Hi, I’m Craig Kendall, the author of The Asperger’s Syndrome Survival Guide. In today’s issue we will discuss…
Dating, Puberty and Your Asperger’s Syndrome Teen
One major issue that comes up in middle and high school is dating and the onset of puberty. Autistic teens typically have the same urges and desires to have relationships and to sexually explore as other teens; the difference is that they often might not understand some of the rules and unspoken guidelines that apply. Not understanding the rules and unspoken guidelines can often get them into trouble.
Some teens have trouble knowing when it is appropriate to do things like masturbation, and they need explicit instruction that those things are to be done only in private. Some teens might need to be told that touching any private areas in public is a no no; talking about sexual subjects in public is typically also inappropriate but your AS teen may not understand the bounds.
Girls and Dating
Teenage girls with autism may need special instruction and guidelines to ensure safe dating. They are at special risk for being taken advantage of because they may not understand when someone is harassing them or even abusing them. They might not understand the difference between good attention and bad attention.
Again, explicit instruction needs to be given about this issue. Social stories can be written about it, or else just give concrete examples and break it into small pieces so as to be sure you teen understands the concepts you are trying to present.
Another issue that can cause problems with girls is promiscuity. If your AS daughter has few friends, she may be desperate for attention – unfortunately, she may attract the wrong type of attention.
All AS teens, boys and girls, tend to interpret what people say literally. They also have a tendency to believe what people say. Girls, especially, may be very naive when it comes to a boy’s attention. A smooth talking boy may start complementing your daughter and giving her the attention that she is craving. In a situation like this, your daughter may be very susceptible to manipulation. She may believe whatever the boy tells her. This may lead to early sexual activity or other inappropriate behavior.
Boys and Dating
Adolescent males with autism need to be told rules about how you approach girls in an appropriate way so as not to seem like they are stalkers. Sometimes, caught up in their own enthusiasm and not understanding social rules, teens with AS have been accused of being “creepy” or “bugging” girls, simply because they did not understand how to approach girls in an appropriate way. Also, girls may use indirect language or hints to indicate that your son is moving too fast or that they have little interest in a relationship.
Unfortunately, AS teens often misinterpret or completely miss indirect language and hints. For example, a girl may be constantly “busy” when your son asks her for a date; but he may not understand that this is a polite rejection. Unless a girl states flatly that she does not want to date your son, he may continue to call and hound her – creating an unpleasant situation for all involved.
This is just a small part of the answers you will need to successfully survive and thrive with Aspergers. If you are looking for additional information immediately, go to the following site: www.AspergersSociety.org.