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asperger spouse

Are you in a marriage or relationship with a person with Asperger Syndrome/ High Functioning Autism? Or do you think you are?

Would you like to talk to others in the same situation, share your experience and exchange tips on how best to manage?

If these questions resonate with you, then you should consider attending one of the upcoming meetings being organized by Cassandra, a new self-help group for spouses and partners of people with Asperger Syndrome.

Launched in September 2017 by a 48-year old mother of two, married 22 years to someone with Asperger’s, the group provides support and resources for a community of people who often feel overwhelmed by the behaviour of their partners. Wishing to remain anonymous, the founder told knowitall.ch,  

“My marriage has not been easy. When I discovered five years ago that Asperger’s might be the explanation for all those difficulties, it came as both a shock and a relief. Setting up a peer support network for partners is my way of doing something constructive with what I have learned before and after that discovery.”

Like the Princess of Troy, Cassandra, after whom the group is named, many members feel disbelieved, alone and frustrated. One member explained, “The story of Cassandra in Greek mythology is essentially a metaphor for situations where alarms are raised but disbelieved. This is exactly how many partners and spouses of people with Asperger’s feel….concerns are raised but no-one takes them seriously as they have no idea what it is like to live with someone who has the syndrome.  The character traits of people with Asperger’s are not obvious initially or, if they are detected, are simply perceived as slightly odd but not exceptional.”

First meeting

On the 27th of September, seven ladies who have Asperger spouses or partners came to the first meeting of Cassandra in Geneva. For most of them it was their first experience to meet others in the same situation, and to tell their story to a group of people who understood what they were going through.

After sharing their experiences, they talked about what they could do to help each other better manage their relationships, deal with problems and reclaim their lives. They looked at a support group for spouses in the UK and a support group in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. And they discussed how to build on and learn from those initiatives to create something of their own in the French-speaking part of Switzerland.

Support in English and French

Since that time, almost 30 spouses and partners of people with Asperger’s have found their way to Cassandra. They have held one a meeting in English and one in French every month in Geneva.  In February, a group started in Vaud. Meetings only take place if at least 3 people have registered. Whilst attendance is free of charge, participants are invited to provide a donation of Fr. 5.- at each meeting to cover running costs.

The next meetings to be held in English in are:

  • Geneva: Wednesday 14 March 12h30 to 14h
  • Geneva: Saturday 17 March 14h to 16h

The next meetings to be held in French are:

  • Geneva: Thursday 15 March 12h30 to 14h30
  • Geneva: Saturday 24 March 14h to 16h

Professional counselling

Cassandra is supported by a qualified counsellor specialised in Asperger Syndrome who, despite her busy practice, manages to attend most meetings in English. A theme that comes up in every meeting is the dire shortage of local specialists knowledgeable about Asperger’s in adults, and to whom members and/ or their spouses can be referred for individual support. By demonstrating the widespread need for support, the group hopes to contribute to the development of a network of mental health professionals and marital counsellors with an interest in and the necessary training to reduce the suffering of all those concerned.

Future goals

Given the success of the initial meetings, and the fact that some members have come from as far as Olten and the Valais to attend, the group hopes to expand its support quite soon to other locations in French-speaking Switzerland.

Plans are also in place to offer a range of other services, including:

  • Raising awareness on being in a relationship with someone with Asperger’s.
  • Providing helpful information including testimonials, advice and useful links.
  • Translating selected books, research and other materials.
  • Responding to questions and providing referrals.
  • Facilitating a safe and confidential online discussion forum.

If you would like to know more about Cassandra, and/or would like to offer your own support to the group, please contact the group below at:

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