Surfing Safely: An Examination of Online Dating Skills in Young Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Type of DegreeDissertation
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Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have difficulty forming romantic relationships, despite having motivation to establish them. The lack of success through traditional, face-to-face dating may lead adults with ASD to pursue relationships through other modalities, such as online dating. There are a number of advantages offered by online dating for adults with ASD; however, there are also a number of disadvantages to online dating for the population. To date there has not been an empirical examination of online safety skills or online dating skills in adults with ASD, which was the aim of the current study. Participants included 30 adults with ASD and 57 typically developing adults, whom were compared on a number of variables. The results revealed that adults with ASD had fewer previous relationships, sources to learn about relationships, and behavioral skills in online dating. Conversely, the ASD group had more online dating experience, previous online victimization, and inappropriate methods of courting. The two groups had equal knowledge of online dating and motivation to remain safe. Additionally, the social communication deficits of ASD were found significant predictors of previous online victimization and inappropriate courting.