Navigating Love and Autism
On a day early this month, before their planned trip to the animal shelter, Kirsten and Jack stood before a group of young adults with autism at the Kinney Center for Autism Education and Support in Philadelphia, answering their questions while Jack’s father addressed their parents in a different room. "Did you ever think you would be alone?” one teenager wanted to know.
Kirsten answered first. "I thought I was going to be alone forever,” she said. "Kids who picked on me said I was so ugly I’m going to die alone.”
Her blunt tip on dating success: "A lot of it is how you dress. I found people don’t flirt with me if I wear big man pants and a rainbow sweatshirt.”
Then it was Jack’s turn to answer, in classic Aspie style. "I think I sort of lucked out,” he said. "I have no doubt if I wasn’t dating Kirsten I would have a very hard time acquiring a girlfriend that was worthwhile.”
A mother who had slipped into the room put up her hand.
"Where do you guys see your relationship going in the future?” she asked. "No pressure.”
Kirsten looked at Jack. "You go first,” she said.
"I see it going along the way it is for the foreseeable future,” Jack said.
One of the teenagers hummed the Wedding March.
"So I guess you’re saying, there is hope in the future for longer relationships,” the mother pressed.
Kirsten gazed around the room. A few other adults had crowded in.
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