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Autism/Asperger's, dating, relationships , discussing this issue with my son


We have a 25 year old son with Asperger's Syndrome, who has two older sisters, 32 and 36 years old. He enjoys life, has a job he likes which he does 3 days a week, works in a shop which sells various things - a family-run business, repairing and cleaning equipment for them. He does have a sort of social life, socialising with the owner and his friends, going out for meals/drinks with them, on trips out with them, there's no annoying co-worker situations etc. due to where he works and it being a small business.
However, he said to us on Wednesday that he wants help in finding a girlfriend, and we were suggesting some activities to him, but my husband recognized our son isn't very sporting.
My husband suggested our son join a dating agency / introduction agency. He said he'd done his research and thought that the advantages were it was better than online dating, people's profiles are screened, and although the cost is high (£400 + for one membership fee), he said he'd pay on a preloaded credit card and not use a normal credit card, and he thinks they'd understand our son's needs. Our son has never really gotten very far with relationships, only friendships, he is friends with women, but they're mainly 30+, and his friends are mainly married/engaged so little chance of meeting a partner there; but he really enjoys his job and his friends.

I'm not so sure, not in a this-is-a-bad-thing kind of way, just because I don't know much about it.

He likes his job, enjoys his life, he just says he wants to have someone other than his sisters to share it with.

What would you advise, and is my husband going the right way about it?

I'll admit, this area relating to Asperger's is not something I know much about; my knowledge comes mainly from books, like Tony Attwood's one and Patricia Howlin's ones.

Hi Sandra,

I'm glad you have read the books you mentioned. Here is what I have to add:

I think dating is harder for young men on spectrum because they are the one who is usually expected to initiate contact. The dating service MAY work but your son will have to be very honest about his issues and goals. I am concerned his self-esteem may be damaged if no one decides to go out with him.

It is important to clarify if he is looking for companionship on casual dates or whether he is seeking a long term commitment. He has reached an age where his peers are settling into marriage. Women his age are going to be looking beyond fun and toward a man's suitability as a provider and father.

Meeting people requires getting out into situations where common interests offer the opportunity to start talking. Are there any hobbies he enjoys? Joining a club or going to events that center around something like that will give him those opportunities.

It may seem awkward but practicing with him may help. He needs to learn how to start a conversation, how to show his interest without being "creepy". He does not have the instincts to read non-verbal communication but he can learn some basics. Teach what the signals of interest are: raised eyebrows, quick looks, leaning in, etc. Just as important, the signals saying "not interested", should be taught. That way, he knows when to quit before it becomes uncomfortable. Perhaps some of his women friends would be willing to help with this.


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Catherine Ridenour


I can answer your questions about parenting your High Functioning Autisic or Asperger`s Syndrome child. In particular, questions about family life, discipline, siblings, finding resources, and working with (sometimes opposing) the educational system are welcome.


I am the parent of an Asperger's Syndrome child who is now 22 years old. She went undiagnosed for 14 years of her life, so I have done extensive reading and Internet research into the possible cause of her difficulties. Even a short 8 years ago, A.S. was practically unheard of by the public educational system.

We fumbled our way through her childhood and early adolescence without any effective outside support. In some ways, that may have been a blessing as we were focused on her abilities rather than a label for her disability. However, I can think of many times when knowing WHY would have been comforting.

Had we known very early on, some social skills interventions might have made her life in school easier. At this point, I like her for who she is so I do not regret how things have turned out. More importantly, she likes herself.

I have a Bachelor of Science in Education.

I have worked to educate myself about Autism in general and HFA/AS in particular.


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