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. One big example is the world of online dating.
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 SpectrumSingles.com, a dating website for people on the autism spectrum, along with her mom, Kristen Fitzpatrick.
Olivia and her mom both have autism, so they made the perfect team to start a new community for others like them. “We wanted to create a website that brought together people on the spectrum for dating and friendships, but also be able to differentiate people’s spectrum traits,” Olivia told Buzzfeed.
The site lets users take a quiz to determine their compatibility with others. It's a lot like Match.com or eHarmony, 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 SpectrumSingles.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.