One of the most daunting tasks for individuals living on the autism spectrum is developing relationships.
Inhibited by their understanding of social cues and emotions, the world is too often an unfriendly place when others misread their intentions. It’s already difficult enough for anyone to find the perfect match without the added obstacle of sensory issues, physical limitations, or other symptoms typical of ASD.
To alleviate this problem, specifically with romance in mind, 18-year-old Olivia Cantu and her mother Kristen Fitzpatrick have developed a new dating website called Spectrum Singles. Olivia, who offers a first-hand perspective on the difficulties of dating when you have ASD, describes it on their homepage, www.spectrumsingles.com, as: “A unique dating and social media website created BY people on the spectrum FOR people on the spectrum.”
Though support group and interaction-oriented websites for people with autism already exist, Olivia points out that they are often developed by neurotypicals. As a result, the people using these programs don’t get the full benefit they need because people on the other side of the spectrum simply don’t understand.
Through her program, Olivia has developed a 184-question test called the Spectrum Compatibility Test. The questionnaire works with users on the autism spectrum by “narrowing the field from thousands of prospects to match your spectrum attributes with a select group of spectrum compatible matches with whom you can build a quality relationship.” Questions cover topics as universal as sexual preferences to ASD-focused options regarding social comfort and attention-related tendencies.
The mother-daughter generated dating sight went up early January. The women have also started a YouTube channel covering dating tips for autistic partners.
By Sara Power, Fordham University