Recognising Feelings

You might need to explain attraction to teenagers with autism. For example, when he or she is attracted to another person, they might feel a tingly sensation in their body, or they might think about the other person a lot and want to be with them a lot. A Social Story™ might be helpful.

Teenagers with autism might also find it hard to understand that people can feel embarrassed about expressing deep romantic feelings for somebody. Teenagers don’t always show these feelings on the outside. This can make it hard for a teenager with autism to work out how someone feels. You can help their understanding by:

  • Using pictures of how people might behave if they’re attracted to each other. The pictures might show a person leaning forward, touching the other persons hair, laughing at their jokes or suggesting they do something together. See all about hugs.
  • Explaining that smiling and talking doesn’t always mean that the other person is romantically interested. The person might just be being friendly.
  • Visual supports, such as photos or drawings showing how people might behave when they’re not interested, are a good idea too. The images might include people looking, moving or turning away, folding arms etc.
  • Talk to the teenager with autism about how other people might interpret their behaviour. For example, if they smile and are very friendly towards someone, that person might think they have romantic feelings for them.
  • Building up the teenager with autism’s confidence and self-esteem is good preparation for romantic and intimate relationships.