Hi. I’m Nikki.
Before I begin: this site is a work in progress. Please feel free to contact me with suggestions, requests, etc.
My journey to my own ADD/ADHD diagnosis began a long time ago. Likewise, my husband’s ASD. I’ll tell that story elsewhere, to keep this brief:
After my husband got his ASD diagnosis, as with many of these relationships, suddenly everything made sense. All the issues we’d been having were essentially a result of huge miscommunication, different styles of interacting, and masking. We made the assumption that we were speaking the same language and from the same starting point, but we weren’t!
I sought to understand the ways our respective brain wiring impacted our perceptions, our emotional baggage, the coping mechanisms we’ve developed to protect ourselves, and the ways we get stuck on miscommunication. A natural-born researcher, I read every scientific journal, every bit of academic writing and personal anecdote I could find. Throughout my life, most likely in an effort to understand myself, I’ve obsessively studied (both formally in college and informally) psychology, neurobiology, and neuropsychology. Brains are my jam. I understand autism and ADHD/ADD. I understand how they work, how they impact our way of seeing the world. But putting it into practice was another issue altogether.
Seeking support and people in similar situations to help me wade through it all, I became disheartened and, at times, enraged by the misinformation and the ways people view neurodivergents and relationships with neurodivergents. I found too many people who believed that ASD, in particular, was the source of all their troubles. Talk of “Cassandra Syndrome” comes up in every conversation. But along the way, I found that my mental state and mood tanked every time I read about “the syndrome,” or things that said I would “never” be fulfilled in a relationship with someone with ASD, that they don’t have empathy (not true), etc. My interactions with my husband worsened each time I read these things.
I found that it’s really easy to blame a partner with ASD for all your relationship troubles. But I also found that when you take responsibility for your own emotions, your own reactions, and the baggage you bring with you… you absolutely CAN have a fulfilling, satisfying, and connected relationship with your partner regardless of your emotional makeup. And I wanted to create a space for people in these relationships to talk about their feelings, their struggles, and strategies in a POSITIVE, forward-thinking way. That doesn’t mean you can’t talk about being angry or sad or frustrated. These are normal emotions. But if you want to make progress, you need to talk about your feeling of being angry, sad, or frustrated: you must own your emotions and be responsible for them. You must be willing to speak your desires, your thoughts, and your needs clearly—and this is a wonderful skill to have, though also very scary for many. You must be willing to accept your partner’s perceptions, to accept guidance, and to accept that there’s a lot you don’t know and have a desire to learn.
Again, I want to stress: you can talk about your feelings here! There’s this notion that “positive” means you can’t have hard emotions. Positive means you say things like, “I’m really angry and exhausted right now” instead of, “he’s an idiot and he got what he deserved.”
I also found an extraordinary number of people with ADHD married to people with ASD. For that reason, I’ve included ADHD/ADD on this site. There’s a lot of information coming out these days that many women may have been misdiagnosed with ADD/ADHD but actually be on the spectrum themselves. There’s also some research suggesting that ASD may very well wind up being an umbrella term for everything else, including ADHD/ADD. There’s an incredible amount of overlap in symptoms! In many ways, ASD and ADD/ADHD seem like the worst relational pairing imaginable… but in other ways, they complement each other perfectly. I can tell you that I’ve never met anyone who “gets” me like my husband does. And if someone came up to me and said, “We have this new magical pill that can completely erase ASD and ADD/ADD—do you want it?” I’d say, “Absolutely not.”
And lo, this site was born.