Cover Image: Neurodiverse Relationships

Neurodiverse Relationships

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Member Reviews

The strength of this book is in the way it is set up. Each chapter presents what comes across as a conversation between spouses (one who is neurotypical and one who is diagnosed on the autism spectrum) and a therapist. The topics are both informational and insightful, covering both the gamut of issues faced by any couple, (including parenting and finances), as well as those specific to a neurodiverse couple (such as meltdowns and the pressures of socializing). It was enlightening to read the insights of the couples and the different ways they made sense of the same situations. I highly recommend this book for both couples who are navigating a neurodiverse relationship and practitioners who work with neurodiverse couples.
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*** This ARC was given in exchange for an honest review ***

I’m going to echo other comments about my disappointment that all the relationships in this book come from an autistic male/ NT female perspective. 

With that being said, I found this as an intriguing look into both sides of the table. I actually feel that this was a pretty balanced look: you get both views on the same situation and the comments/insights and emotions to go along with it. To downplay the feelings of the NT partner is unfair given that a marriage is between two individuals. If one feels that they are taking the “adult” position over a “teen,” then that is an important distinction to make that there are things that the couple should work out together. The hard part is actually working out viable solutions.

I appreciate how the author handles these various situations. Not only do we get the couples insight individually, but we also have a third view (Tony, who is a specialist) that analyzes the text from both sides. He praises the NT partner when they realize the positive traits and works with their partner on relationship issues, and offers an insightful look into handling these situations. This is something sorely needed for couples where a partner is not NT.
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Twelve couples with one autistic partner and one non-autistic partner featured in this book discussing areas such as Family, Socialising, Meltdowns and Change. Each chapter contained a section from the perspective of each person within the couple followed by a discussion/question and answer style section from authors Joanna Pike and Tony Attwood. 

The premise of this book was both promising and interesting - it had the potential to allow an exploration of how an autistic and a non-autistic person in a relationship would perceive the same events through their different experiences. Unfortunately, the majority of the book was negative and there were a number of outdated and, in some places, outright offensive stereotypes and mis-characterisations about autism. 

There was a general tone of negativity about being within a relationship with an autistic person and discussions around strategies and supports often veered into discussions of how non-autistic partners had to take on "mothering" roles and the strain that autistic traits had on relationships. Some of the behaviours exhibited by people in the book were also quite emotionally abusive and the book would have benefited from exploring these from that perspective rather than accepting them as part of an ASD-NT relationship.

Also, it was disappointing to see that all twelve couples were male-female couples where the autistic partner was the man in the relationship. Given the recent work on autism in women and girls, and recent research which suggests more autistic people are LGBT+ than non-autistic people, it is a shame that this book lacks much in the way of diversity. 

There were some good sections - the final chapter stood out as the best chapter by far as it did not diminish some of the difficulties that occur in a relationship when one partner is autistic but also discussed strategies and ways that the couple had worked together to improve their communication and therefore their relationship. There wasn't any impression of burden from the partner's perspectives and their mutual respect and understanding for each other was a positive end to the book. Unfortunately, these good sections didn't really balance out the negative tone that was present for much of the rest of the book.
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I'm currently awaiting autism assessment and my fiancé shows many traits of ADHD, so I was both eager and interested to read this title. ⁣
Twelve couples, where one partner is on the autism spectrum and the other is neurotypical, take turns exploring a specific aspect of their relationship, and their responses are then discussed by autism academic, Tony Attwood. ⁣
It's a really interesting idea and I could recognise a lot of myself in the couples, as well as previous partners of mine who I think may have had ASD, and also my parents who display a lot of the traits. As I'm still learning about adult autism, I had a lot of "aha!" moments. ⁣
One downside to the book is that all the ASD partners were male, and I would have liked to have seen a relationship with a neurodiverse woman. In addition, all the relationships were mixed in terms of gender and neurostatus, and it would have been nice to have some same sex couples and couples who are both neurodiverse. ⁣
It was a bit saddening to read about so many relationships that seemed to be struggling and failing, but there were heartwarming and reassuring chapters where both partners had great insight, patience and empathy, and worked as a team to overcome challenges. This gives me hope for my marriage as I think we're both pretty good in this regard.⁣
A bit of a niche read, but if you have an interest in autism, it's definitely thought provoking. 

Thanks to Netgalley and Jessica Kingsley Publishers for the preview copy in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. ⁣
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Neurodiverse Relationships was a wonderful book.  It gave perspectives of relationships from the two partners, one autistic and the other neurotypical.  Then the issues in the relationships are broken down by a professional, in how autism impacts the relationships and a little bit on what can be done.  It's very insightful.  I would  100% recommend it for clients and/or their partners.  Many of the concerns that those couples dealt with are connected to the issues I feel.  I know this book is helpful, insightful, and connecting.
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This book consists of a series of chapters, each focusing on one couple with one partner who is NT (neurotypical) and the other with AS (autism spectrum issue, often called Asperger's). Each partner tells their side of an issue, and then autism authority Tony Attwood gives his take at the end of each chapter.

So, this book really reads like a conversation. I feel the value in it comes from helping people in such a partnership hear about others' stories and feel that they're not alone in what can feel like a crazy-making situation.

I highlighted so many things in the book. Here are a few:
*Stress for the AS partner can be considerable due to not understanding criticism for contributing to a disappointing relationship and why his or her natural behavior should cause such distress and anguish.

*They were so busy looking at spelling and grammar mistakes they didn't ever get the real message. There's a mind-set with AS that's really looking for patterns and errors and correcting them without realizing how people will feel when their error is corrected.

*At least 80% of those with Asperger's have constant debilitating anxiety. Up to 70% will also have cyclical depression.

*(People with AS) do not find it easy to absorb and resonate with other people's happiness. They have difficulty being "jollied up." Generally, people with AS experience happiness differently to neurotypicals. Someone with AS is more likely to find happiness in solitude, solving a problem, or spending time on their special interest ... which is the ultimate happiness.

*The person with AS is also, by nature, likely to be pessimistic, which is fed by the need to point out others' errors.

*Difficulty coping with change and interrupted routines is one of the core diagnostic characteristics of autism.

*One of the things common to many NT/AS partnerships is that, after marriage, everything changes. In this instance, the change is brought on by the AS partner. It's almost as though the person has won the prize and they don't have to put in any effort anymore. 'You've signed the contract, that's it, I no longer need to pretend.'
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In this book twelve couples (one partner who is autistic and one who is neurotypical) discuss different topics to do with their relationships; from finances to communication, family occasions to parenting. They both explore the topic from their individual points of view and then Autism expert Tony Atwood gives feedback at the end of each chapter with reflections, suggestions and some food for thought in a question and answer style section.
I was intrigued as to what information this book would give and if I’m honest was expecting a little bit more from it then I got. While the idea behind it was a brilliant one and had lots of potential through exploring relationships from different experiences to provide practical helpful information, I felt overall this was quite a negative take on autism. It felt largely as if the neurotypical partners on the whole used the book to complain about their autistic partners (while on the whole the autistic partners where quite nice about their other half). There were some exceptions to this however with two chapters really standing out. Ben and Alice provided really good and interesting detailed accounts and allegories of communicating and feelings and how this can vary for autistic and neurotypical people and Eric and Charmaine really showed that teamwork is possible and can work well.

While it was fantastic that the book incorporated both the autistic and neurotypical partners viewpoints (so often the autistic voice is omitted) it would have been nice to have seen a mixture of couples where there was a female autistic partner and male neurotypical partner too and maybe even an autistic couple.

 Rating: 3/5

Best Read While: wanting to learn a bit more about other people’s life experiences and either without much knowledge on autism, an interest in psychology or autistic and in a relationship with a neurotypical or a neurotypical in a relationship with someone who is autistic.
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