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Ask Amy: Husband’s diagnosis has social implications


Dear Amy: My husband of 30 years was recently diagnosed with ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder.

It explains a lot about his awkwardness in social situations.

I love him very much, but we agree that we really do better socializing separately. We are moving to a new town. What can I say to people that want to do “couple” dates, or who ask why he doesn’t accompany me?

He is a wonderful husband and has been a great provider. He just prefers a lot of time alone and does not enjoy chit-chat or meeting new people.

We have lived where we are now since childhood, so he has a comfort level with a few select friends, and people just kind of know that he is not interested in gatherings or double dates.

Do you have a suggestion for how to communicate about this?

— Married and Moving

Dear Married: Most importantly, and before you make any kind of statement, you should let your husband decide whether he is comfortable with this disclosure, and/or how he would prefer that you explain his social choices — if at all.

There is a growing cultural awareness of ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder, in that many people recognize some of the characteristics and differing capabilities of neurodivergent people whose brains work the way your husband’s does.

My point is that if you offer people a simple explanation, they are likely to grasp what you’re getting at, and understand it. You could try a version of: “My wonderful husband is on the autism spectrum and doesn’t enjoy socializing with groups of people, so he and I tend to socialize separately. His social choices are not at all personal; he just prefers more alone-time than I do.”

I assume that receiving a diagnosis in adulthood eases life’s path somewhat for both of you, and I hope that you both adjust well to the challenges of living in a new town.



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