Avatar universal

Shutdown Mode

My boyfriend has Asperger's Sydrome. If he gets too confused, uncomfortable or hurt. He experieces what we call shut down mode, meaning he feels nothing. He is unable to relate to me in any way and needs time to himself. Even if I have a crucial occurance in my life that I need his support on. He is uncapable of giving me any really understanding. This is ok because we currently do not live together. Makes it easier for me to give him his space to go through this. And they truly do not happen often.

Unfortunately he is unable to describe what he is feeling or goes through during this time other than he is evaluating his emotions.

I was curious if anyone else had any more knowledge on this. What it is that is going on during these periods? Is there anything I can do help him once he gets to these points? Is there any thing that can be done to help him to not completely shut down?

I love him and I just want to understand.
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365714 tn?1292199108
When I shut down it's feeling overwhelmed.  imagine if you were thrown out in a hughway and expected to cross the street.  Or say if you were expected to direct air traffic and you have no experience.  You see the planes about to crash in the sky, but can't do anything.

It feels sort of like that.  When I'm overwhelemed even just the sound of someone's voice hurts my ears and I can only make out some words but not the whole sentence.  Usually I feel very angry also. Or I may feel overwhelmingly tired and start to fall asleep, or feel like I'm about to sleep every time I blink.

Neither of these feel really good.  The best thing is to just let me go someplace, take a nap and renew my energy before tackling the problem any further.

Force me to work after my mind shuts down and you're risking a meltdown, anxiety attack or a violent outburst...
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470168 tn?1237471245
I have a son who will be 8 in February.  When he gets overstimulated, or his expectations are not met, or something changes unexpectedly, or incoming sensory perception is hurting him; then you will get a tantrum.  When that is happening I don't try to talk to him or touch him because it is just more information he has to try to process/cope with.  It is best to have a quiet place for him to calm down.  Then I will try to talk to him about it when he has recovered.  But I don't always get an answer or explanation because I don't think he knows himself.  I heard a good comparison given that said their emotional response is like a shower without a cubicle.  Most people are able to contain and control their emotions like a shower cubicle contains the water.  For those on the spectrum there is not that containment and the water (emotions) go everywhere.  I think this has been proven to be true from brain scans that show that larger areas of brain light up.  And the fact that they cannot stop the sensations they are feeling or bring them under control means that you are really just trying to give them supports to deal with crisis management.  
Although my son is only 8, this difficulty seems to be lifelong and many adults have the same difficulties.  If you go onto www. nas.org website you can view their recent advertisement that they are going to put on the televison.  They have done other videos before and the aim is to try to show the general public the 'autistic' behaviours that people on the spectrum exhibit.
I would really go with what your boyfriend says works for him.  Unfortunately that will mean that at certain times, especially if they are times of stress or anxiety he may well not be able to 'be there' for you in the same way another adult would.  Or he maybe able to give you advice, but may seem insensitive because he cannot put himself in your shoes and his suggestions may sound unrealistic to you.  This is to do with Theory of Mind.  You can google that to see what it is.  I presume he also has literal interpretation of language and is a concrete thinker.  
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347888 tn?1239899454
My Aspie husband would go through cycles, every couple of months he would need to be alone for days at a time.  He is now 49 years old and doesn't need to leave completely (disappear for days), but he does need to go out into his garage and work on a project to get himself back to "normal" (whatever that is!)
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365714 tn?1292199108
Also headaches seem to trigger shutdowns. I had a bad one yesterday. Though the headache seems less severe, I'm dealing with feeling dazed out like in a dream.  At this point I can't take sounds well at all...

I hurt my grandma's feelings trying to tell her to not talk to me right at the moment. She tries to talk to me whenever I sit down to eat. For me that's almost always a bad time to talk, then add the effects of a migraine. I think it will be the last time I talk to her about headaches... I feel bad because it makes me seem very evil to tell someone to stop talking to me when they mean no harm. I know they mean no harm, but I don't know what else I can do.

Also I feel like I can't think straight, so if this post doesn't make sense that's why.
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Avatar universal
Though I would say that my husband definitely does not have Asperger's, he definitely needs to shut down.  I think he has said "I love you" about twice in our relationship.  I love has always taken a back seat.  Our honeymoon was postponed four months because Gitano Jeans decided to go bankrupt that year - he didn't flinch when he told me.  Was never one to hold hands or talk about emotions - which at times was frustrating.  Most nights he comes home and tinkers with the computer - either taking them apart (hate it when he does that to the Macs), plays with his cameras, or reads blogs.  He has a high stress job and needs to restructure at the end of the day.  I have been with him over 20 years and we have rarely had "feelings" discussion.

I've seen him cry only a few times.

1)  When our first baby was born to early and died.  Oddly enough, neither of us discussed it ever again.

2)  When our daughter almost died of Kawasaki Disease

3)  Sometimes he cries over the difficulties our son has

4)  When any of our pets died

Great joy

1)  When his children were born
2)  his son's bris (I hated that day but he was the proudest papa in the world),  the bris was far more expensive than our wedding and he had 4 rabbis in attendance.  (He's an atheist).  
3)  when he got into a top 10 law school
4)  when he graduated from that law school
5) his Apple II computer
6)  Winning the NY State Chess championship at 11.  

I think getting married was one of the worst days of his life.  He thinks marriage is an absolutely meaningless institution.

And you wonder why I have a kid with Asperger's.

Does he love me?  I am sure that he does.  Tears and feelings are only shared when their is the feeling of hopelessness or great sadness.  
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Avatar universal
hi Sue, I wanted to let you know I u derstand.  I should never have married my husband.  Now we have two children, one with special needs, and he is completely incapable of helping, or being involved in her care or anything emotionally charged.  I have to take care of everything, from the budget, my child's medical care, the endless insurance fights, everything!  I rely on him for our paycheck and the children adore him.  I am hopelessly stuck.  I wish his mother had gotten him help when he was a child.  I feel like he is just another child in my life I need to manage.  i am too tired to  think a way out of this life.  I live in fear that I will get sick and die and he will not be able to give our children what they need.  i hope you work out something to make yourself happy.  i am working on stress issues, hoping it will help.  Best wishes, Terry

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Avatar universal
I have had various shut downs. Our minds simply cannot comprehend or deal with the situation. It just doesn't add up. NTs normally don't understand this and it can cause great strains on relationships. I have only had 2 serious ones. Both resulted in suicide attempts. I don't believe this is common. Basically I was overstimulated and as stated before everything comes rushing in all at once. Try to understand that is was not trying to get revenge or being "selfish" there was logic behind it. Even though emotion was there the logic overtook the emotion and it was like they were in battle. The last incident I drowned myself. Luckily my wife noticed I wasnt in the room and went out to the beach and got help. My psychiatrist has taught me how to deal with these types of situations more effectively. I know as he is your boyfriend that it is hard on you and it seems he is being selfish. Just remind him you love him and maybe try to bring him something to take his mind off what he is thinking about. Its like a broken record it repeats over and over.
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Avatar universal
My boyfriend of 9 months told me an old girlfriend said he had aspergers. My comment was "who is she to diagnose you with anything"  Now after being with him I find myself researching because of his actions.  He get very upset if plans change.  He is very articulate about certain things.  Is a pilot for small planes and loves to skydive.  He is a parachute rigger and loves to fly RC planes. His recent adventure is bike riding..  He put on over 3000 miles in just a few months last summer. All he talks about is that and if I dont react or show great interest he gets upset.  Last time to the point of breaking up.  Now he has once again gone into his shutdown mode and ignores my text and email stating how much I love him.  He did reply and say he loved me and his missed us and was physically ill and heart broken.  I dont understand the shut down again and if like before, in about 2 weeks, I will get a text as if nothing happened.  I dont think he wants it to be over because he has not responded to my requests for my belonging. I feel like he is a very hurtful person with no feelings to treat me like this yet again.  Does anyone know if it is common to just shut a person out for weeks like this over what I consider nothing.  
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Avatar universal
So happy to read your post. I have been desperate for more information to help me in my agony over my 4 month relationship with my undiagnosed AS boyfriend. I know quite a bit about Asperger's a I work with kids and their families to help support them and provide suggestions for interventions, etc. So, it is ironic that I have fallen for this guy. He told me that he loved me about a month ago and it just seemed to me that this precipitated the full blown emotional shut down, with no response to my texts and anger when I have tried to call him. He got angry when I pressed him about whether "it was over or not" and will not respond to my request to return my belongings as well.
It is just so hard to cope with even though I think I understand...it is that fear of losing him, the relationship, that makes me crazy and makes it hard to be patient, wait in the hope that he will come back to me. And, yes, I feel absolutely crazy...in love with him.
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Avatar universal
I saw that its been awhile since you made this post um are you still with him because i am going through the same thing but more then what you said and i live with him we have been together almost three yrs and i just only found this all out hes also got bipoler ontop of it anyway i feel the sam eway u do except it hurts a hole lot because when we first got together he was out going happy go lucky. Sweet not a care in the world would do anything for me but now now he doesnt laugh anymore hes always depressed he doesnt talk to me just reads his magznes and flippes out over lil things i love this guy so much and it pains me t see him go through this sometimes i want to give up and leave but everyones done that to him his parents put him in a group home. Now they dont talk to him his last two girlfriends cheated on him stole all his stuff n left him and i dont want to be another person to just give up on him. But its like the more i do for him the more he says ive nevr done crap and hes constintly accusing me of cheating did u have that problem i just found out the full extent of his problems they all waited til after i had our son to fil me in on these lil details i need advice and help so if u do get to read this and know anything anything atall thatll help me please please let me know thanks
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10798116 tn?1412874282

" ... it hurts a hole lot because when we first got together he was out going happy go lucky. Sweet not a care in the world would do anything for me but now now he doesnt laugh anymore hes always depressed ..."

I know this is hard to understand and may sound crazy, but I bet when you met he came from a period of living alone and not having a relationship, maybe for several years. These periods of having very little contact with people, especially very personal and emotionally intimate contact are like winter is for trees, or like the need to sleep and recover after a period of hard work and lack of sleep.

We need periods of withdrawal in order to survive in this world which is ruled by a majority whose nervous systems and brains work very different from ours.

As NT you interpret another person's behavior within a social context. His withdrawing from you gets translated almost automatically into a relationship problem or his feelings for you decreasing. However, this is usually not true.

You don't understand that any kind of personal interaction with a person, now matter how much we love them, is hard work. No, it doesn't come naturally. That's the difference between being NT and being autistic. And no matter how long an autistic person knows his partner, he still lacks the ability to let things flow naturally, like NTs would be able to.

The tricky part is that exactly the relationship we want and the daily interaction with the person we love are incredibly draining energy wise. That's what might cause the impression of your partner having changed. That doesn't mean his basic feelings toward you and his commitment have changed, it means he is exhausted by the need to continuously interact with you, even more so if his job forces him to deal with NTs.

I know I love my gf, and this fact has never changed, but sometimes things are getting too much for me and I have to shut down and withdraw from her, else I would end up in a straitjacket. Not because my feelings for her have changed but because my f*$^&)g nervous system gets overheated and I need some time with extreme lack of stimulation to cool it down. I need to withdraw, sleep a lot, avoid people and do a lot of repetitive stuff in order to reset my system.
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You hit the nail on the head. I can now describe myself and my actions in better , more relatable terms.. thank you!
You're very welcome! Best wishes
Avatar universal
hello there,

i have been married to my husband for close to 7 years and we have 3 kids, with the 3rd one just 9mths. sometime in mar/apr this year, I found that my hubby has slowly been withdrawing himself from me. There was a point he suggested that we live apart but eventually the idea did not materialize. At that point, I also suspected that he was having an affair (not physical one but more of an emotional one as he was often on whats app with this girl from work group ). I never once confronted him about it cos to begin with, my husband was not the loving loving sort of guy so his distancing was also not totally "unexpected" from him. Nonetheless, he stopped communicating with me.

Fast forward 6 months later, he barely even utters a word to me. If i ask him something he replies but other than that he is working and comes back to his TV. His frequent phone messaging has stopped but we just don talk. Its been hell for me. Up till recently, someone just brought about this term Asperger to me and as I started to read more about it, the behaviour seems to describe my husband quite a lot.

Can anyone advise? I am so worn out ....
Helpful - 0
It sounds familiar, and I've been diagnosed w Asperger's. You don't often see it diagnosed later in life. But it happens. As awareness grows, diagnoses will as well. I predict. Anyhow I do this w my husband. We don't live together. That's not his nor my choice just financial reasons. I like it better that way. Oddly. So it's possible he's undiagnosed Asperger's. Other things are possible too. If you can, and if he's worth it (wink wink) ask his family. If this sounds like familiar territory to them, there you go. If it's something new... well no one develops it overnight. I suggest counseling or bringing him to a psych who specializes in autism spectrum disorders. I hope this gets resolved for you!
Oh whoa  youve been married to him and this just stRte? I see your com is a few yea old, jw what came of it  
Avatar universal
My boyfriend has asperger's and we have been living together for just about 9 months.  We had the most incredible, amazing relationship.  He proved his love for me for years and although I felt the same as him, I never showed it as much because I was scared that it was too good to be true.  Ever since we moved in we have been fighting.  It started when I saw he looked up his ex on facebook and I freaked out.  We have known each other for 5 years and before we were together we had a hard past because we always liked each other, yet he started dating someone else.  When he looked up his ex after we moved in I freaked out crying for months because this is the guy who would love me and do everything for me and this happened and I thought our whole relationship was a lie.  He fought for me while I called him names and cried because I just didn't understand.  After that while we were fighting he sat me down and told me we should get married.  I yelled at him and told him no because why would I want to marry someone who looks up their ex.  I regret saying no everyday because I wanted to say yes.  We spent months fighting because I was just not used to him spending alone time or taking time for himself.  We used to be inseparable when we didn't live together (we lived an hour away) and now we live together and he would rather spend time on the computer or watching tv.  Sometimes I felt like he was better in a relationship than I was.  It took me months to realize that it's okay that we have our own lives doing things enjoy and still love each other, spend time together, and be in a relationship.

But from the time we moved in to now there has been so much hurt.  He was unintentionally hurting me and I would react by fighting with him, yelling, calling him names, and breaking up with him.  All of these things I said I never meant that.  I never realized that that he took me seriously.  I thought he knew I was just saying those things because I was upset.  Since I would do these things, he would go on dating sites just to talk to someone (he doesn't really have any friends and I did tell him I was breaking up with him).  Once I found out he was doing this, the fighting started again.  Even though we have fought, he has always talked to me everyday and would kiss me before going to work and tell me he loves me.  Even after the horrible things I said.

We both miss the way things used to be before we moved in together, but we don't know how to get that back.  It's never going to fully go back to that because normally this is the stage where a couples love gets deeper and it's not always going on dates and exciting like it was during the courtship.

We haven't really fought bad in a month and the last couple weeks I truly thought things were getting better since we weren't fighting and I was being more calm and not yelling or freaking out over little things.  We have been talking about getting a house soon and I'm trying to be proactive and figure out this process since we only have a couple months left in our apartment.  He told me he's scared of the future and not being able to afford a decent house and everything and I understand and told him that it will be okay and we will figure it out.  Three days ago we were talking about houses and two days ago he was being reserved while I was texting him at work.  I asked him why and he said he doesn't know.  And normally I would freak out, but I was trying to be calm and just ask questions so I could understand.  He told me he doesn't know if he wants this anymore because he's messed up in the head and not the same person anymore.  He said even though we aren't fighting things aren't the same as they used to be and he doesn't think love is enough.  He thinks our relationship won't change back to how it was and nothing will make him change his mind.  I know he's wrong, but he won't listen to me.  When he came home from work shortly later he talked to me as if nothing happened.  I asked him if we could talk and we only talked for 5 minutes about it and he completely shut down.  I talked to him for a half hour very calmly and he closed his eyes and refused to talk.  After that I asked if he wanted to watch tv and that's what we did.  The next day before work he didn't kiss me or tell me he loved me.  Didn't talk to me all day.  Wouldn't answer my texts.  And this has never happened in the 5 years we've known each other.  After work I didn't even bring up the fact that he ignored me all day and just talked to him a bit about nothing important and then we watched a movie and he was definitely uncomfortable looking and reserved.  We went to bed and I told him I loved him and he just ignored it.  And this is coming from someone that would NEVER ignore that if he felt the same way.  This morning he didn't kiss me or say he loved me before work and I haven't tried to talk to him, but he hasn't talked to me.

What do I do?  I literally thought we were doing better and this happens.  He's saying he's ruined our chance together and that things can't go back to how they were when he's wrong, but won't listen to me.  I know he'll be making a mistake if he breaks up with me.  I feel the silence is his way of ending it.  I know he cares about me and is scared of confrontation so he'll just ignore me until I leave.  I don't know....
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Avatar universal
how long does a shut down last for, if the  person works with NT'smy friend started to shut down about 3 weeks ago> he started to text less and i only have seem him for a couple of hours in the 3 weeks, he answers my text message every morning and maybe one more dureing the day, has almost stopped replying to my evening text. i care for him alot and im patient.
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16048482 tn?1444918001
I am a 32 year old female and I discovered last Christmas that I have Aspergers. I myself suffer from these shut downs when I am upset or stressed or feel like someone is attacking me in an argument. They mainly come around when my partner and I are having an issue.

What happens for me personally is I begin to retreat behind my eyes. My vision will get very bright and focused on one specific thing in which my vision will become like a light tunnel of bright patterns racing towards me. When this begins to happen, I know I am going into my 'Bubble' as I have always called it.

I will stim, which in where I will rub my hands together or my feet if I cannot rub my hands or grab at my clothes or the back of my neck etc. It's almost as if my physical body is looking for something to hold on to to keep me in the present although the tension in my limbs and desire to do this is overwhelming.

Then, I will feel my muscles relax, my mind goes totally blank and I am gone. I don't remember much in my bubble. I can hear voices and I hear what they are saying and I know what the words mean but they don't make any sense to me. My eyes glaze over and my voice is extremely monotone. I will sit and stare at things for hours if given the opportunity. I can't drive, I can't function, I won't eat or drink or do anything at all. I don't want to be touched although I am as stiff as a board if my gf does try to hug me etc. I become very childlike and unaware of things.

Sometimes I take herbal calms which can help bring me down a little bit but usually I just let it take it's course which can be a couple of hours or 2 days. At the weekend, I had a shut down in which my entire body failed to work. I couldn't open my eyes, I lay face down on the floor as the entire conversation had just got too much for me.
It's difficult to explain what it feels like, but over all it is just complete numbness. Like someone has erased my personality. I am a intelligent, funny and articulate woman but in a shutdown, I have the verbal ability of door frame. My mouth feels like it's glued up and making words come out is very difficult.

From what I understand, it is the brain shutting down it's most basic functions to protect itself from stress. It is frustrating as hell for my gf, especially if we are in the middle of a conversation in which she needs support, but she has to put her things on hold until I am mentally 'there' again.

I don't know if you are still with this guy but if you are and you want any further help with this, please do let me know on e-mail and I will be happy to help. My gf also may be able to give you some pointers on how to cope as she has to put up with me ;) Best of luck x
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Hi , I need some details about shutting down can you give some advice too. Thanks :) Godbless may I know your email address
9570500 tn?1404595938
Hi, I would like to correspond with you. My boyfriend of nearly 7 years has Aspergers and is in shut down mode with me. I am NT. I sure could use some advice as my life is hanging out there and I have no answers! I am beyond distraught!
Thank you! Debbie
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Avatar universal
I am a 56 year old with Trigeminal Neuralgia, ASD and severe SPD who has been married to an NT for over 28 years and I am more compassionate and and care about her problems more than she does with mine.
She has Type Two Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, Depression and is in her ninth month of Menopause. She has fits of anger that make her say some pretty nasty and hurtful things. I do my best to understand her problems but it is not easy since I have Sensory Overloads and sometimes have to "Shut Down" for two or three days at a time.
It is a two way street and everyone is different, Not all of us on the spectrum are ******** and not all NT's are nice. I am not perfect, all anyone can do is try their best.
That being said think of having Superman's sensory powers without having the neuro connections in the brain to handle them. That might help you understand overloads better.
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Avatar universal
I am eperiencing the same thing this very moment.
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