Same-Sex Attraction

Just as the causes of Asperger's are unknown, so are the causes of homosexuality — both are naturally occurring, and neither may be blamed as anyone's “fault.” Society is making slow but positive strides in its growing acceptance of people with same-sex orientation, but there remain those who vehemently oppose and condemn any expression of homosexuality.

As a person identified with Asperger's Syndrome, your child is not the child you envisioned when she was first born. Having a same-sex orientation adds another layer to the circumstances that may be challenging for you to absorb as a parent. But as challenging as it may be for you, imagine how homosexuality may further complicate your child's life. Your child's self-image and self-esteem start with the feedback you provide as a parent. Your child is a person first and foremost — a magnificent, gorgeous, talented human being with so much to offer the world just by being in it. Just as she is not defined exclusively by Asperger's Syndrome, she (or you) should not accept being defined exclusively by a label of same-sex orientation.

As your child matures through adolescence, be mindful that a same-sex attraction may be a possibility and, like it or not, be prepared to embrace your child regardless. If your child's knowledge of her same-sex orientation is emerging at this time, she will be more vulnerable than ever before and needs your unconditional love and acceptance to weather any storms ahead. (An exception is the young boy who, seeing something on television, became very concerned that he was gay even when, deep down, he knew it didn't apply to him. This is a different situation than same-sex attraction.)

Fact

Internet groups are being established for people with Asperger's Syndrome who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered or questioning. Parents, supportive partners, and family and friends are welcome to participate as well. One group is at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ac-glbt. Additionally, members who join GRASP, an Asperger's organization (www.grasp.org), may also access a similar online group.

If you are unknowledgeable or uncertain about how to handle your child's same-sex orientation, find out what local resources are available — who to call, what to research on the Internet, or what literature to obtain. Your positive, proactive support of your child will be helpful to her, tempered with a dialogue about privacy and discretion about one's sexual orientation — not out of shame but out of respect for others and oneself.

If you are a reasonably sophisticated, mature human being, you probably know, love, and accept any number of friends, family, and coworkers with a same-sex orientation. One mother acknowledged that her son with Asperger's was enduring tough times socially and emotionally but that his crowd of gay friends provided him a source of invaluable support. Another young man wants nothing more than to find a loving partner but slips further and further into a severely depressed state. Which scenario would you wish for your child? Dating is confusing and awkward for anyone of any age, so remember that your child with Asperger's needs as much support as you can give her during these years.

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