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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Dating with Autism: An Interview Study with Young Adults with Autism Regarding their Romantic Experiences

  • Author(s): Whitham, Siena Elizabeth
  • Advisor(s): Wood, Jeffrey J
  • et al.

Only a handful of studies have looked at the lived experiences of adults with autism (Muller, Schuler, & Yates, 2008). To date, no studies have looked at the romantic experiences of adults with autism. This study describes the relationship experiences of young adults with autism. Seven young adults with autism were interviewed about their romantic experiences. The participants were asked questions about their experiences from whom they dated, to how they met, to how they felt about their relationships. The seven transcripts were analyzed using thematic analysis (Aronson, 1994). The transcripts revealed six major themes and six minor themes. The six major themes included participants dating partners with developmental disabilities, indiscriminate partner selection, a slow getting to know each other process, fast moving emotional relationships, limited sexual experiences, and unclear beginnings and endings of relationships. Recommendations are made for future research in the field of romantic relationships and adults with autism.

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