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Encouraging Someone to Get an Autism Eval

From the "Ask a Question" in box:
…I have been married for 12 years to a man I suspect has Aspergers. Whenever I suggest this to him he scoffs. I would really like for him to be assessed for [Asperger's Syndrome] as it may help me be more tolerant of some of his inappropriate reactions / statements. Do you have any suggestions to help him be more open to the idea? Your insight is much appreciated.
[Note: I have taken the liberty of moving this question, allowing the visitor to remain anonymous.]

There isn't one best, right answer for this question. For some autistics and their families, a formal diagnostic evaluation opens doors: school supports, occupational therapies, and insurance coverage. But, as you get older there is less measurable benefit to the autism diagnosis. The benefits for adults receiving a diagnosis rest in how they use the information.

Though this visitor writes that a diagnosis of her husband would help her be tolerant, I've found that if a partner or friend has problems dealing with specific behavioral traits, the diagnosis only causes a temporary, conscious effort, tolerance. And tolerance isn't acceptance. Maybe some situations are different, but it is nearly impossible to stop being bothered by something a person does on a regular basis.

Now, if the diagnosis encourages the partner with an ASD to get help — that makes things better. Maybe the partner can address behaviors that are affecting relationship negatively. But, that means the partner has to recognize the need to change and then seek assistance changing.

When autistics tell me that they don't need to change, I remind them that plenty of "neurotypical" people seek help with medical and behavioral challenges. The entire, "Autism isn't the problem, acceptance is" can lead some people to dismiss every issue in relationships or with sensory integration as an "autism" issue that not only does not but should not be "fixed" with outside help.

Sometimes, being blunt is the last, best resort: Get help or this relationship might end.

I don't know when a couple or a working relationship reaches that point of intervention, but when it does… being honest is everything.

Someone has to want help. For some people, the only way to make them "want" help is to make it mandatory. When faced with such an ultimatum, maybe the partner will make the wise choice.


  1. For me a dx = services not a "way of being" or "belonging to the club" way of thinking that happens often in adult autism-land.

    I was told when my eldest was 6 by his Dev Ped that the aspie was probably his Mother. Answer to that would be "no kidding" :) Would I be formally dx'd?? No. I know my "quirks" and we've been friends a long time and can live with each other.

    If it would help her be more tolerant then there is a bigger issue in their marriage. Men do not change - period. What you see is what you get... she either has to live with it or get a divorce unless she can truly get him to react with the "this marriage needs counselling or I'm leaving" threat. Also she needs to remember that if he is dx'd, that he may turn the dx into an excuse. "Well I don't have to do because I'm autistic"; "the autism made me do" etc which in the end may be worse than what's going on now because then it makes her feel guilty for not being accepting enough.

    Cold?? Yes. But, it's the truth.

  2. Thanks so much for shedding light on such an important topic. I would hope that there is willingness to change on both sides, but each person has a choice regarding how much s/he is willing to change, and each of us varies in the process of change. I appreciate your comments to both the neurotypical spouses of learning acceptance, but also to autism spectrum spouses of needing to get help just like neurotypicals do.


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