The short answer would be, no, you shouldn’t worry about dating a person with autism because just like anything, no person should ever be defined by the labels cast on them, nor should these labels be worrisome.
It’s important to note that autism is a spectrum disorder. In simple terms, people diagnosed with autism experience different symptoms, like how things change across a spectrum. The goal of every person, either curious or becoming interested in a person with autism, should be to know and understand the complexity of the disorder and become more open to it.
Here are the 3 most important things you should know about dating on the autism spectrum:
- It’s Not Out Of The Ordinary
“Autism is a result of neurological differences in the structure of the brain that distinguish it from what we call the neurotypical brain. It is not mental illness or a personality disorder.” Sarah Swenson, MA, LMHC said. People on the autism spectrum want the same thing as everyone. They look for companionship, someone they can be comfortable and themselves with, and another person to feel closeness and affection for. To date, a person with autism is not out of the ordinary because they have the same idea about a relationship as anyone would have.
Autism does not deprive people of basic human emotions and needs. Romance is entirely possible for people with autism, and there are many of them in happy and healthy relationships, far more than the average person would know. The conversation about dating on the autism spectrum begins with acknowledging that everyone has human emotions, autism or not.
- Worrying Too Much
Though there needs to be a greater understanding and less alienating of people with autism, it cannot be denied the stark differences when it comes to the way they relate to people. The usual reason for worrying in a relationship is either caused by misunderstandings, misinterpretations or the feeling that “it’s just not working.” Alicia H. Clark, PsyD once said, “Rooted in a belief that we can’t handle how we are feeling, believing our anxiety is dangerous just might be the most damaging approach we can take to coping with it.”
In the context of a relationship, for someone on the autism spectrum, it gets much harder to read between the lines and try to pick up on their partner’s subtleties, so the problems that can arise from this are very apparent. As a partner or potential partner, it’s best to avoid worrying too much because it will most likely be unnecessary to overthink.
- Don’t Try To “Fix It”
Like what’s been previously said, people with autism are all different. They act differently, experience their autism in different ways, communicate on different levels and most especially have different realities when it comes to dating. It’s not a problem that needs to be “fixed.” Instead, autism is more of a book that needs to be read entirely. “Nothing’s really hit the spot because that essence of autism has been missing that perspective,” says Jo White, a therapist.
Every person interested in dating on the autism spectrum should take everything they learn, and use it to improve themselves in the relationship and improve other people’s outlook on autism, and that’s the most the community can ask of them. The only responsibility that should genuinely be carried is to contribute to a greater acceptance and understanding of autism as a whole.
If you are interested in a person with autism, or someone trying to learn more about dating on the autism spectrum, understanding of the disorder is key. Whether it’s a conversation, learning something, or being in a relationship, as long as you have patience and a willingness to engage, then you can say goodbye to most of your worries.