Frequently Asked Questions

Here, Professor Tony Attwood, patron of Different Together, answers some pertinent questions raised by NT partners.

When a person first suspects that their partner might have Asperger's Syndrome, could you suggest what their initial steps might be?
With long waiting lists between referral and diagnosis in many parts of the UK, what practical steps can be taken to keep families together in that interim period?
Much of the focus on adult AS/NT relationships seems to put the responsibility for its success or failure onto the NT partner. Assuming the AS partner is also motivated to save the relationship, can you give some examples of what they could do?
Why is it that even visual reminders to the AS partner, for example a whiteboard list, to say or do particular things, don't appear to work for longer than a few days?
In setting up Minds and Hearts and developing knowledge and services around people experiencing Asperger's Syndrome, what would you consider to be the most successful programmes?
Can social skills be taught to adult partners experiencing Asperger's Syndrome?
How can the relationship between AS parents and their children -- especially in the teenage years -- be improved?
What would be the one piece of advice you would give to the neurotypical (NT) partner to enable them to have a fulfilling relationship?
What would be the one piece of advice you would give to the partner with Asperger's Syndrome to enable them to have a fulfilling relationship?
You have talked about a "spectrum of behaviour" and autism only constituting a problem when it becomes disabling. To whom would you consider it disabling?
What would you say to those who say that Asperger's traits are just 'men being men' or, in a woman's case, women displaying male tendencies?
Can you explain why someone with Asperger's Syndrome can appear to be flat emotionally but be so prone to outbursts of anger? If they can have that intensity in feeling anger, why do they seem unable to feel the same intensity of positive emotions, such as joy?
We know that some people with Asperger's Syndrome have difficulty picking up on different emotions in others. Can this be taught -- and if so how?
How would an AS partner learn to pick up the ability to pick up on the emotions of others?
Is it possible for an AS partner to take relationship direction/training/ coaching from a professional third party?
What value, as a resource, do you think Different Together brings to partners of people affected by Asperger's Syndrome?
What would you say are the pre-requisites for a relationship counsellor to have for the AS/NT couple?
What would you consider needs to be done to address the immediate pressing need for more AS trained counsellors throughout the UK?
What is your opinion of the idea that a person affected by Asperger's Syndrome cannot empathise with others?
How do AS/NT couples find mechanisms to reduce stress?
Do you think strategies such a mindfulness can be helpful to people affected by Asperger's Syndrome?