Because of complications in "reading" body language and cues, Aspergers (high functioning autistic) teens have a very hard time in negotiating the intricate art of social interaction.
This is not an unattainable thing, and just about everyone has learned to do this, but Aspergers teens and young adults need to learn it. People without Aspergers need to learn the same things, but the extra challenges that Aspies have make it more challenging for them to "get started".
This is similar to driving -- once you get a beginning level of expertise, you will learn regardless of what your native aptitude for driving is. One distinction -- in relationships, there's hardly any public transportation.
Do anything you can to facilitate getting started with dating or other romantic relationship socialization. This is the threshold to cross.
Dating or building relationships is really a threshold issue for Aspies to the extent that they can be divided into two groups -- those who date (or are otherwise involved) and those who don't. This is stereotypically in the form of "dating" but the actual form of meeting and activity can be varied.
I've come across reports that fewer than 10% of teens with Aspergers are successful in their ability to attain good relationships. I do not think that is really the case simply because:
- A few significant number of Aspergers teens who have done wonderfully at relationships.
- You will find numerous historical reports of excellent relationships involving teens with Aspergers.
- The assessment was most likely based on a determination that matrimony is the only legitimate form of a successful relationship. (This is in addition to a substantial number of apparently successful Aspergers partnerships.)
- That conclusion was made before Aspergers was commonly diagnosed. Diagnosis is essential to self-understanding, particularly for teens with Aspergers.
If you divide Aspergers teens based on whether or not they have crossed the "dating" threshold, the probability of success in relationships increases considerably when you have started to date (or the equivalent). Then consider the effect of diagnosis, which is important with Aspergers -- instead of being "odd" the individual knows he/she has Aspergers. With knowledge of Aspergers comes a much greater propensity to engage individuals who enjoy the company of somebody with Aspergers features.
These changes make it an easy task to approach the “non-Aspergers” level of 50% marriage rate of success. If a person considers non-marriage relationships, chances are that individuals with Aspergers will begin to have a similar degree of success in life relationships as everyone else.
On a more basic level, once an Aspie crosses the threshold of dating, he/she will improve their knowledge and ability in handling relationships. Often they become particularly social.
For many young adults, dating and finding a romantic partner are important goals, and this is true for those with Aspergers as well as those without. But often, those with Aspergers may have gotten off to a slower start on dating. The high school social scene, when many non-Aspergers teenagers first start dating, can be horribly complex and not open to anyone who doesn’t fit into the popular crowd’s most narrow definition of acceptable behavior. High school teens with Aspergers may be quirky, or dealing with bullies, or just not ready to enter into an activity that is so socially complex.
Then, after high school, it can be even more difficult because it seems like the rest of the world is so much more experienced with dating. The older you get without dating, the tougher it may seem to get started. But, the good news is: if you want to start dating, it’s never too late to begin.
Below are some tips for how to start dating, even if you’re no longer anywhere close to high school age:
Dating Tips for Aspergers Teens and Young Adults—
Needless to say, the first step in starting to date is to discover a date. This is really probably easier than you may envision. Keep in mind that you’re looking for a date, not a husband or wife. So you can be satisfied with an individual you enjoy conversing with or spending some time with, this does not need to be that perfect ‘one’ individual. Consider broadening your ideal criteria. You may imagine yourself only involved with an exceptionally appealing, or brilliant, or successful person. But, if you are only setting up a date here, you are able to relax your standards. Lots of people whom you’d never consider marrying can be lot of fun to talk to on a date. You never know, you may even alter your standards.
Meeting individuals gets easier all the time. If you struggle in more unstructured settings, like book stores and coffee houses, it’s fine to visit practical meeting places, such things as speed dating or the World Wide Web. There, there is no doubt that the individuals you’re meeting want to meet others. If you are unskilled with dating, it may be best to avoid asking out coworkers, neighbors or people you’ll continue to see a lot of after the date. Misread social cues can mean a long-term awkwardness with people you have to interact with well after the date.
Obviously, safety is paramount. It you are a person who struggles with reading social signals, assume that you might have difficulties in determining if situations are risk-free. Have your date in a public, well lit place, be sure you bring a cell phone and a buddy knows where you are. Do not share your address or too many personal details. Plan ahead of time about how long the date is going to be, and then stay with that plan. You do not want to get overly enthusiastic with a charming stranger. Lastly, and most crucial, trust your intuition. Pay attention to gut feelings if something seems off.
Your first dating encounters will likely be somewhat uncomfortable. Loosen up …this does not need to be a long term relationship. See if you're able to consider this date as a way to get more exposure to dating. It's not necessary to share your lack of dating experience with the individual you’re communicating with, just keep it light. Discuss stuff you have in common, and then try to learn general things about your date, such things as where they are from, what they like about the place they are currently living, intriguing hobbies and interests. Additionally …plan on keeping it short. An afternoon coffee date will be a lot less stress than a full night of dinner and a movie. If it’s simpler, consider setting your first date up as an activity, like visiting an art gallery, going for a hike, going to the beach. These pursuits can also take a lot of pressure off carrying on a prolonged discussion.
Lastly, attempt to have some fun! Dating could possibly be the way to meet a husband or wife, or discover the woman of your dreams. But it is also a pleasing way to interact with someone else, and enjoy a Sunday afternoon.
The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook