This guest post is from Arman Khodeai who will soon be featured in the upcoming documentary "Autism In Love"
My name is Arman Khodaei, and I am an adult on the autism spectrum and program director for Empower Autism Now. Currently, I am facing one of my biggest life challenges ever. I am being filmed as part of the documentary “Autism in Love.” For those wondering, I am the guy with the rose. I highly recommend that you watch the “Sizzle Reel”.
This documentary has been a real challenge to me because it pushes me beyond my comfort zone. I have not been challenged like this in over 10 years. For the documentary, I have been on the search for my soul mate, and the camera crew has recorded some of my encounters along the way.
To be honest, I find it hard to be open and vulnerable in front of the camera. It is awkward for me to have something as intimate as a date recorded for everyone to see. My dad is pretty conservative when it comes to relationships. He is from Iran, and I don’t think they talk about them as openly as Americans do. So aside from my autism, there is also my upbringing that really makes this process challenging.
Also, for as long as I could remember I have been ashamed about dating. I felt dating was something wrong and having feelings for anyone was wrong. I liked girls, but I worried that my mom would tease me and maybe grow upset with me. So whenever she asked me if I wanted a girlfriend, I always told her that I had no interest in romance.
Today, a part of me still feels uncomfortable with dating. Even though I am 27 years old, I worry about upsetting my mom and dad. I worry about society not agreeing with my feelings. I have had a girlfriend before, but still, the fears and worries persist. And being filmed only perpetuates those feelings.
Sometimes, being filmed is a scary experience. I am not so much worried about the date itself or the outcome of the date. I am more worried about what the camera is capturing. It’s a tough situation to meet someone and then not have things work out, and it’s pretty embarrassing to me to have captured on the camera. Also, I am asked some very probing and intimate questions at times. But I always answer the questions, no matter how much I don’t want to answer them. In addition, sometimes I get asked questions by the director after a date, and to be honest, I just want to unwind and not think about things. Surprisingly, a date is much more stressful when it is being filmed – well, for me, at least.
And, well, I have so many fears. But I am facing them by being a part of this documentary. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy being on this documentary. I appreciate that I am being forced to face my fears, and I am also humbled and honored that my story and experiences might be able to inspire other adults on the autism spectrum.
I very much believe true love is possible. And that is why I am involved in this documentary. I want to find someone special, and to have that story inspire people. For that reason, the documentary, Autism in Love, is very important to me. I feel this is a special documentary, and I very much want to be a part of it.
I hope that this documentary inspires at least one autistic individual to not give up and to seek true love. That special someone is out there. I know this to be true.