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“It's hard to read us if we don’t explicitly say what we're feeling, but all the feelings are there.”In fact, people with autism may have greater emotional capacities.“Studies have shown that people with autism can have feelings that are stronger and deeper than those without autism,” said John Elder Robison, bestselling author of and autism advocate.“Yet those feelings may be invisible to outsiders because we don't show them.Because we don’t show them or the expected response, people make the wrong assumption about our depth of feeling about other people.”It’s not that individuals on the spectrum do not have the same desire for love; they just may not know how to find it. Elizabeth Laugeson, an Assistant Clinical Professor at UCLA said, “If you asked a person with autism if they wanted a romantic relationship, they would probably say yes, but they would probably also say they don’t know how to.”Partially from the emphasis on early intervention treatments, there's a dearth of dating skills programs, or, rather, effective ones for people on the spectrum.“Early intervention can significantly improve the outcome, but kids grow up, and we don't have the proper services,” said Laugeson, who serves as director of UCLA PEERS, a program that teaches social, including romantic, interaction skills to teens and young adults on the spectrum.Central to PEERS is the promotion of “ecologically valid” social skills, traits humans have been shown to exhibit in reality, rather than what we think we're “supposed” to do.The former Miss America system contestant and University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music-trained opera singer knew she had a different conception of romance than her previous boyfriends had and, for that matter, everyone else.“People tend to think of romance as spur of the moment and exciting,” she told me.“I think of romance as things that make sense and are logical.” However, she didn't know why until this year when, at the age of 31, when she was diagnosed with autism.
However, maintaining that confidence may be the hardest part of dating for someone on the spectrum, because of their difficulty processing social cues from others.
“We know people with autism think very concretely,” said Laugeson.
“Social skills can be abstract behavior that's difficult to describe, but we try to break it into concrete steps.”For example, PEERS will take the seemingly mundane, but actually complex act of flirting and translate it into a step-by-step lesson.
Lenny Kravitz is dating Brazilian model Barbara Fialho and she has something in common with his own daughter ... Kravitz and the Victoria's Secret model, who's 30, packed on the PDA Sunday while taking a stroll in Miami. Kravitz's own daughter is 29 and now stars on a Golden Globe winning TV show, "Big Little Lies," alongside Lenny's ex-fiancee, Nicole Kidman, so really nothing weird about this.
How do you get your meddlesome family off your back?