This story was submitted to Love & Autism by Kerry Magro, a professional speaker, best-selling author and autism entertainment consultant who is on the autism spectrum. He wrote a book called "Autism and Falling in Love' based on his personal experiences finding love on the autism spectrum. A version of this blog appeared on Kerrymagro.com here.
When I started dating at 18 I had NO idea how to talk to women. Many of the people I dated meant well however they may not have understand some of the quirks that people on the spectrum like me may have. For example as a kid I hated being touched. Thirteen years later as a 31-year-old adult I embrace affection.
Here are some things you need to know when it comes to dating someone with autism…
10. Just because we may want to be by ourselves at times doesn’t mean we don’t care about you.
Some of us want to unwind during a long day just like anyone else.
9. Eye contact may be difficult for us at times.
When we are having a conversation if I’m not looking at you right in the eyes don’t think I’m trying to give you the cold shoulder.
8. Ask me any question you have.
Although we may have difficulties with communication, we still need you to be as open with us as possible to avoid misunderstandings. Ask us questions early to avoid issues later.
7. If something goes over our head try to make me understand what you meant.
Sarcasm can sometimes go over our heads and when it does, know that we truly want to understand.
6. We can date people who aren’t on the autism spectrum.
Often a misconception is that people on the spectrum want to only date others who are on the spectrum. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. We just want to find someone we connect with and can be ourselves with.
5. If you’re shocked that I have autism don’t be.
Some people on the spectrum tend to fall on the line of an ‘invisible disability.’ That means if we are on a date you may not see any characteristics of autism on the surface but it doesn’t mean I’m not on the spectrum. Autism is a spectrum disorder.
4. If you go online before our date and find out I have autism don’t jump to conclusions.
See #5. Autism is a spectrum. I once went on a date and within the first 5 minutes she was already talking about how ‘Rain Man’ was her favorite movie… Interesting.
3. Help us understand what you are comfortable with when it comes to being intimate.
We aren’t mind readers so tell us when we may be going too fast or too slow. We will respect you even more for being honest with us, as people on the spectrum tend to be some of the most authentic people you will ever meet.
2. Give us time to process small or big-time decisions.
After we’ve been together for a while and decisions may arise, whether it be something small like trying a new restaurant or something bigger such as getting married or moving in together, understand that transitions can often be difficult at first for us to comprehend. This isn’t different for any human being on this planet. Sometimes transitions can tend to make us feel overloaded. Don’t feel discouraged. If it works out and we both care for each other we will make it work.
1. Love is love. No matter the person.
Love has no race, age, gender, religion, sexuality and disability. It’s the same with autism. Love is love no matter any differences we have in our lives.