Love in the Life of Autism: A Little Advice from Those who Care
February is the time of the year when lovers suddenly remember on another, flower shops run out of stock, chocolate makes everyone gain a few pounds and stuffed toys find new homes both with the neurotypical and the autism diagnosed. It is a time for romance and for those who have no significant other on February 14 to either celebrate their singlehood or hide away until the day is over. Personally, I prefer the former. Then again, having your best friend who is single or whose boyfriend is miles across the world to watch sappy movies with and gorge on white chocolate brownies by your side makes life just a little bit better. After all, those romance movies are not going to watch themselves.
Autism makes one's life harder, whether you are the one diagnosed or have children on the spectrum. In either case, it seems that too many single mothers are left to raise their children on their own. I placed a question to both mothers of autistic children and adults with Asperger's themselves, asking about their love lives. The response was sweetly perfect. Most people in this world want others to succeed and be happy. This is what they had to say:
- Life is interesting sometimes in the way someone just appears in your life.
- Children are often really good judges of character. Look at how the man you bring home treats your child. One parent mentioned, "...But he kept coming around and the third time he visited my nonverbal toddler walked up to him and called him daddy."
- Sometimes your children know the one you should be with before you do. Trust their instincts.
- You may feel like you have no room for a partner now, but when the right one comes along all that will change
- Do not go looking for love. According to one parent, it is the easiest way to settle.Do not lose hope that love is out there.
- Go slow and take things one step at a time. Do not introduce the man you date to your child immediately, but check to see how he responds to talk about autism, particualrly in your own family.
- One parent said, "Make sure they research what autism entails before making a commitment, too many people think it's all like Rainman! And make sure they know that a commitment to you is a commitment to your child. The right man wont be put off with you putting your child first no matter what! And they will be prepared to work at getting to know your kid." That is really important advice as oftentimes the man that you date, or woman for that matter, may love you but either neglect or abuse your child(ren).
- Communication is key.
- Sometimes those you don't think will stick around will surprise you.
- Be upfront about having kids with autism.
- "Have someone that treats your kids like kids. Not someone that treats them like there is something wrong with them."
- From one autistic parent to another, "Go on dates, let your friends set you up, and have fun when you can... but BE PICKY... never settle. Good luck to you!!!"
Autism is not a disease. It is not a life sentence. It is, however, difficult to live with sometimes, and the lower the child is on the spectrum, the more exhausted you are going to be. It is a genetic disorder that seems to be aggravated by environmental factors, including the pollution in big cities. It is a disorder that can weigh heavy on one's pockets and wallets, with too much spent for therapy sessions and not enough government assistance.
An individual with autism can also have a rather normal life, with a family and children of his/her own. It may not be easy, but it is manageable and the higher one's functioning, the easier it is. The Autism Whisperer relays his own life story in a previous article published on EmaxHealth, providing inspiration for the average autistic person.
Adults with Asperger's provide their own advice for dating on another Facebook group. Too many are shy, scared, and entirely uncomfortable with the thought of going out on a date. Love may not always be an emotion circumstances allow them to feel. That doesn't mean they don't want exactly what everyone else wants though. Here is what they recommend, in their own words for full effect:
- Look for someone to be your friend first, and date later. meeting someone without the pressure of romance and sex is much more natural (and fun).
- It's all about honesty and communication; honest communication. Communication requires listening and talking and responding …it is not a one way street! Both people have to be open to communicate 24/7
- When you find them, they will be able to accept all of you...and you will be able to accept all of them... you will be able to say...hey that bothered me when you did x y or z, a conversation will ensue, and you will come out stronger. There will be things that may drive you absolutely nuts..and things you will find so endearing it breaks your heart.
- Find a free online dating site. Going to nightclubs is a dead loss.- This one makes me laugh personally as both are considered dead losses for most people. Some lucky ones, however, do manage to find their partners online, which just proves that one should keep their options open at all times.
In an ABC mini-documentary, the love story between two individuals with autism was presented. The sweet but unique nature of their relationship would be of interest for all those who live with autism in the autism, whether or not they are on the spectrum themselves. Compromises are the essence of any relationship, and creating the perfect environment in which two people could feel comfortable and thrive is essential in a marriage or live-in situation. The footage presents how it was that the relationship presented began and how they make it work. Each learned how to make friends and date through reading books and each has a quirk that needs a modification in the home to make it bearable and a happy place to be. The truth is that love is possible for those on the spectrum or with children with autism. Just because such individuals are uniquely different doesn't mean that they are not "normal" in their human needs.
All in all, if you don't have someone this Valentine's Day, don't fret. Love comes at the strangest times when you are ready and often not waiting for it, no matter, no matter whether you are a neurotypical or autistic individual.