Dating, with autism

In case you missed it, I wanted to let you know that our guest blogger, Laura Shumaker had a piece published in the New York Times last Friday. You might remember the post Laura wrote for us in March about providing evidence-based treatment for individuals with autism through the lifespan. Laura’s essay in the New York Times — about a trip she took with her 23-year-old son Matthew, who has autism, — is a brilliant example of how he and his mom are continuing to learn. From the NY Times essay:

When I planned the trip to Washington, I could never have known that the hotel that I had picked was also the hotel that a team of female college lacrosse players had chosen and that they would be bouncing through the lobby in bikinis.

I could never have known that they would mistake the handsome Matthew for a “neurotypical” 23-year-old man and that they would invite him to join them in the hot tub later.

I could not have predicted that after a quick dinner in the hotel restaurant, Matthew would insist on waiting by the Jacuzzi “without my mother” until the girls joined him two hours later. Or that I would be hiding and watching from behind a treadmill in the bordering workout room when the girls showed up, figured out that Matthew was not what they expected, giggled nervously and vanished.

Laura found herself consoling her distraught son after that incident. The Shumakers cut their vacation short, headed back home.

But in a strange way, I was grateful for the incident at the hotel. He wanted to meet women. He wanted a relationship, and I needed to help him.

They say that when it comes to parenting, your job never ends. This is all the more true when you have a child with autism. How lucky Matthew is to have an honest and understanding mother like Laura.


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