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  • Writer's pictureTara Blanchard

Building healthy relations while on the spectrum with the diagnosis of autism

It is human nature to seek connection and the feeling of being wanted. However, for some individuals who lack the social skills necessary to form healthy relationships, this void can become particularly challenging to fill. Notably, research has shown that adults with autism may encounter difficulties in establishing meaningful connections, leading to various challenges such as increased behavioral issues, outbursts, and inappropriate behavior.

Recently, I had a conversation with a mother whose daughter is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and is at the age where she was seeking companionship. The mother expressed her struggles in finding someone suitable for her daughter, even asking me about how people of my generation find partners. I explained that, for many, it often involves social circles and online dating platforms.

This encounter left me pondering why the process of meeting someone for individuals with autism must differ from that of those without cognitive disorders. After all, everyone deserves the chance to find companionship and love. Thus, it is essential to explore ways to bridge the gap and create opportunities for individuals with autism to connect with others in ways that work for them. Building understanding and empathy can lead to a more inclusive society where all individuals, regardless of their cognitive abilities, have the opportunity to experience meaningful relationships and feel wanted.

In the Colorado Springs community, there are promising opportunities for individuals with autism seeking companionship. They can explore events, special interest activities, and support groups offered by Autism Vision of Colorado. This organization holds various events that encourage relationship building, including weekly support groups, social gatherings for artists on the spectrum, and adult game socials. These activities provide a safe space where healthy relationships can be formed, aiding individuals in seeking companionship. See figure one for other organizations below.

Despite these opportunities, specific barriers persist, impacting a person with autism's ability to form meaningful connections. These barriers may include the lack of social skills, education, and sex education. However, through education and access to appropriate resources, individuals with autism can develop intimate relationships.

Researchers, like Girardi et al., have identified strategies that families and support systems can implement to help individuals with autism cultivate companionship. Girardi et al., suggests increasing social skills training and sex education. As educators, loved ones, and supporters, we must provide education with appropriate terminology and meet the individual where they are at. Providing sexual education is crucial, just as it is for neurotypical individuals.

The Organization for Autism Research (OAR) has developed a website and booklets with comprehensive course material that addresses various barriers that individuals with autism and other cognitive disorders may experience when forming relationships. Families can access OAR's guidebooks to support their loved ones in this journey at

In conclusion, it is essential to recognize that individuals with autism have the same innate desire for connection and companionship as anyone else. By fostering understanding, empathy, and offering appropriate resources, we can create a more inclusive society where all individuals, regardless of their cognitive abilities, can experience the joys of meaningful relationships and the sense of being wanted. Let us continue to break down barriers and provide support so that everyone can have the opportunity for love and companionship in their lives.

Figure 1.

Autism Society of Colorado

Support group (virtual meetings), Social meet up, and Autism 101 meet up


719 Point Place

Day program


Disability Resource Center

BINGO and Other services

(719) 574-9002


Girardi A, Curran MS, Snyder BL. Healthy Intimate Relationships and the Adult With Autism. Journal of the American Psychiatric Nurses Association. 2021;27(5):405-414. doi:10.1177/1078390320949923

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