EPISODE #70

There's Something About Andy

Peggy and Andrew were each other’s first crushes. They met in middle school.

Peggy-young-squareAndrew-middle-school-square

Peggy was popular. Spunky. Collected friends like they were possessions.

Peggy-car-scaled

Andrew was a loner. Carried deodorant in his pocket. Was into Egyptian history.

Andrew-mission-scaled

He drew surrealist landscapes like this:

tree-rock-hill-scaled

Like most childhood relationships, Peggy and Andrew’s was full of passionate proclamations. And mind games. Ultimatums. Misunderstandings. Oh, the misunderstandings. Before high school was over, Peggy dumped Andrew. And Andrew went on a Mormon mission to Australia.

While he was away, he attempted to woo her with letters. And a flirty but misogynistic questionnaire that some of the missionaries were sending to girls back home (which, despite herself, Peggy kinda liked).

Andrew-letter-scaledPeggy-letter-scaled

But the letters were just the tip of the iceberg. Tune in to hear Andrew’s long con to win Peggy over, in the hope of starting a family with her. And the surprise that made all of their early misunderstandings make sense.

SPOILER ALERT: Do *not* read the comments until you’ve heard the story! And. If *have* heard the story, and are looking for related resources, find them here.

CORRECTION: This story has been edited to correct an error. The line from the original version, which used to read, “While dating at a young age is not condoned in Mormon culture, girls are expected to marry by 18 or 19,” now reads as, “While dating at a young age is not condoned in Mormon culture, girls in Peggy and Andrew’s community were expected to marry by 18 or 19.”

What surprise changed YOUR family dynamic?
Either with your kids or with your parents. In the comments. Go.

27 thoughts on “EPISODE #70: There’s Something About Andy

  1. Thank you, Andrew and Peggy for your story. I am a happily-married (12 years), gainfully employed, no-yet-diagnosed Aspie. My husband and I have one daughter, who at 3 years of age was diagnosed with high-functioning autism (Asperger’s syndrome). Finally, my own quirks and struggles made sense when viewed through the lens of high-functioning autism.

    Unlike Andrew, I was kind of excited when I “figured out” that I have Asperger’s. I no longer feel like a weirdo for being socially awkward, preferring to spend time alone, and having limited interests (while knowing *heaps* about my own special interests!).

    I have since learned that many parents first discover that they are on the spectrum when their child is diagnosed. Since our daughter is my chief priority at present, and we’re still choosing/arranging therapies and school for her, I haven’t yet pursued a formal diagnosis. However, I am confident that both my dad and I have Asperger’s. One of the reasons I’d like a formal diagnosis is so I can help researchers learn more about the genetic link.

    From the first few minutes of the podcast, based on the description of Andrew, I was shouting (in my head) “he’s an Aspie!” I was going to be so angry if for some reason, that his diagnosis was not part of the podcast.

    The description of Elias’s infancy is very similar to my daughter’s. She was a terrible sleeper and required being in constant motion. She walked at 8.5 months. She climbed out of her crib from its lowest setting at 17 months. She was such a DIFFICULT kid!

    As a toddler/preschooler, she has demonstrated an incredible memory. She hasn’t demonstrated hyperlexia yet (as Elias did), but she has memorized her favorite books, complete with complex, multiple-syllable words.

    I’m still torn whether my own Asperger’s is an asset or detriment to raising a child with the condition. In many ways, I understand her behaviors better than anyone else. However, I am crummy socially, so taking the time to be intentional about social exchanges (so she can learn this skill) is awkward and difficult for me. I also struggle very much with interruptions (executive function issues). All of motherhood (well, parenthood) is dealing with interruptions and multitasking. It’s so hard for me to control myself and not blow a gasket when she’s pushing my buttons.

    Thankfully, my husband has better social skills than I do, and deals better with interruptions and doesn’t get flustered as easily as I do. By the way, as a child, he was diagnosed with ADHD. The pediatrician who diagnosed our daughter indicated that parental ADHD is associated with having children with autism. Oh yeah, and the developmental pediatrician and his adult daughter (an attorney) both have Asperger’s.

    The aspect that frightens me the most about my daughter’s Asperger’s are the employment statistics. Brilliant minds – but the vast majority of adults are unemployed or underemployed. I am fortunate to have a great full-time job, but in hindsight, I am really lucky that the pieces fell into place for me. Like Proud Wife of ASD husband, I agree that people with autism have awesome skills! There are so many notables with ASD! But we can come off as ‘shifty’ and dishonest because of poor eye contact and we interview terribly.

    There are a couple of other podcasts I identified with… Violet, who has SPD in the emperor’s new onsie episode and the young boy who sang the Freddy Mercury song so incredibly beautifully as a young teen (and was featured in the first episode, I think, called Music Together). I am not sure if these children had diagnoses that placed them on the spectrum, but I could see my daughter / myself in many of their characteristics.

    Keep the awesome stories coming!

  2. This episode brought happy tears to me eyes. I have believed that my husband is on the spectrum since we started dating, and while he agrees, we haven’t yet sought an official diagnosis.

    While at times, I definitely get frustrated at our differences, the good far overweighs the bad. I couldn’t imagine a more complementary, calm, intelligent and loving husband – AND father to our 15 month old daughter. Thank you so much for airing this episode, and thanks to Andy and Peggy for sharing your story!

  3. I loved this podcast. I loved the breadth of it (from teenage years to adulthood) and the fact that it was funny, and moving at the same time. It reminded me of the (excellent) book: “The journal of best practices” by David Finch, which is another story of a middle aged father realizing and coming to terms with the fact that he has asperger’s.

    1. I love David Finch’s book! Have you read any of John Elder Robison’s books? “Look Me in the Eye” is a good one to start with.

  4. Um, ok, why is this show on this podcast? Longest Shortest time is about kids and parenting, and I’m sure this episode is a cute story and that if it were on, say, This American Life, I would have listened to the whole thing, but relationship stories are not what I come to Longest Shortest Time to hear. I hope you’re not changing your focus because that would take away what makes LST special and the reason I listen. There are plenty of podcasts that tell stories about relationships, I don’t need to come to you guys to hear another one.

  5. I had to come check out the comments after Hilary said there were multiple families that identified with this narrative. Much like many have said, I fell in love with my husband because he was unlike anyone I knew. Fascinating and intelligent. Creative and thoughtful. Intellectual. Humorous. I thought he was just quirky. Until our son began to display “typical” ASD behaviors at 2.5. We finally had him evaluated and through this journey have found that it is likely my husband has Asperger’s in addition to ADHD. Often these diagnoses overlap but learning more and more about my son has opened up my eyes to my husband’s experiences and has brought deeper dialogue, compassion and hope for our marriage. I love my boys.
    We have the privilege of being around one of the best Universities for autism research and have benefitted greatly. Engaging my son in therapy has allowed us both to enjoy the world together, even if it is different than typical parent-child relationships. That is priceless to me.
    Thank you for sharing this story. It made me laugh and cry. So excited for more to come!

  6. Thanks for this story. Most stories I hear about autism are ableist and offensive. Narratives about people complaining how horrible” and “difficult” their Autistic children and spouses are are more common than stories like this, in which we hear from the Autistic person himself (the older one at least), and he is portrayed as the complex, well-rounded individual he is and not just a bundle of deficiencies.

    I was also pleased to hear that Peggy talked about what a good parent Andrew is. A lot of people make assumptions that Autistic people cannot be good parents, and that is so untrue! We’re especially good at parenting Autistic children!

    I am a woman in my thirties who was diagnosed in my twenties. I’m engaged to a non-autistic man and we plan to have children. We don’t care if they are Autistic or not!

    I was sad to hear of Andrew’s negative self-perception and negative perception of his Autistic traits. This is internalized ableism, and we all have it to some extent due to all the messages society sends us about how disability is a Bad Thing, but it doesn’t have to be that way. He might benefit from getting involved in the Autistic community in some way. Andrew, if you are reading this, please see if there is a chapter of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network near you. ASAN is run entirely by and for Autistic people. http://www.autisticadvocacy.org

  7. I’m 40 now, and feel like I have just figured out my mother. She’s never been a typical mom. She never baked cookies, or made a big deal about me getting my period or buying my first bra. She begrudgingly told me about the birds and the bees in a way which left me with A LOT of questions and a realization that she didn’t understand it either. She can’t “read a room” or communicate well with even her closest friends – of which she doesn’t have many. She has never been able to empathize with anyone, least of all me.
    I believe she exists somewhere on the autism spectrum. This belief makes me feel so much better about her and our relationship. It allows me to understand and forgive her for all her shortcomings – or what I thought were shortcomings. It means that when she doesn’t seem to care how I feel, it’s not because she doesn’t care about me, it is because she really, truly doesn’t understand how I feel. I know she loves me and I love her very much. Even if she isn’t on the spectrum, it makes me feel better to think that she is…

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