That was about thirteen years ago.The test verified AS, although without a first-person interview with parents a diagnosis can’t be confirmed, and Peter’s parents were deceased. But for me, the results explained everything.
Early in our relationship, Peter told me he’d always felt different, out of place. I chalked that up to what I called the “engineer’s personality.” He was extremely focused on his work, highly intelligent, obsessed with certain things, had repetitive habits, and his social skills were lacking. Often, people with AS have only one friend because they see no need for more! My husband says he’s had one friend at each phase of his life. Two of them, Martin, a college friend, and Jerry, a GE colleague, are still close. While writing this I’ve realized that in this phase of his life — retirement — I’m his friend. That’s good and bad. Another whammy.
I told Peter his “difference” was what I loved about him because “cookie cutter” men had no appeal. At the time, of course, I had no idea he was on the autism spectrum. In fact, the autism spectrum hadn’t even been defined when we met in 1974.
When he was at a party with his mates he was hilarious. After a couple of beers, he’d lead the group singing naughty pub songs, tell bawdy jokes, and turn on his English accent to make the women swoon. Yet, if we went to a party with my friends he was a totally different person: he would scarcely talk, smile, or even eat!
Even though we were a couple from the night we met, he stressed that he’d never marry again. “I’m not any good at marriage,” he’d say.
It took me seven years to change his mind, but that’s another story. We “tied the knot,” figuratively, almost thirty-three years ago.
Fast forward about twenty years from 1981 to Leslie’s assessment and my subsequent quest to find a way to “modify” Peter. I hoped he’d magically become more personable, at least some of the time, instead of one who shone only at parties with his friends.
I read books, searched on-line, went to seminars, saw a psychologist who was schooled in AS, joined help groups. I learned I would have to change to adapt to his behavior, learn new ways to deal with his AS. I asked him to talk to the psychologist too, but he would not. I wasn’t surprised.
I changed. Peter didn’t.
Except he did, but not in the way I’d hoped, and it had nothing to do with my concerned, but misguided efforts. He seemed to go adrift. He became short-tempered, argumentative, and sulky, all so unlike him. Was his fear about re-marrying coming true?
The seed for this blog was planted then, with his referral to a neurologist, more testing, re-testing, and his slow road to forgetting.