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Autism/Our daughter with Asperger's Syndrome and relationships


Our daughter told us the other day about her new boyfriend; he's 51, and works in a day centre for adults with Down's Syndrome. She's 20, has Asperger's Syndrome and hasn't had many relationships and she's told us this is her first proper one.

This man's 51, and has no children from a previous relationship, only an ex-wife who left him to live in the States - but he is an uncle to his brother's 2 children.

She told us that she loves him a lot, and he isn't a father figure, and they have common interests - they like concerts, restaurants and the arts.

He doesn't look 51, he looks more like 31, according to the photo she showed us.

As for how they met, she told us it was at a local fundraising event - raising money for Down's syndrome children.

This man's 3 years older than her dad, which worries me a little bit.

She has told me they're having sex, but it's safe sex, and she said 'Safe sex is important, very much so.'

We're just a little bit worried, as to be honest, the age gap is huge, what problems could happen as a result of it [I don't think she's aware of this].

It's not that I disapprove, I just want to help her in life - she is legally a 'vulnerable' person according to the DWP.

My daughter does have a job, she works in a garden centre in the stockkeeping department.

Any advice on this is much welcomed; I don't know where to turn to next.

Oh dear, Maria. I see why you're concerned.

First, are you sure she is correct about his age? Perhaps she misheard and his read age matches his picture.

I'd be worried if the fellow actually is 51 and gave her a twenty year old picture to show to her parents, hiding his true age.

Has he offered to meet you? Perhaps that would put your fears to rest. If he's reluctant to visit with you, there may be more to worry about.

Some young people with Asperger's have a naive view of the world and may take what they encounter at face value. If that description fits your daughter, then I would have some worries about her dating a man 30 years her senior, especially if there relationship was not out in the open.

Is your daughter's definition of "safe sex" the same as your definition? Is it possible to quiz her on this?

Ultimately, she is an adult and her decisions may be out of your hands. Often offering strenuous objections leads a young person to cling steadfastly to her original decision. You might need to stand back, invite the two of them often to your place so you can get to know him and if things do not go well, you're there to offer support.

This parenting stuff does not end once the teen years are over, does it?

Best wishes,


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Dr. Sharon A. Mitchell


Sharon can help with parenting and educational concerns. She has worked in teaching, special education, counseling and consulting for over thirty years and gives workshops to educators and parents on working with kids with autism spectrum disorders. Sharon speaks from both the education and parent points of view, having an adult son with Asperger's.


Sharon has spent decades as a special education consultant with a school district and autism consult for the province's Department of Education, giving workshops and individual consults. Currently she works as regional autism consultant for a health district in between teaching university classes. She is an Amazon bestselling author or a series of novels, each depicting a child who has an autism spectrum disorder. Sharon's Master's thesis looked at the long-term outlook for persons with high functioning autism and Asperger's. Her Doctorate focused on strategies to help those with autism spectrum disorders.

Website at and sits on Autism Today's Panel of Experts (

Author of "Autism Goes to School" - a novel about autism that that became an Amazon bestseller. Get this Amazon bestseller free at In the next book, Autism Runs Away, Ethan is only in grade one and already has been kicked out of one school due to his tantrums and pattern of running away when in a panic. Now in a new school his mom remains glued to her phone, waiting for the call to tell her that they don’t know what to do with a child who has autism. Sara is about to learn if this new school is up to the challenge. ( Autism Belongs is the 3rd book. Manny's life has shrank to the confines of their house. His parents are desperate not to rock his world because the aggression has gotten to much worse. Where will this lead? Is there a chance that Manny could actually belong out in the world? You bet! Get a free sample at Book four, Autism Talks and Talks, is about a 12 year old girl who has Asperger's. She's bright, inquisitive, highly verbal, but lacks social skills. Try a free sample at Book five, Autism Grows Up features Suzie, a bright, twenty-one year old whose life collapsed after she finished high school. Now, she lives in her mother's basement, spending nights on her computer, afraid to broach the world outside their door. Autism Grows Up is found at Prefer a boxed set? Get the first 3 books bundled together at Co-author of bestseller, The Official Autism 101 Manual (

B.A. in Psychology, B.Ed. in Special Education, M.A. in Educational Leadership PhD. in Psychology Management, specializing in autism.

Awards and Honors
B.R.A.G. Medallion for the novel Autism Goes to School - Book 1 in the School Daze Series. ( Like Autism Goes to School, the third book in the series, Autism Belongs, also ranked #1 on Amazon ( Manny is not like other children. He doesn’t talk. He doesn’t leave the house. His parents desperately try to arrange their world so that Manny does not get upset. Because, when he does, well, the aggression was getting worse. At ten, Manny was becoming difficult to handle.

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