Problems dating men with children

Autism diagnosis rates have increased dramatically over the last two decades (the latest CDC reports show one in 50 children are diagnosed), and while much attention has been paid to early-intervention programs for toddlers and younger children, teens and adults with autism have largely been overlooked—especially when it comes to building romantic relationships.

Certain characteristics associated with the autism spectrum inherently go against typical dating norms.

“First, a couple notices each other across the room.

“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.

For example, while a "neuro-typical" person might think a bar is great place for a first date, it could be one of the worst spots for someone on the spectrum.

Dorsey Massey, a social worker who helps run dating and social programs for adults with various intellectual disabilities, explained, “If it's a loud, crowded place, an individual on the spectrum may be uncomfortable or distracted.” Sensory issues may also make certain lights and noises especially unpleasant.

The aspects of autism that can make everyday life challenging—reading social cues, understanding another's perspectives, making small talk and exchanging niceties—can be seriously magnified when it comes to dating.

Though the American Psychiatric Association defines autism as a spectrum disorder—some people do not speak at all and have disabilities that make traditional relationships (let alone romantic ones) largely unfeasible, but there are also many who are on the "high-functioning" end and do have a clear desire for dating and romance.

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“Early intervention can significantly improve the outcome, but kids grow up, and we don't have the proper services,” said Laugeson, who serves as director of UCLA PEERS, a program that teaches social, including romantic, interaction skills to teens and young adults on the spectrum.

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