“And when you get to where you’re going, turn around and help her, too. There was a time, not long ago, where she was you.”
Over twenty-two years ago, I began working with severely autistic children. I had no idea that I would eventually meet and marry a man on the autism spectrum – nor that I wouldn’t recognize it until after we married. After his ASD diagnosis, it was startling to realize how few resources were available for neurotypical wives. We were very fortunate to have a psychologist who deeply understood the difficulties in our relationship, and she taught both of us a great deal about one another. I believe our marriage only lasted as long as it did because of her presence in our life. We saw her together and individually for over fourteen years – which most importantly meant that I wasn’t alone with my pain.
In total, I was married for 18 years to my autistic husband before we eventually separated and divorced. We have three children, each with multiple neurodivergent diagnoses. Our kids have diagnoses of Autism Spectrum Disorder (including PDA profile), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Dysphoric Mood Dysregulation Disorder, and Sensory Processing Disorder. We continue to co-parent together. I believe that two people formerly married can still treat one another as family for the sake of their children, even if the marriage no longer exists.
To answer a common question: do I believe all neurodiverse marriages should end in divorce? Of course not. Each marriage has unique considerations, and divorce is certainly not the path nor goal for everyone. I’m also very aware of how difficult it can be to leave, even when it’s desired, and how contentious a divorce can become within a neurodiverse dynamic.
Because I am respectful of my children and former husband’s privacy, I do not identify my name on this website. In addition to over two decades spent in the field of autism, I very much attribute my family’s unique neurology, gifts, vulnerabilities and challenges as an irreplaceable element of why I am able to offer effective help and coping to others. Many fundamental challenges of neurodiverse marriage and family life can simply not be gleaned through direct client service, nor in a textbook, and certainly not (at this juncture) in a graduate school classroom. Thanks for your respect and understanding for my loved ones.