Love On the Spectrum

Is anyone watching this on Netflix? I watched S1 last year and just started S2 this week. It’s a reality show that follows autistic adults as they try to find a partner and love. Ronan is my favorite. He is so enthusiastic about everything.

I have all the emotions watching this. At times it’s touching, interesting, sad, funny, and has plenty of SHE (Second Hand Embarrassment).

As I watch it, I wonder how parents of autistic children and autistic adults feel about a show such as this. Do they feel like it’s exploiting the people in the show and autism in general?

I have never watched the show, and I am not (so far as I know) on the spectrum. But I can just about guarantee that they are exploiting these people, if only in the sense that the producers are making money from filming and showing their activities. How much agency do the participants have in whether to participate and what happens during the shows? Are they aware that they are “entertaining” people by behaving in a way that is natural for them but odd to most other people?

If the show is pitched to provide education about autism to the general public, I might give them some slack. But your mention of “second hand embarrassment” leads me to doubt that very much.

Yeah it’s pretty obvious you have not watched the show. I’ve only seen season 1 (didn’t realize there was a second one) and all the participants appear fully comfortable with everything they do on camera, they talk to the camera in talking heads interviews, they talk about themselves and what they are looking for in a partner. They know they signed up for whatever dating service they are using to find them partners.

I haven’t seen the show (which doesn’t mean much; I don’t watch a lot of anything) but my wife has she liked it. Our son (age 10) is high-functioning ASD and I get the impression that some/all of the people on the show are about on his level of neurodivergence since she said it made her hopeful for his future and finding someone if that’s what he wants. I’ll take her enjoying the show as a seal of approval that it’s not mocking/exploiting the people and hopefully helps normalize/familiarize people with his condition.

I have watched it and I don’t think it’s problematic.

Everyone on camera seems to be pretty high functioning and capable of understanding that their romantic endeavors are being used as entertainment.

While I do laugh at some of it, and there is some second hand embarrassment, my impression is that I’m laughing at the common humanity. When someone on the spectrum in the show makes a blunt statement or otherwise missteps in a romantic context, I laugh because, like everyone, I have also said plenty of dumb things in my life and struggled romantically.

I agree with this, and I think it’s a critical distinction. The show is not playing up any kind of “let’s laugh at these weirdos” vibe. My impression is that it is presented as empowering and endearing.

That’s great! I’m glad your wife watches it and that it gives her hope.

That’s how I feel when I watch it. I think that it normalizes being on the spectrum. I wish I could be as blunt and able to speak my mind as easy as some of these people.

I liked it too.

Some of the men in particular seem very unlikely to ever find a partner and I feel for them. Life genuinely sucks sometimes and that comes through in a real way without it being too depressing.

hmmm, I might have to watch this. Parent of a 16 year daughter on the spectrum…

My son and I (both autistic) and my daughter (not autistic as far as I know) loved it. We found the people on the show endearing and we had hopes for them all to find partners as much as we’d want anyone else to. I think it’s great to show different types of autistic people with different support needs (functional labels are ableist) so people can see autistic people are not all like the stereotype of the helpless sad children who need to be fixed with endless therapies or the robot supergenius. Autistic people ARE normal and being autistic should be normalized. Even the thought that because autistic they’d be exploited is frustrating to read. We’re as likely to find a partner as anyone I suppose. My son is 16 and he’s got himself a partner. I have been married twice and had a LT relationship or two. We’re not helpless! lol