Sunday, October 7, 2007

Sex and the Single Girl

photo by katielips
creative commons license

I was perusing a local autism listserve that I am on, and read this message from someone I don't know.

I haven't been on here for a while, but wanted to share something that happened today. I recently retired from teaching. My daughter, Amy, who is 35 and on the spectrum, has been my assistant for 16 years, since she graduated from high school. This is on a voluntary basis at a private school. Well, when I retired that meant that Amy was also out of a job. So we decided to look into a sheltered workshop. Amy is use to doing some office work and assisting me with the mundane work that all teachers hate. She has never done production work, but after touring the place she said that she thought she could do the work. Well, I didn't feel that the environment would necessarily be the best for her as she has a tendency to pick up behaviors from those she's around but I didn't express that at the time. But while we were standing in the shop talking to a staff member, a young man came up to us and was obviously attracted to Amy. He ask if she was going to work there and stuck out his hand to shake hands. We shook his hand and introduced ourselves. He said, "I'm going to ask her out." He then reached over and was about to give her a hug when the staff member stopped him and sent him back to his station. Oh, did I mention that Amy is very attractive and outwardly shows no signs of a disability? I couldn't help wonder what would happen if someone wasn't right there. This is my worst nightmare,since Amy is very compliant and vulnerable. So we are back to square one as far as a job for Amy. She's so talented I hate for her just to stay at home all day. Any suggestions?

I wanted to respond with either "Think you could find a nunnery to lock her up in?", "I think she's old enough to start dating", or the snarky "Good thing that staff member was right there, because I'm sure that that evil autistic man would have defiled your daughter on the spot right there, because we all know what hugs lead to". But I tick many people off on that list as it is, with my mad ramblings against quackery that some of them are inflicting on their children, and I would like not to be kicked off so I can show some of the newbies that not all in the "Autism Community"(tm) are off their rocker.

Now don't get me wrong, I understand to some extent where this parent is coming from. My (NT) daughter is only 5, but I am already shopping for a shotgun that I can clean when potential suitors come to call. I also understand the desire to protect one's autistic offspring from some of the exploitation that society can subject them to. So I can sympathize with the sentiment that one would want to take some precautions and make some preparations when introducing one's son or daughter to dating.

But give me a break! Her daughter is 35 years old, has worked, can express her own wants and needs, and from the sound of it mom has kept her from exploring any kind of relationships with the opposite sex at all. I know nothing other than what was written, and I have no idea if this woman's daughter was even interested in dating this man. But I think she deserves the courtesy of listening to her views on the subject, and she deserves to be in an environment where she can meet and mingle with people of both sexes, so she can form friendships and possible relationships.

I have no idea whether my son will ever want to marry (though I do know he likes blonds). But as hard as it may be, I am going to do my darndest to educate my son regarding sex, dating, and relationships with the opposite sex. I think one of the worst insults I could give him would be to presume that he is incompetent of forming and nurturing a relationship with someone else. Many in the world treat him as incompetent. The least I can do is to always presume competence, and do my best to support him.

Am I wrong? And what (if anything) should I post on that list? In the last two days since that was posted, there have only been suggestions regarding other places to look for employment. Noone else has questioned her actions.


VAB said...

Why not ask the mother how her daughter is in terms of friendships and gently suggest that the new job will be an opportunity for her to make new friends because, sadly, at some point the mother is going to be gone, and the daughter will need companionship. Maybe you could also suggest she pick up a copy of Mozart and the Whale. She may not love you for it, but maybe it will start some wheels turning.

mumkeepingsane said...

Wow, that woman (the daughter) sounds so overprotected. Of course we don't know all the details but from what the mom describes she's kept her employed with her and doesn't "allow" her to explore intimate relationships.

Daisy said...

I suggest ongoing counseling for the daughter with a counselor who understands relationships and autism. This person can help guide the young woman through the new potential relationship and new job, while providing an out - of -family mentor and go-to person.

bigwhitehat said...

I'll reserve judgment because of my ignorance of the situation.

But, brother I am right there with you. This sounds a bit ridiculous. If I were in the mother's shoes, I would be on the prowl for a fella with some moral character instead of on guard.

kristina said...

I read this yesterday and have been thinking about i, in light of some difficult, awkward and ultimately painful memories a woman on the spectrum shared with me. I feel over-protective, but I htink I can understand the mother's worries: Who knows but she has witnessed other situations where her daughter seemed to get herself too quickly into a situation with a member of an opposite sex?

Well, maybe it's just me having a bout of catastrophic thinking..... But it sounds like a social story on a bit of a bigger scale than "what do you do at the dentist" (well, that's a big deal for sure, around here!) might be helpful. And some birds and bees? (a topic you've brought up already.......)

abfh said...

I'm sure many autistics were sent off to convents or monasteries in olden times. All those guys who spent their lives copying manuscripts by hand probably were hyperlexic.

The mom's description of her daughter as "very compliant and vulnerable" is most likely accurate. That's a common result of being overprotected. I think the daughter needs counseling to help her develop more assertiveness and learn how to make her own decisions. Unfortunately, the mom probably won't like that very much, and they may need family counseling too.