Attending to the title, the
answer is "Yes."
From the earliest interest in a small group of odd children expressed by
Hans Asperger in the middle years of the Second World War until today,
research and money - the engine
that drives discovery - has concentrated
primarily on children.
This collection of contributions by subscribers to Karen Rodman's FAAAS
listserv is well past due its introduction to the general reading public.
While many readers who have been in the AS trenches a long time may have
mixed feelings about the overall tone of the FAAAS listserv, there is no
question that the listserv itself and the Massachusetts conferences held
by Ms. Rodman over the past three years have had an enormous impact on
spouses and ex-spouses involved in AS marriages.
There is another major listserv on the Internet that addresses the later
stages of "getting on with adult AS relationships in all their varieties".
That listserv, ASPIRES, is maintained by Linda Newland. List emphasis is
on support and sharing of problem-solving one's way through AS
relationships. The website of ASPIRES is at
Ms. Newland can be contacted for membership on the ASPIRES listserv by
emailing her personally at "Linda Newland"
Time is way overdue for extensive exploration of adult issues by adults
impacted by autistic spectrum disorder, whether it be "persons with" or
"persons affected by". However, as a person on the autistic spectrum
myself, I remain sqeamish about Ms.Rodman's choice of the term "afflicted
by". Nevertheless, her list serv is one often first turned to by partners
in AS marriages who "discover" AS in their spouse. They are often at the
first stages of discovery, shock, profound anger, chagrin, self-doubt, and
guilt, emotions common to persons whose lives are affected by new,
Only during the past half dozen years has the general reading public seen
significant contributions by adults on the autistic spectrum as well as
serious writing by the few professionals who "get" AS as an adult
phenomenon. However, few have focused exclusively on the relational impact
of AS on marriage and the daily as well as long-term management/survival
issues of the institution of marriage itself. Illustrative of several
books that have discussed these wider issues are two books by English
marriage counselor Maxine Aston, and self-descriptions of individual
marriages by Gisela and Christopher Slater-Walker, as well as an odd and
disappointing book by Patrick, Estelle and Jared McCabe. Other authors
such as Liane Holiday Willey, Edgar Schneider, and Stephen Shore touch on
the personal aspects of intimate relationships, but they do so in a way
that, while personal, still reads somewhat distantly.
This book fairly screams "highly personal accounts." They are tastefully
presented. By in large, it is a book of personal pain and anguish, mixed
with some hope. However, hope as a phenomenon doesn't occupy a central
position in many writers' contributions. Hope and an air of positivism
occupies such a position in to the single "other" book published on AS
marriages published to date that samples the experiences of those mostly
"in" them". Ashley Stanford's "Asperger Syndrome and Long-Term
Relationships" is a contrast to this later set of writings edited by Ms.
Rodman, mainly because Ms. Stanford, while conducting somewhat the same
kind of "search of authors" organizes her book in a thoughtful way around
the individual DSM-IVTR diagnostic criteria for Asperger Syndrome with a
"plus" missing with Ms. Rodman's contribution. That "plus" is a healthy
section on work-arounds, plus a load of tips and techniques in anecdotal
tid-bits within each chapterf focusing on survival and personal growth of
both partners in the relationship.
Writers in Rodman's book don't "explain" AS. Each of their contributions
is a story of its immediate impact on them as sentient, passionate beings.
They tell their stories directly and with little interest in presenting
either a lesson plan or otherwise primarily "educating" the reader. These
contributors share their feelings in a collection of writings in a way no
other single authors writing about their marriages have been able to do.
While there is much duplicative description of the manifestations of
spousal AS, the stories of each writer, no matter how brief or the form
taken, are directly "from the heart." What grabs the reader is the
immediacy of the writers' responses to the lack of their AS partners'
awareness of their more global emotional and sensory needs (expressed with
reference to their role not merely as marriage partners, but as parents
and social beings) while their AS partners act zealously to protect and
defend their own individual needs.
While we await other contributions to the ever widening field touching on
spectrum adult relationships, a brief review of related literature may be
helpful. Many books by authors already on the market should be re-read
with closer attention paid to their description of adult relationships.
Readers less interested in "education" than getting to the core emotional
needs of persons on the autistic spectrum would do well to read the
earlier contributions of Wendy Lawson and Donna Williams, especially
Williams' hard-to-find "Like Colour to the Blind". An excellent new book
of collected writings by women on the spectrum is Jean Kearns Miller's
edited writings of women on the autistic spectrum entitled "Women from
Another Planet - Our lives in the Universe of Autism". Despite the
writings of more men on the autistic spectrum, most of men's contributions
have a distinctly didactic and "professorish" flavor to them, with the
exception of William Stillman's intimate "Demystifying the Autistic
Experience". I hope that as time passes, other men will open their hearts
as fully as he does to readers. It is both telling and significant that
Mr. Stillman's preference in intimate partners perhaps allows him a
forthrightness and directness not easily "available" to heterosexual AS
What appears to be breaking new ground to understanding are the books
dealing with the special aspects of autistic communication having an
immediate impact on the person's abilities to make connections. The work
of Michelle Garcia-Winner (a skilled SLP who "really gets it") as well as
the contributions of Stephen Gutstein, Ph.D. have done much to get to the
core of the logic base of autistic emotion and its connection to
A long-missing concentration on the sensory issues facing adults on the
spectrum has found voice in Olga Bogdashina's "Sensory Perceptual Issues
in Autism and Asperger Syndrome." (Acknowlegment for break-open discussion
of sensory issues is due to earlier contributions of Brenda Smith Myles
and others, whose works concentrating on childhood and adolescent sensory
issues in education have been largely overlooked for their implications
for adults, most of whom remain undiagnosed and misdiagnosed.)
In his lectures and latest writings, author Stephen Shore focuses heavily
on the role that sensory issues play in the totality of the autistic
person's relation to him/herself as well as to the whole world "out there.
Greater awareness of sensory issues should prompt readers of earlier
contributions by Willey, Lawson and Williams to re-read their books, this
time with far greater attention paid to the exquisite role played by the
different sensory experiences life of individuals on the spectrum. Even
books as sensationally written as Barbara Jacob's "Loving Mr. Spock:
(Penguin, UK) require a new read by readers wishing to understand more
about relationships "gone wrong".
As a book issued by a major figure in the public arena who first began to
explore AS marriages, Ms. Rodman's is a first of its kind. She and her
publisher are to be congratulated for the difficult task of introducing
the wide range of issues presented by the contributors to this book. If
marriage counselors and counseling professionals were to have two
essential books "just to start with," the Rodman and the Stanford books
are absolutely essential introductions to the reality of adult
relationships in the presence of Asperger Syndrome.