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Autism, known clinically as Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD, is also sometimes referred to as Asperger Syndrome or PDD-NOS. It affects people in different ways. Some autistic people face extra challenges in romantic relationships, while others eschew them altogether. If you are in a relationship with an autistic person, you may be wondering how to deal with some of the things you have encountered. Then, you can begin looking for ways to improve your communication with your boyfriend, such as by anticipating social challenges, accepting repetitive behaviors, staying calm when you are upset, and listening when your boyfriend wants to talk.
Learn more about autism. By educating yourself about the condition and the challenges it may pose to your partner, you will have a better understanding of what he is dealing with on a daily basis. This knowledge may help you to be more patient, learn better ways to communicate with him, and even improve your relationship. • Read general definitions of autism. • Focus on books and articles written by , since they have firsthand experience on what it is like to live as an autistic person.
• Be careful of your sources; some autism groups that claim to speak for autistic people actually work hard to silence them.
Be aware of his communication challenges. Autistic people often struggle to communicate in the same ways that non-autistic people do. Some forms of expression may be too nuanced and difficult for them to understand and respond to.
This may lead to misunderstandings and problems within a relationship. To avoid these problems, try to be as direct as possible when you speak to your boyfriend. • For example, imagine you say something like, “Gina texted me earlier today.” You may expect him to ask you, “About what?” But your boyfriend might not understand that you are trying to have a conversation since you are not asking him a question.
Instead, it might be better to ask him, “Do you want to know what Gina said when she texted me today?” or just tell him what she said. • Every autistic person is different. Expect to learn and adjust over time as you get to know more about your boyfriend. Anticipate social challenges. Social situations that are fun or easy for you might be stressful and difficult for your boyfriend. The loudness and crowding of some social situations might cause your boyfriend to feel anxious and have a hard time concentrating on what people are saying.
Your boyfriend might also have a hard time making introductions or small talk. • Try writing a letter to your boyfriend about what his role is in social gatherings. Use direct language and only discuss one issue at a time. For example, you might write a letter focusing on why you want him to attend parties with you. • Work together on making social situations more comfortable for him. Perhaps he'd be able to handle parties if he could slip away to take a break every half hour or so, or if you set a time at which you'd leave early so he'd know he wouldn't have to handle it for much longer.
Discuss physical challenges. Some autistic people do not like to be touched or know when it is appropriate to give physical affection. Therefore, your boyfriend may not know when you want him to hug you or he may not like it when you touch him without warning.
Discuss these things with him to make it easier for you to have a better physical connection. • For example, after something upsetting has happened, you could say to your boyfriend, “I'm feeling really upset right now.
Could you please give me a hug? It would help me to feel better.” Accept repetitive behavior. Some autistic people may have certain routines that help them to feel better. If these routines are disrupted, they may feel anxious and get upset. Try to be understanding about any routines that your boyfriend has that help him to feel more comfortable.
Do what you can to avoid disrupting those routines. • For example, if your boyfriend goes for a run every day at 7:00pm, be respectful of this time and do not try to prevent him from doing his normal routine. • , such as flapping hands or watching lights, is another common autism symptom. Assume that these actions are important, even if you don't understand why he does them.
Ask your boyfriend about his needs. Every autistic person is different. Your boyfriend might have some very specific challenges that other autistic people do not have. Try asking some questions to better understand his challenges and preferences.
This will help you to be more considerate of his needs. • For example, you could say something like, “I want to know more about things that you struggle with so that I can be more considerate. What would you say are the challenges that you have because of your autism?” • Be sure to ask about his personal boundaries regarding touch. For example, does it bother him to be hugged?
Do you need to tell him before you are going to hug him? Be aware of comorbid disabilities. Autistic people may have anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses.
Disabled people, particularly people who have trouble with communication and emotional processing (including many autistic individuals), are more at risk for sexual abuse by care givers of many different job roles.
or others, and this may lead to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Be sensitive and supportive about any challenges your boyfriend faces. • If he was abused, he may not want to share the details with you. The best way you can help is by respecting his desire not to disclose the details, and by gently offering that he see a doctor (but not pushing him) if he is very stressed. Ditch the stereotypes. There are many stereotypes about autism, like that autistic people are incapable of love or emotions, but these are not true.
Autistic people have many emotions just like neurotypicals do they simply express them differently. • by pointing out incorrect assumptions about the condition when you encounter them. Try starting by saying something like, “I know that ___ is a well-known stereotype about autistic people, but the truth is…” • Current research has even shown that autistic people may have deeper or more intense emotional capacities than non-autistic people.
Be prepared for honest answers. Sometimes people who care about each other will tell little white lies or sugar coat the truth out of consideration for their partner’s feelings.
Autistic people may not do this. Instead, you might get some very honest answers from your boyfriend. These answers are not meant to be hurtful, it is just how your boyfriend communicates. • For example, if you ask your boyfriend, “Do I look good in this yellow top?” you might expect or want him to say yes.
But autistic people might respond with “no” if they do not think that you do. Therefore, you may want to avoid asking questions that you think might result in an answer that will upset you.
• Remember that honesty is your boyfriend's way of trying to help you. Answer his questions. Since some autistic people struggle to understand sarcasm or other non-literal forms of communication, you may have situations where your boyfriend asks you a lot of questions.
Don’t get upset if this happens. Remember, he asks questions because he cares about you and wants to understand you. Say how you feel. Remember that body language and other non-verbal cues may be difficult for autistic people to understand. Instead of trying to communicate with your boyfriend using non-verbal cues, say how you are feeling or what you are thinking.
By stating your feelings or thoughts instead of trying to get your boyfriend to guess at them, you may avoid an uncomfortable situation or even an argument. • For example, when a non-autistic person like you avoids eye contact, it is often a sign of being disinterested or upset. But for an autistic person, avoiding eye contact is normal and often not a sign of anything. It helps to say "I'm really stressed today" or "I had a bad day." • By extension, if he fails to make eye contact with you, do not take it as a sign that he's disinterested in you, unless he tells you so.
• If he is doing something that bothers you, tell him. Dropping hints or being silent and then snapping at him won't help. Be straightforward so he can understand and make a change. For example, "Please don't chew with your mouth open. The sound really bothers me." Let your boyfriend know how you would like him to respond. Some autistic people are not sure how to respond to certain situations.
But you can help your boyfriend understand what you need and expect of him by telling him how you’d like him to respond in those situations. • For example, imagine that you get annoyed when you tell your boyfriend about your day at work and he tries to advise you on what to do.
Just tell him something like, “I appreciate that you want to help me, but I really just need you to listen when I tell you about my day.” Be open to initiating more.
Autistic people can have trouble initiating things, or may not know what to do and whether it's appropriate. You can make this easier by initiating the things you'd like to happen, whether it's flirting or kissing. • In addition to struggling with social situations, some autistic people lack a drive or an understanding of sexuality or sexual connotations.
Therefore, he might say or do something that has a sexual implication or double-entendre that he was totally unaware of. • For example, he might ask you over to a sleepover with him, having completely innocent non-sexual intentions, not understanding that this would be taken as a sexual proposition by most girls. In this case, explain to him that connotations and feelings of intimacy and sexuality go on in a bedroom atmosphere at night between people of the opposite sex, and that social sleepovers are typically reserved for younger participants or groups of the same sex.
• It could potentially happen that by his avoiding eye contact with you in conversation, because of his autistic nature, he appears to be staring at your breasts or another sensitive part of your body.
Don't freak out, or assume that he's being creepy. Simply tell him, "I don't feel comfortable when you look in that direction" and direct his gaze to your eyes or somewhere else. • If you ever do want to get intimate or sexual with him, be sure that he has a complete understanding of what sexuality is, what it's about, and the nature of what he's consenting to if he consents to the activity. Handle disagreements as calmly as possible. Discuss your feelings and thoughts with your boyfriend in a calm, straightforward manner.
Although you may be entitled to feeling angry or hurt, a calm, straightforward approach may be much more effective than an emotional reaction. Becoming emotional may leave your partner feeling confused about why you are upset. • Avoid making “you” statements such as, “You never,” “ You are not,” “ You need to,” etc. • Instead, such as, “I feel,” “I think,” “I want,” etc. This is a general helpful approach that works for all people (not just autistic people).
. In order to understand your boyfriend’s perspective, it is important to listen and make your boyfriend feel heard. Make sure that you take the time to stop and listen to your boyfriend when he is speaking. Do not talk while he is speaking, just listen try to understand what he is saying before you respond. . Validating the other person’s feelings or concerns means acknowledging them and not minimizing them. Even if you feel like your boyfriend’s perspective is flawed, you need to accept what he has said in order to keep the lines of communication open in your relationship.
• Seek to understand first, then respond. If you don't know why he feels a certain way, ask, and listen closely to his response. • For example, instead of responding with something like “There is no reason to be angry about what happened last night.” Try saying something like, “I hear that you are angry about what happened last night.” • Yes.
Autistic people, just like everyone else, can love children and become good parents. If your boyfriend enjoys spending time with your kids, this is a really good sign about your future together, especially if you want to have children together someday.
You can talk with him about this, just like you could with a non-autistic person. • Consider whether you're ready for sex, and how much you'd like to do. Scarleteen is a great resource on communication, preparedness, and consent, and it might help to do some reading to help you understand better. Make sure to talk with him first, so you know exactly what he's interested in and what he's not.
Take it as slowly as needed, and keep communicating. There's no rush. Remember, autistic people are still regular people, and you can talk with him the same way you would with anyone else.
• This is completely normal. Autistic people, just like anyone else, can have attractive qualities and be worth dating. Many autistic people end up getting married. If you like this guy, then go for it! Don't be afraid to be direct about your crush, and to try making the first move; he might be too shy to do it even if he wants to. Community Answer • He needs to know by your actions that you like him in that way.
Subtle gestures won't do. First, get to know what he likes to do, and show genuine interest in those things. Laugh at his jokes. Don't force anything on him. Talk about what you like and keep it simple, spoken words aren't a strong point.
Don't expect group activities from him, they're a pain. Give him time to understand you want to be his girl. • Noises are often a type of , which can be used to focus, self-calm, or something else. It's similar to how you might rub your eyes or tap a pencil when you're upset or trying to think. It serves an important function for the person. Every autistic adult is different; some make noises often, some only do it sometimes, and some don't do it at all. This doesn't make one person "better" or "worse" than another.
If the noises are disruptive, you can gently ask the person to switch to an , such as listening to music. • The same as with anyone else. Once you have decided that, for your part, it is over, you have to act. It is generally more courteous to have a conversation about it, not to indicate that things might still change for you, but to offer some insights and to soften the blow.
But you don't have to. You can just leave, without a word (though that's harsh). You can text, e-mail or call, too. Best do it yourself, don't ask someone else. It doesn't matter if he's autistic; sure, he may react differently than another man, but this is personal, not all autistic people react the same way. You need his consent to be with him, but you do not need anyone's permission to break up. Make sure he sees you as his girlfriend, rather than simply a friend who happens to be female.
With autism, unless you tell him verbally and plainly that you see him as your boyfriend and that you intend to be his girlfriend, he might see you as a platonic friend, even if you do the things for him a girlfriend would do.
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From today Netflix is streaming 'Atypical', a comedy-drama about an autistic teenage boy who wants to start dating. But what’s it like navigating sex, love and romance when you’re a woman on the spectrum? Here filmmaker and autism rights advocate, Carly Jones - 35 and a divorced mum of three - skewers some stereotypes. In fact, some autistic women lose their virginity much earlier than their peers due to naivety or curiosity.
As a teenager I truly believed that if I liked someone then they must like me too. Some autistic people can have difficulty with the ‘theory of mind’, which is understanding that other people might think differently to you. For me, it made me a bit vulnerable with boys - if I thought, ‘I will alway treat that person nicely’, then I just assumed they would always treat me nicely too.
I was a teenage mum and married at 18. It wasn’t a fantastic marriage - we divorced when I was 26 - but I enjoyed the security, I liked that things stayed the same. And yes, autistic people do get married: in fact I think we find comfort in the routine, whereas other people might get bored.
Read next • • 1 day ago Don't assume all autistic people are awkward geniuses Since getting divorced and starting to date again, I’ve realised that I’m demisexual - this means that I’m attracted to the way someone thinks, rather than how they look.
(Which is good - because I’m not great at flirting -I’d say something weird, like, “your face looks nice”, then walk off.) Dating apps obviously don’t work for me. And like a lot of people with autism, I also have face blindness. I can’t recognise people out of context. For example, I always see my dentist in his uniform and office - if I bump into him in the supermarket I won’t know who he is. I can’t remember faces, so I use other cues, like what someone is wearing. It doesn’t always work: I went to a New Year’s Eve party with a then boyfriend (now ex-) and he was wearing the same t-shirt as another man: midnight comes and I’m really getting into this kiss, when I get a tap on the shoulder… • 14 Dec 2018 Telling a potential date that I’m on the spectrum isn’t really a problem.
I’m proud of being autistic, so when I meet someone, I will literally say ‘hi, I’m autistic’. It’s a good icebreaker. Most people respond with: ‘oh my god, you don’t look autistic’.
(FYI no one looks autistic). Recently I met someone at a networking event, and when I told him I was autistic, he said ‘I’m glad you said that, because I thought you might be’.
I wasn’t offended - it made me really happy: it means people are becoming more aware. There are definite upsides to dating someone who is on the autistic spectrum. There won’t be any games. We can’t fathom playing hard to get. I can remember a friend saying to me, ‘If he texts you don’t reply for three days’. I thought: I’m not hard to get! I’m so eager! I’m just going to ring him. And we don’t understand lying - so you can expect complete honesty from us. (Just don’t ask a question if you can’t handle the truth).
I'm proud of being autistic - telling someone about it isn't a problem It’s a myth that autistic people don’t have empathy. I think it’s the opposite - we actually hyper-empathise. I walk down the street and I can pick up if someone’s really sad - it makes me want to hide away. So people think: oh she can’t socialise. But actually the world is really intense - and we’re picking up on everything. We do have empathy, we may just not show it in ways that non-autistic people do, so we're perceived as lacking in it.
Atypical is very funny, and it certainly captures how unfiltered we are. But it’s a shame that the autistic character, Sam, is another example of the ‘male and pale’ stereotype. Because we’re not all like that. We're not all white, and we're not all men: much of my campaigning is about increasing awareness of how autism presents in women and girls, and fighting for equality in our diagnosis and treatment (two of my three daughters are autistic like me).
While Atypical shows that people on the spectrum can and do have relationships - it doesn't reflect the LGBT members of the autistic community, or those who are gender fluid. It’s a missed opportunity - because one of the greatest misconceptions is that all autistic people are alike: but we’re all so different.
So strike up a conversation and get to know us. For more information visit The National Autistic Society (NAS) at Carly Jones is a supporter of the NAS and , one of 21 charities part of the #happytochat initiative to fight loneliness.
She also leads a for autistic teens in Berkshire. To find out more about her projects visit her or follow
Find Other Autistic Singles to Date Here at Autistic Dating we have realized that autistic people have specific needs when it comes to finding romance. It is usually very hard for an autistic person to communicate with regular people in the every day world. The same goes for communicating with people on regular online dating sites.
Autistic people have problems in general when trying to communicate, that is why they need special conditions for dating as well. We completely understand that, having spoken with and gotten expert opinions from many social workers and experts on autism, and we have designed a dating site that will make the entire dating experience much easier on autistic people. Our experiment has already received great support and there are already hundreds of autistic people who have registered on our dating site.
There are also more coming in every single day after hearing about it. Autistic Dating is a special site that is designed with the special needs of autistic people in mind. You can browse the hundreds of profiles and personals that are already on display at our site, or you can check out our chat rooms, where there are always cool people hanging out and talking to each other.
The chat rooms are a good way to break the ice if an autistic person might have some anxiety about talking directly to a person they are attracted to. We have seen many people meet in the chat room and then begin to date afterward. So if you are an autistic person looking to get out into the dating world, this is the perfect site for you. Autistic Dating was designed to help make dating for autistic people in the UK easy and fun.
Women and Autism. Towards a Better Understanding