Attending a workshop for partners
I attended the 'Healing of Cassandra' workshop run by the counsellor Maxine Aston in Coventry. The workshop was aimed specifically at women who are or have been in a relationship with an adult with Asperger syndrome.
I drove the 480 miles to Coventry and left my husband, who has Asperger syndrome, to look after our two children under the age of six (the first time I've ever left them).
Before I booked my place, I felt unsure about whether I would really benefit from going, and on the day I felt sick with nerves about the prospect of sitting in a room full of strangers who would judge me and my relationship.
After perhaps half an hour of introductions, it became obvious to me that this was not a room of strangers. I found instead that I was amongst a group of fantastic women who, despite widely differing ages and backgrounds, all had an immediate empathy and understanding of my life.
We were able to talk freely about our experiences and anxieties with no need to constantly explain the nuances of living with an adult with Asperger syndrome. I didn't have to explain my worries for example about how my husband and children were coping – they just knew.
Not once did I hear anyone start a sentence with "I love my partner but ..." nor did I ever hear "You should just leave him". We did not feel the need to justify our situation or the behaviour of our partners; that in itself was enormously refreshing."
And, although there were heavy sad moments, there was also an enormous amount of laughter and joy. We were free to be ourselves and to celebrate our many positive qualities.
Maxine Aston led the workshop and facilitated our discussions in a very clear direction. We were not gathered to discuss Asperger syndrome or criticise our partners.
We focused very much on our needs and rights within the relationships and how to keep our own spiritual, physical and mental health in shape."
I would not hesitate to recommend the workshop to anyone who is or has been in a relationship with someone with Asperger syndrome.
Your partner does not need to have a formal diagnosis, if you feel certain it's Asperger's then it most probably is!"
If (like me) you might struggle financially to afford the course, I urge you to contact the carers' officer at your local NHS Trust. I first made contact with our carers' officer purely by accident, but she has been a great source of assistance.
She has encouraged me to acknowledge my role in supporting my husband and when I told her about the workshop she arranged a grant to cover most of the costs, on the basis that there are no services available locally. Such grants are, of course, discretionary and may not be available in all areas, but it's worth asking!
Read our FAQs from partners of autistic adults.