Letter to Tony Attwood About Cassandra Syndrome
"I have read that on October 22-23, 2008, you will be speaking at a conference about marital relationships and Asperger Syndrome, including a discussion about 'Cassandra Affective Deprivation Disorder'. The inclusion of NT spouses of AS individuals, but no married AS individuals, on the panel is especially problematic.
I hope you will make it clear that marital problems are not solely the fault of one person simply because they have a neurodevelopmental disability, and that intolerance, failure to understand and failure to accomodate differences on the part of the neurotypical spouse is a big source of problems as well.
Except in cases of spousal abuse, marital problems are always the 'fault' of both partners. Asperger Syndrome causes social differences and other differences, but unless the AS partner has co-morbid abusive tendencies (which are probably equally common in AS and NT people), the AS diagnosis does not mean they are at fault for the marriage breakdown. There are many AS/AS marriages which do just as well as NT/NT marriages. The problems that AS/NT marriages can have (which are not universal or insurmountable) are that the two partners have a very different way of relating. This is no more the fault of one partner as opposed to the other than a communication breakdown between two monolingual people who speak different languages. They simply do not understand each other.
Due to negative experiences, AS partners may be more likely to be very sensitive to criticism and have low self-esteem, but NT partners are more likely to be prejudiced against their partner's cognitive style and be less able to compensate for neurological differences (AS individuals have a lifetime of practice).
For an NT/AS marriage to work, both partners must work to understand and accept each other, as well as ask assertively for what they need in the relationship. Blaming relationship problems solely on one partner, as the Cassandra Syndrome concept does, will not help that. Very often, the AS person is already exerting much more effort to accomodate their NT partner than vice versa."