Richard and Sue - Interview 10
More about me...
Michael and Sue have been married for over thirty years and have a large family. Seven years ago Sue read a newspaper article describing Asperger syndrome and felt that it described her husband. The couple went to their GP who was, initially, reluctant to refer Michael because there was no treatment for the condition. However, it was important for both Michael and Sue to have the diagnosis and they were eventually referred to a specialist centre where Michael was diagnosed. Sue felt that she would rather live the next thirty years with a disabled husband rather than with a husband who did not care.
Before diagnosis, Sue and Michael had tried marriage counselling to try to overcome their difficulties. Michael could not relate to Sue, or their children, emotionally and would withdraw when Sue became upset. Sue feels that Michael’s Asperger’s has significantly affected her and their children. While Michael was physically present as the children were growing up he did not engage with the family. Both Michael and Sue have suffered from depression.
Michael was a loner as a child and is obsessed with computers. He is very intelligent and has heightened hearing and vision. One of their children also has Asperger syndrome and is currently getting on well in secondary school.
Now he has the diagnosis, Michael is learning to read body language, make eye contact and understand other people’s feelings and emotions. Michael has found the internet a useful resource and spends time interacting with other people with Asperger syndrome electronically. Sue gets support from her Christian faith.
Sue persuaded her husband to seek a diagnosis.
So if you would just like to start by telling me your experience of having Asperger's then.
Sue finds it easier to interpret some of Richard's behaviour as an aspect of his Asperger...
Having seen a psychiatrist who did not make the diagnosis Richard and Sue did their own research...
Richard' Because it’s….
Sue' Because it’s actually a charity, it is funded by a charity that particular clinic.
Richard' That improved his opinion. Although the GP had said, he had said to me, “Why do you need a diagnosis? There is no treatment.” But I mean I just backed my wife’s view on the diagnosis and for me, I also thought that I would rather be an Asperger than be wrong, weird, with no known cause. So that got us onto the system. They sent us some questionnaires, fairly lengthy questionnaires. We did those. They wanted to interview my parents, but it was far too late for that. They wanted to interview somebody who knew me as a child and with a lot of effort the best we could come up with was my younger sister. Obviously she is younger, but she had known me through part of her childhood.
Sue describes how her husband could never relate emotionally to anything happening at home and...
Before you read this newspaper article did you know about Asperger's?
Sue' Yes, but when people say that sort of thing, they have their own mental image of what they mean by that. But it still didn’t match up with what our experience was.
Can you give me some examples of the kinds of things you are talking about in terms of not being able to communicate.
While Richard can give a dictionary definition of the word enthusiasm, he says that he has never...
Richard describes, while he has learnt some body language over the past two years, 'I don't...
Richard had a solitary childhood.
Richard' It never occurred to me. I suppose like most people I was the way I was and that was all I knew. And perhaps I hadn’t really considered what was portrayed in films and plays where obviously you do see a lot of emotion portrayed. That is what it is about. I just hadn’t, hadn’t considered it, as applying to myself. As a child I was very solitary. But I didn’t have friends and at the time I think my understanding of that was, I don’t have an interest in football, that loses me most of my friends, I still don’t have an interest in football which means I am not going to make friends at work. But that doesn’t bother me. And at the time, when I was a child I don’t think I ever thought what was cause and what was effect. You know, I was different from most of my age group in that I was a lot more interested in maths and physics and not at all interested in football and that made me different. I would rather sit and read then go and play a sport. That made me different. So if I didn’t have any friends, it might have just been because of that.
What about other family members did they view you as different do you think?
Richard highlights how 'an obsessive interest in detail' can be put to good use in the workplace.
I think those are the main ones really, that you can be very focused and you can cut off outside stimuli to enable you to be focused which obviously in some jobs that is quite a useful thing to be able to do. So it is matter of trying to find the positive side to the traits in that respect. You know I mean in a family that is a not very good trait that you can sit at a computer for six hours of an evening and not know who is in the house and who isn’t, is the other side of the coin.