Borderline Personality Disorder And Autism

Wow. This is a loaded gun you do not want to have to deal with. Hopefully the person with borderline personality disorder isn’t the same person with autism, but either way, it’s not a good situation for the person with autism.

Personality disorders are tricky to diagnose, because much like the symptoms of autism, they look like they could be something else. They are the masqueraders of the psych world, always pretending to be something they aren’t and hiding from what they are or have. They are also in total denial about their personality disorder and will react violently or negatively to being pushed to find psychological help.

It would be next to impossible for most children and adults on the spectrum to have a personality disorder because personality disorders originate in a place of trauma where to insulate oneself one gains dysfunctional coping mechanisms that work for them once so they keep applying them all of their lives. Since most that are diagnosed with autism don’t have coping mechanisms to begin with and need to be taught how to cope, a personality disorder is kind of out of the question. I say kind of, because kids with Aspergers have a remote chance of developing a personality disorder, given their ability to disassociate from people and situations around them and put themselves first. They are the only group on the spectrum that could possibly develop a personality disorder.

The flip side of the coin is an autistic child who has to deal with a parent with a personality disorder. Parents who have a personality disorder impact their autistic children in a very negative way. Their completely irrational behavior doesn’t make sense to other adults and is definitely confusing to children. Children may have their own fanciful way of looking at the world, but even the world of someone with borderline personality disorder is too bizarre and twisted to make any sense to a child.

Those with BPD have several of the following characteristics:

  • Don’t accept responsibility for their actions and will actually accuse someone else of any wrongdoing that is their own.
  • Don’t remember situations the way everyone else does. They will replace negative reflexive memories with memories that make others the “evil” ones.
  • Claim to not remember anything at all.
  • Not engage in communication in an adult fashion.
  • Project their own faults, shortcomings, negativity, poor self esteem, and other issues onto others, including their own children.
  • Might be physically violent, but more often are very hostile and aggressive when cornered or called out on the rug.
  • In extreme cases, will play a very unpleasant and malicious “blame game” that causes extensive emotional and psychological hurt to someone one else, but then tell that person “it’s for your own good” or “it’s your fault this is happening”.

There’s a lot more that earmarks someone with BPD, but these are the most noticeable when living with them. They show a very positive mask to the rest of the world and can even be extremely charming to the point that everyone else who doesn’t live with them thinks they are absolutely glorious human beings, which only feeds the cycle o the BPD.

When you place a child with autism with a parent who has BPD, it’s a nightmare for the child with autism because they will never learn to cope with what’s going on. Everything is just overwhelming and way too much for the autistic child and the parent with BPD has no way to help them or teach them how to cope.

21 thoughts on “Borderline Personality Disorder And Autism”

  1. Please do research before posting articles. I read this in hopes of understanding the conection between the two disorders. Being part of the Bpd community I know many people who suffer from this difficult condition. Your opinions do not reflect thier or the ones who love them’s reality. I’m as people will read your article and you will further the stigma that our hard work is attempting to negate.

    1. Sharon,
      I apologize if I have hurt your feelings. As I have mentioned in my previous articles, I only share whatever is out there. Some times information that I get from other sources may not the most updated one. So if you think any article needs correction, please do let me know.

      Thank you for your time and concern,

    2. Sharon Thank you for this comment I am the wife of a BPD and have to heartwrentchinglly divorce for my own safty but more in formation needs to get out about how many people struggle with this…Thank you again and my Best to you Mary Ellen

  2. As a psychologist I have to agree with you that having Aspergers syndrome makes you vulnerable for personality disorders. I would say this is mostly happening to them who have a late diagnose and are hence left to have led a life where people have not understood you and have not been able to explain what is happening to you. In my opinion everyone who are diagnosed late in life with autism are somehow traumatised since they have not been understood for many years and left out of control. This means the vulnerability for personality disorders is enhanced and closing your eyes for this fact is just making things worse for the individual that suffers from it.

    1. wow thank you for saying that I feel like that is me. I have not been diagnosed with aspergers but I feel like it fits me so well and I am 28. though I also have PTSD for multiple traumas mostly sexual and a lot of them happened as adults because I did not understand how stuff works in the real world or the adult world. I was totally lost and got taken advantage of a lot because I had no clue what I was getting myself into. Someone who was “normal” would know that going home with a guy means the guy wants sex yet the first time I was raped I had no idea what I was getting into Had no clue that people would lie to get me to come home with them or use drugs to get me to have sex with them. I was so naïve and stupid at the time yet the interesting thing is I am very intelligent according to everyone and have a high IQ. Yet socially I’m a mess. Missed a lot of social cues growing up which came out when I went to treatment for addiction and someone saw how I was 24/7 and realized I was lacking in a lot of skills that other women find natural, communication, social skills. Now that I know I am different and that I think differently then most people life seems much easier. Like I have been diagnosed with aspergers but since I have identified it with myself and talked to other aspies I finally felt like I belonged somewhere and was able to move forward dispite my challenges and to work on my strengths. I do really well at the things I do well. I have won a writing contest, in process of having some art and writing published for a book, I have had art work in a mental health awareness show. I have started selling artwork in the last 2 weeks and have sold, 2 paintings, 4 framed drawings, and some other stuff. And I had never sold art before unless you count a painting I sold to my parents years ago. I do well in school and when I am learning I thrive.

  3. Hmm that makes so much sense to me. My mother acts like she has bpd I mean really, I’m sure she has it. She is always right, her point of view is always right, and she can’t see any other point of view. She can get violent when drinking all because no one will see her point of view. I thought I had bpd, even my doc said I might have it. Now two years later I found out I have autism. If you have the time ,please wright back I have things I really want to figure out. email

  4. Okay, I am one that believes that Borderline Personality Disorder and Autism are the same disorder. Autism is looked at as an illness that is not the fault of the person, they are innocent, etc. (more positive/no blame illness and accepted by society). Now, Borderline Personality Disorder is viewed by society as the person is manipulative/evil/stay away from them/it is their fault, etc. and it is stigmatized by our society. That being said…. Make a list of all the positive traits people with Autism have. Then, make a list of all the negative people with BPD have (do not be biased, be realistic and use situations/factual evidence, not emotion and hatred toward them). After you do that, make a list (again no bias, just factual situation) of all the negative about Autism. After that, make a list of the positive traits in people with BPD. Compare them….they are same. Boys are more likely to be diagnosed with Autism and girls are more likely to be given a BPD diagnosis for the same behavior. I have a BPD diagnosis (per an MMPI by a well known hospital and psych professionals; I am a girl) and I meet every criteria for Autism, including the GI problem (I have Lymphocytic Colitis), large pupils (mine are large even with normal light overhead and not drug induced), and I have a history of migraines, seizures, and I have porencephalic cyst in my brain (I possibly have the MTHFR gene mutation, I haven’t been tested for it, but my sibling has it and they want me to be tested for it). On my bad days, I can be just as “evil” as every person who hates people with BPD thinks. On my good days, I can be just as smart, happy, energetic, cute, funny, “innocent” as every person who loves/thinks Autistic people are not to blame thinks an Autistic person is. It is the same behavior. As a matter of fact, DBT was created for BPD. They are starting to think that DBT will help people with Autism because the behavior is the same. People need to be careful with the labels because when you say people with BPD are all bad and nothing about them is good, you are doing the very thing you are accusing them of doing, which is splitting. It is the classic sign of Borderline Personality Disorder (all good/all bad). So, you are no better than they are. And please, stop labeling people if they have never been to a psych professional. Just because you think they have it and that’s your opinion, does not mean they have it.

    1. I can so relate. I am diagnosed with BPD yet when I look at aspergers especially the research done on women and aspergers it’s like I fit it to the tee. I think because I am a women and I am highly intelligent ( or scary smart as a counsellor told me) when I was little it didn’t show up. I didn’t get a diagnoses till I was older yet many issues I’ve had since I was a kid. I actually feel I relate more to the Autism criteria the then BPD. By the way I have a diagnoses of BPD yet kids love me, like I mean I attract little kids naturally and it find it much easier to interact with children then people my own age. I kind of wish I was diagnosed with autism when I was little instead of going through the years of pain of being made fun of because I didn’t fit in socially. I never fit in with people. I was always the odd one out. There is so much stigma around BPD though I think part of that is a gender thing. For some reason it is ok in our society for males to act aggressively yet for women it’s a nono. I agree some of the benefits of autism are seen as good things and males but negative attributes in women and visa versa. I took one post grad level course on Autism spectrum disorders so I know the basics about autism and I also have a undergrad degree in psychology. I am also way more likely to blame myself for everything rather then other people. I am exstreamly hard on myself and people have told me that and also told me that at first it’s hard to figure me out but once people get to know me I am the nicest gentlest kindest person who wants to help others, that’s from other people not me.

  5. As stated by Sharon, the information on BPD shared here is 1) Completely wrong and 2) Doesn’t even include the main symptoms of the disorder. What’s worse is that this is basically contributing to the stigma that people with BPD have that we’re simply bad people, drama queens, and reckless just because. This is not true.

    BPD is a disorder that consists of:

    – Unstable self-image and/or identity: The first consisting of going from loving yourself and thinking you’re great to the next second hating yourself or thinking you’re scum most of the time over very silly happenings or even no happenings at all.

    – Unstable interpersonal relationships: This is not due to people with BPD being manipulative, immature, or cruel. This is due to the hyper-sensitivity to all POSSIBLE signs of rejection and abandonment. People with BPD suffer from a huge fear of abandonment and rejection, and this fear often causes us to push people away before THEY can push US away. The other reason why we have unstable relationships is because just as we go from loving to hating ourselves, we go from idealizing the people in our lives to demonizing them INTERNALLY over very small things that to us feel hurtful or are threatening. This often leaves us with a sense of our feelings being invalid because we know they’re too unstable, and also many times puts us at risk because if we’re in an abusive relationship we’re never sure if we’re over-reacting AGAIN or if we’re right this time, so we suck it up and stay. (In fact, this is because most of us develop BPD through the trauma of abusive situations; bullying, sexual abuse/rape/molestation, emotional abuse, verbal abuse, physical abuse, etc. Our fear of rejection and abandonment is also tied to the roots of each patients BPD, often having very strict and demanding families, or completely neglectful families, or a mix of the two, failed relationships, and bullying is an aspect related to the fear of rejection too).

    – Self-sabotaging, self-destructive behavior, recklessness, suicidal ideation: This is something that is TRIGGERED and not a constant. Self-sabotaging can go from pushing people we love away in an episode of intense anger (To later regret it to the point of self-punishment for it), to doing everything necessary in order to get fired from a job we need if we’re having am episode. Self-destructive behavior includes self harming (Cutting, burning, scratching, biting, or hitting yourself, pulling your hair), putting yourself in danger (Reckless driving, high risk taking, etc), compulsive promiscuity and unprotected sex, eating disorders, reckless spending of money, or substance abuse (Drugs or alcohol). Not all of those have to be present in the same person, but there can be patients with BPD who show all those signs at the same time. As for suicidal ideation; the big majority of us have suicidal thinking, many even have a record of attempts, but not that many of us actually kill ourselves.

    – Unusual high intensity of emotions, volatile and reactionary emotions and moods, “inadequate” emotions: The first one is self-explaining. We feel too intensely, plenty of the time even if we KNOW we’re blowing things out of proportion and how irrational what we feel is, but the thing is that even if RATIONALLY we know that, we still can’t stop feeling like that and by consequence we have a hard time controlling impulses or reactions. What’s more, we’re constantly overwhelmed by our own emotions and we basically just can’t make it stop. We have reactionary moods and emotions, which differentiates BPD from Bipolar Disorder, because Bipolar (When is not co-existing with BPD in the same person, which is also highly common) has CYCLIC moods; there’s periods of depression, then periods of mania, and in some patients they can even be predicted if they’ve been studied (By a doctor or themselves) long enough to see a pattern. BPD doesn’t have a mood pattern or cycle. Our moods change violently due to what’s happening to us or around us, ergo, our moods are reactionary and unpredictable even by us (And having both BPD and Bipolar is just… A huge mess). As for “inadequate” emotions, it’s basically when we feel too intensely about something that really isn’t that big or relevant, or sometimes not caring at all about things that ARE important (Usually this lack of care and interest is related to the patients own well being, future, and relationships with others).

    – Black and white thinking, perceived or real failure, perceived or real rejection: With us it’s either all or nothing in the way we perceive others, ourselves, and the world. It’s a very rigid way of seeing things, and we’re often told we lack flexibility in some aspects of our lives (In ways that alienate us from others, that stop us from functioning in a pragmatic sense, or from leading less stressful lives). Just as we’re terrified of abandonment and rejection, we’re terrified of failure and embarrassment, and many times it’s not even *real* failure of embarrassing situations, but we’re a little (Read as: very) paranoid over how we’re being perceived and very self demanding over the standards we set ourselves to. For example; for me needing psychiatric/psychological help and meds for my disorder was a huge failure (Despite how I don’t apply that same standard to anybody else).

    – Dissociation: While not a symptom exclusive to those with BPD, when our emotions are overwhelming us past what we can take without literally throwing ourselves into the traffic or screaming until we tear out our vocal cords, we dissociate. It’s one of the most common coping mechanisms we use for the extremely high emotional stress we’re sometimes under.

    – Fragmented identity or persona: This one is hard to explain unless you’ve gone through it. It can sometimes take shape of having different SIDES of our personality (NOT different personalities, just different aspects of one personality) severely unlinked for the other sides or aspects of that personality, or in my personal case, how the emotional me, rational me, and physical me experience the world and react to it so differently from each other, I know something rationally but can’t get my emotions to go with my reasoning, or how I can be feeling like crying like a baby but my body won’t react. It’s a disconnection between the fragments of who I am.

    People with BPD very rarely have ONLY BPD. Most of us suffer from at least one secondary disorder, which are usually:

    – Mood disorders (Depression, bipolar, etc)
    – Anxiety disorders (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is one that is highly common in people with BPD, there’s also social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, etc)
    – Other personality disorders aside from BPD
    – Eating disorders
    – ADHD or ADD
    And so on…

    BPD is thought by most people to be caused by trauma. Bullying/peer abuse, any form of sexual abuse (Especially if endured during childhood), abusive relationships, and abandonment are usually cited as shared history by people with BPD. Brain abnormalities, genetics, and such have sadly not been researched enough to have any solid conclusion about them as causes or predisposition for BPD. Many times siblings and twins share the diagnosis but it can also be attributed to living within the same family environment.

    Since the root of BPD remains unknown and is usually pointed to be trauma, the disorder itself can not be treated, but what can be treated is the symptoms. This is why those with BPD usually take the same meds that those who have Bipolar, Depression, or PTSD take, plus being treated with therapy.

    As for us being violent… That is for the biggest part just a myth, since usually the violence we partake in is against ourselves instead of against those around us. We can be verbally aggressive and we are very prone to irritation and explosive anger at times though.

    1. I have been diagnosed with BPD and the only person I have been violant towards is myself. If I accidently hurt someone I get so made at myself and been known to hurt myself because of it. Verbally yes I can get upset but so can someone with autism. I have meltdowns and when I have talked to people with autism I was amazed how similar there experience is to mine.

  6. My child is 20 and has been through mental health services repeatedly over the years with no clear diagnosis, after the 4th suicide attempt she has just been given a diagnosis of ASD and BPD…..I have lived with what you suggest is a ‘loaded gun’ for 20 years and I am still no further forward in being able to help her

    1. you sound like me and i hate to tell you this but my daughter is 40yo and we are still going thru this…I have had custody of her son since he was a year old..she hates me and won’t listen to anything i try tell her…I believe it is the BPD that led to alcohol\drug I have had to step away from her and try to help her son stay off the same path…It’s sad to say that i see a lot of the same behaviors in him.

  7. As a child up to the age of 23 I was diagnosed with ptsd which got changed with in two weeks of me changing to a different cmht in a another brought to bpd which I have been challenging now for 8 years I was also diagnosis with adhd at age 26 to go on and have 3 children one being aultistic we’re social workers question my ability to look after her which was not my first child all because of the bpd diagnosis and her aultism which I passed every test there throw at me and is meeting every complex need that my daughter has now to be told that it is very likely that I have asd and no bpd also to be told the reason that I got given it was all because I was a child of abuse and it was a easy label other then ptsd the reason I’m writing this is I get really mad when people make comment that they no nothing about and say thing like asd child and bpd parent is not good for child I am living proof that people with bpd diagnosis can do just as well a people with out the label and that people need to remember sometime them labels are wrong want I would like people to thing about is if a child come to u and told u they were being abused u won’t blame them if they acted out or had problems dealing with it so why treat people with bpd as if they to blame when u have no clue what has happen to them in they life’s more so as a child sorry rant over .

  8. I’m so sad this is out there and is the first thing that comes up when I googled borderline and autism, There’s no research in this at all, and those are not what borderlines are like. I was looking up this because I have been diagnosed with borderline but Me and other people have suspected that I have Aspergers and that I was misdiagnosed. I just saw a worker recently about supports for my mental health and he asked if I had developmental disorder and I said some people suspect autism and he said that makes sense people would think so because borderline and autism are similar. When I look at stuff I identify more with Asperger’s then BPD. It’s interesting because BPD is diagnosed in more females then males and ASD is diagnosed in more males then female. I wonder if one looked at it and the gender differences they might be the same disorder only one is more a male oriented diagnosis and the other is more female oriented.

  9. The information listed here about BPD makes me very angry. As someone who is diagnosed with BPD I can honestly say that not only are the characteristics you have presented not at all part of the diagnostic criteria but they also only reflect on the negative, stigmatizing, and often times generalized characteristics of this disorder. You say that you are only presenting the information you get from other sources and that those sources are not always up to date? If you are going to present information on something then it’s up to you as the author to make sure your information is unbiased, correct, up to date, and gives the whole story. All you have done is further stigmatize.

  10. I have divorced a mother with BPD and we have 2 autistic twin 10 y/o boys. She has been a nightmare to deal with. I spent $350,000 on attorney’s and therapists to try and get away from her and save the children.
    It has now been 19 months since I have seen these children even though I have been in court the whole time trying to do so. The court screwed up from the beginning by giving her custody and me very little visitation. I lived through restraining orders and was even falsely accused of child abuse and dealt with CPS for 2 years trying to see my children. Manipulation on steroids and evil is what BPDer’s are. They are the curse of society and I don’t care what you BPDer’s think about it. I’ve lived it and lost my children to it. I say lock em all up because of the damage they do to people. I would rather sit across the table and have dinner with a mass murder than someone with BPD. Believe it or not, that’s sanity!

    1. I feel for you…we have gone thru the same thing with my daughter..all i can say to you is “DON”T let all of this label YOU as the sick one” because it will make you sick if you let it….I always said there should be an OSCAR for this disorder because they are the best actors and can even fool their doctors and the courts.

  11. I know this is probably too late but I wanted to leave my two cents. I have BPD and my daughter has Autism. It was very difficult for me to read this. I realize the majority of borderlines are difficult to deal with but much like autism BPD is severely misunderstood. I have had extensive treatment and live a quiet, emotionally healthy life with my husband and daughter. I am very involved in all her therapy, particularly ABA (behavior therapy). If anyone has a difficult time relating and connecting with her it’s my husband NOT me. She and I both know what it’s like to experience sensory and emotional overload, and what it’s like for people to mistake our emotional outbursts for erratic and irreverent tantrums. My treatment has taught me emotion regulation and I am working on instilling those skills in her now. It is difficult for people who have never experienced something like that to empathize or even begin to understand. My overcoming BPD has made me a better autism parent. I understand here you are referring to those who are untreated, but even then, BPD’s can be highly sensitive, empathetic people who can deeply connect with others.

  12. I also wanted to mention to those whose BPD “loved” ones have made their lives miserable that with education, research and patience anyone can recover. I understand we are unbearable in the worse moments but BPD is an illness like any other. My husband has read and listened to me and been patient and talked and read an listened some more until we’ve reached a level of intimacy and strong bond few marriages including those of “healthy people achieve. It takes two for a relationship to fall apart.

  13. Whoever started this string of comments back in February 2013 was right on target in his/her brief list of the “attributes” of BPD. I feel qualified to discuss the “distinction” between high-function autism and BPD…. because both exist in my family. I belatedly discovered I was “on the spectrum” when I was 59 y.o. Although my ability to “pass” is now very good, my childhood difficulties were textbook: sensory overload, “does not play well with others” and so on. My sister is the NT one, but she is definitely BPD; I would stake my life on it. She’s had 3 marriages and is working on destroying #3 as I write this. She is that “hidden” BPD who is able to fool those people who superficially know her, but has made life hell for the unfortunate ones with whom she’s had …. relationships. Our “family of origin” had a shadowy father figure (to use a Freudian term) and a narcissitic mother with some sexual pathology; she molested my sister up until she was eleven. My sister learned that one of her proclivities, lying, helped her to cope. Later on she learned dissociation with the end result that she can be abusive and incredibly hurtful one day, and not even appear to have any guilt or remorse the following day. I made the mistake of telling her that she was BPD, something that her therapists were either afraid to diagnose, or were not sufficiently observant to ferret out. This resulted in a massive attack on me, which she took “public” by sharing with all of our mutual friends.
    Contrast this behavior to the self-doubt and agonizing that one who is autistic and high-function…. typically suffers when he/she realizes that they are “different” and that they cannot, and do not, react to interpersonal situations according to expectations.
    Sure, there are often intellectual “gifts” which the aspie can use to good effect in school and in work life, but the social deficits are NOT something which can be eliminated; they can only be compensated for…. at least for adults. I’m hopeful that early diagnosis and intervention can help young aspies to better- integrate, but that was never an option for me.
    People with BPD have far less difficulty getting into relationships, but they cannot “keep” them. Not healthy ones, at least. Compare that to what aspies have to endure: painful rejections from not being understood. But an aspie who is in a romantic situation with an NT will eventually encounter “issues” which take understanding to overcome, if they can be….
    I’m having a real hard time understanding “how” BPD can be confused or conflated with autism. If you wish to understand BPD, then go to one of the online communities and read what the people who are “close” to someone with BPD have to say on the subject. It seems to me that the people who have to deal with a loved one or relative who is BPD are the EXPERTS….. and not the so-called professionals who under-diagnose these people. I think this is a profound problem for the “mental health profession” and it needs to be highlighted. I’m of the opinion that anyone in therapy needs, after a certain point, to have the people he/she lives with…. to be interviewed by the therapist in order to establish the validity of any diagnosis. But these mental health professionals harp on “privacy” to the exclusion of actually doing proper diagnosis….. with BPD cases in particular.
    I welcome any countervailing remarks or rebuttals to what I’ve said herein….

  14. Your article is hurtful and promotes the stigma. I’m diagnosed with BPD, my son has autism. You wrote down those “characteristics” like they were the only indicators of BPD and like we did all of this on purpose. Let me tell you something. Yes, my family hurt because of my problems, yes, they hurt each time I was hospitalised. Yes, it may be difficult to deal with me because I get hurt easily and hide from contacts. BUT it’s ME who hurts the most. You cannot imagine how hard it is to live with BPD. There were years when I was constantly thinking about suicide because I felt worthless. I still do feel disgusting and like a sub-human lots of times. I hurt easily which means putting my own thoughts about myself in other people’s heads. This doesn’t help in social interactions because I always think people hate me – just like I hate myself. I sometimes lose control, shout, cry, then feel numb… Never actually intending to hurt anybody with my behaviour. It’s like a meltdown in autistic child. You can’t help it, it’s happening, you know it but can do nothing about it. Little things can trigger that. This doesn’t mean I’m a bad person. The world is just too much for me sometimes. I may be fragile, unpredictable and hurtful but I’M NOT A MONSTER. Just like my son isn’t when he kicks me, screams and lies down on the floor, draining me of all my energy.
    I identify with my son because just like him I view the world differently. Parenting him is hard, even harder for a person with BPD but I’m doing my best and no other person would do it better than me. Because I love him and he loves me. By the way, he’s non-verbal, but lately learned and he constantly tells me “I love you”. He also kisses me a lot which he doesn’t share with others. That has to mean I’m doing a good job.

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