Topics: Stories from Slate - Slate Magazine
K irsten Fitzpatrick doesn't know when her husband is mad, sad, frustrated or irritated unless he specifically says so. She's unable to process the subtle hints or body language cues that indicate how he is feeling at a given moment, so the couple must practice very clear-cut verbal communication.
In past relationships, partners described Fitzpatrick as "weird," "eccentric" and "intense," she recalls, which led her to be constantly anxious in social situations. "I was aware that I was 'different' and was made to feel ashamed because of it," she told The Huffington Post. Fitzpatrick was diagnosed with autism in her 30s, which she considers a turning point. All of a sudden, things made sense.
Now, the 37-year-old and her husband of 14 years have the information and tools necessary to make their relationship work. Fitzpatrick's 18-year-old daughter, Olivia Cantu, is also on the autism spectrum. Cantu has experienced social difficulties, similar to those her mother described, that have negatively impacted some of her relationships.