Love in a Time of Asperger's

Amy Harmon, Carl Zimmer, David Wolman, and others on the autism puzzle.
7 stories

How can you navigate a romantic relationship if you're unable to read emotional cues? That's the premise behind the provocative New York Times / Byliner Original, Asperger Love. Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer Amy Harmon takes a candid look at a college-aged couple, Jack and Kirsten, who are learning how to live—and love—together.

"Noting her tendency to speak in a monotone, he urged her to be more expressive," Harmon writes of Jack. "He sought to quiet her hand movements, gave her personal hygiene tips ('You can’t do that,' he told her flatly when she used her fingers to scoop up food she had dropped on a table at Taco Bell and ate it) and pointed out the unspoken social cues she often missed. He elbowed her as she spoke for long minutes to an acquaintance about animal physiology. 'When people look away,” he explained, “it means they’re not interested.'”

Oliver Morton talked to an Asperger's expert who explained that "most of the people we see in our Asperger clinic for adults also suffer from clinical levels of depression. At any point on the spectrum, a diagnosis of Asperger is only given if the symptoms are causing a significant impairment to how someone functions. So 'mild' cases, which don't really interfere, should not be diagnosed at all."

And Benjamin Wallace argued that we may have actually gotten better at recognizing the symptoms of autism spectrum disorders. "Despite much debate about the causes of the so-called autism epidemic," he wrote, "the consensus among experts is that the increase is mostly due not to a rise in incidence but to greater awareness, recognition, and testing, and to the wider parameters of who qualifies for a place on the spectrum."

Asperger Love (Excerpt)

In this excerpt from Asperger Love, her candid look at a college-aged couple learning to be in a relationship while struggling with how to read emotional cues, Amy Harmon recalls the early days of Jack and Kirsten.

Mar 2013
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