While Paulette doesn't necessarily think women with autism have it easier than men, she has noticed that her neuro-typical dates have particularly valued many of her autistic traits.
“I’ve found that people who are neuro-typical really appreciate the qualities that people on the spectrum posses: complete honesty and almost an inability to lie,” she said.
A common trait of people on the spectrum is being extremely logical and straightforward.
A blunt man may repulse women or get a slap in the face; think of how a woman would react if a date told her yes, she did look fat in that dress, or consider the famous 1989 study where a female researcher received positive responses to her request for sex from men on the street 69 to 75 percent of the times compared to her male counterpart who received not a single yes. “Especially if they're really attractive, neuro-typical guys appreciate when women are blunt,” said Plank.
“Early intervention can significantly improve the outcome, but kids grow up, and we don't have the proper services,” said Laugeson, who serves as director of UCLA PEERS, a program that teaches social, including romantic, interaction skills to teens and young adults on the spectrum.
Central to PEERS is the promotion of “ecologically valid” social skills, traits humans have been shown to exhibit in reality, rather than what we think we're “supposed” to do.
The way to Paulette's heart is through her Outlook calendar.
“Honestly, if you want to be romantic with me, send an email through Outlook and give me all the possible dates, locations, and times, so that I can prepare,” she said.
“We can be interested, but have no way to tell if they're interested in us.”Some women with autism may ultimately have an edge in the dating world.He quickly realized acting confident was the key to dating success, especially if you're a man.However, maintaining that confidence may be the hardest part of dating for someone on the spectrum, because of their difficulty processing social cues from others.However, both sexes on the spectrum struggle equally with the fear of rejection.Since so much of dating for adults with autism is trial by error, the risk of mistakes, and often embarrassing ones, is high.“It's hard to read us if we don’t explicitly say what we're feeling, but all the feelings are there.”In fact, people with autism may have greater emotional capacities.“Studies have shown that people with autism can have feelings that are stronger and deeper than those without autism,” said John Elder Robison, bestselling author of and autism advocate.“If you think about it logically, you say things you wouldn’t normally say, so it's harder.There are a whole other set of things you have to deal with.”While he didn't have PEERS to guide him, in college, Plank studied guys who were always successful at picking up girls and started mimicking their behaviors.The former Miss America system contestant and University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music-trained opera singer knew she had a different conception of romance than her previous boyfriends had and, for that matter, everyone else.“People tend to think of romance as spur of the moment and exciting,” she told me.“I think of romance as things that make sense and are logical.” However, she didn't know why until this year when, at the age of 31, when she was diagnosed with autism.