This is a personal account of living with a partner who has Asperger syndrome.
Please note that it is a personal view and does not necessarily represent the views of Research Autism.
My partner Nik was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome around three years ago. Throughout childhood, he was not provided with the help and support he needed and as a result now has few qualifications and little faith in either himself or the education system. Despite this - despite the lack of official qualifications - Nik is an intelligent, well-read man with a range of interesting opinions. He has a good sense of humour and a talent for wordplay.
As a partner, Nik is thoughtful, loyal and loving. Our relationship is strongly based on mutual trust and respect. Although Nik often needs my help and support, especially in social situations, there is nothing one-sided about our relationship; I am more than just a carer and he is more than just a syndrome. Sometimes, it would be fair to say that Nik takes care of me more than I take care of him. Our strengths and weaknesses compliment each other really well.
Even if Nik could be 'fixed', I wouldn't want to change him. He isn't broken and I love him just the way he is. Why shouldn't I? Asperger's syndrome is just one small part of who he is.
The biggest problems we encounter are the attitudes other people - and sometimes Nik himself - have towards him. I've seen people shy away from Nik or behave patronisingly towards him when we tell them that he has Asperger's syndrome. People don't always know what that means in terms of his intelligence or his needs. I've been asked if his condition is infectious or terminal more than once. Equally, I've heard people say that Nik doesn't have a disability since physically he looks very healthy. How do you make someone understand a condition which they cannot see?
Nik himself suffers from depression and low self-esteem. He often struggles to sleep at night and will often have panic attacks. Despite this, he faces day to day challenges - and the bigger ones, things which would scare me! - with a combination of determination, bravery and dignity which I personally find inspirational.
Our relationship isn't perfect and we have a problems sometimes, our arguments and so on. No relationship is ever going to be perfect. Ultimately, I love Nik very much and his Asperger's doesnt change that.
Rebecca L. Brown