Finding Love When You're On The Spectrum

Finding Love When You're On The Spectrum

© Danielle Robertson Consulting Pty Ltd t/as DR Care Solutions

Love - It’s What We All Need

Finding true love is hard. It is even more so for autistic loved ones who find social and emotional communication challenging. Put simply, they don’t form relationships as easily or in the same way as their neurotypical peers.

 

Documenting the challenges

These challenges are played out in a heart-warming Australian documentary, "Love on the Spectrum" currently available on ABC iview[1]. If you are looking for some lockdown viewing, I highly recommend the two seasons published to date, and there are two more seasons to come!

 

It's gone global

The series has been so well received, it is now being streamed by Netflix to its UK and US audiences. Take a look at the Netflix’s Official Trailer (below); it sums it up beautifully.

 

Each season features a new set of eight single autistic Australians, in their twenties, searching for love. The participants have now shot to stardom with an international following eager to see them find love.

 

Who's behind it?

Northern Pictures, the Australian production company, has again hit the big time with another award-winning documentary series on social issues.

The same company produced "Employable Me" for the ABC. First screened in early 2018, this series follows the job-hunting journeys of neuro diverse Australians. It is still available on ABC iview[2].

What prompted the series producer and director, Cian O’Clery, to go down the "Love on the Spectrum" path?

 

Having worked with so many people on the spectrum over the years, Cian was familiar with this longing to find love amongst his autistic colleagues and friends, and was struck by the number who had never been on a date in their lives.

Feeling that 'something wasn’t right', he looked into what help and support is available for people on the spectrum when it comes to dating and relationships. He found almost nothing.

Cian found that most autism resources are devoted to early intervention and childhood programs, and the services for young adults focused on developing work skills and trying to find employment. While he found a limited number of skills training programs on developing and maintaining friendships, there was nothing for dating so he produced and directed a documentary to draw awareness to the gap.

 

Helping participants with the skills to find love

The documentary participants are fully supported on their journey with strict policies and protocols followed, and a relationship counsellor and clinical professor, both working in the autism field, providing advice to the participants when called on.

The Clinical Professor is Dr Elizabeth Laugeson from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)[3].

Dr Laugeson explains that:

"Most young adults - most adolescents, and even children - on the autism spectrum really do want to have friends.

And as they grow older, they want romantic relationships. But they just typically don’t know how to go about doing that."

 

She conducts boot camp sessions, developed at the UCLA PEERS® Clinic[3], where participants learn how to be a friend before learning how to be more than a friend and enter a relationship.

The sessions break down the everyday concrete rules and steps of social behaviour and tests them out through role plays. Here’s a taste of what takes place[4].

Sixteen-week PEERS® courses are offered by various support services throughout Australia, through licenses with the UCLA PEERS® Clinic. They can be found through an Internet search.


For advice and assistance on how to set up the right care, support and assistance for your loved one, at the right time and in the right place, please feel free to contact me, Danielle Robertson at DR Care Solutions, for an initial discussion.

- Contact Danielle - For An Impartial & Confidential Conversation

 

Resources:

[1] iview: Love On The Spectrum
[2] iview: Employable Me Australia
[3] UCLA PEERS® Clinic: Elizabeth Laugeson, Psy.D.
[
4] YouTube: UCLA PEERS® Clinic Preview

 

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