People with Asperger’s syndrome can have difficulties at each stage on the continuum.
To progress along the relationship continuum from a friend to a boyfriend or girlfriend, an adolescent or a young adult with Asperger’s syndrome needs to understand the art of flirting and romance in order to accurately read the signals of mutual attraction and understand the dating game.
Clinical experience indicates that previously socially excluded and unpopular teenage girls with Asperger’s syndrome have, after the physical changes that occur at puberty, become flattered by the attention of teenage boys.
Due to her naivety, the adolescent girl may not recognize that the interest is sexual and not a way for the boy to simply enjoy her personality, company, or conversation.
For example, a hug may be perceived as an uncomfortable squeeze that restricts movement.
The person can become confused or overwhelmed when expected to demonstrate and enjoy relatively modest expressions of affection.
I have recently developed a cognitive behaviour therapy program for children and adolescents with Asperger’s syndrome to explain the emotion of love and the ways to express that you like or love someone.
In adolescence and early adult years, the focus can be a person, which could be interpreted as a typical teenage “crush,” but the intensity and some of the associated behaviours could lead to accusations of stalking or harassment.Teenagers with Asperger’s syndrome often are eager to understand and experience the social and relationship world of their peers, including romantic relationships and sexual experiences, but there can be problems regarding the source of information on relationships and sexuality.An adolescent with Asperger’s syndrome usually has few, if any, friends with whom he or she can discuss and be informed about relationship topics such as romantic or sexual feelings and the codes of sexual behaviour.He or she can be bewildered as to why other people appear to be “obsessed” with expressing love for each other.
Someone with an ASD also may be conspicuously immature in his or her expressions of affection, and sometimes may perceive these expressions of affection as aversive experiences.
They also can have an extreme sensitivity to particular sensory experiences.