Apraxia Dating: Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Netflix released an original show called, Love on the Spectrum. It's only about 5 episodes long, following various twenty year olds exploring the wonderful and tumultuous world of dating, love, and romance. These young adults also happen to have Autism.
Most are varying in severity and shows itself in different ways-sometimes with over excitement and seeking sensory overload, versus others are a bit more reserved.
Either way, this show demonstrated what I've been a firm believer in: Being different doesn't negate the fact we all have human needs and desires, finding love and romance is one of them.
In watching this show, there were a few moments that I could actually relate to just with my Apraxia diagnosis:
1. "You don't look like you have Autism."Flashback to the bad Tinder date that said, "You don't look like you have a speech disorder. You also don't look deaf either, wait can you hear me now?"
Snaps and rounds of applause.
2. "Your quirks are beautiful."
There were sentiments throughout the show of one complimenting the other for their quirks, or even self-confidence remarks of "I have quirks, I know I'm different, but I still want and deserve love." For individuals that go through so much already, knowing their own self-worth is admirable and empowering. They do deserve love, they do deserve to date and have the opportunity for romance and heartbreak regardless if they're on the spectrum or not.
Personally I've struggled with this and dating, sometimes self-destructive thoughts that I don't deserve to find love or romance. How can anyone else accept my speech when it's taken me two decades to do so? I remind myself that other's responses to my speech and their acceptance of it is an evaluation of who they are as a human being.
If they make fun of me or make a rude comment about it, it's a personal attack and it's energy that I don't want in my life. I can't fix my speech, so accept me as I am. These young adults with Autism also face a similar situation-they can't 'fix' their autism and they're looking for someone to take them as they are. All quirks included.
3. Dating School
There's a scene in the series where a couple of the adults attend a class about dating etiquette-breaking down natural actions for those with Autism to truly understand what you should do on a date and why. Frankly, many people could learn a thing or two from this class.
My key takeaway was they made a game plan on what to do on a date and how to hold conversation. With Apraxia I can relate, but I had to create my own plan. They don't really have classes on Apraxia Dating... My game plan on dates would include addressing my speech disorder or accent from the get-go so I can control the conversation about it, being proactive instead of reactive.
I also had a mental log of common responses. For those that complimented my hard work, I'd say, "Thank you, it just made me who I am today. So what were you like in school?" or if there was an insult, I'd say, "Well we all have our issues, yours seem to be lack of manners."(Dates were usually promptly ended after that)
4. Your Mother Will Want All The Dating Gossip.
Self-explanatory, but perhaps the common aspect that all young twenty year olds have-Autism or not-your Mom just wants to know what's going on in the dating world. You may or may not want to share it all. It was refreshing to see such nosy and caring parents.
5. Being Female with a Disorder.
The show discussed how girls were not diagnosed as frequently or as often as their male counterparts. A lot of early studies on Autism were only done on boys, but they're finding that Autism shows itself in females and it appears with slightly different signs. Most of the females on the show were diagnosed much later than the males. One of the females wasn't diagnosed until she was 18 years old.
Now, I know with Apraxia there's been a lot of discussion about the majority of diagnoses going towards males than females. Some have said this means it's more commonly found in males than females, but honestly, I have my doubts. There's a lot more research that has to be done over generations to concretely say that it happens more often in boys than girls. I know in due time we'll learn more about it, and I look forward to it.
What I will say though, is being a woman and a young girl is hard already. Throw in a disorder and it makes it even more challenging. Women already are likely to have self-confidence issues, especially while dating, and then if we have a disorder like Autism or Apraxia-we now have an excuse to validate our lack of confidence or lack of self-affirmations. It's just hard and there are no guidelines. The only thing we have to hold onto is hope and the belief that we deserve kindness, love and respect.
Overall if you have a chance I strongly recommend watching Love On The Spectrum on Netflix, they don't capitalize on others' disorders and they don't mock these young adults (which I appreciated). It's all very natural, informative, and gives a great angle about what it's like dating in today's world with a disorder-the good, the bad, and the ugly.