Autism in adult relationships
July 4, 2020 4:18 AM   Subscribe

Please recommend a book on autism and adult relationships - ideally written by someone who has known they're on the spectrum for a while.

Me and my much-loved long-term partner both almost certainly have undiagnosed autism and were each raised by an autistic parent.

One thing that is really hard on our relationship is that we both have poor theory of mind. It often helps after the fact to know that we both have poor theory of mind. After something comes up, we're often able to identify that that's what went wrong. But it can be really painful in the moment sometimes. And we both need to learn how to deal with that. So I would like to read up on it, and I'm having trouble finding good books.

It would also be fantastic if you could recommend a book on autism, sex, and adult relationships. And/or a book that breaks sex down into many very small, bitesize steps. (We would both appreciate, if possible, any such books being up-to-date on gender and sexuality.)
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (4 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

If you don't get enough answers, perhaps reach out to digaman, who is the author of NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity?
posted by terrapin at 7:45 AM on July 4, 2020

When I was in college, my mom mailed me a book called the 'Better Sex Guide', I think because she thought I was not trans, just confused about sex. Or something. The pictures are hilariously 90s (I think it's actually from the early 2000s) and it definitely assumes straight cis people (there's maybe one "oh yeah, queer people exist" page), but I think it may be broadly what you're looking for (even if you're not having PIV sex, the other bits are still decent).

(There's a lot that bugs the shit out of me about that press release that I won't go into, but, yes acknowledging that people can be both trans and autistic is a good bar to set for resources addressing either population.)
posted by hoyland at 8:26 AM on July 4, 2020

An easy, fun read that led to some good conversations in my relationship was The Journal of Best Practices.

The author has autism and decided to use his engineering troubleshooting abilities to troubleshoot his marriage. The specific issues he faces are probably not going to be the same that any other couple encounters - for example, he had trouble controlling anger, and sensory stuff that not everybody experiences. But his approach is useful no matter what the particular issues are.
posted by selfmedicating at 8:40 AM on July 4, 2020 [3 favorites]

Apologies that I can't give you a book on this exact topic — I would read it, too, if I knew what it was! — but I have a related suggestion. I'm autistic, also raised by an autistic parent, and I found that basically studying John Gottman's The Science of Trust from cover to cover, as if it were a textbook, helped a lot with my relationships and understanding theory of mind/communication failures. My relationship with my partner, but also relationships of all sorts.

It's about conflict, not theory of mind specifically. It helped me to understand in thorough detail how, when there's a communication breakdown, it's often not about the literal content of what the other person was thinking or saying, but rather the tone, established trust level of the relationship, other emotional signals both parties are sending, unconscious bids for attention and reassurance, etc. — and that paying more attention to these things can go a long way towards repairing the breakdown.

Even though neither my partner nor I are neurotypical and don't go about relationships in a neurotypical way, I found that these things still very much applied to our interactions.
posted by fire, water, earth, air at 5:15 AM on July 5, 2020 [3 favorites]

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