The NHS has given £50,000 to charity Ark to help people with Asperger’s find love.
As the online-dating stigma fades and singles-clubs and speed-dating becomes all the rage, the modern dating scene is changing – and upping its expectations too.
The world of dating has become a formidable place for the many singles looking for love today. With so many potentials out there clamouring for attention, the pressure is on for everyone to sell themselves in a maximum of 200 words on the web, or 2 minutes of frantic speed-dating conversation.
Once a date is successfully landed, there’s still the stilted conversation, the awkward silences, the embarrassments, the misunderstandings and the rejections to negotiate. Even after the date, there’s the evaluation- did they like me? Should I text them? Will they text me? What did I do wrong? and so on.
Dating is difficult for many people, but it is especially so for those suffering from Asperger’s syndrome.
Asperger’s is a condition whereby sufferers find it difficult to empathise with others, read social cues or understand facial expressions and body language. This, understandably, puts dating on a whole new plane of difficulty.
Mark Savage from Berkshire is on a mission to find love. The 30-year-old Asperger’s sufferer has been on 2 dates, both of which he has described as ‘draining and stressful’.
Savage tried dating unsuccessfully as a teenager, but soon gave up to concentrate on his A-levels in psychology, biology, sociology and media studies.
Because of his condition, he finds it difficult to judge people or immediately respond to social cues. This can make it difficult for him to know when someone is joking, or understand comic techniques such as sarcasm or irony.
Savage says: “People with Asperger’s, we don’t chat or gossip. We can seem rather dry. Dating takes us out of our comfort zones, so it would be good to have help with that.”
A recent survey showed that the vast majority of the 105 people with autism and Asperger’s asked, would like to meet a partner. Ark Charity, who conducted the study, has managed to persuade the NHS to donate £50,000 towards a project helping people with autism and Asperger’s syndrome find partners.
The new scheme has been named the ‘Umbrella project’ and sees the oraganisation of social events such as a weekly clubbing night for people with learning disabilities in Bracknell.
The events aim to help people with Asperger’s find new friends or potential partners, and to also help boost their confidence and self-esteem. Surveys suggest that the main reason why people with Asperger’s find it difficult to maintain a social life is because they face social prejudice and stigma, wich knocks their confidence .
Currently the events have 40-50 attendees but organisers are hoping to attract more.
To find out more about Ark or to read and comment on the original article, please visit the BBC.