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Through small studies and anecdotal evidence, they now know scant facts: that many more people with autism desire romantic relationships than achieve them; that autism features such as rigid thinking, anxiety and social awkwardness can create barriers to dating, sex and relationships; that gender variances, including non-binary genders and bisexuality, are more common among people with autism than in the general population.
Having identified some problems, researchers are still grappling with how best to help people with autism achieve lasting relationships.
By the time he met Yi Liu, a woman in his graduate-level music theory class at Boston University, he was better prepared.
On a summer day in 1989, as they sat side by side on the beach, Liu leaned over and kissed Shore on the lips.
Much of what Stephen Shore knows about romance he learned in the self-help aisle of a bookstore near the Amherst campus of the University of Massachusetts.
Scientists say these same benefits apply to people with autism—and when romantic relationships are lacking, a key piece of social and emotional health goes missing, too.
That doesn’t necessarily mean relationships are easy for people on the spectrum.