Amy Schumer Opens Up About Her Husband’s Autism Spectrum Disorder and Encourages Others to Get Tested Too
Amy Schumer has already opened up about her husband's autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis. Now, in her latest post, the comedian is sharing how the testing process that he went though as an adult—and, ultimately, his diagnosis—has helped strengthen their relationship.
On Wednesday, the 39-year-old actress posted to Instagram to celebrate not only her son's birthday, but also how great of a father and husband chef Chris Fischer is. "Today is our son's birthday and I woke up emotional as hell thinking about my husband, Chris. In this first photo while I was having a 3 hour c section he held my hand and stared in my eyes so I never felt alone. I feel loved and supported always. He takes care of our family and is a husband and father beyond my wildest dreams," she wrote.
Schumer then went on to explain that Fischer has ASD and that "being tested and diagnosed has helped [them] communicate and support each other better."
The fact that Fischer was diagnosed with ASD later in life is something that Schumer highlighted in her documentary, Expecting Amy. In her new post's caption, she explains that she's heard from people who've watched the doc who say that seeing the story has "motivated them to get tested and that it has changed their lives."
"We want to encourage parents and people to give themselves the gift of information so people can function to the best of their abilities and remove any stigma that comes with autism," Schumer wrote on her post.
The comments were filled with support for the family and appreciation for Schumer for drawing attention to the fact that people can get tested for and diagnosed with ASD at any age. "My husband was diagnosed at 39 years old after YEARS of mistreatment. Our son was diagnosed at 5 years old. THANK YOU for bringing awareness to a whole new level," one person wrote. "Very sweet post. Thank you for sharing. I was diagnosed as autistic when I had my daughter. My husband now understands me more," someone else said.
The Trainwreck star first opened up about her husband's ASD diagnosis two years ago, during her Netflix special Amy Schumer: Growing, as Health previously reported.
"I knew from the beginning that my husband's brain was a little different than mine," Schumer said in her stand-up routine. "My husband was diagnosed with what used to be called Asperger's. He has autism spectrum disorder. He's on the spectrum. And there were some signs early on." After he was diagnosed, she realized "all of the characteristics that make it clear that he's on the spectrum are all of the reasons that I fell madly in love with him… He says whatever is on his mind. He keeps it so real. He doesn't care about social norms or what you expect him to say or do."
When is autism spectrum disorder diagnosed?
ASD—which Asperger syndrome falls under—is a developmental disability that can cause social, communication, and behavioral challenges, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). "People with ASD may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from most other people," the CDC reports, and there's a wide range of signs and symptoms they can have.
"People with Asperger's often have difficulties with social situations and can have a hard time recognizing facial expressions and body language," Anne Nebeker, source specialist and spokesperson for the Autism Society of America previously told Health. "Many of these people also have very specific interests and rigid schedules they like to adhere to."
Signs of ASD can show as early as the first months of a child's life. But for others, like Fischer, the diagnosis can come later in life.
"Usually autism is present in early childhood, but when people are very high-functioning, they might not be diagnosed until later in life or at all," Nebeker said. "Some people just go through life having more trouble than the average person to connect socially but are never diagnosed."
How is autism spectrum disorder diagnosed?
An adult might be interested in getting evaluated for ASD after learning about the disorder and realizing that the information matches their history and current situation, according to the Asperger/Autism Network. Maybe it's a family member or provider who initially starts a conversation about ASD.
There is no one behavioral, communication, or medical test that someone takes to receive an ASD diagnosis. Instead, "an accurate diagnosis must be based on observation of the individual's communication, social interaction, and his or her activities and interests," according to the Autism Society of America. The diagnosis can come from a neuropsychologist, a psychiatrist, social worker, or other mental health professionals, per the Asperger/Autism Network.
But the diagnosis of ASD in adulthood can be complex, Vanessa Bal, PhD, director of the Rutgers Center for Adult Autism Services - Psychological Services Clinic in New Jersey, tells Health. "Traditionally the different measures (i.e., questionnaires, direct assessments, interviews) we have relied upon were developed for use with children, so we are still working to adapt and improve those, or to develop new tools that will better capture the specific difficulties and strengths of adults being evaluated for ASD," she says.
Another challenge surrounding the diagnosis of ASD in adults is the fact that there's not enough professionals who are trained to make that diagnosis for adults. "Many adults are misdiagnosed, as practitioners who are less familiar with autism in adults may assume that an absence of symptoms they look for in children means the adult does not have autism," Bal says. "In fact, we know that the manifestation of autism differs across different developmental levels and life stages, and many adults have reported learning skills and making conscious efforts to 'compensate' in areas that do not come naturally to them (this is sometimes referred to as 'camouflaging')."
What impact can an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis in adulthood have?
"Knowing about the Asperger/Autism Spectrum diagnosis gives the individual an explanation, not an excuse, for why his or her life has taken the twists and turns that it has," according to the Asperger/Autism Network. "What one does with this information at the ages of 20, 50, or 70 may differ, but in all cases it can still offer great value and improve quality of life."
After receiving an ASD diagnosis, one way an adult can use the information is to improve their relationships (something that Schumer says she and her husband were able to do). People can also tell their friends and family about the diagnosis, especially since it's believed that ASD may be caused by genetics. That's a note that Schumer ended her latest post on (and that she's clapped back about in the past).
"Statistically our son most likely will be diagnosed as well and if he's anything like his father that is wonderful news," she wrote. "So on our babies birthday where he held my hand tight and held me with his eyes I want to say I love you thank you."
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