A new four-part documentary series from the producers of Employable Me explores the world of love, dating and relationships from the perspective of young adults on the spectrum.
Love on the Spectrum follows seven singles as they go on dates, explore relationships and the unpredictable world of love. The series also features two couples, their love stories acting as inspiration for the others.
‘In making television series about disability over the years, I have spoken to many young adults on the autism spectrum as well as families, job coaches, psychologists, and autism organisations. One thing really stood out for me: So many people on the spectrum were wanting to find love, but many had never even been on a date in their lives.’
‘When you speak to a large number of people whose main desire in life is to have a partner, and they haven’t even been on a date, something isn’t right.’
‘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.
O’Clery says there is a common misconception that people on the autism spectrum are simply not interested in romance.
‘From my experience,’ he said, ‘this simply isn’t true.’
It’s a belief backed up by the fact that hundreds of people applied to be a part of the show.
A feel-good Bachelor
Nineteen-year-old Chloe, one the of the stars of the series, describes it as a ‘feel-good Bachelor’.
‘It’s not nasty TV and it’s not staged or fake. If there was a show like this when I was younger, it would have helped me so much,’ she said.
Feel-good was certainly the experience the producers of Love on the Spectrum wanted to provide to the would-be daters and loved up couples who feature. There was a strict code of conduct in place for the dates and the participants were empowered to stop filming if they felt overwhelmed, anxious or uncomfortable.
According to Autism Australia, the prevalence of autism in Australia could be as high as 1 in 70. And while there are supports available for people on the autism spectrum including early intervention for children and work skills for finding employment, supports to build the skills required to date or maintain a romantic relationship are lacking.
Love on the Spectrum celebrates difference, while also demonstrating that people on the spectrum desire companionship and intimacy as much as anyone else. And while finding that special someone can be a daunting experience, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t enjoy the opportunity.
‘I hope this series will start conversations, help bring about understanding and acceptance, and ultimately inspire people with autism, their families and society at large to find ways to help people on the spectrum find love,’ O’Clery said.
Love on the Spectrum airs on Tuesdays, starting on November 19 at 8:30pm on ABC and ABC iview.
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