Autism and Polyamory


New member
Hi All,

I should start by setting the scene. My ex is exceptionally manipulative, while we were together she used various things against me saying "if you don't do x you won't ever see your son". She exagerated and even fabricated evidence against me.

It made the legal proceedings regarding access to my son very complicated, long winded and cost prohibitive. By the time I tried to restart things she was also able to use "absenteeism" against me. She will use anything she can to drive a wedge between us.

I found out two things today; 1) he is autistic and 2) she has stalked me online to find dirt on me, the best of which she could come up with is that I'm poly

She's trying to paint some picture of this making me unstable. The truth is that in three and a half years of identifying as polyamorous I've only ever twice been in overlapping relationships and I am presently in just one relationship which has been very long lasting and very stable. I think the argument of polyamory somehow making for an unfit parent is ridiculous and is put forward purely from a place of ignorance - the two are entirely unconnected regardless of whether you are out to your family or not.

So to counter her arguments I was wondering if anyone has any positive stories of Autism and Polyamory. Do you have a child who is Autistic? Have you found yourself in a similar custody battle with your lifestyle being held against you? Are you perhaps Autistic yourself as either a polyamorous person or the partner of one?

I realise this is a sensitive topic for people so if you would rather PM me or perhaps even rather just pass over the thread then I will understand. Thanks in advance for your support
Have you talked to a lawyer? In most states, being poly won't mean you're unfit in any way, as long as you are demonstrably providing good care for the child. But, you should be up front with your legal counsel and find out what your local laws are.
How old is your son? How does having this new diagnosis impact custody? Does your ex, or do you, feel your choice to occasionally have 2 partners has any impact on your ability to care for him in the way he needs?
I'm not aware that there has ever been a test case regarding polyamory and custody. Interestingly I do have a poly friend who is an author and she is writing a novel to basically pose this very question - she's done lots of research into the area too and her conclusions from the research were that it's a complete unknown and there is no precedent.

My son is about to turn 8, I became a dad while I was at university and that was approximately 250 miles away (a 5 hour drive, 6 hour train journey and no direct flight option).

While I was with my ex she was manipulative and would regularly say "if you don't do X you'll never see your son". It drove me into debt and depression, but in spite of this I was his main carer for the first 4 months of his life. I was the only one to change his nappies, the only one to feed him, the only one to sterilise his bottles, the only one to wash him, the only one to cloth him and the only one to take him to health check ups. I loved him.

When we split up she couldn't cope being a mother. She tried every manipulative trick in the book to get me back;

*) She said that they "came as a package" and if I wanted to see my son I needed to get back with her (I tried it for a week, realised she was still being manipulative and left)

*) She tried to hurt me by informing me that my son has been calling other men "Dad" - that hurt

*) She tried making me jealous - she informed me that she was sleeping with other people. I even have a message on my phone from my birthday 7 years ago where she said that she was having a threesome with one male friend and his mate - it sounds as though my son (5 months old at the time) was in the room at the time

*) She tried claiming she was pregnant and thought it was mine

Those last 2 points really don't work well together. They kinda counteract the effectiveness of each other. I also have messages on my phone from when we split up where she said she turned to alcohol. She says at one point she can't cope being a mother, needs me back and has had 2 litres of Vodka in 3 days.

I showed all these messages to my lawyers and asked for full custody. I was a student, with student debts, a part time job, leaning on family for support and I was his Dad (say what you like the courts system still favours mothers here). I got laughed out of the building.

So I found a new lawyer and they told me that because I had taken legal aid within the last 2 years (with the first lawyer) I would not be eligible for it on this occasion. I couldn't afford the cost of a lawyer and my ex was not letting me see my son through any civil means.

2 years later I found a new lawyer and they told me because I was now earning and not a student I couldn't get free legal advice. Nevermind the fact I was still paying off student debt, still paying 15% of my earnings towards my sons upkeep. I tried however; only now I had absenteeism against me as well, plus my ex has decided to try claiming that I was aggressive towards her and visits should be supervised.

This is roughly where she is trying to play the autism card. She says I am basically a stranger to him, she doesn't want him to see me for more than 30 minutes at a time or without supervision "until he knows who I am" - which is a subjective statement that is presumably up to her interpretation. So the only option she is proposing for me to build a relationship with my son is a 10-12 hour round trip, me paying for some supervisor and then meeting him in what is in effect a sterile/artificial environment like a library. Given how flakey she is I have no guarantees I wouldn't turn up on the day and have her say "he doesn't want to today".

I have now got myself financially secure, I have a decent job and I also have a wonderful girlfriend (whom I've been with for 2 1/2 years). I know now that I could be a very positive presence in his life, but I can't invest in doing the above process once a month, it would destroy me financially and probably emotionally. I need more. I need to push to see him for a full weekend at a time or for school holidays.

And then it comes back to the Autism; she says she can't allow that until she knows me and even then she couldn't allow him to come up here because of me being polyamorous. She says autistic children can't comprehend polyamory because they need things to be black and white. I've known several other autistic people who ARE polyamorous and actually they seem to comprehend the black and white of loving multiple people far more than 90% of the population - but I've never knowingly known any poly people who have autistic children, I would be keen to know how those children have coped.

The other idea I've had is to write to him, every week I'm going to send a letter with a stamped/addressed envelope inside, he should be well on the way to learning to read and write now, so he can reply and post it back. I will build a relationship with him whether she likes it or not.

I even dream that one day he might be old enough to make a decision of his own and choose to come and live with me... or maybe even just be rebellious enough as a teenager to decide he *doesn't* want to live with her.

I may not have been in his life for 7 years but I loved my son unconditionally from before he was born. That love is as strong now as it was when I last held him.
i was in a relationship with a man who was on the autism spectrum for 2 1/2 years. He and his wife (who also had Asperger's) had been poly for about 25 years when I met him. Both their college age sons, also on the spectrum, always knew "dad had girlfriends." My bf's wife also had the option to be poly, she chose not to. She was less social than my bf.

There is another member here who is neurotypical, but her husband and one of their young adult daughters are on the spectrum. Her husband was the one who suggested polyamory a few years ago, even though he chooses not to date others. Their daughter knows (I think has met), this member's bf and it's all good.

I have had other encounters and experiences with Aspie people (my dad has Asperger's). In my experience, Aspies are pretty live and let live. If it doesn't impact their personal comfort, they don't care what others in their lives do. In fact, I believe from my experience with my bf and my reading, that if an Aspie person can't meet all their partner's needs, they are more than happy to consent to polyamory!

When my sister and I went away to college, my mom missed our closeness, we were all great friends. My Aspie dad wasn't meeting her emotional needs (and I found out later, her sexual needs.) She ended up cheating on him for a time. I was there once when she was on the phone to her bf. It was pretty obvious, but my dad was oblivious to it all.
This may not be the response you're looking for, but I think it's very worthwhile to look for a lawyer to has experience dealing with polamory and non-traditional marriages/custody battles. They can do more for you than anybody on this forum can. Regardless of whatever arguments we all can come up with, a lawyer knows which ones will work the best, and when to use them. Lawyers who have experiences in niche areas of law (defending activists, defending LGBTQ, defending immigrants, etc) often have sliding scale or at least reasonable prices for their services. It's hard to find them, and I don't know where, but the internet is a crazy place.

If you can't find any easily, I'd suggest contacting poly organizations (papers, newsletters, podcasts, forums) and see who they use as legal counsel. They'll likely have at least some if not a lot of sympathy for a poly parent in a custody battle.

Best of luck!
You can also do a tag search here on "children and poly," as this isn't so much about the autism diagnosis as it is about dealing with a bitter baby mama. Seems she'll keep coming up with every excuse in the book to deny you access to your son.
In this instance, "autism" has nothing to do with polyamory, & could readily have been any of a number of excuses, provable or not.

I get the feeling your ex is the one who "diagnosed" autism. ;) Certainly a handy way to play the poor put-upon victim.

She ought have little say in how autism best be managed.

Autism is a spectrum. The label says nothing about any determinable intellectual, cognitive, or emotional disability.

I've met autistics whose major identifiable trait was that they really enjoyed crossword puzzles, or keeping the stockroom at work organized, or had difficulty speaking to a group. Aside from such quirks, they seemed pretty average.
Hi LondonGuy,

I have Asperger's and am on the autism spectrum. I am also polyamorous, and polyamory has consistently been a good thing in my life. But, I don't have experience with raising autistic kids.

Kevin T.
Autism is a spectrum. The label says nothing about any determinable intellectual, cognitive, or emotional disability.

As Tinwen mentioned, my son (13) has autism and he's one of the most accepting and truly loving people I've ever known. Far from being a black and white person, he is about as emotionally open minded as it gets, embracing people for who they are - full stop. Autistic or not, all children are sensitive to the emotional environment that their parents create so if your son shows signs of angst about your loved ones, it's not because you have loved ones. Ravenscroft is correct: autism is an enormous spectrum (actually more of a web, it's so complex) of differences in sensory and cognitive processing, but it is absolutely not an intellectual or emotional disability. Autism certainly has nothing to do with how a person perceives love.
Yeah, it's hard to respond to "autism". That word is not specific enough. I have one partner who has a son who is an Aspie. He's just very logical about everything. No problems there. I have a friend who's daughter will never mature beyond a 6 year old level. She is very adaptable though. I doubt if it would be a problem for her.

I assure you that the courts favor mothers here in the States as well. It's always a matter of how much money you can throw at the problem.
I assure you that the courts favor mothers here in the States as well. It's always a matter of how much money you can throw at the problem.

It depends on the state. My particular state goes for 50/50 split straight away.
I am the only person I know who doesn't have 50/50 and that was due to my ex's documented behavior regarding his access. I have to pay him child support due to the disparity in income, nothing is gender related.

I would encourage folks to try and use people first language... eg. the person has autism or the person is on the autism spectrum.

"Given how flakey she is I have no guarantees I wouldn't turn up on the day and have her say "he doesn't want to today"."

Yes, the kids and I would sit in parking lots, in cars, at the park and wait...took 6 months but I took the documentation back to court and got his time cut to match the amount of time he was actually showing up.

And then you document your attempts, rinse and repeat, month after month, send registered mail outlining your access a case. One letter with an SAE included won't cut it in court, that would need to be a part of an on-going attempts by various methods. Have you set up a Skype or Facetime schedule? 10 minutes twice a week? Agree to every supervised visit you can get. Prove you want reasonable access and she is blocking your efforts.
I would encourage folks to try and use people first language... eg. the person has autism or the person is on the autism spectrum.

Just as a note:
Many people on the autism spectrum prefer to be called autistic.


"In the autism community, many self-advocates and their allies prefer terminology such as “Autistic,” “Autistic person,” or “Autistic individual” because we understand autism as an inherent part of an individual’s identity — the same way one refers to “Muslims,” “African-Americans,” “Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender/Queer,” “Chinese,” “gifted,” “athletic,” or “Jewish.” On the other hand, many parents of Autistic people and professionals who work with Autistic people prefer terminology such as “person with autism,” “people with autism,” or “individual with ASD” because they do not consider autism to be part of an individual’s identity and do not want their children to be identified or referred to as “Autistic.” They want “person-first language,” that puts “person” before any identifier such as “autism,” in order to emphasize the humanity of their children.

When we say “person with autism,” we say that it is unfortunate and an accident that a person is Autistic. We affirm that the person has value and worth, and that autism is entirely separate from what gives him or her value and worth. In fact, we are saying that autism is detrimental to value and worth as a person, which is why we separate the condition with the word “with” or “has.” Ultimately, what we are saying when we say “person with autism” is that the person would be better off if not Autistic, and that it would have been better if he or she had been born typical. We suppress the individual’s identity as an Autistic person because we are saying that autism is something inherently bad like a disease.

...when we say “Autistic person,” we recognize, affirm, and validate an individual’s identity as an Autistic person. We recognize the value and worth of that individual as an Autistic person — that being Autistic is not a condition absolutely irreconcilable with regarding people as inherently valuable and worth something. We affirm the individual’s potential to grow and mature, to overcome challenges and disability, and to live a meaningful life as an Autistic. Ultimately, we are accepting that the individual is different from non-Autistic people–and that that’s not a tragedy, and we are showing that we are not afraid or ashamed to recognize that difference."
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Another point of view. Thank s for the info and link.