When a psychologist diagnosed Chris Offer’s oldest daughter, Sno, with autism, it was a life-altering moment in more ways than one.
The Australian father of four always considered his own behaviors as “quirky,” but it had never occurred to Chris or his wife that he could also be on the autism spectrum.
Wife Jessica has been with Chris for 10 years and shared her experience discovering his diagnosis in a blog post titled, “We Were Married 7 Years Before It Occurred to Us That My Husband Was Autistic.”
“Imagine that all your life you’re trying to be . . . held in this normal box and no matter how hard you try, you find it hard,” she said. “And then someone goes, ‘Well, that’s because you’re not normal.’ It’s freeing.”
Jessica first noticed that her daughter wasn’t “neurotypical” from the time she was 4 years old. She describes how she would never dare walk a different route to kindergarten or change Sno’s breakfast food because her daughter couldn’t handle it if her routine was altered. When Jessica took her concerns to Chris, she says that he dismissed them as normal. They both later realized that this was because it was his normal, too.
“He saw no issue with the way she behaved because he could see why. He could understand her triggers because they triggered him, too,” Jessica wrote. “And he had many of the exact same struggles when he was young that she was experiencing now. But no one made any connection.”
After another year, Jessica decided to have her daughter assessed and with that came the autism diagnosis. A few months later, Chris went in for a formal assessment and learned the truth. Even though Chris’s diagnosis came as a surprise to them both, Jessica acknowledges that the pair did get into fights when they first started dating because it was hard for him to make eye contact with people while he was speaking.
“He’s always been kind of unique. He’s always paid more attention to detail where I’m more scattered,” Jessica told ABC News. “So I’ve always really loved it because he contrasts my personality. We never looked into it because it was never a problem in our relationship.”
Despite the fact that Chris had never even heard of autism when he was younger, he now feels “better equipped” to deal with everyday life since the diagnosis.
“I’m still doing the same things that I’m always doing but I’m doing them differently with more of a conscious mind,” he said. “The diagnosis gives you a better toolbox to deal with everyday life.”