The ups and downs of finding love on the spectrum


Long before he was diagnosed with ASD at 35, Steve Asbell of Orange Park, Florida had one of his worst romantic experiences. He had traveled to Kansas to see a woman he considered his “distant girlfriend”. It wasn’t until after about “43 missed social cues and 71 euphemisms” that he figured out what was going on. “If I had known what the word ‘hookup’ meant, I would have stayed home,” Asbell said.

Now married at 38, Mr Asbell said he was “never the only one to invite a girl out”. Dating in the “conventional sense,” he said, struck him as odd because he had to juggle “conversation and politeness, while eating and keeping eye contact. It was like a job interview that didn’t. never ended.

These issues are now increasingly understood, as the romantic life of adults with autism is increasingly represented in popular culture. Helen Hoang, a 39-year-old romance writer, was recently diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder when she wrote “The Kiss Quotient,” a romance novel about an autistic woman who hires a male escort for her. teach him dating and sex. His second novel, “The Bride Test,” is about a man with autism who shuns relationships because he doesn’t believe he is capable of loving, so his mother takes it upon herself to find him the perfect bride.

“It is important to show autistic people a romantic life,” Ms. Hoang said, because it “combats the desexualization and infantilization of people with autism, represents people with autism in a more complete and authentic way, and shows people within. of the autistic community who lacked hope before it is possible.

A popular Netflix reality show, “Love on the Spectrum,” provides a glimpse into what dating and relationships look like for young adults with autism. The show debunks the stereotype that people with autism are not interested in romance, dating and relationships.

While many in the autistic community have found “Love on the Spectrum” to be a sensitive portrayal, not everyone has, of course. Stim4Stim, a podcast hosted by Charlie H. Stern and Zack Budryk, both autistic, was based on their disappointment with the way the show portrayed the romantic lives of people with autism.

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