At Brisbane Mood In Mind we work with lots of couples where one or both people in the relationship are neuro typical. This can cause lots of frustrations when one or both people do not understand the condition and instead we internalise or take it the symptoms and behaviors personally. If you are in a relationship with a neurodivergent partner, there are some essential things you should know to keep the relationship healthy. Neurodivergent individuals often face challenges with communication, sensory processing, and social interaction, among other things. But, with the right approach, these challenges can be managed, and you can enjoy a fulfilling and happy relationship. Reachy out if you would like to enagge in relationship therapy with us but we hope you find our blog below very helpful.
Here are some tips on how to have a relationship with a neuro-diverse partner:
1. Understand Their Condition
The first step towards having a successful relationship with your neurodivergent partner is to understand their condition. Research their condition and learn as much as you can about their strengths, weaknesses, triggers, and tendencies. This knowledge will help you to better understand your partner and communicate with them more effectively.
As we go through life, we come across people who are different from us in many ways. But what happens when the difference is neurological? Relationships with neurodiverse partners can be incredibly rewarding, but they can also come with their own set of challenges. That’s why we’ve put together this list of the best books and podcasts on being in a relationship with someone who is neurodivergent.
1. “The Journal of Best Practices: A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome, and One Man’s Quest to Be a Better Husband” by David Finch: In this humorous and touching memoir, David Finch details his journey of discovery after being diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. The book provides valuable insight into the experience of living with a neurodiverse partner and offers practical advice for maintaining a healthy relationship.
2. “The Autistic Brain: Helping Different Kinds of Minds Succeed” by Temple Grandin: Although this book isn’t specifically about relationships, it offers a fascinating look at the neurological differences that can make individuals on the autism spectrum unique. Grandin, herself an accomplished scientist and inventor who has autism, provides valuable insight into the strengths and challenges of living with a neurodiverse brain.
3. “The Asperger Couple’s Workbook: Practical Advice and Activities for Couples and Counsellors” by Maxine Aston: This practical workbook offers a variety of exercises and activities for couples in which one partner has Asperger’s syndrome. It provides a valuable tool for improving communication, building empathy, and understanding each other’s unique perspectives.
1. “The Neurodivergent Nurse” by Katie Mahon: This podcast focuses on relationships between neurodivergent partners, as well as general discussions of neurodivergent identity. The host, a registered nurse and neurodivergent individual, provides thoughtful commentary and insights based on her personal and professional experience.
2. “Asperger’s on the Inside” by Rhian Burke: While this podcast doesn’t specifically address relationships, it provides a valuable perspective on what it’s like to live with Asperger’s syndrome. Rhian Burke shares her own experiences and discusses issues like communication, sensory processing, and social interaction, all of which are relevant to neurodiverse relationships.
3. “The Autism Show” by Elisa Pacelli: This podcast covers a range of topics related to autism, including relationships. Elisa Pacelli interviews experts in the field of autism research, therapy, and education, and provides valuable insights and tips for neurodiverse couples.
2. Communication is Key
Communication is key to any healthy relationship, and it’s even more critical when you are in a relationship with a neurodivergent partner. They may struggle to understand or express their feelings, so it’s essential to be patient and understanding. Always communicate in a clear and concise way and try to avoid any ambiguous language or sarcasm that can be misinterpreted.
with someone on the spectrum can sometimes be challenging. However, with the right approach, you can make it a pleasant experience for both parties. Here are a few tips to consider when interacting with someone on the spectrum:
1. Be patient
Autistic individuals may have difficulty processing information and may need more time to respond or understand what you’re saying. Give them the time they need to process and don’t rush them.
2. Use clear language
Avoid using sarcasm or figurative language, as autistic individuals may take things too literally. Use simple and straightforward language, and avoid speaking too fast or too loudly.
3. Pay attention to non-verbal cues
Some individuals on the spectrum may not use facial expressions or eye contact to convey emotions. Be aware of these cues and focus on their body language to gauge their emotions.
4. Respect boundaries
Some individuals on the spectrum may have specific boundaries when it comes to touch or personal space. It’s important to respect their boundaries and not make physical contact unless they’re comfortable with it.
5. Use visual aids
Visual aids, such as pictures or written instructions, can help autistic individuals better understand information. Incorporate visual aids when possible to help make communication easier.
Overall, communication with someone on the spectrum can be improved with patience, clear language, and understanding their individual needs. By implementing these tips, you can make the experience positive for both parties involved.
3. Respect Their Sensory Processing Issues
Sensory processing issues are common in neurodivergent individuals, which can lead to hypersensitivity or hyposensitivity to certain stimuli. Be mindful of their triggers and work together to find solutions that work for both of you This might involve adjusting your living environment or developing routines that reduce sensory overload.
Sensory processing issues can be quite common in neurodivergent individuals. It is not something that is immediately visible to the outside world, but it is something that can greatly affect the way an individual experiences their environment and daily life. .
One of the biggest challenges that a partner can face is with loud noises. They have a very low threshold for noise and can easily become overwhelmed or distressed when there is too much noise in their environment. This can make it it difficult to attend events such as concerts or sporting events, as these types of environments are typically quite loud and overwhelming for them. It has also made it challengingto simply go out to dinner or grab a drink at a bar, as the noise level in these environments can be too much for them to handle. Be creative and put a bit more thought into picking what places or times of the day are bit quieter. There are also lots of noise filtering headphones to help tone down the ambient surrounding noises as well.
Another sensory processing issue a partner may experience is with certain textures and fabrics. They are very sensitive to certain textures, particularly rough or scratchy fabrics, and this can be a source of discomfort or distress for them. This can make it challenging to find clothing that is comfortable for them to wear, take time to search for specific types of materials or fabrics that they can tolerate and are more likely to remove a barrier for going out as well.
Despite the challenges that come with sensory processing issues, many people have found ways to work together and support one another. We have found that it is helpful to communicate openly about their sensory needs and to come up with strategies to manage their sensory overload in different situations. For example, you might bring noise-canceling headphones or earplugs to events or seek out quieter venues when we going out.
At the end of the day, it is important to remember that everyone experiences the world in their own unique way, and that includes the way that we process sensory information. By taking the time to understand and accommodate our neurodivergent partners’ sensory needs, we can help to make their daily life a little bit easier and more comfortable.
4. Celebrate Their Differences
It’s important to celebrate and embrace your partner’s neurodivergent differences rather than trying to change or fix them. Accept them for who they are and work to build a relationship that complements each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
Being in a relationship with someone who is neurodivergent can be an enriching and rewarding experience. Whether your partner has ADHD, autism, or any other neurodivergent condition, celebrating their uniqueness and individuality can strengthen your relationship. Let’s explore some ways to celebrate your partner’s neurodivergence and show them how much you love and appreciate them.
- Celebrate their passions
Neurodivergent individuals often have intense interests and passions. Whether it’s a love for trains, a fascination with science fiction, or an obsession with animals, take the time to celebrate and encourage your partner’s passions. Show them that you respect and admire their interests, even if they may not align with your own. Take them to a museum, go to a themed party, or buy them a thoughtful gift related to their interests. Not only will this make them feel valued, but it will also deepen your bond and understanding of each other.
- Respect their sensory needs
Neurodivergent individuals can often be sensitive to different types of sensory input. This may mean that they find loud noises overwhelming, or certain textures uncomfortable. Make an effort to respect and accommodate your partner’s sensory needs. This could mean having quiet nights in, using softer lighting in your home, or finding ways to mitigate sensory overload. Being sensitive to your partner’s needs can help create a calm and relaxing environment, which can strengthen your bond and make them feel loved and supported.
- Celebrate their milestones
For neurodivergent individuals, everyday tasks and milestones can be challenging. Whether it’s completing a work project, attending a social event, or simply getting out of bed in the morning, your partner may be overcoming hurdles that you can’t see. Make an effort to celebrate these milestones with them. Acknowledge their hard work and perseverance, and congratulate them on their accomplishments. Celebrating even small achievements can give your partner a sense of pride and self-worth, and show them that you are proud of their efforts.
- Be an ally and advocate
As a neurotypical partner, it’s important to be an ally and advocate for your neurodivergent partner. This may mean standing up for them in social situations, or advocating for their needs in the workplace or medical settings. Educate yourself on your partner’s neurodivergent condition, and learn about ways you can support and empower them. Being an ally and advocate can create a stronger bond between you and your partner, and show them that you are invested in their well-being.
- Celebrate their individuality
Above all, it’s important to celebrate your partner’s individuality. Neurodivergent individuals are often incredibly creative, imaginative, and empathetic. Celebrate these unique qualities, and recognize that they bring something special and valuable to your relationship. Be open to learning about your partner’s perspective, and celebrate their differences
5. Practice Self-Care
Supporting someone who is neurodivergent can be a challenge, but it is also one of the most rewarding things you can do for them. However, taking care of yourself is also important when providing support for someone with a neurodivergent condition. Here are some tips on how to practice self-care while being supportive of someone who is neurodivergent:
1. Establish boundaries: As a caregiver, it’s important to set boundaries to avoid burnout. Learn to say no when you feel overwhelmed or when you need to take time off to recharge.
2. Take care of your mental and physical health: Self-care is crucial in providing effective support to someone who is neurodivergent. Taking care of your mental and physical health helps you remain focused and resilient, and it helps you cope better with the challenges you may face. Try engaging in activities such as yoga, meditation, or even walking to help you clear your mind and improve your well-being.
3. Practice active listening: When communicating with a person with neurodivergent condition, it’s important to be an active listener. Listen carefully to what they say and respond thoughtfully. Active listening not only helps the person feel valued but it also reduces stress for you as a caregiver.
4. Learn as much as possible: Educating yourself about the condition your loved one is living with helps you to provide more effective support. Attend workshops and conferences to learn from professionals who specialize in the condition your loved one has. Knowing what triggers them and how to handle those situations can make a significant difference in the quality of life for the person.
5. Don’t forget to take breaks: Supporting someone with neurodivergent condition can be challenging and it’s important to take breaks regularly. You may choose to go out with friends, take a weekend getaway, or even indulge in some me-time to reenergize and return refreshed and renewed.
Being supportive to someone with a neurodivergent condition is an incredible task that can be rewarding. Practicing self-care and taking time to care for your well-being allows you to be more effective and resilient in providing support to your loved one. Remember that you cannot pour from an empty cup and self-care is an important aspect of caregiving.
In conclusion, having a relationship with a neurodivergent partner may have its challenges, but with understanding, communication, and respect, you can build a fulfilling and happy relationship. Embrace their differences, communicate openly and celebrate each other’s strengths. By doing so, you will create a stronger and more resilient bond.