Are you an adult with High-Functioning Autism or Asperger's? Are you in a relationship with someone on the autism spectrum? Are you struggling emotionally, socially, spiritually or otherwise? Then you've come to the right place. We are here to help you in any way we can. Kick off your shoes and stay awhile...

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What careers do Aspergers adults have the most success with?

"This is a question specifically for Mark Hutten: I understand that you provide counseling for adults with autism. In your practice, what careers do your clients seem to have the most success with?"

I would say that most of my ASD clients seem to prefer jobs that are (a) technical in nature and (b) do not require a lot of social interaction. For example:
  • accountant
  • computer programmer
  • computer systems analyst
  • credit analyst 
  • engineering
  • financial analyst
  • graphic designer
  • lab technician
  • medical transcriptionist
  • researcher
  • software developer
  • web designer

But what I tell all my clients is this: While it is true that the jobs you might prefer won’t involve much social contact, a big part of overcoming social deficits associated with autism is exposure to social situations. Avoiding jobs that entail social contact just perpetuates the problem. Deep down, you may actually love jobs that involve social interaction. You’ve been brainwashed (either by yourself or someone else) that you are not a “people person” …that you don’t have what it takes to be companionable. But, adults on the spectrum don’t necessarily have bad social skills AND good technical skills.

I encourage my ASD clients to work more on getting out of their comfort zone than worrying about “the best jobs” for people with autism. The best job for you is the one that challenges you to grow and learn …it’s the one that brings you closer to people, not further away. And there are plenty of “techy” jobs out there that also connect you to people.

Reading Body Language: Dating Tips for Adults on the Spectrum

Often times, adults with Asperger’s and High Functioning Autism do not pick up on the body language of others. Identifying non-verbal cues in others is a critical skill when it comes to relationships. 

Here are some pointers:

1. People instinctively raise their eyebrows when they meet other interesting people. Use this “identifier” to measure the interest that another individual has with you. Interested or excited people will also have shiny eyes. The eyes have a tiny gland on the bottom of the eyelid that secretes tears for lubrication. When an individual is interested or excited, the glands tend to secrete tears, thus giving the eyes a shiny appearance.

2. Mirroring is the technique of mimicking the body language of the other individual. If your body language mirrors the body language of the other person in the conversation, then you are implementing an important bonding technique. For example, if you are approaching someone who is seated, you sit too. If the body of the other individual is closed, then you should avoid being open (otherwise it may be perceived as intrusive). Sometimes people check (at an unconscious level) to see if you are mirroring their body language and have an interest in going deeper in the conversation. Conversely, you can check to see if the other person is mirroring you.

3. Some people form a “barrier” (e.g., arms crossed, legs crossed, holding an object in front of them, etc.). In this case, their body is considered to be closed. It’s better to seek people who have arms apart, legs uncrossed, and who are facing in your direction (their body is open).

4. In order to gauge the acceptance level of another individual, use the "personal space" test. This test consists of moving a little bit closer to an individual at a social setting so that you are standing close and reducing the size of the space around the other person. An individual less interested in you will attempt to move away. If he or she looks at you, raises the eyebrows and smiles, then this person is usually open to having a conversation.

5. When sitting at a table, people can either lean forward or away. If you lean forward, then you are more visible to other people at the table (it’s easier to converse with others who lean forward). However, when comfort and trust have not yet been established, leaning forward can be taken (subconsciously) as intrusiveness. On the other hand, leaning backward away from the table may be perceived as a sign of disinterest. But, an individual who leans backward but has the body open (i.e., no crossing of the arms or legs) may simply be relaxing. Try using some jokes or humor to gain the interest of the other individual so that he or she begins leaning forward. If you want to invite someone to your place (e.g., for dinner) or plan another get-together (e.g., for coffee or a beer), suggest making the invitation when the other individual is leaning forward with an open body.

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

Adults on the Autism Spectrum: Sexuality and Dating

Grown-ups with Aspergers (AS) and High Functioning Autism (HFA) have, in general, differences in sexuality from the norm. Many more are asexual than in the average population. It is believed that there are a slightly higher percentage of gays, lesbians, bisexual, and transgendered AS and HFA individuals than in the average population.

Bisexual or homosexual adults with AS and HFA may find more potential for relationships in the gay community where there is less emphasis on conformity. Females with AS and HFA may have more chance at success in relationships, generally speaking, than males. This is due to differences in social requirements, where a male is often expected to ask the female for a date, rather than vice versa.

Living in a society where long-term relationships and starting a family are the norm can make it hard for socially inexperienced males with AS and HFA to find a spouse/partner. Many of these men stay away from dating for that reason. Some adults with AS and HFA are celibate by choice, feeling that they are asexual, or that there are more important things in life. Others have resigned themselves to celibacy due to the fact that romantic relationships can be much harder to find due to a misunderstanding of social skills and the difficulty of finding a suitable spouse/partner.

AS/AS couples (i.e., both partners are on the spectrum) are often more successful than AS/neurotypical couples (i.e., one partner is on the spectrum, and the other is not). Sexual feelings in the AS or HFA individual often develops later than usual – with relationships not starting until the 20s, 30s, or even 40s – rather than in adolescence, which is the standard for neurotypicals.

Males and females both enjoy sex and love, but males tend to "fall in love" with the women they "sexualize," whereas females tend to sexualize the men they fall in love with. Since males want sex from relationships, they often try to be (or appear to be) more “loving” to attract sexier females. Since females want love from relationships, they often try to be (or appear to be) “sexier” to attract the most loving and supporting males. The idea in both cases is for each spouse/partner to give the other what they want in order to receive what they want. Just as there are males who make a practice of one night stands for the purpose of acquiring sex from many females, there are females who make a practice of one night stands for the purpose of acquiring love from many males.

To attract a partner takes exposure. Wherever you are, to get another individual to like you and to spend time with you will take time, effort and some money (e.g., taking your date out to eat). Successful “pickups” have happened at bars, clubs, coffee shops, the mall, in elevators – you name it! It's not a question of finding a potential date; rather, it’s a question of starting, growing and maintaining the relationship once you have found a potential partner.

Here are some tips to get you started with your potential partner:
  1. Asking for your potential partner’s number becomes permissible after you both have a sense of rapport and are talking comfortably (towards the end of the conversation is best).
  2. Asking personal questions that may appear creepy (e.g., “Where are you going?”) is not permissible.
  3. Focus only on your potential partner’s face rather than scanning his or her body.
  4. If your potential partner asks, "Do you want to come back to my place" …it doesn’t necessarily mean for sex. If you want to go to his or her residence, smile and give a definite positive answer (e.g., "yes" or "sure"), but don’t sound over-enthusiastic (i.e., too eager). A negative or hesitant answer is always offensive. So is excessive enthusiasm about the prospects.
  5. Saying something that is rather innocuous (e.g., "It would be nice to talk to you again" or "Would you like to go out to eat some time?") is better than asking in a way that sounds too pushy (e.g., pulling out your pen and notepad and asking, “What's your cell phone number?”).
  6. Smile and make good eye contact. These are flirtatious behaviors, but understand that they can appear creepy if not returned.
  7. Note to the men: Touching is probably best left to the female to initiate. Otherwise, you may appear to be making inappropriate advances (a huge a turn-off).

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

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