@niamh_maj this forum is largely for caregivers, but there are a few DXed folks here like myself who can give you advice. There are more spouses and partners who can give you their perspectives.
First, I think it’s commendable that you want to help and you are educating yourself. Being on the autistic spectrum you may be part the way there toward understanding how he thinks and feels. I know I feel a bit of a kinship with folks on that spectrum and I think there’s significant overlap. People with SZ are a minority as you are in a neurotypical world and we have to learn and adapt. It’s as if we are in another country speaking a different language and trying to follow customs different than our own, and we are apt to make mistakes.
I think the main thing I want in a partner is just that— a partner. Someone who can operate as a second set of eyes and ears, emotions and instincts who I can trust to help me navigate the world.
One thing you likely have in common is sensory and thought flooding. When you have SZ the world overstimulates you. For me and most people on the SZ spectrum, the stimulus is mostly auditory. Some people experience transient visual flooding, but I don’t and I’m not sure what happens when autism is also in the mix. (My understanding from accounts of Temple Grandin is some autistic people think in visual terms, but this may not be universal.). The way most people with SZ cope with the sensory overload is to withdraw or escape. If they are lucky, they eventually get desensitized and can deal with going outside. Your boyfriend seems to have strategies that help him navigate on his own. You can’t be with him at all times, so support him in learning how to cope. Some may resort to street drugs to escape which is generally counterproductive, so I would recommend making sure your boyfriend avoids them.
Where the differences come in is in the thought flooding and perception of the stimulus. My guess is to you, what you see and hear is what you see and hear. The world is concrete to you as you experience it. To him this may be more fluid or mixed up. His thoughts get mixed with his stimuluses and he hallucinates. These will often have themes or a loose narrative of a sort, but may or may not be coherent.
How he describes them to you may be his best approximation of assigning meaning to all the stimulus. External the stimulus are thoughts that direct and associate things together. In paranoiacs, like myself, this can be similar to the plot of a detective story or script of a noire movie that he makes up as it unfolds. Each theme is like a chapter where the ideas are collected and woven together. The problem is, it’s a bad story with plot holes and inconsistencies that he may be unaware of. Unfortunately it often doesn’t help to point out those plot holes, as he may get defensive and emotional about them, because he ‘knows’ they are right and true, etc. So it’s best not to focus on or bring up these problems unless he asks.
I think that’s enough for now, as I’m unsure if I’m being clear or if this may be a bit over your head with terminology and such or if my understanding of autism as you experience it is correct. Schizophrenia is a spectrum as well. Some people call them the schizophrenias. I have what’s called Schizoaffective disorder which has a mood or emotional component, so I have less of a flat affect.
Feel free to reply to the thread or message me if you have more questions or need clarification.