Dating is tough enough for teens. However, when they’re on the autism spectrum, this normal part of growing up can quickly become more complicated. Luckily, there are a few ways you can help your teen navigate the dating scene successfully. You just have to be patient and understanding throughout the process. Here are a few tips for successfully navigating dating with autism from our Denver mental health professionals at Emerge.
Dating is tough for every Denver teen, whether they’re diagnosed with autism or not. But if they don’t understand how things work, it can make things even harder for them. Instead of waiting for them to come to you with questions, be proactive. Try to start an open line of conversation about dating before they have a chance to start worrying about it. The more open they perceive you to be about the topic, the more prepared they’ll be to bring any additional questions they have.
Be Open to Discussing Their Questions
Many teens with autism are incredibly curious and feel the need to understand situations before they try to act on them. This holds true for dating. If your teen asks you a question about sex, sexuality, dating, or other related issues, be open to having the discussion. Remember, just because they’re asking doesn’t mean they’re going to rush out and try new things.
Talk About Body Language
Autism can make it difficult for your Denver teen to interpret signs and signals their date is giving them. Before they start dating, work on helping them recognize what certain facial expressions and body language might mean. Talk about the types of intimacy they may encounter (hugging, hand-holding, and kissing) and how to express to their date that they may not want to do those things just yet.
Discuss Date Locations
Helping your teen decide where to go on their date is one of the best things you can do. Talk to them about what they think their date might like to do. See where any shared interests might lie and make suggestions based on that information. This way, both your teen and their date will enjoy their time together! In Denver, autism and sensory-friendly activities can be found all throughout the city. Some ideas may include a walk around Sloan’s Lake park, a trip to the Denver Botanic Gardens on a slow weekday, or a night-in playing games or watching movies.
Get Professional Advice
Discussing dating with your teen is an important step in helping them grow up. If you’re not sure where to begin or how to help a child with autism navigate the nuances of the dating scene, don’t panic. Just be prepared to ask for help. At Emerge, we offer numerous services for families and individuals with autism in Denver. Schedule an appointment today and let us help you find the right way to help your child and family.