Zoom Autism Magazine Issue 6 - Page 34

give hope to others on the autism spectrum that it is possible to have all this, and hopefully we will give them the courage to go beyond their comfort zones to reach for their dreams at finding true love. We also want to give hope to all parents of autistic children that their child can have a happy life and love and relationships. tant in this arena and plan to help change the numbers of unemployed autistic people. Only 15% of those on the spectrum are working. The remaining 85% aren’t working for various reasons, mostly because of what happens in the workplace for autistic people. I believe I can change this. We are available for speaking engagements and workshops of various types. We are planning on presenting at various types of conferences in addition to autism conferences. Events that are about love, relationships, marriage, and jobs will be on our list. Of course, autism conferences are our main focus, but we feel we can be of help at numerous venues. (Visit Anita & Abraham’s website to see where they will be and for further information. www.allautisticwedding.com ) My mom’s dying request was that I promise to proceed and start the organization I had planned. On August 22, 2013, I founded my 501(c)3 non-profit organization, the Flying High with Autism Foundation. This year, we are planning to take off to great heights with this organization. I am the Executive Director/CEO, and Dr. Stephen Shore is the Assistant Director. We want to organize an international conference and bring in the top names of the autism world to make a difference in many lives. Working as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist for the past 26 years, as the only autistic person in oceans of neurotypicals, has given me tremendous insight for both autistic employees and employers. I have become a consul- Stephen: What advice would you like to give others on the autism spectrum about dating? PO Stephen: What recommendations do you have for parents to empower their children to have fulfilling and meaningful relationships of their choosing as adults? Dr. Stephen Shore officiated the wedding. ZOOM Autism through Many Lenses About two years ago, I discovered I wasn’t alone in this situation. I learned it actually has a name, a few names in fact. It’s called the Surrogate Spouse Syndrome, and more frequently, the Surrogate Husband Syndrome. It turns out that it is very common for mothers of autistic sons to turn their sons into surrogate husbands. They begin spending all their time together, traveling together, dining out together, everything just like a regular husband and wife, minus the sex. This seemingly works out just wonderfully for both of them. Unfortunately, as time goes on, and that son turns into an adult man, he’s totally emotionally dependent on his mother, to the point that it can seriously interfere with his ability to develop a healthy relationship with a prospective partner. PO Anita & Abraham: We realize that our situation was rather unusual. However, we believe that people should get out of the mindset of traditional dating. And certainly forget about the crazy rules of dating! Don’t create a pre-conceived image of a person you think you want to meet. Think in terms of finding a friend, and see what leads from that. In order for a relationship to work, you must be friends first, and you must be comfortable with the person. Looking to date someone with a certain hair color or certain look won’t last. Communication is the key factor of a successful relationship. Without it, there can’t be a lasting anything. It builds the foundation upon which everything else rests. 34 relationship, I’d then feel guilty inside for even thinking of leaving her and the intense relationship we had. Abraham, Anita, and Stephen Shore enjoy spending time together. Anita: This is a very difficult and complex question, Stephen. Two days before my mom Rita died, she apologized to me for turning me into a substitute spouse for her. My whole life she was my very best friend. We went everywhere together, did everything together. We had an incredible bond that few would ever understand. But that came with a cost. It also made me emotionally dependent on her, to the point where I’d realized I’d never be able to leave her to find a life partner or get married. As badly as I wanted to find a man for a My suggestion to parents is this: Give your autistic child all the love and devotion you possibly can. Believe in them. Support them. Be their cheerleading squad. Encourage them to be the very best they can be. Be their shoulder to cry on or simply lean on, and always be there to listen to them and offer y