“It's hard to read us if we don’t explicitly say what we're feeling, but all the feelings are there.”In fact, people with autism may have greater emotional capacities.“Studies have shown that people with autism can have feelings that are stronger and deeper than those without autism,” said John Elder Robison, bestselling author of and autism advocate.He quickly realized acting confident was the key to dating success, especially if you're a man.However, maintaining that confidence may be the hardest part of dating for someone on the spectrum, because of their difficulty processing social cues from others.“Yet those feelings may be invisible to outsiders because we don't show them.Because we don’t show them or the expected response, people make the wrong assumption about our depth of feeling about other people.”It’s not that individuals on the spectrum do not have the same desire for love; they just may not know how to find it. Elizabeth Laugeson, an Assistant Clinical Professor at UCLA said, “If you asked a person with autism if they wanted a romantic relationship, they would probably say yes, but they would probably also say they don’t know how to.”Partially from the emphasis on early intervention treatments, there's a dearth of dating skills programs, or, rather, effective ones for people on the spectrum.However, both sexes on the spectrum struggle equally with the fear of rejection.Since so much of dating for adults with autism is trial by error, the risk of mistakes, and often embarrassing ones, is high.
“I’ve found that people who are neuro-typical really appreciate the qualities that people on the spectrum posses: complete honesty and almost an inability to lie,” she said.
“First, a couple notices each other across the room.
They make eye contact and look away, and they look again and they look away,” said Laugeson.
The former Miss America system contestant and University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music-trained opera singer knew she had a different conception of romance than her previous boyfriends had and, for that matter, everyone else.“People tend to think of romance as spur of the moment and exciting,” she told me.
“I think of romance as things that make sense and are logical.” However, she didn't know why until this year when, at the age of 31, when she was diagnosed with autism.