Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Neurotypical of the Family

Long time readers of this blog would know that I'm married with two sons. No girls. I've suggested jokingly to my wife that we're even now because the dog - and both of our guinea pigs are female.

It doesn't help.

It's a sad fact of our lives that my wife will have nobody to go "girly shopping" with or pass her jewellery onto.

It's not too late. We could have more but much as the idea of having a little girl appeals to me, the thought of having THREE boys on the spectrum does not.

If it wasn't hard enough being the only girl in the family, my wife is also the only neurotypical (we're not counting pets anymore). That's right - the most "normal" person in our house is in the minority.

It's funny how people on the spectrum often understand each other better than a neurotypical would but let's face it. If we're all sitting around taking things literally or jumping into detailed discussions on our often "mutual" special interests, it's obvious who will be left out.

There's not a lot I can do about it. We try to accomodate but ultimately, we're going to fail. My wife is never going to be able to keep up with our "aspie-powered" conversations.

I don't have a "fix" for the problem so this post is simply a "shout out" to the most special woman of our family to let her know that we do think of her. That sometimes when we go weeks without any empathetic response, I know that it's my failing - and my responsibility to "fix it".

Most of all though, to reassure her that I still love her with all of my heart despite the fact that my body language sometimes suggests otherwise.

It's school holidays in Australia now - and I'm at work. My wife is as usual doing her best to look after our children and to cope with their meltdown-inducing teasing and sensory infractions on eachother while simultaneously trying desperately to keep them entertained enough to prevent them from getting up to destructive mischief.

It's a thankless and often unrewarding task.

Then I come home, late as usual, with a handful of grass for the guinea pigs (nope - not flowers for my lovely wife) and I'm greeted by the dog, pigs and kids like a hero returning from the battlefield. The kids are clamouring for me attention and just because I'm clear on the differences between an AT-AT and an AT-ST, they launch into a detailed discussion of droid battlefield mechanics interspersed with what they did and how they felt during the day.

It's not fair.

My wife works so hard for our family. She does so much for the kids and me - yet on the face of it, she seems so "undervalued".

When being hugged, she has had to introduce terms like "chicken wings" to get the kids to put their arms around her and terms like "I can really feel the love..." just to make those hugs a little more responsive.

It's sometimes a little difficult to simply stand there and watch the kids interact with her without showing "enough" affection - particularly when other kids around you are putting on massive displays for their parents.

It's even more discomforting to realise that you, as an aspie adult are probably just as guilty of this as your kids.

So, if your neurotypical partner might be in a similar position, why not take some time out to show them some of the appreciation they deserve.


silk said...

thanks Gavin, everything you've ever written that I disagreed with has now been redeemed with this post. I had company over for the last holiday weekend, and my guest noted "wow, it's four of them against just one of you." It's not that I would trade my husband or kids, but it would have been really nice to have just one NT in the house with me.

Lisa said...

Oh, thanks Gavin.
Yes, it's the school holidays, and my NT spouse struggles with our 3 quirky boys... then I come home from work and head for World of Warcraft to chill out.

I'm sure HE feels alone against the unusual world.

In our house, hubby is the only NT.

And, much as I would have loved to have a daughter, I'm kind of glad that I don't have an NT daughter to deal with...

Serena said...

This was wonderful. Thank you for writing it.

Just another Mom said...

Hello Gavin, I am a new follower to your blog. I am the NT wife with two boys and hubby. Our dog is female, but I suspect if it is possible that dogs could be on the spectrum she is without a doubt. Your post was very heartwarming. I could relate in every way! lol.. I look forward to reading more of your posts.

Stacey Smith said...

A beautiful post.

Anonymous said...

You know, having an aspie daughter would be interesting as well....

outoutout said...

"Disability" really is relative, isn't it.

My partner is also the only NT in our house. Our roles are reversed from yours - she's the working parent & I stay at home - but I always try to show her how much I love & appreciate what she does for our family. Your post is a very timely reminder.

Tell your wife not to fret just yet - while she may never have a daughter, it's very possible she'll have a daughter-in-law! (or two)

Karen at CYB said...

Hi Gavin!
Wonderful post! Oh my goodness, I could relate to so much that you said, except in our family it's the reverse where the boys and I are on the spectrum and my husband, John isn't.

I love your special tribute to your NT wife! :-)

We have also thought about trying to go for a girl after the two boys but I kind of get the feeling, I'd field an entire baseball team before the girl would come out at the end as the umpire or team manager!

I will be sending John to check out your blog tonight!

Again, awesome post! :-)

Sarah Wagner said...

I have read your blog with extreme interest since this past winter...when we were in the midst of evaluations of our son, Sam (5 1/2), and the possibility of autism and ADHD. I get on the computer at night after everyone settles down and I have a moment to myself.

As I searched various sites and blogs, the Aspies and autistic people I would read about or posts from them directly...all of them were such sad and unhappy people. Out of place, unloved and unable to love - exactly the future I didn't want for my beautiful son.

Your site, posts and links to others is absolutely FANTASTIC! It has been a thoughtful, insightful, smart, funny and educational journey as I read through your blog. God bless you for what your personal story brings to all of us who are experiencing the various issues you cover on your site - whether as a individual with the issue, a parent/friend/or loved one.

Sam (my son) is doing well. He was diagnosed with ASD on the high functioning end of the spectrum. He is very loving, happy and silly boy. I pray that all of this "treatment" and new ways of thinking and doing things allows his great personality to continue to shine through.

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that you are appreciated in Evansville, Indiana, USA!

Sarah Wagner

Anonymous said...

Thank you Gavin, sometimes an NT partner does feel very lonely indeed.

Anonymous said...

this is so utterly sweet! :-) made me smile to know there are blokes like you out there... is it an aspie thing? cos i do know quite a few sweet aspie blokes, contrary to the rubbish they say about lack of affection / empathy etc... which was largely misconstrued anyway... but i shan't get into that here... thumbs up, gavin!

Anonymous said...

Great post! I now realize that I'm the only NT in my family which explains so so so much!!! How I became, unwillingly, the family clown and jester......trying my best to illicit emotions and smiles from my mother and brother and sisters!!! How pathetic!! hindsight that is!!! I needed to relate......they couldn't.....which made me feel inadequate.....unlovable!!!! Now, everything fits!!! While a relief, I am still hurt!!

Anonymous said...

I am so related, I' m your wife in my family! I will send this to my hubby to read it. Thanks again!!!