes that other people interfere with his freedom
  • experiences control by others as intolerable
  • has a basic conflict concerning his self-worth
  • is inclined toward anger and irritability
  • views himself as self-sufficient, but feels vulnerable to control and interference from others
  • views others as intrusive, demanding, interfering, controlling, and dominating

Wounded individuals may be self-deprecating and express guilt for failing to meet expectations in one situation – and express stubborn negativism and resistance in another. They are vulnerable to worry and depression. Major depressive episodes are not uncommon. They often experience an undercurrent of perpetual inner turmoil and social anxiety. Many appear unable to manage their moods, thoughts and needs internally, which results in emotional instability.

Due to mind-blindness, the ASD adult does not always understand the motives of others. Unfortunately, when he is impacted negatively by another person’s words or actions (and does not understand why that person would say or do such a thing), he tends to fill in the void with a “negative” (e.g., “she said that to hurt me” …or “he did that because he doesn’t like me”).

Thus, since he is pretty much in a constant state of “misunderstanding others motives” and subsequently “filling in the void with a negative,” he often perceives himself as being on the receiving end of criticism, disrespect, and downright emotional abuse.

The Time for Healing Is Now—

My heart goes out to you gentleman with ASD because I know your neurotypical (NT) spouse may have accused you of being insensitive, selfish, uncaring, narcissistic, and even sociopathic. She may have made a bunch of false assumptions. But this may be because she does not fully understand autism spectrum disorder (yet).

If you have ASD [level 1], you will have some degree of mind-blindness. Not your fault. Your NT wife may blame you for being stubborn and rigid and simply not caring about - or understanding - her perspectives.

If you have ASD, then you have some level of emotions-blindness. Not your fault. And your NT wife has probably blamed you for being selfish and simply not caring about - or understanding - how she feels.

If you have ASD, you will have some executive function deficits. There are many executive functions, but to use the "working memory deficit" as an example, your NT wife may have blamed you for simply not caring about what she asks you to do when, in fact, it is difficult for you to remember some of these things.

We are NOT looking for excuses here, and we are NOT looking to get a "pass" for perceived callous behavior. We are looking to begin developing some emotional literacy and social skills so that you can connect with your spouse in a way that she will value and appreciate. 
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In this program, we will discuss ways to improve your social skills (SQ) and emotional literacy (EQ). Let's take a quick look at both:

SOCIAL IQ – The social brain is responsible for the following:
  • allowing us to know when incoming social signals are rewarding
  • allowing us to observe other human bodies
  • assigning the emotional value of different stimuli (e.g., deciding when something is disgusting)
  • attaching an incoming signal with an emotional value
  • deciding whether a social signal matters
  • deciphering prosody (i.e., the additional tones and ways that people add layers of meaning to their spoken words)
  • evaluating human voices
  • generating an initial emotional response to social stimuli (e.g., Should someone's tone impact me as much as it does? What does someone's look mean, and am I overreacting?)
  • generating reactions in response to different situations
  • helping control basic visual information
  • helping us notice where someone else is looking
  • helping us to not just listen to what people say but HOW it is said
  • observing minute details of facial expression and body language
  • perceiving important social cues
  • regulating strong human emotions
  • selecting which of the myriad incoming social signals is the most important

EMOTIONAL IQ – The emotional brain is responsible for the following:

1. Emotional self-awareness: "When my body gives me physical signals that something is wrong, do I pay attention to it and sense what's going on?"

2. Empathy: "Do I listen to people when they talk about their issues, or do I just try to give them a solution? Do people tend to confide in me?"

3. Impulse control: "Do I respond to people before they finish telling me something?"

4. Interpersonal relationships: "Do I enjoy socializing with people, or does it feel like work?"

5. Self-actualization: "Am I doing the things in life that I feel passionate about in MULTIPLE DOMAINS of life (i.e., spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, financially, vocationally), rather than focusing on only one narrow range of interest?

The goal here is NOT to make you more "neurotypical." There is nothing wrong with you - and you do not need to be "fixed." But you can learn several ways to adapt to the neurotypical world, with the larger goal of reducing your relationship stress.

Anxiety reduction is the paramount objective of this course. Without a significant reduction in anxiety, social encounters that are loaded with social and emotional nuances will be nearly impossible to navigate.

Most couples in a neurodiverse (ND) marriage are chronically in a stage I call "Resistance":
  • Blame, judgment, criticism, and defensiveness are likely outcomes.
  • Fear and anxiety enter the relationship (e.g., "This relationship is not safe.")
  • Power struggles are common.
  • The couples' thinking can narrow into either/or, right/wrong, good/bad polarities.
  • The ND spouses realize that they rarely meet each other's expectations.
  • They now become intensely aware of their differences.
  • They often disappoint and unintentionally hurt each other.
  • They use control strategies to bring back the desired balance.

To turn this around, there will need to be a new and improved stage I call "Discovery":
  • Both parties must learn more about each other's strengths and weaknesses.
  • They will have to avoid judging or blaming each other.
  • They must find a new balance of separateness, togetherness, independence, and intimacy. 
  • They will have to translate their complaints into requests for change. 
  • They will need to learn to identify - and talk about - their fears instead of acting them out.
  • They must see each other in a new light (i.e., we are both gifted and individually challenged).

At this point, many of you on the autism spectrum might be thinking that the skills listed above are way out of reach. They are not! 
Even the person on the spectrum has something very important going for them, namely, neuroplasticity. I can promise you there is hope. You can – and will – improve your social and emotional intelligence if you read the text in the eBook (230 pages), complete the accompanying exercises and assignments, and listen to the audio recordings (2 hrs. and 10 min.).

Neuroplasticity is an incredible phenomenon that describes the brain's remarkable ability to reorganize itself in response to new experiences. It is a complex and dynamic process that involves the formation of new neural pathways, the strengthening or weakening of existing connections between neurons, and the pruning of unnecessary connections. These changes occur at the microscopic level, and they play a fundamental role in shaping our cognitive abilities, behaviors, and memories.

Understanding neuroplasticity is crucial for maintaining a healthy brain function and enhancing your cognitive abilities throughout your life. By taking advantage of your brain's remarkable ability to adapt and change, you can optimize brain function and achieve your full potential.
The bottom line is this: Things are not likely to get better on their own. In fact, it would be my guess that things will get worse on their own. I’m not trying to scare anybody here, but many of you reading this will agree with me. So, how much longer can you afford to wait?

Let’s get busy and turn this around, starting now. You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain. If you have any doubts or any questions, I’m here for you:

~ Mark Hutten, M.A.
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Mark Hutten, M.A. is the creator of Online Parent Support, LLC. He is a neurodiverse couples-coach and life-coach with more than 30 years’ experience. He has worked with hundreds of children, teens, adults, and couples with ASD (all levels) and presents workshops and runs training courses for families and professionals who deal with ASD. Also, Mark is a prolific author of videos, articles and ebooks on the subject.

Contact Information:
Phone: 765-810-3319
Jason D. states:
"During my younger years (before I learned I had ASD), I struggled to interpret the emotions of those around me. This led to frequent misunderstandings and conflicts, which left me feeling frustrated and isolated. I knew that I needed to improve my social skills if I wanted to build deeper, more meaningful relationships with others. Mark Hutten suggested that I start paying more attention to body language and tone of voice, as they often conveyed more than the words people spoke. 
He also encouraged me to practice imagining myself in others' shoes using visual imagery. I took his advice to heart and began practicing these techniques every day. Slowly, I started to notice a difference. I became more attuned to the subtle cues people gave off, and I found myself able to predict their emotions with greater accuracy. I also developed a deeper sense of compassion, which allowed me to connect with people on a more personal level. 
Today, I can proudly say that I am much better at understanding the emotions of others. This has enriched my life in countless ways, enabling me to build a stronger, more authentic relationship with my wife. I am deeply grateful for Mark's program, which has helped me to see the world in a new light, and I will always review the lessons periodically so I don't forget what I've worked so hard to learn."