April is National Autism Awareness Month, but despite the work of activists to bring the autism spectrum into the public eye, there are still plenty of areas where people with autism are underrepresented. Olivia Cantu, 18, is a teen with autism who was disappointed by the lack of online communities actually run by people like her.
So she founded Spectrum Singles.com, a dating website for people on the autism spectrum, along with her mom, Kristen Fitzpatrick.
The site lets users take a quiz to determine their compatibility with others.
It's a lot like or e Harmony, but tailored to the needs of people with autism.
Each participant gets their own color based on the results of the 184-question test.
The quiz results can be essential to finding companionship for people who have certain needs and boundaries that might not be easy to communicate on other dating sites.
“I myself and many other people on the spectrum are uncomfortable with physical affection,” explained Olivia.
“Most other dating sites do not include a question about this, but it can be very important.” Olivia and her mom both have accounts on Spectrum Singles.com, though they're currently just looking for new friends.“Because we all are autistic on the site, we can easily share each other’s experiences that we may have difficulty expressing to non-autistics,” Olivia said.By Michael Hurst Autism spectrum disorders (ASD), also known as pervasive developmental disorders (PDD), are a group of developmental brain disorders characterized by difficulties with communication, social interactions as well as obsessions and repetitive behaviors.Autism is typically diagnosed by the age of 3, though advances are being made in early identification and treatment, allowing professionals to identify these disorders much sooner.Although parents are usually the first to observe developmental problems, teachers, pediatricians, daycare providers and others play an important role in identifying and treating autism.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that an average of 1 in 110 children in the United States have an autism spectrum disorder.