Does my father have aspergers

Could My Dad have Undiagnosed Autism? — Variations

Maybe there’s always been something a little off with your dad that you haven’t been able to put your finger on. Perhaps he has trouble making friends or has some unusual routines that you’ve never quite understood. Until recent decades, people thought autism only looked like the severe cases seen in movies like “Rain Man.” Today, we know that Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can display a variety of mild to severe symptoms. This growing knowledge of ASD has many people wondering if their dad’s unique traits could be signs of undiagnosed autism.

But how can you know if your dad is on the spectrum? And if he’s gone his whole life undiagnosed, should you encourage him to find out?

If you think your dad might have undiagnosed autism, here are some things you should know:

1. There’s a lost generation

Autism wasn’t widely recognized until the 1980’s, so countless kids with autism were misdiagnosed or completely overlooked in the ‘50s, ‘60s, and 70’s. In recent years, many adults have only realized they have ASD when one of their children has been diagnosed. The tragedy of this lost generation is that these individuals did not receive the support growing up that we now know drastically improves the quality of life for children and adults with autism.

2. There’s no “typical” autism

There’s a saying that if you know one person with autism, then you know one person with autism. No two people have identical symptoms, and if your dad has autism he will likely exhibit some symptoms and not others. Common symptoms include:

  • Trouble making friends or being “socially awkward”

  • Difficulty expressing emotion

  • Making involuntary sounds like clearing throat or humming

  • Sticking to strict routines and getting upset when they are disrupted

  • Having repetitive rituals (sometimes autism is misdiagnosed as OCD)

  • Underdeveloped motor skills (e. g. - poor penmanship or clumsiness)

  • Fixating on particular interests such as a sports team or astronomy

  • Having amazing memories

  • Making honest observations (even if they are inappropriate!)

  • Being highly intelligent

  • Being unable to understand body language

  • Avoiding eye contact

  • Disliking loud noise or busy environments

  • Preferring not to be physically touched

  • Speaking loudly without realizing it

  • Invading others’ personal space without meaning to

  • Preferring the company of kids or animals to people their own age

3. Your dad is not defective

People with autism are not broken; they just don’t respond to visual and verbal cues the same way mainstream society does. Having autism in a neurotypical world is sort of like being dropped off in a foreign country with radically different customs than you’re used to; yes, you can get by, but you’ll have trouble fitting in until you learn how to interact in ways the locals understand. In turn, the more society learns about ASD, the more schools, employers, and families can support the success and well-being of people with autism.

4. The spectrum has its perks

Many people with ASD reject the idea that autism needs to be “cured” but rather that society should embrace the unique gifts that individuals with autism bring to the table. People with ASD tend to be honest, loyal, nonjudgmental, passionate, intelligent, nonmaterialistic, and have a great sense of humor. They also tend to be better at living in the present than their ever-distracted neurotypical neighbors. Many also have outstanding talents that go beyond the average person’s capabilities.

5. Accommodations are everything

People with undiagnosed autism spend their entire lives trying to decode how to speak and act in socially acceptable ways. But when a diagnosis is made, adjustments can be made to make work, religious, and family life much more supportive of how individuals with autism think and interact. With accommodations such as mentors, calm workspaces, clear instructions, extended deadlines, additional breaks, and predictable schedules, people with autism can find success and fulfillment in all aspects of life.

Click here to check out our blog on securing accommodations for post graduate career exams

6. A diagnosis can be healing

Today, one in 59 children are diagnosed with autism. It’s impossible to gauge how many kids from previous generations had autism but remained under the radar. As an adult, a diagnosis can help your dad gain clarity on why certain things in life have been difficult for him. Understanding ASD can boost his self-confidence and empower him to embrace his unique gifts and traits. What’s more, there are communities of adults with ASD who he can connect with to build relationships and gain the support he never had growing up.  

7. Breaking the news brings risks

So you’ve read the blog and are convinced your dad has autism: now the million dollar question becomes whether or not you should tell him. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. While a diagnosis could be liberating, he may not be receptive to hearing your hunch. He’s spent his entire life learning how to cope with his differences, and finding out that he’s had a lifelong diagnosis may feel painful and confusing. A mental health specialist can help you determine whether the pros of understanding his symptoms and potentially seeking support could outweigh the risk of hurting his feelings or creating tension in your relationship.

8. You deserve support

As you consider your dad’s emotional needs, make sure you don’t neglect your own. You may also be carrying pain and confusion from growing up with a parent on the spectrum. Perhaps you’ve always felt emotionally disconnected from your dad or maybe you’ve felt a parent-child role reversal as you’ve tried to help him cope with his symptoms. A mental health specialist who understands the impact of having a parent on the autism spectrum can help you work through these challenges.

*Please note: since the publishing of this blog, Variations Psychology has narrowed its focus to diagnostic testing and psychological evaluations. Our Doctors can evaluate whether you or your loved one have a diagnosis and guide you through the next steps in achieving your mental health or academic goals. While Variations does not offer counseling, our diagnostic evaluations allow us to refer patients to specialists who are best equipped to meet their needs. In addition, this link can guide you through a directory of therapists, psychiatrists, treatment centers, and support groups in your area.

Subscribe to our blog for a weekly article on topics that affect your life

Found this article helpful?

Rate and review us on Google and Yelp

The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the highlighted topic. For a full consultation, assessment, and personalized treatment plan, schedule an appointment
with one of our specialists.

More about Variations Psychology

Variations Psychology is a group practice specializing in diagnostic testing to identify psychological conditions. Our primary focus is Educational Psychology, guiding families on beneficial pathways toward student success and training educators in effective strategies to maximize student potential. 

Our comprehensive evaluations test for conditions that impact mental health and development such as ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, depression, anxiety, learning disorders, and developmental delays. 

In addition to diagnostic services, we offer Independent Educational Evaluations (IEEs) of K-12 students to assess needs for accommodations in school and determine their appropriate placements. IEEs provide an objective second opinion on existing IEP and 504 Plans.

For K-12 and post-secondary students, we offer evaluations to assess needs for accommodations on standardized tests, college entrance exams (e. g. - SAT, ACT, AP Exams), and graduate and professional licensing exams (e.g. - MCAT, LSAT, GRE, CBEST, NCLEX, GMAT, CA Cosmetology Exam, CA Contractors State Licensing Exam, CA Bar Exam). Schedule your free 15-minute consultation to learn how our diagnostic services can support you and your family. 

Variations Psychology is located in Newport Beach, CA and provides psychological testing to residents throughout Orange County and its surrounding areas including Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Irvine, Shady Canyon, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Coto de Caza, Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Yorba Linda, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo, Mission Viejo, Pelican Hill, Crystal Cove, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, Lake Forest, Huntington Beach, Sunset Beach, Seal Beach, and more.


Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2018). Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Data & Statistics. Retrieved online: https://www.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention (2018). Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Signs & Symptoms. Retrieved online:

Lai MC, Baron-Cohen S (2015). Identifying the lost generation of adults with autism spectrum conditions. Lancet Psychiatry.  2(11):1013-27. doi: 10.1016/S2215-0366(15)00277-1.

Shinn. M.M. (2018). Graduate Student’s Guide to Test Accommodations: The LSAT, MCAT, GRE, NCLEX, CBEST, GMAT, Cosmetology Exam, Contractors Exam, & Bar Exam. Psychologically Speaking. [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from:

Jordan, M. (2018). Workplace Accommodations: Tips and Resources. Retrieved online:

Ranaghan, S. (2018). My story being diagnosed as an adult on the autism spectrum. Autism Speaks. Retrieved from:

How to Cite This Blog Article:

Shinn. M.M. (2019). Could My Dad Have Undiagnosed Autism? Psychologically Speaking. [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from:

Does my dad have Asperger's?

I think he does but he won't talk about it

(Zach Trenholm/Salon)

Dear Cary,

My father is brilliant, creative, successful and "quirky," or what some people describe as just plain "different. " He is the president of a human services organization that he founded in the late 1960s. His expansive nonprofit organization has provided countless resources and programs to individuals and families affected by mental health and mental retardation issues, and it offers one of our state's most robust autism resource networks. He has truly made a significant positive impact on the world. I am in awe of what he has been able to accomplish during his lifetime.

About five years ago I was reading about Asperger's syndrome, which is considered to be an autism spectrum disorder (it's worth noting that earlier this year Asperger's disorder lost its status in the new mental health manual called the DSM-5; however, for description's sake, I am going to refer to it as such in my letter to you), and realized that my father was pretty much a dead ringer for the diagnosis ... very socially awkward, doesn't pick up on social cues that listeners have lost interest in his very deep and specific topics of interest, perseverations on topics and hobbies of great interest to him like photography of gear and machine parts, and a general inability to connect at an emotional level with those that he loves, including his wife of nearly 45 years, which has caused major pain and difficulty in their marriage over the years.

I mentioned to my mom before our son was born that I thought Dad likely had Asperger's, and that since it tended to be highly genetic, I thought that my brother and I would have to look out for it in our children. I never mentioned my observation to my dad because I thought it was not necessary and could possibly inflict pain. We accepted him for the human being he was. My brother and I, by the way, definitely do not have Asperger's.

Low and behold, when our now 4-year-old son was about 18 months old, he started showing sign of Asperger's. It started with obsessions with spinning objects, and robust vocabulary at a very early age, motor skill and planning issues, and problems with peer interactions. We were fortunate to have a very early high-functioning autism diagnosis from multiple resources (including my dad's organization), and since then our son has been in 40 hours per week of various types of therapy, and he is thankfully responding in really positive ways. Although Asperger's traditionally isn't diagnosed in children until later in childhood, all of our son's therapists, as well as my husband and myself, see it as a classic case of Asperger's. He's really, really intelligent, highly verbal, has passionate interests in things like skyscrapers, the human circulation system, machines and engines, and lots of other topics that most 4-year-olds won't be thinking about for a long time ... He will undoubtedly be the best at whatever he chooses to be in life. In the meantime, we are working to improve his social skills, and are giving him tools to self-regulate in hopes that in the short term he will not encounter too many painful experiences during his formative years. Our hopes in the long term are that his talents will be able to fully shine, and that he can be as successful as possible in relationships throughout his life.

So, when our son was diagnosed, I decided I had to tell my dad in the most loving way possible that I have thought for some time that he, too, has Asperger's. I asked him if he had ever considered this and he said that he had. I treaded lightly and lovingly because this was not an easy topic to bring up. During that first conversation and the three following ones that I initiated, he never said much. He would just get teary-eyed and mutter a few things that were pretty meaningless. I told him each time that if I had a magic wand I would not change him or my son, and I meant it. They are perfect, unique beings and taking away their Asperger's would take away part of what makes them so magnificent. We just want our son to benefit from resources that will help him to be the best and happiest version of himself, and we don't want him to suffer from painful experiences in his formative years, which my dad definitely did. He still speaks with great pain of being placed in the "puddle jumper" group rather than the "jet" group in school. I provided my dad with the best book I could find on Asperger's and asked him to read it and give me his thoughts. It sat on his bedroom dresser for months. He never got back to me about it, so I eventually took the book back, which went unnoticed.

I want my dad to be my son's most powerful and important role model. I want my son to understand that his grandpa's success in life has, in large part, been because of, not in spite of, his Asperger's. I want there to be an open and healthy dialogue within our family, not something that is swept under the rug because of discomfort and unease. I don't want there to be hypocrisy in what my dad has devoted his life to and how he lives his life with his family. I want him to be proud of his Asperger's and what he has had to overcome and how he has used it to his advantage in life.

None of this is happening, though. Soon my son will be old enough to look around the family and wonder from whom he inherited his Asperger's. It will be obvious to him as it is to myself, my husband and my mom. I worry about the damage that may cause. Sometimes I think that my dad's youth was filled with so much pain because 60 years ago the challenges that my son is now facing then went unaddressed. Maybe it's just simply too difficult for my dad to deal with. He has finally become a great success in life, and he doesn't want to look back. Sometimes I wonder if my dad went into the mental health field those many years ago because he knew, at his core, that he was different, but he also knew that he had the unique abilities to help those who were also different. I sometimes wonder if his life's work was a beautiful perseveration.

What am I to do about this complicated situation? I love everyone involved and I just want a healthy family dynamic and dialogue. It bothers me every day and I don't know what further steps I can take to advance the situation.

Thanks, Cary.


Dear Worried,

I am in sympathy with your ideals and your desires but your father's emotional life is his own. It's his business. It may not be as available to you as you might like, but that is something for you to examine separately: how it makes you feel when your father shuts you out.

You say, "I want my dad to be my son's most powerful and important role model." That is a beautiful wish. But you don't know what further steps to take to achieve it. That's because there aren't any. It's not within your power. Here is a guess: You may be unconsciously trying to use your son as a wedge to break down your father's resistance to intimacy. That is, you may be unconsciously using your son and his condition to meet emotional needs that are yours and yours alone.  That is ill-advised. You must let their relationship be as it is. That means that your son's emotional life, too, is his own, even as you work diligently to prepare him for life as a person with an autism spectrum disorder.

Many things are not within your power. It's not within your power to make your family the way you want it. It's not within your power to manage the relationship between your son and your father.

But let's talk about things that are within your power. It is within your power to express your love for them without preconditions. In many ways, that is what you have been doing and continue to do.

Will that change anything? Probably not. That's not what it's for. Love isn't a screwdriver used to get inside people and fix things.

However, you might be able to change some of the concrete conditions. For instance, you could put your father and your son out on a farm where they could pitch hay together, or work on a tractor together. Relationships can be facilitated. They can be given what they need to grow. But they cannot be controlled.

Just express your love for them in terms that do not require them to change. What they need is just to be loved as they are. You are doing that already. Keep doing it. And don't beat yourself up about it. You're doing plenty. You're doing fine.

If your worries become excessive, disproportionate or intrusive, consult a therapist, or look into ways on your own to combat anxiety and excessive worry through meditation, exercise and diet.

By Cary Tennis

MORE FROM Cary Tennis

Trending Articles from Salon

Father, son and Asperger's syndrome


John Elder Robinson was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome only at the age of 40, and in his new book "Raising Cubby" he talks about the childhood of his son with the same syndrome

Author Joanne Laucius
Elizaveta Morozova
Source: Ottawa Citizen

John Elder Robinson (left) and his son Cubby Jackson (left) and his son Cubby Jackson. Photo courtesy of John E. Robinson. nine0003

John Elder Robinson dropped out and never finished school. But he was a true genius when it came to electronics and sound systems. In the 1970s, Robinson accompanied bands such as Roxy Music, The Kinks, April Wine, and KISS on tour. Fans of the last legendary band will surely remember the flame-spewing guitar of the musician Ace Frehley. Robinson designed this guitar for him.

Robinson was already 40 years old when he was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. Only then did he finally understand why all his life he felt different from everyone else, why he "was a magnet for those who poisoned and used him." nine0003

He is the author of three best-selling autobiographical books about living with Asperger's, including the recently published book, Raising Cubby: A Father-Son Adventure Involving Asperger's, Trains, Tractors, and Explosives.

His son, Jack (Cubby), inherited not only his Asperger's syndrome, but also a passion for science, in his case, chemistry. This led to a situation where Cubby began to make explosives from improvised ingredients, and then set up explosions in the forest near his parents' house, filming them. Because of these experiments, he got into trouble. nine0003

Cubby never got in trouble at school or with the law, moreover, he taught chemistry to the local Boy Scout troop. But still, the state's attorney decided to file charges against him for the threat of terrorism. At the age of 17, four criminal charges were filed against Cubby, which could lead to a prison term of up to 60 years. The family had to spend $100,000 and a lot of nerves during a week-long court hearings to avoid this.

This is an interview with Robinson about living and growing up with Asperger's. nine0003

Do you think your life would have turned out differently if people in your childhood had known more about Asperger's syndrome?

Hard to say. If I had been diagnosed with Asperger's as a child and had a plan to help me in school, then I could get my diploma and go to college. It would definitely be a different life path for me!

However, then I would probably never travel with KISS or April Wine. I would take classes instead of riding my motorcycle on the freeway. And I would definitely miss traveling in freight cars on trains in Calgary. nine0003

So my life would be more typical, but not as colorful either. I guess you have to pay for everything, one way or another.

Autobiographies like yours or Temple Grandin's books give readers a glimpse into autism. What do you see as your role?

At first I did not see myself as such an ambassador, but the more popular my books became, the more often people around me attributed this role to me. Government agencies and charitable foundations began to contact me and ask for my opinion. Media people looked for me when there was something about autism in the news, and after a while I started talking about all sorts of issues in public. nine0003

I have to be extremely careful because the spectrum of autism is incredibly wide and the differences between us in terms of abilities and needs can be very large. Some of us are completely non-verbal and have very severe disabilities, while others are able to live independently. Some autistic people need help with speech, while others suffer from medical complications. Many have very serious social difficulties.

Among autists there are people with extraordinary skills. Some of the greatest mathematicians, artists, and musicians are known or can be assumed to have been on the autism spectrum. nine0003

At the same time, many, if not most, adults with autism are unable to find and keep a job and cannot provide for themselves. So with so much diversity, it's almost impossible for one person to act as an ambassador for the entire group.

People with Asperger's Syndrome are increasingly appearing on television. (I'm reminded of Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory, even though the word "Asperger's" was never used on that show.) What is good and what is bad about the way TV portrays such characters? nine0009

I rarely watch TV. Too fast plot development and exaggerated emotions cause me stress. You mentioned Sheldon. Some time ago I saw an interview where he mentioned that he read my book "Look into my eyes" and used my story to work on his role.

In general, it seems to me that the media are looking for sensationalism in this topic, but at the same time ignoring the majority of autists - those who live quietly, not sensationally. On television, we meet eccentric geniuses, but we don't see real people who suffer from relationship and job-hunting problems, whose lives remain invisible to society. People with more serious disabilities, those who are placed in boarding schools, are completely ignored. So from this point of view, popular images of autistic people do more harm to society than good. nine0003

Is life easier for a child with Asperger's Syndrome these days?

In a way, yes. However, children with Asperger's Syndrome grow up to become adults with Asperger's Syndrome, for whom there is still little to no support or services available.

I am a member of the US Department of Health and Human Services Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee. One of my goals in this structure is to advocate for the creation of new services for autistic adults at all levels. nine0003

What is Cubby doing now? What are your hopes for your son?

Cubby is now living on her own, studying in college. He became interested in robots, so now he is working on new inventions and participates in open projects. He has a girlfriend (she also has Asperger's) and he didn't go to jail! What else can a father dream of?

Parenting with Autism, Autistic Notes, First Person, Asperger's Syndrome

How can romantic relationships develop in young people with Asperger's and high-functioning autism? nine0001


Clinical psychologist, specializing in Asperger syndrome, about the features of romantic and intimate relationships in adults with RAS

Author: Tony Etwood / Tony Attwood
Translation: Tamara Solomatina
9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000 9000
,0009 Autism Network

While young people with classic autism usually suffice with a solitary "hermit" lifestyle, it is often not suitable for people with Asperger's syndrome and high-functioning autism. Clinical studies have shown that most of these adolescents and young adults are interested in romantic relationships. However, very little research addresses this aspect of autism spectrum disorders or strategies for successfully developing these relationships. nine0003

We know that young people with Asperger's have significant difficulty developing relationships with peers and understanding what the other person may be thinking or feeling. Ordinary children learn this naturally and practice the skills to develop relationships with family members and friends long before they use these abilities to successfully develop romantic relationships. Young people diagnosed with Asperger's and high-functioning autism have limited communication skills and may find it difficult to express emotions, especially affection. They may also have very high sensitivity to certain sensory experiences. All of these diagnostic characteristics affect relationship-forming skills as the child grows and will ultimately reduce the adult's chances of a successful long-term relationship. nine0003

Love and affection

People with autism spectrum disorders have difficulty understanding and expressing emotions, and the most difficult emotion for such people is love. Ordinary children and adults often express their affection with pleasure, know how to express it to exchange mutual feelings of affection and love, and know how to support someone through the expression of affection. A child or adult with autism may not need the same depth and frequency of expressions of love through actions, or may not realize that the situation requires them to display their affection in a way that would please the other person. He or she may be annoyed by how "obsessed" other people are with expressing love for each other. nine0003

Some autistics may be obviously immature in their expressions of affection and sometimes perceive them as a negative experience. For example, a hug may feel uncomfortable and limit movement. A person may become embarrassed or overwhelmed when expected to express and accept fairly moderate expressions of love. I recently developed a cognitive behavioral therapy program for children and adolescents with Asperger's Syndrome that teaches them about the emotion of love and how to express that you love or feel sympathy for someone. The program will soon be evaluated in a study conducted by the University of Queensland in Australia. nine0003

Special interests

One of the diagnostic characteristics of Asperger's syndrome is the development of a special interest that is unusual in its object and significance. For adolescents and young adults, the target is sometimes a person, which can be interpreted as a typical teenage crush, but the degree of interest and associated behavior often lead to accusations of stalking and harassment. The propensity to develop a special interest can also influence the emergence of relationship knowledge in other ways. Special interests help people with Asperger's in many ways, including acquiring the knowledge to understand the annoying aspects of their life experiences. Adolescents with Asperger's Syndrome often seek to understand and experience in terms of communication and relationships, including romantic and sexual ones, the same as their peers, but they may have problems with sources of information about relationships and sexuality. nine0003

A teenager with Asperger's syndrome has few or no friends with whom to discuss topics such as romantic or sexual feelings and sexual behavior. Unfortunately, the only source of information for teens with Asperger's can be either porn movies for boys or soap operas for girls. A person with Asperger's Syndrome may decide that the actions shown in pornographic material can serve as a "script" of what to say or do on a date, but this misunderstanding can lead to allegations of harassment. Such allegations are more often related to inappropriate behavior than to violent or aggressive acts of a sexual nature. Girls with Asperger's Syndrome may use movies and TV shows as a source of knowledge about relationships and fail to recognize that TV shows do not accurately reflect the beginning and development of relationships in real life. nine0003

Clinical studies show that unpopular girls with Asperger's syndrome, who are not accepted into any company, after the physical changes that occurred during puberty, are flattered by the attention from boys. Because of her naivety, the girl may not realize that their interest is sexual in nature, and not at all a desire to simply communicate with her and spend time in her company. She may not have female friends to take her on a first date or give her advice on social and sexual rules. Her parents may have strong concerns about her vulnerability to negative sexual experiences and possible date rape. nine0003

Long-term relationship

There is a transition from acquaintance to partnership in the relationship. Individuals with Asperger's may find it difficult to cope with each step of this transition. To move from friend to partner status, a teenager or young person with Asperger's needs to understand the art of flirting in order to accurately read the signals of mutual sympathy and not get lost during dates. People with Asperger's do not understand this intuitively. These teens and young adults often ask me, “How can I find a boyfriend/girlfriend?” And this question is not easy to answer. One of the difficulties can be the correct interpretation of someone's intentions. A simple expression of kindness or sympathy can be taken much more seriously than intended. I have had to explain to men with Asperger's that the smile and attention from female flight attendants are just courtesies, not a desire to start a relationship. nine0003

Despite the relationship problems that most people with Asperger's have, some can develop relationships and form romantic and intimate relationships, even marriage. To achieve this level of relationship, partners need to initially notice the attractive qualities of each other. What is so attractive about a young person with Asperger's Syndrome?

Attractive qualities of people with Asperger's syndrome

Men with Asperger's syndrome may have a wide range of qualities that are attractive to a future partner. When I counsel couples in which one or both partners have characteristics or a diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome, I often ask the neurotypical partner, "What qualities did your partner draw you to when you first met?" Many women describe that a partner with Asperger's syndrome initially impressed them as kind, considerate, but socially or emotionally immature. The term "silent handsome stranger" is often used to describe anyone who seems relatively quiet and likeable. Appearance and attention can become very important, especially if a woman has doubts about her own self-esteem and physical attractiveness. Lack of social and conversational skills lead to the formation of the image of the "mysterious stranger", whose naivety and immaturity the partner can compensate for by becoming an expert in empathy, socialization and communication. nine0003

I have noticed that the partners of many men and sometimes women with Asperger's are on the other end of the social and empathic spectrum. On an intuitive level, they are experts in the "model of the mental" (understanding someone else's consciousness), that is, they understand and sympathize with the experiences of other people. They have the gift of seeing the world as it appears to people with Asperger's to a much greater extent than people with average empathy. Being understanding and sympathetic, they help their partner cope with difficulties in social situations. Undoubtedly, adults with Asperger's Syndrome need these traits and want to see them in a potential partner. He or she will actively seek out someone with intuitive social skills, someone who will explain social situations to them, educate them, and care for them. However, while a socially gifted and empathetic partner may be able to understand the experiences of a person with Asperger's Syndrome, that person will have significant difficulty understanding their neurotypical partner. nine0003

Intellectual abilities, one's own career, and increased attention to one's partner during courtship can make a person with Asperger's syndrome more attractive. Sometimes, however, this attentiveness can be perceived by others as excessive, and words and actions will seem as if they were memorized from Hollywood romantic films. A person can be admired for his straightforwardness, even if his comments hurt other people, because of his strong desire for social justice and clear moral principles. The fact that he may not be "macho" at all or not eager to spend time with other men at sports matches can also be very attractive in the eyes of some women. And the fact that a person with Asperger's syndrome entered into a relationship quite late can also be a plus. He may not have the "baggage" of previous relationships. I have also heard many women say that a partner with Asperger's Syndrome reminds them of their father. The fact that they grew up with a parent with Asperger's traits may also have influenced their choice of partner in adulthood. nine0003

What traits do men find attractive in women with Asperger's syndrome? They may be similar to what women find attractive in men with Asperger's, especially the degree to which they are attentive. The social immaturity of a woman can attract men who are prone to guardianship and compassion. They may admire her beauty or her talents and abilities. Unfortunately, women (and sometimes men) with Asperger's have a hard time assessing a person's character and knowing when a relationship becomes "dangerous." Such women often have low self-esteem, which affects their choice of a partner for a relationship. They may become victims of various forms of violence. As one woman with Asperger's syndrome explained to me, "I had low expectations and as a result I was drawn to violent people." nine0003

Strategies to Improve Relationship Skills

People with Asperger's will need help developing relationships at every stage, and possibly throughout their lives. Younger children will need the help of a speech therapist to improve their conversational skills, and an educator or psychologist will help with friendship skills during their school years. Developing these skills should be a priority for an educational institution supporting a child with Asperger's Syndrome or High-Functioning Autism, as positive friendship experiences will increase self-esteem, help avoid bullying from classmates, lay the foundation for developing friendships in the future, and improve teamwork abilities. for more successful employment. nine0003

Adolescents will need truthful information about attractiveness, courtship and sexuality. While such information is readily available to typical adolescents (most often from parents, friends, and personal experiences), adolescents with Asperger's Syndrome may have difficulty obtaining it. Lack of peer help, adult information and practice will hinder the acquisition of relationship development skills. Fortunately, we now have special relationship and sexuality education programs designed specifically for teens and young people with Asperger's Syndrome that include the opportunity to get advice from a peer with the same syndrome. Several doctors and therapists in Australia are developing relationship skills training materials for adolescents and young people with Asperger's Syndrome. Such training will include everything from dating rules and a sense of style to ways to recognize and avoid dangerous partners. A valuable strategy here can be to meet socially receptive friends or relatives with a potential partner to determine if they are a good person before starting a relationship. nine0003

Young people will need support and opportunities to meet new people. Here you can offer to do something or join an interest group related to their own special passion, for example, take part in Star Trek or Doctor Who fan meetings, or apply their talents, say, to taking care of animals. and join an animal welfare group. There are also opportunities to make new friends at community events, such as a local choir or adult education courses. Local support groups for parents of children with Asperger's have also established support groups for young people with Asperger's. In this case, specialists can come to the group and hold a group discussion or give advice. Such groups can provide an opportunity for the development of relationships between members of the group. The relationship between Jerry and Mary, two people with Asperger's who met at a support group in Los Angeles, has been the subject of a book and film (Crazy in Love). Some people with Asperger's Syndrome use the Internet and dating agencies to get to know someone, but this method of dating can also be used by dangerous partners, so you need to take into account the high risk when using this dating strategy. nine0003

I have noticed that adults who had prominent signs of autism in childhood (significant language delay, learning difficulties, avoidance of social situations) but progressed to high-functioning autism later in life have much less desire to develop long-term relationships. Most likely, they will be content with loneliness and will not maintain sexual relations, preferring superficial acquaintances to friendship. A sense of self-identity and self-worth in such people is achieved through a successful career and an independent life. Temple Grandin is a good example of this. Some adults with Asperger's also choose not to form close relationships for reasons that seem logical given the traits associated with the syndrome. nine0003

Jennifer explains her decision: “How can I live in the same house with a person who can touch my collection of model airplanes?” And so: "Airplane models do not want to be designed by someone else, even if it is more attractive or less dependent." However, she is quite satisfied with her life. She says, "I can assure you that falling in love and special interests are about the same feeling." For some people with Asperger's or high-functioning autism, giving up romantic relationships may be the right choice if they enjoy and fully devote themselves to their special interests, such as wildlife photography or a career in information technology. They don't fit the cultural mold that marriage and long-term relationships are the only way to achieve happiness. nine0003

Future research perspectives

We know that people with Asperger's syndrome experience significant difficulties in developing relationships, but we do not have enough research to provide us with qualitative and quantitative data about their relationship abilities, circumstances, and experiences. A study has recently been published on the ability to maintain friendships in children with Asperger's syndrome, but there is very little research on adolescent relationships and sexuality. Dr. Isabelle Henault of Montreal is conducting a study with me on the sexual profile of people with Asperger's syndrome, and preliminary results show that this profile differs from that of ordinary people due to less sexual experience, although they develop sexual interest in the same period, which and their adolescent peers.

Learn more