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He can hear a song on the radio and play it note for note on the piano. For people with Autism Spectrum Disorder, it’s an alternative to picking up people at bars or parties and risking potential in-person rejection.Garry Burge is 41, lives with his parents in Brisbane, Australia, and was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder in 1998.
”“I like to just let it happen.”Hussein knows everything there is to know about Disney. Online dating can be an easier route for those who have trouble initiating conversation.
“It’s important to know that those differences are there.”Wendy Katz, who works for a nonprofit in Louisville, Kentucky, met her ex-husband online, and after her divorce eight years later, she’s dating again.
Diagnosed at 17, Katz has no problem being social, but she says it’s a daily practice.
Hamburgh also leads workshops at Adaptations, a program through the Manhattan Jewish Community Center that teaches life skills to people with developmental disorders.
Hamburgh says that it’s part of his job to introduce neurotypical people to the idea that people on the spectrum are not as different as they may seem.“One of the things that I work on with my online dating clients is trying to break through the stigma of autism by explaining what my client struggles with and what he or she is great at,” Hamburgh says.
My brother, Hussein Al-Nasrawi, sits in his bedroom with his Mac Book in his lap, clicking away on the keyboard. As he stares at his computer screen, he never cracks a smile; in fact, he doesn't smile very much in general.
He logs onto the dating site Ok Cupid and begins answering some questions.“What are you looking for?
“You can’t always tell if a person is autistic unless you start talking with them; a lot of us are pretty stealth about it.
But we can be a lot more honest about it when we are doing online dating.”She said she doesn't limit herself to dating only on the spectrum, though.“I kind of go through a cycle in my dating life where I will want at one point to date people who are also autistic and be very insistent that my partner is on the spectrum,” she says.
The social stigma of ASD is something that Hussein and others grapple with regularly.
After a few hours of setting up his dating profile, Hussein shuts his computer and gets ready for bed, leaving his door slightly open.
Hussein knows that because of his brutal honesty, he is often unable to process why anyone else would be dishonest.