Contributed by: Gabriela Torres, Communications Intern
While dating can be challenging and awkward for everyone, a recent article published on CBC brings light to the difficulties of dating for people with Asperger’s and Autism. Evan Mead, who was diagnosed with Autism when he was five years old, guest starred on CBC Radio’s Now or Never and spoke with host Trevor Dineen about his own dating experiences and how he is applying what he’s learned to help others succeed in developing personal and romantic relationships with others.
Mead recently began a Toronto based dating day camp for people with autism called “Date Camp for Asperger’s.” At the camp, Mead and three professional dating coaches work with participants to reduce feelings of anxiousness when asking someone out on a date, provide tips on how to carry conversations, and give insight into ways of maintaining eye contact. Each dating coach specializes in one unique topic including, how to converse and dress for a date, conceptualizing the ideal partner, and opening the dialogue surrounding intimacy and sex. Ultimately, the workshops offered by the camp are about creating a comfortable space in which people can mingle with and discuss with others.
See the full article on CBC’s website by clicking here
So What’s Real Talk?
Similar to “Date Camp for Asperger’s” a program much closer to home called Real Talk launched recently. Powered by the Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion (BACI), Kinsight, and posAbilities, and designed with insight from InWithForward’s research on how people with cognitive disabilities experience sexuality and relationships, Real Talk is a sexual health initiative for people living with cognitive disabilities, their supporters, caregivers and staff.
The program focuses on three main areas – affirming one’s sexuality as real and valid, creating an open dialogue about sexuality and sex, and celebrating the sexuality of adults living with cognitive disabilities as a natural and healthy part of everyday life. Affirming one’s sexuality helps address healthy and unhealthy aspects of sex by showing individuals that sex can be a combination of feelings like pleasure, trauma, guilt or excitement experienced differently by everyone. In addition to this, creating open conversations about love, dating, and sex increases individuals’ awareness of sexually transmitted infections (STI’s), the dynamics of consent, and how to recognize sexually abusive behavior while increasing the possibility for having healthy and positive romantic relationships. Finally, celebrating adults’ sexuality allows for comfortable and open conversations about sex that individuals can have any time with mentors they trust.
All three of these components are integral to building people’s comfort and confidence levels when having conversations about matters related to sexuality and are a must when flipping the script on rigid and constrained discussions about sex and sexuality.
Workshops and Resources
Real Talk addresses various topics at workshops and in online videos including:
- Pleasure and sensuality
- How to meet new people and where to meet them
- How to work through negative feelings caused by rejection
- The importance of safe sex and contraception
- The importance of consent
- Who to talk to and not to talk to about sex
- Providing accurate information and education about STI’s
All of Real Talk’s events involve trained facilitators and are hosted in spaces where people can enjoy delicious food and connect with others. At events, Real Talk’s videos play and feature entertaining and open conversations about dating, relationships, sexual health, love, and pleasure.
- Port Coquitlam Pizza Party
- April 26, 2018
- 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
- Port Coquitlam, BC V3B
- *Please note: This is the last event in Port Coquitlam for several months.
- Burnaby Pizza Party
- May 15, 2018
- 11:00 am – 1:00 pm
- Burnaby BC V5B
- Vancouver Pizza Party
- May 31, 2018
- 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
- Vancouver BC V5T
Take your first step today by visiting Real Talk’s website for more details, and make sure you RSVP online before an event. This web site will be regularly updated and you’re invited to sign up for Real Talk’s newsletter to ensure that you stay in the loop!