So an Aspie Has A Crush on You: A Guide on Guys with Asperger’s (Written by One)

Extract of an article originally published by Cole Wintringham, who has Asperger, on www.medium.com, on Feb. 4th 2017.

The Card or Don’t Touch

I am too old-fashioned when it comes to holidays. I insist to this day a handmade card beats a Hallmark card any day; someday I may read this back to my future wife, who will know exactly what I mean. I’d even make a paper box for the engagement ring if I could make it sentimental enough, provided I could physically do that.

It was not actually a Valentine’s Day Card, which is ironic in hindsight. It actually just said thank you for being a friend. The Card actually burned too many friendships to count, oh well. There is always a particular girl, I think it’s the way my brain works; I can’t figure out why. There was M., S., and T., I am actually sad there was no R. or Y., I could’ve spelled out M.S.R.Y.; note to self. T. was literally the last one, whether there is a girl right now is a stupid question. I need stability before that so no. I need some vowels too…

Back on topic, I gave T. this ‘Friendship Card’ on February 14th, 2016. She appreciated it, and made the single greatest mistake she could have made, she hugged me. Ladies, if you have a friend with Asperger’s do not hug him on Valentine’s Day. For an Aspie a hug may as well kiss, so don’t, unless you really mean it then go ahead, don’t say I never warned you. That is Rule One. ESPECIALLY if you have a boyfriend, or even worse haven’t bothered telling your Aspie friend you do.

Cole’s Aspie Rulebook:
Rule #1. Don’t hug us unless you’d kiss us; a handshake will suffice

I can’t remember which day I “traumatized” her, not that it matters now. T. and her boyfriend L. are long gone from the school which I returned to this September, on an absolute whim. However I have no hard feelings, they never had a chance to read something like this.

Please, Don’t Make Us Guess

As I hinted before, T. wasn’t necessarily portraying herself the way she thought. I’m sure light-hearted flirting is common but it’s not the best thing to do towards a guy like me. Let’s change context, say you take your six year-old to a wrestling match, he get’s worried because he thinks the guy is actually getting beaten to a pulp. Of course you tell him it’s “not real”, but how was he supposed to know that. Same thing here, I have a hard enough time reading body language, let alone judging intent.

As an extension of this don’t leave us out of the loop if you think you might hurt us by telling us the truth. As hard as it is we function better when we know what is what. Because I don’t process things the way you do I need to pre-load them. It’s kind of like how you download music to your phone if you want to play it the car. T., bless her heart, thought I’d be devastated if she told me she was with L.; looking back a year later, I appreciate the thought. However it was more harmful to hide it than to be open, because of the pre-loading.

You don’t tell somebody with asperger’s at 11:23 am that they have a noon appointment. WE PANIC. Well now I have to get dressed, but I haven’t showered, did I brush my teeth etc. Telling us the truth, ladies, is like deploying airbags. Airbags don’t actually reduce the force of a collision they dampen and absorb the kinetic energy. Sure airbags hurt as hell, but I’d rather break my nose on an airbag than smash my face on a dashboard. Rules Two and Three.

Cole’s Aspie Rulebook:
Rule #2. Don’t leave us to judge body language, we can’t
Rule #3. Be honest, if we know something we can deal with it

If You Have Concerns, Tell Us

Let’s go back to the dictionary and look at a particular passage:

repetitive patterns of behaviour

This would have helped T. tremondously had she known it was simply a symptom. She became concerned about the frequency I would message her on Facebook; and to be fair she was right. However what she did wrong was, again, failing to tell me for fear of upsetting me. If she had told me I would have listened to her, adjusted my habits accordingly. This is a recurring thing with Aspie’s, we will never know unless you tell us.

This is where we get to learning, somebody like me can never learn without feedback. Imagine a you are proofreading a novel, you note all the mistakes but you don’t tell the author. That doesn’t exactly work, does it? An author sometimes doesn’t even know he made a mistake. An Aspie doesn’t know when we make a mistake, we don’t know how you expect us to behave.

As a friend it is not mean to “correct” our behaviour, we won’t be mad. You’re actually helping us, we learn through trial and error because we don’t have the same social instincts a normal person has. Rule 4.

Cole’s Aspie Rulebook:
Rule #4. If we behave unexpectedly, tell us, we need feedback

Compliments & Boundaries

Our last section today is more verbal communications. Those of us with Asperger’s take things literally. I remember countless times when T. and even S. called me “sweet”. It is because I am nice, but I read too far into it. Yes I am telling you to friendzone him, but for a specific reason. Define the field of play, tell us where we can and cannot go. We are very, very good with black and white rules, but if it’s grey you may as well drop us in a forest with no compass.

Compliments must be specific, don’t just say we are “sweet”, how are we “sweet”. Don’t leave it implied, we do not understand that. What would I have had T. say, instead of “Cole, you are sweet” it should have been “Cole, I appreciate how thoughtful you are”. That way I could sort it into the “Platonic Friendship” bin. Our brain is like a library with a dyslexic librarian, you don’t want us sorting the books. Rule 5.

Boundaries or rules are essential, because that is how we view the world. If you watch you friend walk outside I guarantee you he stays on the sidewalk and avoids cracks, as we are told as toddlers. So tell us what you expect. Again using T. as an example what would have helped me? For example “Cole, if I don’t respond you don’t need to send another message” or “Cole if I can’t make lunch it is because something came up”. Rule 6.

Cole’s Aspie Rulebook:
Rule #5. Be specific with compliments, so we know what you mean
Rule #6. Lay out boundaries, if you define them we will follow them

Couple with Asperger’s syndrome: ‘We’re even more extraordinary together’

This video and this article were originally published on www.cnn.com on Feb. 24th 2017.

Story highlights

  • Nico Morales and Latoya Jolly met online in December 2015
  • They found each other using a dating website for people on the autism spectrum
  • Most high-functioning people with autism want to be in a romantic relationship, one study found

Like many couples, Nico Morales and Latoya Jolly met online. Nico sent the first message while on vacation in Guatemala with his family in December 2015. Latoya’s handle was pokejolly1993, a throwback to Pokemon and her birth year. Nico liked that they were both “children at heart.” Soon after, the couple went on their first date.

Now, family and friends say, it’s hard to keep them apart.
Morales and Jolly found each other using a lesser-known dating website called AutisticDating.net. Both Morales, 19, and Jolly, 23, have Asperger’s syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism characterized by average, or above average, intelligence and a difficulty socializing and communicating with others. Depending upon the severity of these social deficits, people with Asperger’s and other forms of autism may struggle to develop, maintain and understand relationships, including romantic ones.
“Social awkwardness is very common amongst autistic people,” Morales said. “And if you thought that was difficult for friendships, imagine applying that to romantic relationships.”
An estimated one in 68 children in the US has some form of autism spectrum disorder, according to a 2012 study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children can fall anywhere along the spectrum, which represents varying degrees of difficulty with social interaction, communication and repetitive behaviors. Researchers do not fully understand what causes these neurodevelopmental disorders, and there is no pharmaceutical treatment or cure.
Most high-functioning people with autism want to be in a romantic relationship, according to a 2016 study in the Journal of Clinical Psychology. Of the 229 participants with high-functioning autism, 73% said they had been in a romantic relationship before, and only 7% said they had no interest in a romantic relationship whatsoever. Additionally, the participants with partners who were also on the autism spectrum reported a significantly higher level of satisfaction with their relationship than those whose partners were not on the spectrum.
One of the primary characteristics of autism is a fixation on particular hobbies or pastimes — what the American Academy of Pediatrics calls “restrictive and repetitive interests and activities.” When two individuals with autism are in a relationship, they can relate to one another based on those interests, said Paige M. Siper, chief psychologist at the Seaver Autism Center for Research and Treatment.
“They can kind of connect on that common ground,” she said. “And sometimes, it’s around these areas of preoccupation.”
Jolly attends Atlantic Technical College in Coconut Creek, FL. Jolly says she is often uncomfortable when she talks to people who are not autistic. They may not understand the nature of her condition — why she may avoid eye contact during a conversation, for example. But with Morales, she doesn’t have that issue.
“It’s easy to talk to him,” she said. “I can understand, like, what he goes through and stuff. Because I went through the same thing, too.”
Morales, who attends Broward College in Fort Lauderdale, FL, says Jolly helps him deal with the emotional ups and downs common to individuals with autism.
“I honestly don’t know what I did to deserve such an amazing woman like Latoya in my life,” he said. “But who am I to question a good thing?”

///ACSEXE+///Caroline///

(Instrumental music with talks in English)
(Music and chalk noises)

I’m a trans woman. I’m… I  identify as asexual, but, not like aromantic. Because I like… I like to have special relationships. And umm, I’m on the autism spectrum, lots of weird anxiety things, I have experienced lots of things, relationships… maybe also sexuality, all these things, which is… particular and I think there are lots of things that combine as part of my experience that are unique and that I’d like to share.

I know that often, when I see other people’s experiences it’s rare that there’s something that I find represents me well. And I think that we need more special cases of weird people.

(Instrumental music)

Internalized Ableism

One barrier is that, in general, we have expectations about how people behave and how they use… move, interact, we have expectations about these and these expectations aren’t necessary… it’s not everybody who can… fulfill respond to these expectations. And so just living, in general, in the world, with these people, and trying to do in that world, it’s something that burns up my energy, because I always have to conform to these behavioral standards.

For a long part of my life I tried just to… not exist and to take up as little space as possible, and to make as few movements as possible because, it was safer. Now, I try to take up more space and to take that space in my own way. There’s a bit of… when I try to state my needs, especially when it’s something really specific in a particular moment, often it’s difficult for me because I find my needs illegitimate, and that it’s just too complicated. So there’s lots of internalized ableism.

When I try to explain to my girlfriend, certain of these needs that I could have, it can relate a lot to internalized ableism, so that could be hard. Difficult for me, but also difficult in terms of education because when I’m becoming really anxious because I find that I’m asking for illegitimate things that are just complicated and that I try to ——, that doesn’t put me in a good position to education people because I have the impression that I’m bad. So…

Generally, in my experience, the moments that autism or anxiety become visible are when I’m really not doing well. So, stating my needs in advance, that could be really positive. It’s also really important in terms of consent. But when that comes up in the moment, when I feel bad I can’t give advice to someone on how to interact with me. I have to say: “Ok, that, that works generally, but if I do this, ‘stop’.”

(Instrumental music)

(a)sexuality and disability

 For me, what’s important is relationships. And everything that can be more sexual, related to sex, bodies generally, in my experience that’s more linked to the fact that I’m trans and everything related to my body follows from that. I think that my sexuality and my asexuality could be understood in relation to my trans experience. But again, I don’t that think that we can just link it to my disability, and I don’t think that we can just link it to… to my trans experience. What I’d like people to understand about asexuality, like umm… is that… okay, I’ll say three things.

One: It’s an experience that it’s completely as legitimate as all the other forms of sexuality or other forms of relationships, also, or desire of relationship. Because, me, I want to be in relationships. There are people who don’t want that, and that’s super legitimate too. So that, that would be the first thing.

The second thing is that… to be in a couple and make love, that doesn’t necessarily have to go together. I think one thing that we try to valorize in sex-positive discourses is that we can move beyond. Marriage is not necessarily exclusive, like it was the 1960’s. We can have something more diversified, but we can also not have the need for that in a couple.

And I think that the third thing I would say is to not forget that… even if there isn’t… you know… to my knowledge, there isn’t systemic violence against asexual people, that doesn’t mean that the group doesn’t live forms of “oppression”, or experience marginalization in certain communities, and are easily forgotten. And that we have our place in, you know the long acronym of LGBTQIA, and that the A is not for allies. That asexual people have their place in communities and movements around sexual diversity, and diversity in general. Because it’s not true that we’re that well integrated in many spaces. For example, we’re poorly integrated in lots of spaces that call themselves queer.

Often, the things we say against asexual people to de-legitimize their experiences, are the same things that people used to say against homosexual or bisexual people, against trans people, against intersex people, so it’s not necessarily the same thing, but the same type of attitude and discourse and the same schema.

I think that we have to understand sex-positivity as not necessarily more sex, but like, more diversity and more openness to different experiences. That could be more openness like less traditional ways to approach that, to not want to make love because it’s not something that I understand and it’s not something that I find important.

(Music )

These video have been produced by FQPN and realised by Rozen Potin. Responsible for the project: Charli Lessard and Aimee Louw. With the participation of Isabelle, Caroline and Hodan. Translation: Aimee Louw

***See all the ACSEXE+ video***