My brother, Hussein Al-Nasrawi, sits in his bedroom with his Mac Book in his lap, clicking away on the keyboard. As he stares at his computer screen, he never cracks a smile; in fact, he doesn't smile very much in general.He logs onto the dating site Ok Cupid and begins answering some questions.“What are you looking for?Over the years, he’s tried dating sites like the Canada-based Lava Life and Australia’s RSVP, but he found his most recent long-term relationship on Facebook.“In 2008, I met a female on the autism spectrum in the United States,” Burge says.“That became sort of a long distance relationship for a while, and that collapsed due to the immigration difficulties.”Despite having some success in online dating, Burge isn’t optimistic about finding a partner.“I’ve got to the stage where I just find the whole concept of dating and relationships is just simply overwhelming,” Burge says.The way to Paulette's heart is through her Outlook calendar.“Honestly, if you want to be romantic with me, send an email through Outlook and give me all the possible dates, locations, and times, so that I can prepare,” she said.Singles often go to bars to meet each other, but in reality, very few couples actually meet at a bar “singles scene.” If you have ASD, going up to someone new in a bar and striking up a conversation may seem particularly ineffective.
In today’s blog-post, I’ll be giving some tips for teaching your young person about dating.
For example, while a "neuro-typical" person might think a bar is great place for a first date, it could be one of the worst spots for someone on the spectrum.
Dorsey Massey, a social worker who helps run dating and social programs for adults with various intellectual disabilities, explained, “If it's a loud, crowded place, an individual on the spectrum may be uncomfortable or distracted.” Sensory issues may also make certain lights and noises especially unpleasant.
The aspects of autism that can make everyday life challenging—reading social cues, understanding another's perspectives, making small talk and exchanging niceties—can be seriously magnified when it comes to dating.
Though the American Psychiatric Association defines autism as a spectrum disorder—some people do not speak at all and have disabilities that make traditional relationships (let alone romantic ones) largely unfeasible, but there are also many who are on the "high-functioning" end and do have a clear desire for dating and romance.