This guest post is by Autism Speaks staffer Kerry Magro, a motivational speaker, best-selling author, and one of the first TV talk show hosts who’s on the autism spectrum. You can learn more about Kerry on Facebook and Twitter. Kerry in 2014 wrote a book called Autism and Falling in Love based on his experiences trying to find love on the autism spectrum. You can also read this blog here.
When I started dating at 18 I had NO idea how to talk to people, let alone women. Many of the people I dated had good intents, but they may not have understood some of the quirks that people on the spectrum like me may have. For example, as a kid I hated being touched. Ten years later as a 28-year-old adult, I embrace affection.
Here are some things you need to know when it comes to dating someone with autism.
Some of us want to unwind after a long day just like anyone else.
So if we’re not looking at you right in the eyes when we are having a conversation, don’t think we’re trying to give you the cold shoulder.
Ask us 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.
If something goes over our head, try to make us understand what you meant.
Sarcasm can sometimes go over our heads and when it does, know that we truly want to understand.
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.
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.
If you’re shocked that we have autism, don’t be.
Some people on the spectrum tend to fall on the line of having an ‘invisible disability.’ That means that if we are on a date, you may not see any characteristics of autism on the surface, but it doesn’t mean we’re not on the spectrum. Autism is a spectrum disorder.
If you go online before our date and find out we have autism, don’t jump to conclusions.
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.
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.
Like autism, love doesn't discriminate based on race, age, gender, religion, sexuality and disability.
Love me for the person I am and I’ll do the same with you.
Have a story you want to share about living on the autism spectrum? Email us at InOurOwnWords@autismspeaks.org.