A recent event in Tel Aviv adapted speed dating for people with Asperger's syndrome:
For someone in the know, there were some indications that this wasn't quite your everyday speed dating. For instance, the Tel Aviv event had only seven rounds of seven minutes each instead of the usual 10 rounds, and there were counselors on hand to help the participants, most of them aged 25-30, navigate the rough waters of social relationships.
There were also tip sheets that advised the approximately 15 juice-sipping and cookie-nibbling daters in attendance that "this is not the time to talk about your problems" and that they should show an interest in the people they meet, but not subject them to the third degree. And the MCs prepared participants for disappointment, saying the evening was a valuable exercise in social interaction even if it doesn't lead to long-lasting love.
This focus on dating for autistic people reflects a change in how we understand autism itself:
"For years, people diagnosed with conditions on the autistic spectrum were thought to have no interest in finding love," said Ofer Golan, an Asperger's syndrome specialist and a senior lecturer in the psychology department at Bar-Ilan University. "Today we know that they actually very much desire romantic relationships, but their abilities in this aspect of life are limited. They have a hard time reading the other person, they're very direct, and are often perceived as annoying. On a first date, for example, they're capable of talking about marriage."