Aspergers in Love
So you just began following him around after that, doing the filming, including riding along on the dates that he arranged? Did you ever feel your camera influenced his actions, or the actions of the people interacting with him? I was really driven to make something authentic, and David made his entire love life open to me.
All of his thoughts and insecurities about love and sex were on the table, which was brave! In the film, I follow him to an Ethiopian restaurant where he meets a German woman named Elisabeth, whom he exchanged messages with on OKCupid. Here they are—meeting in person for the first time, sniffing each other out as potential mates—as some awkward girl with a camera is sitting across from their candle-lit dinner.
The crazy thing is, I don't think filming really messed with the "realness" of things. A big part of getting genuine life on camera comes from a vibe you create as a filmmaker. I had no lights, no crew. It was just me, and I'm as un-Hollywood as they come. David is disarmingly honest, like a lot of people on the autism spectrum.
He doesn't know how to put on social facades. I think David's sincerity paired with my awkwardness somehow made people feel at ease.
People who watch the movie say it feels like my presence as the filmmaker is invisible. That's exactly what I want it to feel like. What other definitive qualities did you have in mind for the film when you began, and how did that change as you went on?
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I wanted to make a film about David as this fully realized human being beyond his quest for love or Asperger's diagnosis. I wasn't sure where the plot was going, and I didn't really care. The goal was to create a character portrait that felt real and raw and intimate. I thought that in order to achieve that, I had to stay out of the way as much as possible and be a "fly on the wall. As David and I became friends, it became harder for me to remain distanced.
David was working on a collection of short stories for ten years and was in a rut.
As a friend, I decided to connect David with a few resources to help his literary ambitions. My friendly advice to David impacted the film's trajectory to a degree, but whatever.
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Impacting the people in your film is inevitable, but it can still be authentic. You just have to hope the impact is positive. The film is framed around different holidays throughout the year, beginning with Halloween and moving through the release of David's first book. What inspired that organizational method? Both David and I have always felt alienated by holidays.
You're marketed this image of joy and togetherness that is unrealistic, especially for people who are lonely or experiencing various difficulties in life. Holidays are actually tough on a lot of people. When I first started filming, I noticed that David's high-functioning-autism group threw parties for each holiday. I thought it would be intriguing to use holiday chapters to mark the passage of time in David's life. People on the autism spectrum are sensitive to noise, light, and stimulation, so they have these unconventional, minimalistic gatherings.
During the Halloween potluck, no one wore costumes, and there was no music playing unfortunately that scene didn't make the film. During the Christmas-party scene, David says, "Suicides always spike during the year-end holidays, or if they don't, then they should. How many hours of footage did you end up with, and how did you go about tailoring it down to provide the best look at David's life?
Navigating Love and Autism
I shot hours of footage, and the final film is 73 minutes. I wanted Aspie Seeks Love to feel more like a character-driven fiction film than a talking-heads documentary. In Aspie , we see this protagonist on a quest, meeting potential lovers and mentors along the way. I cut the film to enhance that feeling. When I think of this, I think of the old stereotypes, used often in movies and sit-coms, of a school bully who says something mean to a "geek" type character, who doesn't immediately respond in an appropriate way, but then a moment later says, "Heeey!
Typically, it garners a laugh from the TV or movie audience, too. At worst, the grown up equivalents of these situations can be much less than funny. An adult who gets involved with a violent, abusive, or manipulative person, is then doubly vulnerable. It can also be dangerous, because the energy and focus necessary to sort things out when in an emotional state can also cause someone to be injured due to a reduced awareness of the physical world around them.
In that state, a person could walk unaware into a dangerous area of town, walk out in front of a moving vehicle, or trip or fall.
Coping With a Partner's Asperger's Syndrome
This type of dynamic can also affect relationships in more subtle ways. Lawton, N. They lose their train of thought and seem to revert to a purely emotional state. Sometimes that emotion is anger , but more often it is hurt. Unfortunately, the AS spouse is often so unaware of her feelings that she doesn't even realize when she is upset.
One husband commented that he knew when his AS wife was upset or stressed with him before she did because she would start talking like Data of the s Star Trek series. She would stop using contractions and formalized her speech.
Coping With a Partner's Asperger's Syndrome - Autism Center - Everyday Health
For some, it's almost as if the excessive emotion has cut of the analytical part of the brain. They stumble, are completely unable to explain their actions. And they become locked into a fixed thought pattern, which they demonstrate by resorting to repetition of the same few phrases. When the conflict stymies and the spouse withdraws, the AS spouse may follow the spouse around seeking a resolution.
Needless to say, this behavior is annoying and can appear like harassment. To make matters worse, when they calm down and collect their thoughts, even if it's several hours later, they will reengage to better explain their views only to be accused of wanting to reignite a fight. Another reason that people with Asperger's may be perceived as "not having emotion" is that they may have different triggers than a person who did not have Asperger's. Because people with Asperger's tend to be concrete and literal, they may struggle to identify with, and therefore be emotional about, situations which they do not have a direct connection to, such as global tragedies, or people on the news.
But, they may be very upset and emotional if their schedule is changed, or their environment is tampered with in some way. My stepfather, whom I strongly suspect had Asperger's, seemed very untouched by large scale tragedies in the news, but would become extremely upset if his ashtray was moved from its customary location.
Of course, like most situations, there can be a plus side to the emotional difficulties, too. I've heard of some people with Asperger's who were very good in certain crisis situations, because of their emotional detachment. The delayed emotional response gave them the initial ability to respond to a crisis without feeling anything at all, then if they could learn to not engage the emotion and defer its processing to an appropriate time, they were then able to keep a cool head.
I have myself used this tactic in certain problem situations at work. My ability to not immediately emotionally react to a boss or client that was being testy or unreasonable has often been a distinct advantage, and saved me from the pushback or retribution others received.
However, in those situations, self-monitoring is critical to ensure that you're being assertive and looking out for your own interests not being a doormat. On the bad side, unchecked, these emotional processing and communications issues can wreak havoc on a person's ability to build and sustain adult relationships. For those of us who strongly desire human interaction, they can create very painful situation.
As with many things, though, I think awareness is the key. If you, and those that care about you, are aware of why these issues happen, it makes a big difference. In fact, it does some of the communication for you, because it can change the paradigms of both you and the other person, so that your presuppositions see The Power of Presupposition are not running at cross purposes.
You know how to interpret each other, and, crucially important, what's going on with yourself. I continue to learn every day - and I hope never to stop. For an autistic person, pain and pleasure can intertwine. Back Psychology Today. Back Find a Therapist. Back Get Help. Back Magazine. Subscribe Issue Archive. Back Today. How We Affect Each Other.
Lynne Soraya Asperger's Diary. An excerpt from An Asperger Marriage by Gisela and Christopher Slater-Walker , describes how a combination of social ineptness not knowing how to appropriately approach the boss about needed time off , and the inability to express emotions in an understandable way created a major problem in their marriage : "CHRIS: Scratch the surface of the professional literature about autism and Asperger syndrome and you will soon find that communication difficulties of one kind or another play a very central role in the diagnosis.
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