e-Newsletter | February 2024

February is the month of romantic love – particularly on Valentine’s Day. For many autistic individuals, finding love and a life partner is their biggest challenge. This article will help autistic individuals, their parents, and caregivers recognize that deep and lasting relationships are achievable with patience, acceptance, and – admittedly – a lot of hard work and understanding.

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Autism and Romantic Relationships Information

By Olivia O’Neill | Manager of the Mental Health and Wellness Team

What does the research tell us?

  • Autistic individuals have the same levels of interest in romantic relationships as their neurotypical (NT) peers

Autism and Relationships

  • Whether you are in a relationship with an autistic individual or a neurotypical (NT) individual, it is important to build a relationship that is centered around mutual understanding
  • If you’re in a relationship with an autistic individual, take the time to learn about autism. Every autistic person is different, but having an understanding of common autistic traits and experiences will be a helpful start. The next step is to learn about how autism impacts your partner specifically. How to do this? Ask your partner and learn together
  • Ask your partner about their sensory needs and how this impact them
  • It’s important to understand that some autistic people may process emotions differently than NT people, which can sometimes lead to autistic people being misunderstood.

Building effective communication skills is vital for any relationship to work. It’s important to find out what form of communication works best for your partner. Here are some communication tips for both NT and autistic individuals.

For the neurotypical partner:

  • Be mindful of figurative language. Some autistic individual might take things literally. If this is the case, try to be straightforward and direct. For example, avoid sarcastic jokes.

Tips for the autistic partner:

  • Ask for clarification or more details. When necessary, ask the other person to repeat or rephrase what they said.
  • Ask for a break in the conversation. If you feel distracted by sensory issues, ask if you can resume the conversation later or in a different setting. If anxiety is building or you feel exhausted from chatting, it’s okay to take a break from the conversation.
  • Take your time. Don’t feel rushed to give a response right away. Rushing can lead to more misunderstandings. Pause to process what was said to you and consider how you want to respond.