Talking with your teenage children with autism about dating and intimacy may be difficult for you. Hence, we have prepared this post with some advice for parents to help their young people with autism understand the complicated atmosphere of dating, romantic feelings, and intimacy as a couple.
All teenagers are different, but most teens with autism suffer dating and sexuality problems late compared to typical teenagers.
Many of them have no interest in this until much later, but there are others overwhelmed by anxiety because of the physical and psychological changes of this stage.
Of course, these problems have an impact on the family environment, as the first date of adolescence can be an exciting experience but also a challenge for the life of any of them.
Teens with ASD face many difficulties, but they can be overcome. The most important thing is to support your teen in this difficult stage for him/her, in which dating produces restlessness, anxiety, and in many cases, feelings of insecurity.
Interpret and send the signals
One of the limitations of teenagers with autism is the understanding of the social signs involved in dating. Interpreting a flirt or an invitation is somewhat complex, so understanding these signals is a difficult mission for most teenagers with autism.
This situation can be confusing and disconcerting for your son/daughter, and for the other, it can cause frustration and discomfort because your child’s potential “date” perceive that their messages and feelings are not being heard or valued.
Talking with your child can help establish the qualities of a good partner. There may be important questions in this conversation, such as: should I tell the person about the autism spectrum? Should I relate intimately with someone else on the autism spectrum?
Tips to help your teen with autism approach dating and intimacy
Taking these aspects into account, we have put together a series of general tips so that your child can get closer to dating and intimacy, but its application will depend on a series of variables such as age, experience, etc.
- Promote family dialogue
Talk with your child openly about dating. Approach the subject as something natural- even mention that all people find it difficult this experience at first.
- Be proactive
Get ahead of the facts. If your son/daughter has not yet begun to talk about their dates, take an opportune moment to do it, for example, when you are in the mood. Let him/her know that you are willing to talk about these topics.
- Do not postpone the conversation about this topic
If your child is sexually active or is beginning to interact with others more intimately, you should immediately address the issue of safe sex and the implications of irresponsible or unprotected sex. It addresses other topics such as pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, preventive measures, among others.
- Use role plays to play a dating scene
Pay attention to their interest when expressing compliments, verbal and nonverbal. Explain that some behaviors convey positive messages to the other person. Show your child some examples of demonstrations of interest such as smiling, nodding and maintaining eye contact.
Tell your child that everyone likes someone to show sincere interest. The brainstorm technique is highly recommended for the adolescent to generate spontaneous ideas about the subject.
- Deliberate about who, when, where, and how to invite someone out
To whom? People your age, someone you like, people you know and talk to you, someone who treats you well.
When? When you already know each other, when there is interest from the other person.
Where? When you are alone with the individual you want to date.
How? Ask if the person has no partner, assess the interest, plan an activity that is enjoyable for both of you, request contact information to confirm attendance.
- Bear in mind that we are all exposed to rejection at some point
Express the possible reasons why someone might refuse the dating proposal. School/work responsibilities, the person is committed to another person, or is not interested in a relationship could be some reasons.
- Discuss the basic process of a date
Explain to your child that he/she should know the exact date and place of the date, and how the couple will arrive at the place.
- Educate your child in everything related to signs
Ask the teenager if he/she would like to hug or kiss at the end of the date, and emphasize that he/she must be sure that the other person has an interest. For this, he/she must know how to interpret the related signals. Kissing or hugging someone requires a mutual interest and should be asked politely.
- Discuss the different levels of intimacy
Explain that kissing on the lips is more intimate than holding hands and that the important thing is that you feel comfortable and that many things are different from what is shown in the media.
- Support your child on the day of the dating
Orientate your son/daughter about the appropriate customs to make him/her look their best. If you have already taken the first step and decided to invite someone, encourage them to pay the bill, and if someone else asked you out, encourage them to pay their share.
Dating is intimidating for any adult, much more for an inexperienced teenager, so parents must provide full support in this area. Emphasize that dating is a positive and enriching experience that allows people to get to know each other better and that mutual friendships can arise from there.
Living within the spectrum is not easy, but it can be twice as hard when they are starting experience dating and intimacy. Help your teens with these tips!
Facebook: Autism Soccer
Instagram: Autism Soccer
Twitter: Autism Soccer