Neurodiverse Counselling & Coaching
Neurodiverse Couples Counseling
As a masters level special educator specializing in autism spectrum disorders, I am able to effectively help Neurodiverse Couples to identify root cause of issues through a neurological lens. Understand meltdowns in one or both partners and help them cope and manage.
Once partners are able to view their unique difficulties and differences through a “neurological lens”, they are often able to demonstrate greater compassion and a willingness to develop helpful strategies for improving their marriage/relationship.
Have you ever felt like you and your partner are on different wavelengths in the way you experience the world, interpret interactions and communicate with each other? This may be the case as individual brain is wired differently. This is called a neurodiverse relationship. It refers to one or both partners being on the autism spectrum. Neurological differences in the ways your brains work may make it hard to see eye-to-eye, live together, co-parent, be in social settings together or communicate about certain topics. While all couples experience challenges within their relationship, neurodiverse couples may face unique challenges based on these neurological differences. Neurodiversity can lead to rich, fulfilling relationships but it can also cause frustration, stress and heartache.
Often Asperger adults and neurotypicals may feel like a “magnet” attracting them together. The neurotypical may be attracted to the Aspie’s stability, focus and intelligence. The Aspie may appreciate the neurotypical helping him or her navigate social situations. They may feel like they are complementary, a perfect fit.
DIFFERENCES TURN INTO DYSFUNCTIONAL PATTERNS
Once the couple is married, they discover that they speak different languages and have a disparity in how they think and experience emotions. Without the tools to understand and constructively deal with neurodiversity, these differences are often interpreted negatively which, over time, become cemented into dysfunctional painful patterns which gradually destroy the relationship.
Healing Wounded Neurodiverse Relationships
With proper treatment or coaching and investment by both partners, it is possible for neurodiverse couples to have a sustainable, rewarding, and fulfilling relationship that celebrates the good and manages the challenging aspects of their different personality characteristics. It is critical to work with a therapist or coach that understands Asperger’s.
Hope and Change Through Coaching and Therapy
The perceived rigidity and self-focus of the AS partner can change – there is hope. The therapy work we do together will create hope right from the start. This happens through understanding, awareness, and accountability. The first step is to create an individualized treatment or coaching plan for your specific needs. Immediate crises are addressed up front along with a thorough assessment of your collective and individual histories. From there the work begins as we do cognitive and experiential exercises to create a new way of being in relationship together. Homework is assigned to keep the progress moving forward outside of session. This is done in a collaborative way so the speed of change is appropriate for each partner and couple. Creating new ways of relating must go beyond the cognitive realm and into real behaviour change. Learn new ways of communicating and adjusting that may be more effective and constructive for a neurodiverse relationship.
MY PARTNER DOESN’T SEE THAT THERE IS A PROBLEM.
Many people on the autism spectrum have a hard time sensing that something is missing from They also often have a hard time assessing their own behaviour and its impact on others. That does not mean your thoughts and feelings aren’t important and valuable. Counseling is for you to have a place to receive support for your full range of thoughts and feelings.
Let Me Support You as You Navigate The Strengths & Challenges Neurodiversity Brings To Your Relationship
You are experiencing difficulties in your relationship and you are wondering if your partner or spouse has Asperger’s Syndrome or Autism Spectrum Disorder(ASD), or you or your partner/spouse identifies as neurodiverse or has been formally diagnosed with Asperger’s / ASD and you are looking for a psychologist or counsellor who is skilled in working with neurodiverse couples.
What are the common concerns in neurodiverse relationships?
- Lack of emotional connectedness or sexual intimacy
- Communication struggles
- Feelings of loneliness in the neurotypical (non-ASD) partner
- Differences in parenting approaches
- Rigid routines or behaviours, including obsessions / special interests
- Problems associated with executive functioning (such as planning and problem solving)
Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) is a high functioning form of autism or autism spectrum disorder (ASD). ASD is made up of a group of neurodevelopmental disorders that are characterized by two categories of symptoms: repetitive behavior patterns and social impairment. Some symptoms of adults with ASD includes :
- Difficulty making friends.
- Unusual or repetitive use of language
- Abnormal intense focus on a topic of interest
- Rigid adherence to routines or rituals
- Difficulty in initiating or sustaining a conversation.
- Impaired ability to be creative or imaginative.
Despite these symptoms, people with AS are gifted in many ways. They tend to have a superior intellect and an amazing ability to focus which may lead to impressive accomplishments in life. People with AS have a different kind of brain. Yet it’s the “best kind of different”. Please keep in mind that all ASD and AS individuals are unique and will have different levels of severity of symptoms or possibly none at all in some areas.
Many counselors aren’t trained in Autism Spectrum/Special Needs Education and are unaware of ASD and how it presents in high functioning adults or even in adults who may not meet the full criteria for an official diagnosis. Typical advice that is often given in traditional therapeutic settings regarding communication, intimacy, boundary setting and expectations may not work and may even exacerbate the problem. Many neurotypical partners come to me after having seen other counselors. Unfortunately, that has often been ineffective and even at times harmful, when the therapist has painted a picture that has made the neurotypical partner feel overly sensitive, nagging and overly controlling.
Due to the significant differences in perspectives, communication styles and preferences, there can be unique challenges within a neurodiverse relationship. Unfortunately, partners in such relationships have often sought support from several different therapists over the years, with limited success. Unfortunately, standard couples therapy approaches can be quite unhelpful for neurodiverse couples and it is common for couples to feel frustrated by their lack of progress in therapy.
Yes! The challenges faced by partners in a neurodiverse relationships are largely due to neurologically based differences in each person’s behaviour, communication and perspective. Whilst we cannot change our neurology, we can improve our understanding of its impact and learn how to work around some of the challenges it poses. The emphasis in my coaching sessions is on goal setting and skills teaching, based on the strengths and limitations present with your relationship.
In coaching with couples, I aim to help partners understand the unique difficulties within their relationship, inform them how an Asperger’s / ASD profile is contributing to these difficulties and to build skills for improving the relationship. This includes recognising each partner’s strengths, as well as the things they may be unable to change due to their individual neurology.
Whilst sessions can include addressing past hurts that need to be acknowledged and understood in order for the relationship to feel secure, safe and satisfying for both partners moving forward, coaching is generally future focussed. My aim is to support you in gaining a better understanding of the impact of neurodiversity on your relationship and developing the skills needed for your relationship to thrive.
The coaching process involves:
- An initial session with the couple to discuss their perspectives on the relationship, including its strengths and challenges.
- An individual session with each partner to discuss in more detail their own history, their experience of the current relationship and their hopes for improving the relationship.
- Regular coaching sessions held every 1-2 weeks which focus on providing education about the impact of each partner’s neurology on the relationship and teaching skills to help each partner improve the relationship (eg:, communication, problem solving, coping strategies).