This is the first post in a new series called What It’s Like. I intend to interview friends and relatives to get the viewpoints of everyone who is affected by having someone with autism in their lives – past, present, and future.
I wanted to start off with one of the more recent people to become involved with Nigel – my boyfriend, Rick. We have been dating for several months, and I recently talked with him about his views on dating someone who has an ASD child. Additionally, for some insight into what it’s like to date and be married to someone on the spectrum, check out Jeffrey Deutsch’s informative posts on relationships. Another interesting post was written by Sam, who dated someone with Asperger’s. We can all learn so much from each other.
1. Did you have any experience and/or preconceived ideas about autism prior to knowing that I have an autistic son? What did you think at first?
I didn’t have any thoughts – I had heard stuff on the radio about autism, but really had no idea what it was about.
2. From what you know now about Nigel’s autism being more severe when he was younger, do you think if you had met and dated me then that things would have been more difficult?
Probably, but I wouldn’t have left.
3. What, in your experience now, is the most challenging thing about dating someone who has an autistic child?
When he was younger, I’m sure that getting a babysitter would have been a big challenge, but right now it’s not really much of a challenge to me, and I don’t mind it. I’m accepting this for what it is.
4. What are the things you enjoy about dating someone with an autistic child?
He makes me laugh sometimes – stuff he says. I do have fun with him and the way he laughs.
5. Do you have concerns about the future regarding Nigel living with me into adulthood?
No, I’m a very family-oriented person.
6. Why do you feel comfortable dating someone with an autistic child?
My brother has paranoid schizophrenia, so I’m used to different behaviors and ways of communicating.
7. Would you feel differently if Nigel were still non-verbal? No.
8. Any advice for someone entering a relationship with a person whose child has autism?
Be patient, and let the kids get to know you at their own pace.
9. What about for the parent whose (teenage) child has autism?
Don’t worry about him being out in public and disturbing people; let him spread his wings a little more.
Many thanks to Rick! Be sure to visit Aerocraft Fiberglass to check out the cool race car bodies he designs and manufactures!