Welcome to the 2018 series of the Louden on Autism Q & A . As many of you know, I receive questions every day, and I want to make sure that the answers to these important questions are being shared with all of you.
Please know that these are my opinions and my answers come from my research and my own personal experiences. Of course, each situation is different. All of us as people are different. And no two people with or without autism should be treated the same exact way.
This week, I received a question about a child with autism who is having difficulties talking with females and his parents are worried about his dating life.
My son has a rough time talking with girls. He will tell them how much he likes them. He will try to interact with girls in the ways he sees on TV and in movies, but his quest to find a girlfriend has caused issues at school. I don’t think he is trying to upset people, but he just doesn’t understand relationships in general. Any advice?
This is a very difficult topic even for neurotypical kids – dating is something you have to try and fail at repeatedly before you sort of get the hang of things. Some things are just going to come slower for those of us on the spectrum. That being said, I do feel it might be best for all directions on the topic to come from one source. Contradictory directions can be very confusing. As well, if one person knows how to communicate ideas to him better, that can be important, because with the habit of taking things more literally or more absolute, good advice can sometimes backfire.
My biggest recommendation would really just be focusing on the question “why?” As you said, you think he just wants friends, and just wants a girlfriend. Focus on exploring those ideas. Not just stopping at “because that’s what other people are doing” but into “why do you think they’re doing it?” And the idea that such things are a two-way street, it’s like the idea of sharing. You’re sharing something, the relationship, and when you’re sharing you don’t tell someone “I want this” but rather “would you like to share this with me?” And if someone says no, you accept that.
But really, focus on “what does he hope to get in a relationship.” So often it’s the answer you said above, “because others are doing it” or a similar “because you’re supposed to” and without a foundation of a realistic reason for being in relationships, it’s hard to build a good set of ideas about how to go about starting and maintaining one. It will come with time, but learning experiences are all part of the process for all humans, especially those of us on the spectrum.
Thanks for reading. Check back soon for another Q&A.