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Aspergers Syndrome, Autism and Romance
If you have a partner or romantic significant other with Aspergers Syndrome or High Functioning Autism then you do definitely need to think outside the box when it comes to buying them a gift for Valentine's Day, their birthday or Christmas.
But of course even this can be a minefield as some autistic people (me not included!) may possibly actually vehemently renounce the commercialism of these occasions. Or they may in fact not even want to encourage what they see as being just 'mindless materialism.' So it is always best also to gauge their opinions about such occasions as well first.
N.B. Please also note that for your Aspergers Syndrome significant other please refrain from reading the usual, ‘What I should buy my loved one for Valentines day?’ articles. These articles should come with a warning for those with an autistic partner and usually need to be rewritten significantly for those who are aiming to please a partner with a more individual autistic way of thinking.
Now while there may be some Aspergers females out there who have decided they like the Neurotypcial way of being wined and dined and they actually have become partial to the whole wine, chocolates and flowers concept this method of wooing your Aspergers Partner should still only be embarked upon after serious research and observation.
On the contrary you need to consider the following before embarking on a romantic dinner date with an Autistic Partner
- Does your Aspergers Partner have any special dietary needs that may mean they would not be able to eat in every restaurant i.e. an allergy or are they intolerant to wheat, dairy, nuts or any other common foods? It is always best to check as many Aspergers people do have immune system issues which means they may be on a special diet.
- Many High Functioning Autistic people have a special affinity with animals and see them as being equal (or in a lot of cases preferable) to the company of other people. Therefore many are vegetarian, vegan or may not be agreeable to eating food that is mass produced on an industrial type farm for example. So if this is the case then a restaurant that offers a more organic menu or a setting where all the food is locally sourced can often be a good option.
- Sometimes sensory issues need to be taken into account too i.e. a lot of autistic people are either over or under sensitive to particular tastes. For those who are under sensitive to tastes then a truckload of spice is always a popular choice. So Indian or Mexican may be a good option. Personally I like a lot of spice in my food but I know other people who cannot ever bear a bit of pepper or garlic in their food and will only eat very plain food or traditional Irish meals. So getting the balance right can be difficult. Try to think meat (having first checked if they eat meat), fish or vegetables without sauce. Grilled chicken with vegetables on the side or a plain salad.
On the other hand you may decide that at that stage a gift or an outing to somewhere else may be the better option for you and your autistic partner
- Very early on in your relationship with an autistic significant other you will probably have discovered that there are certain topics often one in particular known as the ‘area of special interest,’ that ignites the spark in your partners eyes like nothing else
- In fact possibly you will also realize at any early stage of your relationship that unless you personally want to spend the whole evening dissecting the minute intricacies of this subject then it is always best to steer your date onto other topics.
- However when it comes to buying a gift this particular topic is a treasure trove that will excite your autistic partner no end. You cannot go wrong buying them a present in this area.
What exactly might an area of special interest be?
Really it could be just about anything. For many it is often a specific Science Fiction series, or a singer (past or present, alive or dead) or an area of history such as the Second World War. It also often be a specialized area of Greek Mythology or an actor or singer that they have studied passionately for many years. Also it could be a particular sport. Alternatively it could be psychology, horses, Harry Potter, a rare species of ant, the weather, panning for gold or fashion labels or a specific artist or writer. The list is endless but usually this passion will be easy to spot as your significant other can talk passionately about this chosen subject at great length at the drop of a hat and will never tire of it (until they may possibly move onto another area of special interest then that will eventually consume their interest).
Of course an autistic person can also change their area of special interest and often do. So be careful to double check if your partner is possibly in transition from one area of special interest to another when you are purchasing a gift. If the Marilyn Monroe memorabilia has been moved to one side and suddenly their bedroom is now taking on more of a Lady Gaga theme then be sure to ask them have they now started collecting Lady Gaga memorabilia? If they reply with that familiar passionate look in their eyes then it’s a safe bet that they have.
So where to take your Autistic significant other for a romantic interlude?
Now while a visit to a War museum or a Lady Gaga concert or the Horse-show championships might not be your idea of the typical romantic interlude, for your autistic significant other it is an exciting day out that will put the sparkle in their eyes and will reassure them that you understand what is important to them. It will also let them see that you are a partner who is prepared to share their quirky interests with them and that you must really care about them to do this.
This should then lead onto the nice romantic evening that you envisaged for Valentines Day or any other special occasion. Be warned too that your autistic significant other may not seem to be gushing with praise for you for your consideration and planning but underneath they will be.
Another issue with an autistic significant other is the difficulty we all have in showing and expressing our inner romantic feelings. It is often just not something that comes naturally to us and instead can often require a lot of work on our part. Expressing our feelings of love is not something we do often largely I think because our self esteem can often be so fragile and what we fear more than anything is to lay ourselves bear by expressing our true feelings only to be rebuffed or ridiculed for them. Might seem like a paranoid way to be but unfortunately this is often how the autistic brain operates and there is little we can do about it.
However when us Autistics do share the LOVE word you can rest assured that we do mean it completely and it has been a very difficult thing for us to do to say those words. Therefore it is quality and not quantity that we tend to go for i.e. when we say it we mean it deeply and we hope that you will then take it as a given after that.
Autistic partner and the LOVE word
I read an article recently where a woman was despairing of her Autistic partner. She said she told him all the time that she loved him and yet he had only ever told her once. When this subject was brought up during a couple counseling session her autistic partner looked very surprised at this statement. He simply shrugged his shoulders and said in a puzzled voice, ‘but I told you five years ago that I loved you. Since then nothing has changed so I didn’t see any need to keep repeating myself as I assumed you already knew because I had already told you? If my feelings for you had changed I would tell you.”
So there you go folks, if you have an autistic partner less is more and we are just a bit lacking (often just completely clueless) when it comes to the old Neurotypical romance tactics. However we too can learn and I do remind myself every so often that the NT’s among us like to be told that we love them on a regular basis. These people also seem to like romantic gestures like candlelit dinners while going somewhere to eat and to have a chat (quality time together) just for the hell of it. Its not all bad either I have decided as I do like a nice bunch of flowers or going for a good meal but alternatively if you just want to take my kids for a few hours so that I can have a bit of 'me,' time to write and have a bit of space I am usually quite happy with that option too.
Autistic and Neurotypical Relationships
Men may be from Mars and women may be from Venus but somehow they still manage to have happy relationships a lot of the time so obviously so can Autistic and Neurotypical people. After all Valentine’s Day is eminent so lets still hold onto the belief that ‘true love can conquer all.’ Well almost anyway but I am not going to give an autistic analysis of this theory on this occasion..