The most practical way for me to find love was through online dating. I had no time to be out in the clubs or any other traditional way to find a partner. Personally, for me, I was upfront with mentioning that I have a son who is on the autism spectrum. In a way, it was like a process of elimination so that I knew from the start who would be understanding and comfortable enough to date a person who had such an amazing child. The duplication was a bit harder to explain so I would wait to explain this.
I have had some horrific dating experiences. One date, we went out for some food and the guy loudly said to me: “So who did your son catch his autism from?” I was absolutely mortified! That was the only time I ever wanted to walk out on a date. I ended the night there and never spoke to the guy again. I thought, I have no time for this foolishness and will never put myself in a situation like this again. That’s it! I will remain single for the rest of my life. A few days later I was about to delete my online dating account and by chance I received a message. It was from a guy that I had spoken to the previous year. He said: “Hi, I don’t know if you remember me, but we spoke before?” I knew who he was and always felt guilty for not meeting him for a date. It was as though fate had brought us back together. The previous year, I was not ready to date. I was not in the right frame of mind. I feel that you have to be self-secure before dating someone else.
At first, I was guarded, like an army mum. He managed to gradually break down my barriers and got to know the real me. We had a lot in common, from our love of movies, music and Studio Ghibli to our interests in museums, theme parks and travelling. It just felt like second nature. Over time, I introduced him to my son. He took the time to get to know my son and interact with him.
My son’s dad is also happily in a relationship. You could class us as a blended family. It involves a lot of spinning plates with me being the organiser, but it works for us.
I truly believe that I have found my true soulmate. We support each other. We are a team!
I asked my partner some questions to get his viewpoint on our relationship and his understanding of my son:
What was your reaction when I mentioned that I had an autistic son?
Didn’t know what to expect. Could I handle it or cope with this change in my life?
What was your perception of autism before you had met my son?
You always read about the worst and severe cases and it carries a certain stigma.
What is your perception of autism now after meeting my son?
It changed my life and opened up my eyes.
What has been the most challenging part of dating someone whose child has disabilities?
Giving us a good balance of time together and quality time to relax and switch off.
Are you worried about how others will judge you dating someone who has an autistic child?
No, not at all. I’m so proud to be a part of his life.
What would you say my son’s best qualities are?
Honesty, personality, creativity and humour.
What was your reaction when I mentioned that my son has a chromosome disorder?
I had no idea what it was but wanted to know more about it.
Do you feel that we spend enough quality time together and how can we manage this better?
Yes, think it works just fine. We have a great balance of time together and apart.
Do you feel that I give you enough attention?
Yes, more than enough.
Do you have any advice for anyone that is dating someone who has an autistic child or a child with disabilities?
Be patient, don’t rush anything. Go in with an open mind, it’s very rewarding.