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“Love on the Spectrum” explores romance with autism

The new documentary series premieres on Netflix on July 22. 

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There’s a new unscripted reality TV show coming to Netflix this month, called Love on the Spectrum. ABC Australia first debuted the show last November to bring representation to young adults with autism and tackle the misconception that they can’t have meaningful relationships.

Love on the Spectrum is structured like a documentary and split into four parts. It follows several 20-something people on the autism spectrum doing their best to navigate dating, love and relationships. 

Some of the cast members have never dated before, while others are in long-term relationships. 

It features psychologist Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson and relationship coach Jodi Rodgers offering advice to the cast. 

The first episode introduces 22-year-old Ruth and 25-year-old Thomas, a couple that has been together for four years and are engaged.

During the series, the couple explains how intimate and healthy relationships are healthy for everyone, even if they look different than what’s portrayed on other reality dating shows. 

Thomas told The New Daily, “love doesn’t have to look like it does on The Bachelor. A date can be very silly, and a relationship can be done differently.”

There are a lot of harmful stereotypes about people on the spectrum that make it hard for young adults to find love. 

It is commonly thought that they can’t feel or express love, or don’t want physical intimacy. But these ideas come from a fundamental misunderstanding of what it means to be neurodiverse. 

Jeanette Purkis expanded on this in an article for The Mighty.

“As far as I saw it, my autism stripped love from me and meant I was incapable of the feeling. I think the stereotypes around autistic people lacking love come from a place where the experience of love for an autistic person is not understood and thus dismissed,” she wrote. 

Love on the Spectrum was created by filmmaker Cian O’Clery because he kept running into the myth that people on the spectrum simply aren’t interested in love. 

O’Clery also created Employable Me, a docu-series following six people with disabilities and their journey to finding jobs. 

She told Mamamia that there is a lack of resources for adults on the spectrum, because the vast majority of autism resources are devoted to early intervention and childhood programs. The services for young adults are mostly focused on developing work skills, but they don’t touch on topics like dating and sexual health. 

“Looking into what help and support there is in Australia for people on the spectrum when it comes to dating and relationships, we found there is almost nothing,” he said.

Love on the Spectrum will be available on Netflix July 22. It’s a great form of representation for the autistic community as well as a way for neurotypical people to unlearn all their misconceptions. 

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