For an autistic teen, the unspoken language of romance can be challenging, but fortunately, there are some skills you can teach them.
Claire LaZebnik: It's hard to be certain you're reading romantic cues correctly. The quick glance someone gives you -- is he checking you out or do you have something on your chin? When a date leans forward to say goodnight, is he going for your lips or your cheek? How can you show romantic interest without opening yourself up to potential humiliation?
The unspoken language of romance is complicated, confusing, and elusive for everyone, but imagine how much harder it must be for someone on the autism spectrum who already has trouble reading facial expressions, communicating emotions, making small talk . . . We parents don't know how to begin to teach the skills that will allow our children with autism to have a successful romantic life. It's not like teaching someone how to say words or take turns: this is the kind of thing we figure out through experience and instinct.
Fortunately, there are some skills you can teach, and in our recently published book, Growing Up On the Spectrum, Dr. Lynn Koegel and I devote an entire chapter to advice on how to increase your child's success at dating.
• Make sure your child always goes out into the world well-groomed and well-dressed.
• Help him score a date by getting tickets to something really special.
• Always steer him toward activities where his interests will coincide with others, and where his strengths can really shine and increase his attractiveness to the opposite sex.
|Claire LaZebnik is the co-author, with Dr. Lynn Koegel, of Overcoming Autism: Finding the Answers, Strategies, and Hope That Can Transform a Child's Life and Growing Up on the Spectrum: A Guide to Life, Love, and Learning for Teens and Young Adults with Autism and Asperger's. She lives in Pacific Palisades with her husband and four kids.|