Eva Mendes and I led a workshop at AANE’s Annual Conference for Adults. The theme of the Conference was Advocacy, and the keynote address was a 2-hour tour de force by our beloved Ari Ne’eman of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN).
Our workshop was focused on relationships. Any relationship (romantic or otherwise) is a challenging enterprise, but it is even more so if one or both of the partners is neuroexceptional (not neurotypical). The most common combination we encounter is a man who is Aspergerian and a woman who is neurotypical. But there are many other permutations. We have enjoyed having same-gender couples as well as partners who were both Asperger’s.
In keeping with the theme of the conference, we emphasized self-advocacy in a relationship. This requires self-awareness as well as sensitivity to the needs of one’s partner.
Here is a link to the slides I used. In the course of the workshop, we covered most (though certainly not all) of the topics listed here. The flow of the workshop, however, was not lecture-style, but was a rather free-form discussion about what was on people’s minds. Eva did a good job of drawing people out, and we shared some of our experiences of co-leading couples support groups. I talked about my perspective, as an autistic person who gained most of my insight into autism fairly late in life.
There was a lively discussion, with people asking questions and sharing their own experiences. There were even a couple of people in attendance who had been part of one (or more) or our couples support groups.
Please keep in mind that this is all copyrighted material, and is provided here for educational purposes only. Do not copy or reproduce the slides, but feel free to share the link, and to comment on them or ask questions about some of the more obscure ones. The cartoons were used to illustrate various themes that commonly come up in the support group settings, and I find that many people laugh because they see themselves (or their partners) in them.