HomeautismThree Ways to Create a Healthy Neurodiverse Relationship
Ah, yes. The Handcuff Ceremony. Did I mention we were married by an ex-cop?

I will have been married for 12 years to someone who is not dyslexic at the end of this month. Before he met me, he didn’t understand what dyslexia is. A year after we were married, he was diagnosed with a severe mood disorder, which put me in shoes similar to the ones he wore when we got together.

Although my dyslexia isn’t usually debilitating, the fact my every day experience is different from his has gotten in the way. The same goes for his disorder. He can’t fully understand exactly what I go through any more than I can understand what he does, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try.

The fact we’ve been together for so long speaks to an ability to adapt to each other. These are some tips that work for us, and they may work for you. The relationship doesn’t need to romantic, either. It could be familial, friendship or anything else.

Take a Minute
This is the number one most important part of most relationships. I think even when both parties are neurotypical, there are always personality quirks that get on each others’ nerves.

It’s a little different when it comes to invisible disability and mental illness, though. Our symptoms are hard to spot sometimes, and when one of us is struggling, the other can get impatient.

Why can’t I follow direction? Why won’t he stay still?

That’s when it’s best to stay silent for a few moments, take a step back and look at the situation at hand.

Was I sick, distracted or in a hectic environment when the instructions were given? Are they overly complicated? How are they worded? Are they written down or were they verbal?

Has he been sleeping? Is he under more stress than usual? Is he coming down with something or injured?

It’s easier to handle frustrating situations when we know what’s going on with each other.

Maybe heading up to Lake Superior is a little dramatic for a short term break, but there’s something to be said for yearly vacations, too.

Educate Yourself
I’ve gotten in the habit of hitting the internet when a new diagnosis enters the picture. Even if the label’s been there for a while, I keep my researching ongoing.

When there’s an ongoing difference involved, there are usually triggers that either worsen symptoms or make them manifest. By learning what common triggers are, it’s often easier to spot personal triggers.

This information will help you both build your home that provides relaxation for you both and helps you to advocate for each other when triggers creep in. It might also help you spot an incorrect diagnosis, which could make a world of difference.

Offer Support Without Taking Over
While neurological differences can sometimes make it next to impossible to function, remember we’re still individuals who deserve respect and the chance for independence.

Part of the problem with how LD, autism, mental illness and other forms of neurology are treated is the tendency to infantilize us. You may think it’s easier just to take over, but in the long run, you’re hurting us, especially when we’re perfectly capable of taking care of ourselves. We just do it a little differently than everyone else does.

You can never “fix” another person. Even when it comes to physical illness or injury, it’s up to the individual’s body to heal itself, and the person to follow whatever therapeutic instructions they’re given. That’s especially true when it comes to invisible disabilities/differences and mental illness.

That said, if your loved one is struggling, offering help in a non-obtrusive way is usually appreciated. I’ve discovered that sometimes it’s hard to spot when you’re struggling, and it’s only when one of us mentions something that we realize what’s happening.

We should all remember that these ideas might not work for everyone. They help us as a couple, and they help me in my friendships, but I can’t speak for anyone but myself. Give them a try, but if they don’t work, I wouldn’t feel too badly.

We’re all different, which means alternate solutions may work for you.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: