LOVE ON THE SPECTRUM
Reality shows are everywhere these days, each channel has one or two that they hope will top the million-mark audience wise and become popular enough for a second or third season to be produced.
And with every reality show we the audience know what to expect (we still tune in though!).
Producers have to get the right mix of emotions, anger, tears, fights, swearing etc to make people watch and for the show to be re commissioned over and over again.
But what if I told you that there was a reality show that’s the total opposite?
One where kindness and respect were shown in equal measures?
Well there is such a show which is currently airing on the ABC and it’s called ‘Love on the Spectrum’.
LOVE ON THE SPECTRUM
Love on the spectrum is a four-part documentary series following young adults on the Autism spectrum as they explore the unpredictable world of love, dating and relationships. Most people on the spectrum have the same desire for intimacy and companionship as the rest of the population, yet difficulties in social interaction and communication are a key feature of autism, which makes finding a partner an often daunting and difficult experience.
Far too many people on the Autism spectrum want love and want to find someone special but haven’t had the opportunity. Many haven’t been on a date, ever.
Love on the Spectrum follows seven singles as they take their first steps into the world of dating. As well as help from their families, experts provide our love-seekers with practical skills to help them navigate what can be a confusing experience, giving them the confidence to begin their journey on the road to finding love.
We also follow couples who have found their match. Ruth and Thomas have been engaged for a year and a half, and Jimmy and Sharnae met each other three years ago. Their love stories are an inspiration to others.
Airs Tuesdays from 19 November 2019
8.30pm on ABC + ABC iview
But what would dating someone on the Autism spectrum look like?
Hi, I’m Nick. I’m 44, I’m gay and I am single.
I also have Autism
The dating world is a scary place to navigate your way through, and if you add autism into the equation, it doubles the pressure and can add anxiety into the situation. But that’s not to say you give up and never date.
But what would it be like to go on a date with autism and what would that look like?
VOICE OVER PERSON:
Tonight on “First Dates”, Nick from Perth meets Autism.
Cut to Nick entering the restaurant and being led to his table. The barman comes across shortly afterwards to take his drink order. He leaves and Nick awaits his date.
Autism: Hi, I’m meeting my date Nick here at 7.45 P.M. I’m on time.
The host escorts Autism to the table and seats them. Nick and Autism have made no eye contact as of yet.
Autism hasn’t made eye contact with me yet, Nick thinks. I am not amused.
This date’s going really well so far! Autism reflects.
Pan out to Nick and Autism reading the menus.
Nick: I’ll probably have a starter and a main.
Autism: I’d just stick to a main if I were you?
I hadn’t realised that Autism would point out my faults so bluntly… Nick thinks to himself.
Autism: Shouldn’t you be watching your waist line?
Autism ponders, Nick really eats a lot. If we did get together, I’d get him to join a gym.
Nick: I love Aqua fit. I work out five days a week.
Autism: It’s a shame you don’t do seven days.
Nick looks a gasp: He’s just being plain rude!
Autism is feeling content: This date can’t have gone any better for me at this stage in the evening. I’m sensing that Nick will ask me for a second date.
Nick: I love going to music concerts and being around crowds.
Autism: I’d be waiting at home for you, whilst reading a book and playing a computer game. Going out and socialising isn’t at the top of my list of priorities.
Nick: Clearly were mismatched.
Autism: Yeah, I should have made my excuses and not turned up to this, in fact can someone order me a taxi? I hope I put my kindle on charge before I came out tonight?
That’s a small comedy skit of what it would be like to date someone on the Autism spectrum, and I’m not going to lie – dating is not going to be easy (relationships rarely are).
If you are about to embark on a date, why not do some role-playing at home beforehand?
Ask a friend to come over or ask a family member and ‘be your date’.
Role play what type of scenarios may take place and see if by doing this simple exercise you can pick up hints and tips on how not to act and what to say.
Or at the very least, build an awareness of how to engage in conversation without offending your date and having them storm of because what you think is appropriate to them maybe won’t be.
Here’s some other handy tips:
Make sure that the date takes place somewhere where you are comfortable and won’t elevate your stress
Maintain eye contact
Remember to listen before responding
If you don’t like what they are wearing, they have a wart on their nose, or there’s something else, keep that opinion to yourself. They won’t appreciate it, and anyway, it’s not nice to point out someone’s faults – especially not on a first date
If you feel that you are getting overwhelmed, excuse yourself and step outside take a deep breath and relax – they are just as nervous as you are!
When you first meet them, find out if they are a hugger or if they prefer a hand shake – don’t assume!
Don’t think that the things you’re interested in will be the same as your date. Attempt, through conversion, to find some common ground and don’t rock up in a Star Wars costume! Maybe save that for the third/fourth date?!
If you want to leave, don’t just get up and leave! Maybe pre-arrange with a mate that if you text them that the date isn’t going to plan that they text back with some type of emergency.
And remember – Be yourself!
After watching the first of four episodes last night, I felt that those that had been chosen to participate in this documentary were treated with respect and shown in a positive light, this documentary was made be the same people who made employable me.
This uplifting and insightful series celebrates diversity and difference, with participants who are warm, funny and generously open. It sets out to teach us all lessons of love, romance, intimacy and acceptance.
As SERIES PRODUCER/DIRECTOR Cian O’Clery stated
“As a storyteller I felt we had an opportunity to explore this issue by shining a light on the struggles many people on the spectrum face in seeking out meaningful relationships. I hope this series will start conversations, help bring about understanding and acceptance, and ultimately inspire people with Autism, their families and society at large to find ways to help people on the spectrum find love.
– Cian O’Clery SERIES PRODUCER/DIRECTOR
Carry on the Conversation
Did you watch the show?
What did you think?
Let me know in the comments below.
If you like what you have seen on the site today, then show your support by liking the Autistic Nick https://www.facebook.com/autisticnick9/ Facebook page
Thank you for reading and I will see you next time for more thoughts from across the spectrum.