I have autism and I want a woman to share my time with. However, this has proved exceedingly difficult.

I am now 31 years old and functioning a lot better than I did in my 20s. I often fool myself into thinking that I am really functional and should have no problem getting the things I want, but then I have a panic attack and remember that I am not like other people. That said I have a very good job, quite good looking and am in very good physical shape (I do triathlons).

The only women that have ever shown interest in me for any period of time are women I did not find attractive; women that I did find attractive but the idea that we were compatible was ludicrous; women with mental health problems of some sort also made them impossible to deal with.

Then, I tried using an online dating website where I was matched with another woman who has the same autism condition as me. Yet she has a social life and is less socially anxious than me. You would think we would be compatible and yet I did not get the impression that she found me attractive.

I feel like no normal woman wants a man that has almost no emotion or empathy and cannot join in with their social life. I am discouraged from the online dating experience.

Do you have any useful input for me?

Penelope, I wrote to you 2 years ago that I’m not convinced I have autism. I don’t think my wife has autism. She fits with other women really easily and is socially very comfortable. We can put her choice of me down to a moment of weakness.

It wouldn’t be something I would want to avoid knowing. I have some of the signs but by no means all, and the ones I have are synonymous with other conditions, i.e., an anxious attachment style.

Since then, I had a conversation with my sister. Turns out she was diagnosed with Aspergers (when they used to allow it as a formal diagnosis) some years ago. We both agree that our dad had autism.

Thinking about it now my brother is also almost definitely ASD. And I suspect, so is my daughter.

It’s quite a revelation.

I have done more research and digging into myself which is leading me down to a formal diagnosis. It seems you were probably right although my symptoms are certainly on the mild side.

I think I am the least obvious of my family (to me at least) but it has been a fascinating and illuminating journey thus far.

Hello Penelope,  I love to read your blog. I got a copy of your book and I wondered if this book still applies to the employment scene of today. I cant seem to help my son find a job. He wont look.He has a BS in Communications but seems to be an Asperger s person although he would deny it. He has never dated, hardly leaves his room and hangs w his high school buds about 5 guys who have girlfriends and wives but still manage to hang w him. I d say he acts about 14. He is vegan, we buy his food and he lives w us rent free and we pay for his car. He is hard to deal w and his decisions make no sense to us. He wants to be an internet millionaire or Amazon affiliate millionaire but has neither their outgoing YOU TUBEY personalities or the money to purchase any of their courses where they teach you how they all became millionaires. He refuses to do most jobs which are available in Southeastern Virginia, like grocery store stockers or big box store workers like Costco. The thing is, I lost my job and my husband became sick and had to retire at 50 on disability and we are older now and struggling financially. We worry what will happen to him, he has noone w any substance in his life to take care of him or help him. He works about 1 month a year I would say. He would never take career advice from anyone, but I would. He is difficult, but a wonderful, good person. He wont go back to any school except internet. He graduated in 2014 and really does nothing but sleep til 1230 and go out w friends surfing and skateboarding . Our dog died in 2016 which hit him very hard for she was his closest companion. We had to go to an apartment for financial reasons and cannot get him another dog. Do you have any advice for me ?? Thank you, Penelope. I pray for you and your sons and I hope you can become fantastically wealthy. My married daughter and I refer to you by your first name , as a friend or confidant as we discuss your latest blogs!

I’m an INTP.  I’ve been a stay-at-home dad for the last seven years focused on our three boys. The older two were diagnosed with Asperger’s two years ago, so my hands have been full. I was hoping to get your advice on a new direction I was thinking for my career.

I’ve been in discussion with a the founder of a tutoring and college prep company. They did a great job with our oldest son. They work on the social emotional aspects of learning in addition to the technical/academic processes, and have separate programs to work on things processing speed & short-term memory and college testing & applications. So, they focus on serving both ends of the bell-curve.

The company is  moving from start-up stage to national expansion via franchising. I’m considering buying the franchising rights for our area. It would fill a need for our kids, and be a good way to generate a good income stream once we have several learning centers up and running.

Since you understand what it’s like to parent kids on the Autistic Spectrum and you know what INTP’s are like, is this a crazy thing for me to do?

I did take the course you have for INTPs and it was very helpful. I realize this is the kind of small, all-consuming project that you said INTP’s should avoid. However franchises are know for providing a lot of opportunities for thinking outside the box.

I am a female with Aspergers. I think my mom and my sister have Aspergers, too. And we all have the same problem: we can greatly offend people by the things we say and how we say them. In talking with each of them, they have no idea that they are doing it and they say they don’t mean to offend. I physically cringe when I hear how they talk to people – even though I know I accidentally do it, too.

I don’t tell colleagues and friend groups that I have Aspergers. I know to look people in the eye when in conversations. I am pretty decent in one-on-one conversations when I pay close attention to personality type and what the other person needs from me and the relationship. I am very bad at reading people’s intentions.

In my adult life, I have jumped from friend group to friend group. My mom used to tell me that I wore people out. I’ve gotten fired from every job – which I think is a combo of me being an ENTP and having Aspergers. I feel like I leave a wake of destruction in my path from saying exactly what I am thinking. I’m generally a friendly and enthusiastic person, so my harsh comments tend to really catch people off guard. So, people who liked me at first will distance themselves in a hurry. Or, I’ll be so embarrassed that I hurt someone’s feelings, that I’ll distance myself.

I’m getting better at keeping my mouth shut by understanding personality type and group dynamics, but I know I will always make this type of mistake. Sometimes I will know immediately that I was a jerk by the look on someone’s face or shift in body language. Other times, I think I was just stating the obvious and everyone sees the same thing I do, but later it will become clear that I’m out of step with the rest of the group. So, I need to learn how to mea culpa gracefully to someone in the moment or later when I’ve realized I’ve deeply offended someone.

Do you have suggestions?

Right now, I teach as an adjunct instructor and work as a tutor on campus at a local community college. I have a master’s degree in English. The feedback I receive from students and my supervisors indicate that I am doing an exceptional job. I love my work. I find helping students to write and communicate more effectively to be deeply satisfying. I love explaining things and answering questions.

Here is the problem: my husband and I are moving because he got into graduate school, and the school he was accepted to is the only one anywhere near our new apartment. That college is not hiring right now. I have Asperger’s, do not drive, and am an INFJ. I have multiple chronic illnesses (MCAD, PTSD, POTS, CFS, Fibromyalgia, suspected EDS) that cause food allergies that can change overnight, severe pain, exhaustion, and other symptoms. These illnesses can be managed, but they will likely never go away. My husband is also an INFJ, and neither of us

I have multiple chronic illnesses (MCAD, PTSD, POTS, CFS, Fibromyalgia, suspected EDS) that cause food allergies that can change overnight, severe pain, exhaustion, and other symptoms. These illnesses can be managed, but they will likely never go away. My husband is also an INFJ, and neither of us wants to have kids. His siblings already have kids, and my siblings will have kids, so we don’t even have any meaningful pressure from either of our families to contend with.

I am trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life. Prior to getting severely sick a few years ago, I was a workaholic. I love school, and I love working. I had three jobs in grad school and graduated with a 4.0 and a publication in a major journal. I graduated undergrad early by taking overloads, and I worked and was heavily involved on campus and still graduated summa cum laude. My professors encouraged me to be a researcher and talked a lot about my potential.

Despite my Asperger’s, I do care a lot about people, and I like how the formality and purpose of school lets me keep my interactions with people semi-scripted, warm, professional, and useful. I am able to connect and to be useful to others. Since I got sick, working part time is challenging. I might be able to work full time if the job wasn’t intellectually or physically draining, which is why I have considered an office job.

However, I fear I would be wasting my potential, my degree, and the time my professors invested in helping me. In addition, the pay for a secretary is mediocre. That’s not all bad, and my husband doesn’t care how much money I make (obviously, as he is also an INFJ, and we care about our values more than anything).

We are very good at being happy and meeting our needs with very little money. I am 26, and we have been married for five years. Our income has been below the poverty line all five years, and I would still say we have the best relationship of anyone we know, and we haven’t ever had urgent needs we were unable to meet.

I have considered becoming a speech pathologist, but that would mean getting a second bachelor’s degree and a master’s, which would take about three or four years, a lot of work, and cost a great deal of money. Working part time as a speech pathologist, I could make more per hour, but I fear that that potentially higher part-time income is negated by the student loans and time lost to getting additional degrees.

I have worked as an editor in student positions in the past, and I have loved that work, but again, there aren’t editing jobs where we are moving. Even if there were, it seems unlikely that I would be hired because I only worked as an editor as a student. I worked at a library when I got sick, and again, I loved the work, but the position I held was high energy and full time, and I couldn’t physically do it once I got sick. The part-time jobs at libraries often pay even less than secretarial positions.

I have been working since I was fifteen, and I have gotten to try a lot of jobs and get a sense of what I am good at. The longest I have ever lived in one place in my entire life was four years, and my husband’s five-year program will ground us and give us a chance to put down roots. I don’t want to waste that opportunity.

Ultimately, I want a job that allows me to answer questions and help people. Because of my Asperger’s and illnesses, that job needs to be low stress, and it can’t be physically demanding. I would rather find full-time work so that I could afford insurance, but I’m not sure I’m physically capable of it anymore.

I don’t know if I should feel guilty about wasting my potential or not, and I don’t know if I should make a serious effort to earn more money or not. I have been reading you blog for several years now, and I’ve read your fiction and non-fiction. I know you have Aspergers so you understand me. And I trust you and your opinions. What do you think?

I have two questions for you, but first I want to tell you our story to put the questions in context. My boyfriend and I have been together for 3 years.  When I met him he had just started graduate school (at age 43). A month after we started dating his father died and his whole life unraveled before my eyes. He withdrew from school and went into a depression. He didn’t look for work, didn’t go back into his program when the time came, lost his place to live, and had to move to some family property four hours from where I live.

I could see how much he struggled and I knew there was some genuine and significant barrier to him getting his life together but I couldn’t put my finger on it (PTSD? An attachment disorder? Pervasive developmental trauma?). In any case, I have been loving him as best I can without trying to “help” him or “fix” anything. (I am a mental health counselor, and majorly co-dependent, so believe me this has been a herculean act of restraint.)

A few months ago he mentioned that he really relates to the way Temple Grandin explains thinking in pictures and he thinks he might be on the autism spectrum. I considered this. I have been racking my brain for three years trying to understand what is going on. I am a counselor, for pete’s sake, how could I not recognize this? (Possibly because we studied the autism spectrum for 10 whole minutes of my 60 hour master’s program—but that is the topic for another day).

I began reading everything I could find and suddenly everything made sense. After I read Tony Attwood’s Complete Guide to Asperger’s I told my boyfriend that it was like someone had taken all the individual puzzle pieces of observation I’d been collecting over the past three years and fitted them together so I could finally see the whole picture. Now we were onto something, something big, something that explained all the trouble he was having and had been having all of his life (and why he couldn’t say “I love you” with words although I felt more loved by him than I ever did by my ex-husband who said “I love you” every day.)

I encouraged him to read about it, too, (which he is doing) and I have continued reading and reading and we have been talking about it a little bit at a time since then. One thing that just about every article and book I’ve read repeats over and over is that the Aspies who have some measure of happiness in life are the ones who have someone (almost always a mother or wife) who helps them structure their days and navigate the intricacies of the neurotypical world.

I began thinking that my strategy of not “helping” which I thought was so healthy of me (finally, for once!) was actually, in this case, the opposite of what was needed. So, I am beginning to offer help with his job search, depression, and unbearable living situation. In the course of my research I came across your blog. So, finally, I get to the first one of my questions to you: Do you think this is an appropriate thing for me to do? Or would you tell me, as I have read in your responses to parents, that I should just love him and do things we enjoy together and let him figure out the rest?

And my second question is: how can someone with Asperger’s develop an internal locus of control? Tony Attwood says it is quite common in Asperger’s to have the sense of an external locus of control and I think this is what holds my boyfriend back even more than executive function problems or trouble dealing with people (although that causes him a lot of trouble).

He feels completely at the mercy of outside forces and seems to have no idea that he actually has any power to play a role in creating a positive future for himself. Any hint of a suggestion that he can make positive changes in himself and his life seems to make him feel quite hurt and even angry. If he can’t realize he can change his life for the better, he can’t feel any motivation for taking steps to do so and that seems like a hopelessly stuck place.

Did you once have an external locus of control and, if so, how did you overcome it? Do you have any suggestions that you think could help him? I love this guy so much it makes my heart hurt. I want so much for him to have a happy life and for us to have a fulfilling relationship something like what you seem to have with The Farmer. Do you see hope?

Hi, so I’m no one specific. Just a mom reaching out to see if you have any advice for me. I’m neurotypical but my junior in college who is a girl has Asperger’s, but really mild. We tried some groups but those kids seem more severe. Her ACT was strong in math and science and low in English reading and writing. Those stupid tests do not represent her potential as a 4.0 average and her teachers said she is so organized.

She has learned coping strategies for dealing with people. However I have no idea how to help her with degree ideas. No real people skills, focusing on the tasks etc. Your writing makes me feel that there is hope in her future. If you have any time to just give me a suggestion for college ideas and degrees that would just be great. Facts are fine. Thanks!

Thank you for sharing about your Asperger’s syndrome.  Thank you for sharing about yourself and your son.  Your article resonated with my wife and I and helped us see our adult son more clearly.

He denies that he has any sort of autistic tendencies, but everyone around him seems to see otherwise.  He appears to have blinders on . . . which is scary for those of us who love him dearly.  If I may presume to ask,  when did you first come to realize you had high IQ AS?  What helped you realize that?  Was it just getting older and more mature?  Could you have seen it sooner, with help from anyone else?  How do you separate your perhaps quirky tendencies as a person with a high IQ from those stemming from AS?

Our son has a very high IQ (160ish), and easily obtained a college degree with honors in literature and Spanish.  But he changed dramatically in college.  He came out very cynical and maybe even delusional.  He claims he is a poet, but he only wrote one major poem in college, and never had it published (although it was awarded best senior writing piece).

Since graduating three years ago, he has been unwilling (or unable) to get a job and says he is just waiting for the next poem to come to him.  He lives with his girlfriend, who is employed, with very few other close friends, which is precisely what you described in your article.  So what appears to be missing is his ability or even willingness to accept he may have AS and to get a paying job, maybe one not using his high IQ capacities.

So . . . any advice for worried parents?   Would love to hear from you!  Thanks again for sharing your article with the world on line.  That was a brave step in my view, and one I commend you on.