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Mary Riggs Cohen, Ph. D. Director, Social Learning Disorders Program University of Pennsylvania Department of Psychiatry Geena Mary Sankoorikal, BS University.

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Presentation on theme: "Mary Riggs Cohen, Ph. D. Director, Social Learning Disorders Program University of Pennsylvania Department of Psychiatry Geena Mary Sankoorikal, BS University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Mary Riggs Cohen, Ph. D. Director, Social Learning Disorders Program University of Pennsylvania Department of Psychiatry Geena Mary Sankoorikal, BS University of Pennsylvania Center for Cognitive Neuroscience Dating & Interpersonal Relationships for Young Adults on the Spectrum

2 Love is blind, and friendship is just not noticing. The only way to have a friend is to be one.

3 Why ASD Adults Have Difficulty with Relationships and Dating They are typically social late bloomers They have less social experience than their peers Many have negative early experiences (bullying) that they carry with them emotionally Many are distrustful of neurotypicals (with good reason) They dont initiate social contact (fearing rejection) They dont follow-up to maintain relationships They spend to much time with special interests and neglect the relationship Relationships are complicated and confusing Why ASD Adults Have Difficulty with Relationships and Dating They are typically social late bloomers They have less social experience than their peers Many have negative early experiences (bullying) that they carry with them emotionally Many are distrustful of neurotypicals (with good reason) They dont initiate social contact (fearing rejection) They dont follow-up to maintain relationships They spend to much time with special interests and neglect the relationship Relationships are complicated and confusing

4 An ability to let go of the past has gotten much easier as my range of experiences has grown. The more situations I live through, the better able I am to put them into perspective and let those that are inconsequential fall by the wayside. The more I connect with people-my family, friends, coworkers, even strangers-the greater appreciation I have for each person who is in my life. Sean Barron(2006)

5 Making and Keeping Friends Take the initiative to reach out to others(dont wait to introduce yourself) Remember facts and details about them so they know you are listening and care about whats going on their life Dont come on too strong, be casual, informal and comfortable (small talk first) Try to meet people with similar interests (art class, chess club, comic convention) Plan activities around mutual interests Be open to new experiences (try a new type of food, listen to a new type of music) Take the initiative to reach out to others(dont wait to introduce yourself) Remember facts and details about them so they know you are listening and care about whats going on their life Dont come on too strong, be casual, informal and comfortable (small talk first) Try to meet people with similar interests (art class, chess club, comic convention) Plan activities around mutual interests Be open to new experiences (try a new type of food, listen to a new type of music) Making and Keeping Friends

6 Characteristics of Healthy Relationships Reciprocal, a balance of give and take Based on trust, honesty Freedom to be yourself Flexibility Mutual respect Tolerant of differences Supportive Fun and enhances experiences Characteristics of Healthy Relationships Reciprocal, a balance of give and take Based on trust, honesty Freedom to be yourself Flexibility Mutual respect Tolerant of differences Supportive Fun and enhances experiences

7 Dating Advice From Those on the Spectrum * *Information from Look past the outside (dont base your interest on looks) If you meet someone online, talk to them on the phone before planning to meet them (people can be much different than they seem online) Ask someone to go to a movie first and then go to a restaurant afterward (less talking at first and then you can talk about the movie) If you get nervous and cant think of anything to say excuse yourself and take a brief bathroom break If the date isnt going well dont blame yourself, personalities dont always mesh

8 Internet Dating Suggestions Talk about your likes and dislikes in your personal information (dont characterize dislikes as complaints) Describe your physical features such as eye and hair color Look for dating sites with easy access and flat fee structures Use a current photo that looks like you When you contact someone dont lead in with a request for a date Keep your messages short Keep track of your contacts and messages Dont discuss personal subjects or opinions in e- mails Internet Dating Suggestions Talk about your likes and dislikes in your personal information (dont characterize dislikes as complaints) Describe your physical features such as eye and hair color Look for dating sites with easy access and flat fee structures Use a current photo that looks like you When you contact someone dont lead in with a request for a date Keep your messages short Keep track of your contacts and messages Dont discuss personal subjects or opinions in s

9 Internet Dating Suggestions (Cont.) Be sensitive to issues such as age and physical appearance After several messages, suggest talking by phone first and then meeting (this is the natural next step). Expect some rejection but dont take it personally When meeting someone go to a public place Take your cell phone and have a friend call you during the meeting to check up on you Dont go to their place until you get to know them better (after two or three dates) Internet Dating Suggestions (Cont.) Be sensitive to issues such as age and physical appearance After several messages, suggest talking by phone first and then meeting (this is the natural next step) Expect some rejection but dont take it personally When meeting someone go to a public place Take your cell phone and have a friend call you during the meeting to check up on you Dont go to their place until you get to know them better (after two or three dates)

10 Dating Suggestions Plan the date ahead of time (activity) Pick an activity that the other person is interested in Avoid movies (shows) that are violent or overly sexual If you are going to a restaurant ask about food preferences Keep the first date under four hours (even if youre having a good time) Ask questions about the other person to get to know them Dating Suggestions Plan the date ahead of time (activity) Pick an activity that the other person is interested in Avoid movies (shows) that are violent or overly sexual If you are going to a restaurant ask about food preferences Keep the first date under four hours (even if youre having a good time) Ask questions about the other person to get to know them

11 Dating Suggestions (Cont.) Listen to the other person and show you are interested in what they say (dont talk about yourself too much) Dont spend a lot of money (allow the other person to pay if he/she offers) Dont talk about personal topics on the first date Relax and be yourself Dating Suggestions (Cont.) Listen to the other person and show you are interested in what they say (dont talk about yourself too much) Dont spend a lot of money (allow the other person to pay if he/she offers) Dont talk about personal topics on the first date Relax and be yourself

12 The Biology of Attraction Men are more visually oriented in their initial attraction, the sight of an attractive woman activates the brain s pleasure centers Smell is an important element of initial attraction for women, the scent of a man can cause romantic feelings You must have a face-to face encounter with someone to know if you are physically attracted to them (not just a photo) Gazing at someone causes our brain to feel linked to the other person and emotionally attuned (usually before kissing) Social Intelligence, Daniel Goleman (2007) The Biology of Attraction * *Information from Social Intelligence, Daniel Goleman (2007) Men are more visually oriented in their initial attraction, the sight of an attractive woman activates the brain s pleasure centers Smell is an important element of initial attraction for women, the scent of a man can cause romantic feelings You must have a face-to face encounter with someone to know if you are physically attracted to them (not just a photo) Gazing at someone causes our brain to feel linked to the other person and emotionally attuned (usually before kissing)


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