Love on the Spectrum is a Netflix documentary series that highlights individuals and couples on the autism spectrum as they navigate the joys and challenges of dating. The show is an honest, sensitive, and insightful glimpse into the romantic lives of neurodiverse individuals, and a refreshing breath of visibility for a population that is frequently mis or under represented in main stream media. The stories that are shared in Love on the Spectrum tenderly highlight the unique perspectives of life and love on the autism spectrum, and autistic individuals’ innate desire to find love and connection as their authentic selves.
Finding Your People
Finding people who we connect or ‘click’ with, who share similar interests, and who allow us to be our authentic selves are necessary for meaningful and satisfying social lives. As highlighted in the show, often times autistic individuals connect more easily with other neurodiverse individuals. Autistic and non-autistic people can easily misunderstand each other because of different brain wiring and life experiences. Finding others that are on the same wave length may indeed feel like finally finding someone who speaks the same language as you. Everyone deserves to find their people, wether friends or romantic partners. Seeking to understand and embrace diverse neurology by connecting with like-minded others is a great place to start.
Love on the Spectrum shares a number of these joyful moments that demonstrate the feelings associated with connecting to like-minded others. The smile on Michael’s face in the moment he discovers a shared interest in doll collecting with Amanda. The way Sharnae and Jimmy’s strengths and quirks fit together like a well solved Rubik’s cube. The smiles, giggles, and giddiness that follow Chloe’s successful first date with Lotus. These tender moments and feelings of joy that happen when connecting with like-minded people can feel magical. Having even a glimpse of what this ‘magic’ feels like can be the motivation to continue on the sometimes challenging path of seeking out meaningful social connections.
The Social Journey
Social communication is a challenge for autistic individuals across the lifespan. As social demands increase and become more complex with age, many find they don’t have the social skills they need to reach their social goals. It is important to acknowledge the dedication, learning, practice, and struggle that is part of the social journey for people on the autism spectrum.
Love on the Spectrum has helped a group of people take their first step in the big world of dating, a task that can feel monumental to someone struggling with social communication. As the show demonstrates, everyone is navigating their own unique social journey, arriving with varied skills, knowledge, experiences, and support. A commonality between these varied social journey’s is the high level of motivation these individuals have for seeking out meaningful social connections.
While the dates highlighted in the show may seem awkward at times to non-autistic viewers, the motivation, dedication, strengths and knowledge these individuals bring with them to the dating table is clear. Michael shows empathy in kind and thoughtful ways, carefully considering his date’s interests, preferences, and needs. Maddi confidently initiates and maintains conversations with her dates. Kelvin is a patient listener and understands clearly the rules and purpose of conversations and his own motivations for taking the leap into dating. Mark excels at sharing kind and genuine compliments and being present with his dates. All of these individuals bring their varied skills and knowledge of social communication to the table, and remind us that everyone’s social journey is different. We are all works of progress, constantly growing into better and brighter versions of ourselves at our own pace.
Finding love and connection can take time, and can be challenging especially when struggling with social communication, but those magical glimpses of true connection are worth the effort. Love on the Spectrum is a fantastic reminder to be slow, gentle, and incremental on our social journeys, and that every person with autism is unique, and can live rich, fulfilling lives because of their autism, not despite it.