A Month for Love or Is It?

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February is supposed to be the month for finding love for the first time or showing your love for someone special in your life. During the beginning of February, you try to find a gift for that special person or go on dates with them whether it be a movie, dinner out, or you could just stay home and make dinner together. The month of February has a specific day for lovers of all kinds, also known as Valentine’s Day on February 14th. This holiday is for all ages too. As a kid growing up every February 14th was set aside to give out Valentine’s Day cards to all students in your class. Even people of all ages and sexes buy a card for whomever they love, expressing how they feel about them. You can also buy something like jewelry or flowers to show how romantic you want to be, at least that is what I have seen/heard on TV, radio, or the internet.

All this hype for Valentine’s Day started back in grade school when you had to give out cards to classmates. Then in middle and high school, people became interested in each other and went on dates to sporting events, movies, or to grab a bite to eat. This is where greeting card companies make some of their money, by selling silly or romantic cards to give to one another. But is true love all that easy as the movies or TV shows pretend it is and the answer is “no,” not all people find love that easy. It is very hard for some to ask others on a date and to hit it off. Even if you are one of the lucky ones, where both parties find and like each other, love takes time and hard work. You may date for years before you feel like you’ve met your soulmate and decide to pop the marriage question. For others, it may be a lot quicker to go from dating to marriage, it all depends on the two lovers.

Now what about the love lives of those who are on the Autism spectrum? Don’t they deserve to fall in love and even get married? The answer is yes! I will talk about that a little later. I know a well-known adult autism advocate who is on the spectrum, where we met years ago at a Greater Harrisburg Autism Society event when he was the main speaker and I was the secondary presenter. His name is Kerry Magro, he is a public speaker, presenter, and author of several autism books. Now he is also a Doctor of Special Education and is an advisor to the Netflix series “Love on the Spectrum” which is now in its second season. The show’s premise is adults on the spectrum who looking to fall in love or just start dating. I have not seen the show because I do not have that streaming service. But what I can tell you from first-hand knowledge is about the love lives of those on the spectrum because I run an adult Autism spectrum disorder support group in the Greater Harrisburg called “Spectrum Friends.” I have seen love between members and also heartbreak. I also know there are exceptions to the rules about love for those on the spectrum. I have two friends who are both on the spectrum and are happily married, have kids, and even have grandkids. I do not know the exact rate of success of love between those on the spectrum, I just hope it is a high rate.

From my own love experience as an adult on the spectrum, I have never dated nor have I ever had a girlfriend. I am still single at age 63. I do have two special friends whom I have known since our college days together and even more women friends since my grade school and high school years. I currently do not have anyone special in my life nor do I expect to have one special person. I mean I do think about the subject of love every once in a while because they say there is someone special out there for everyone but I honestly do not believe in that saying. In conclusion, yes, love is possible and yes, it is probable. But for a vast majority, love is hard to find for both neurotypical and neurodiverse individual

Thomas Hassell

Thomas is 62 years old and has spent the past few decades involved in autism-related social/support groups among other organizations and has become a well-known self-advocate throughout Pennsylvania. For the past 15 years, he’s led a group called “Spectrum Friends” that helps people with autism come together, listen to guest speakers, make new friends, and go on fun field trips. He’s also won and been nominated for multiple disability/autism advocacy awards for his work within the community. Thomas continues to strive for greatness every day and is looking forward to sharing his life story and amazing experiences through ASDNext blogs!

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