Beyond the general opinion, a person with autism spectrum disorder is empathetic, falls in love, and can maintain a happy relationship. However, it is important to consider the challenges they will face.
Last update: July 09, 2022
The data might surprise you, but one of the most common questions on Google about autism spectrum disorder is whether it is possible to have a partner or get married. Love in people with autism is the subject of myths, distorted ideas and tremendous ignorance.
Even today, many people think that men and women with an autism spectrum disorder do not understand the language of affection. This is a big mistake.
On the other hand, family members are well aware that people with autism appreciate and need daily affection. Even these teenagers and adults get excited, they fall in love and nurture passions and desires.
Sometimes they even get to be extremely emotional. Emotions overwhelm them and they don't know how to behave in the midst of that chaotic universe.
One aspect that should be clarified first of all is that not all people with autism are the same. This neurobiological developmental disorder manifests itself in many ways and each has characteristics and, in turn, needs.
There are more severe cases in which one suffers from serious language limitations, Asperger's syndrome and even highly functional autism. Thus, and beyond the possible limits, stereotypes or sensory alterations, everyone feels the need to be loved, to be looked after.
How you receive and give affection, however, varies. In light of this, support and strategies are needed to build happy and fulfilling relationships.
Love in people with autism
Love in people with autism responds to a need. Every human being wants to feel part of something, to share experiences, to feel the closeness of another being that he loves, admires and desires. Why shouldn't a person with autistic disorder try something like this?
Much of the belief in this is due to misinformation or outdated information. For example, one of the best known authors in the study of autism and neurodevelopmental disorders is Simon Baron-Cohen. This psychologist is known for his works related to the theory of mind.
During the 90s many of his books became popular. As a consequence of this, the idea began to spread that “all” people with ASD (autism spectrum disorder) were unable to feel empathy, to connect with their surroundings, to grasp and understand social signals.
To this was added the image given by the world of cinema and television: people disconnected from reality, brilliant in a particular discipline.
This spectrum, on the other hand, contains a great variability, multiple degrees for which one is not always a genius, nor is one lacking in empathy.
Emotional empathy: emotions that overflow
One of the most popular ideas is that people with autism lack empathy. This statement is not true, on the contrary, it has important nuances.
A study published in 2022 by Osaka University presents data to support the hypothesis that people with the autism spectrum show deficiencies in what is known as cognitive empathy. In other words, they have a hard time understanding why someone is hurting, angry, or disappointed.
However, and here comes the nuance, exhibit high emotional empathy. This means that they experience the emotions of others with a high intensity. Sometimes that emotional receptivity is even greater than with neurotypicals (people without autism).
Love in people with autism: understand me and I will understand you
Love in people with autism is not easy. They are capable of falling in love and deeply. However, if a relationship is complicated in itself, it is even more complicated for the person with ASD. The partner must therefore pay attention to the following aspects:
- The person with autism will not understand many relational codes that emerge every day. It is possible that the partner needs a hug after a bad day, that he expects a "I love you" before leaving the house to go to work, to receive a compliment, a word of support ... Many of these aspects can escape the person with ASD.
- Communication is essential. The partner must be the refuge of the person with ASD and the translator of all those codes that escape them and that they do not always understand.
- It agrees what you want and what you expect at certain times. "I would like you to ask me when you come home from work how was my day", "if you see me sad, hug me tightly", "when we walk down the street, remember to hold my hand", etc.
Love in people with autism is possible, albeit with its difficulties, its nuances and its enormous challenges. Also in this area, professionals can offer strategies, support and accompany the couple in that growth thanks to which many achieve happiness.