For last year’s prom—and then, for this autumn’s homecoming dance—Benjamin had the good fortune of being invited to these events by two lovely young women who have a particular understanding of autism. This year, Benjamin felt ready to take the lead. In a grand gesture, Benjamin approached the girl he’d chosen and presented her with a life-sized crafted-paper sculpture of a cardinal, complete with birdhouse and a sign around its neck which read, Wanna have a cardinal time at prom with me? Afterwards, Benjamin told me, “I invited her best friends to watch, and she said ‘yes!’ I’m over the moon with happiness…and over the sun, and the stars too!”
Following prom, we had a lengthy discussion about friendship, romance, and the process of building true partnership with a “special someone.” Benjamin notated some thoughts, wanting to dispel the erroneous idea that persons with autism prefer to remain alone and unattached. This may be true for some (Temple Grandin, for example, says that she neither understands nor feels love), but other individuals on the spectrum, like Benjamin, desire a loving and intimate relationship.
Benjamin’s comments: “I’m like Papageno (the bird-catcher in Mozart’s opera, The Magic Flute) who sings about his longing for a sweetheart, and his openness makes the wish come true. The beautiful music carries his love to the right person.” Here is the pertinent aria: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=87UE2GC5db0&sns=em
by Benjamin: One of my biggest dreams in life is to have a closer relationship with a girl—I’ve never had a girlfriend before, and I’ve heard about how good a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship feels. I am trying to put my energy out there to see if something magical might spark. I visualize myself emitting golden light from my heart, along with visualizing my dream. I would like to have a girlfriend who is gorgeous inside and out, and who might have common interests with me, including music, dancing, nature, and birds. Having a close relationship with a girl would change my life in such a positive, amazing way, and bring me so much joy. I have so many friends that are girls, and also some that are guys. But having a special girl that I’m closer to would be out of this world!