top of page
Image by Rianne Zuur
(A)typical loves



Title: (A)typical loves

Release date: 2/7/2022

Co-creation: Sophia Mendonça e Marcos Maia

City/State: Belo Horizonte/MG

[intro music]


Olga Aureliano: Be it for neurotypical or autistic people, we realize that love has no single way of expressing itself. There is no typical love. Relationships and romantic love are challenging for everyone. For autistic people then, the subject can gain other layers of complexity. Or might it not? Marcos Maia and Sophia Mendonça mediate this dialogue in this episode, with great guests. Enjoy.


[intro music]





Sophia: Hi, welcome to the (a)typical loves podcast. This podcast is a partnership with the Defiças [Disability] Portraits Project. I am Sophia Mendonça, journalist, writer and researcher, and I believe that love inspires us to be better.


Marcos: And I am Marcos Maia, scriptwriter and also a researcher. Regardless, if together or alone, I hope you all stay with much love in your hearts.




Sophia: Let's talk about love here. Or rather, atypical loves.


Marcos: Love, or loving relationships that involve autistic people ,and how they deal with and live this experience.


Sophia: But first, I invite you to visit the "Mundo Autista" [Autistic World] channel, which I host with my mother Selma Sueli, who is also autistic. There we share our experiences and knowledge regarding autism. Just search for "Mundo Autista" on YouTube.


Marcos: Alright, for those who don't know, differences in communication are one of the main characteristics of autism. Taking this into account, uniting autistic people of different levels of support and bodies for an encounter is always challenging, but I believe that we managed at the very least to bring together different profiles for this dialogue.   




Marcos: There are three couples; One couple is demisexual, consisting of one autistic and one perhaps autistic individual; an intergenerational couple, in which the youngest person is autistic and the older person is perhaps also; and lastly an autistic couple who have formed a family with their children from other marriages. Additionally, four women, all autistic, consisting of: a young asexual, a separated teacher, a young lesbian, and a recently diagnosed woman starting a relationship. Additionally, an autistic psychologist, who opens the conversations, and a psychologist, also autistic, who finalizes after the participation of the interviewees. Of course, for this we adopted some strategies.


Sophia: Of all the interviewees, only one does not identify herself, the teacher, and another has difficulty with oral communication. Both interacted with us through writing, so we invited the actresses: the actress Ju Colombo, who plays Dalva in the new soap opera 'Um Lugar ao Sol' from Rede Globo, who is representing the teacher. And the actress Isabela Garcia, who plays Ana Bezerra in the soap opera 'Bebê a Bordo', also from Rede Globo, is representing a young woman who identifies as asexual, which in this case is Carol Souza, known for her Instagram “Autistando” [“Autisting”]. We highly recommend that you check out her Instagram profile.




Marcos: Whether for neurotypical or autistic people, we realize that love has no one way to express itself. There is no “typical” love. Relationships and romantic love are, no doubt, a challenge for everybody, but for autistic people, the subject can gain other layers of complexity. Or maybe not? Either way we strongly believe in the importance of dialogues like this one, and we hope you enjoy it.




Sophia: How often have you seen relationships with, or between, autistic people being portrayed or talked about in the media and the arts? We know how much representations tend to be stereotypical, and understanding those that create these characters, the truth is that no single representation will account for or even come close to the diversity of ways of being, thinking, feeling, and relating of autistic people. Therefore, there’s nothing better than to hear from autistic people themselves how they deal with the issues of relationships, love, coexistence, and what the challenges and opportunities are for those who venture into this madness that is love.




Sophia: Our first interviewee is the Doctor in Psychology and autistic person Táhcita Mizael.




Táhcita: When we talk about sexuality, in general, it is common that people think about the sexual act itself, and when we talk about affection it is common that people think about positive feelings and emotions like affection and care. We have in the literature two pieces of information, right? Data showing that there is greater gender and sexual diversity within the autistic community, right? Within the spectrum.  And also a lower adherence to social rules, especially rules that don't seem to make sense. I believe that this lower sensitivity to social rules facilitates this greater fluidity, but this is in fact something that we still don't have scientific proof for, as far as I know. No, I don't see, I didn't feel significant differences in this perception of romantic love. What I notice sometimes is, for example, a great rigidity to these rules, so, people are extremely, quote and quote “conservative”, so they create these rules that, for example, the individual can only have sexual relations after they get married, or that they need to get married and have children, right? Things like that. But at the same time I know autistic people who have open relationships, right? Who would not be adhering rigidly to this construct of romantic love, which exactly the opposite. It problematizes this conception. Relating this to typical and atypical people, it is also difficult, because justly I know people from both poles. It is very important to have open communication about doubts, about things that are not well understood, about your desires, about your limits, is very important. To be taught about sexual education, education about autonomy, education about abusive relationships. So that it will be a little easier to distinguish if you are in this kind of relationship, if you know people that can be and behave in an abusive way. And enjoy the moment too right? I think that having a relationship is a moment of… it is a moment of vulnerability, but it is a vulnerability that should not come alone, it is a vulnerability that should also come with a repertoire of knowledge. This repertoire, which, therapy helps a lot with, but with these issues of self-awareness, which will help you to take advantage of this relationship. Taking care of the person, but also observing if they are taking care of you, so having this thing of exchange. I think it is something in this sense.




Sophia: Thank you very much, Táhcita. It's interesting when you point out this greater fluidity of the sexual orientations of autistic people. We have several myths about the sexual orientations of individuals on the spectrum, as if every autistic person was necessarily a white, cisgender and heterosexual man. But in practical reality, we realize that it is not quite like this. There is a greater possibility of these expressions than there is among typical people. And speaking of this, our next interviewee is Carol Souza, who identifies herself as asexual. Carol is a support-level 2 person. She has difficulties communicating through oral language, so we invited actress Isabela Garcia, who kindly gave her voice to represent Carol here in this podcast.




[Carol Souza in the voice of Isabela Garcia]: My name is Caroline de Souza, 28 years old. I don't have a profession. I was diagnosed with autism when I was 23 years-old. I discovered that I was asexual reading things from other autistics who identified with asexuality. I have dated, but it didn't last long, and it was complicated because I overloaded myself with interactions and had no interest in having more intimacy, physical contact, etc. I ended up entering into crisis, and it was very stressful. I was already invalidated by my former psychologist. She said that I can’t possibly say that I am asexual without having first experimented relationships before. I believed her, but I felt bad because I didn't want to experiment with anything. Then later a colleague said, this doesn’t exist, we can’t force ourselves to do something uncomfortable just to experiment. You just identify and that's it. Today I understand that there is a large lack of information, especially for professionals. If I had resolved to try, as the psychologist said, it would have been torture for me. I don't feel like having a romantic relationship. I won't say that it won't happen, because I may change my opinion in the future, but for the moment, I find it very stressful. I think it is more difficult if it is with someone who is not asexual too. I don’t know how to identify if I have already fallen in love.




Sophia: This situation of being invalidated by health professionals, that follow our case, is really delicate. I myself have already gone through this many times, with my experience as a trans autistic woman. On the other hand, it is great to how we have the possibility to communicate with other people who live similar experiences through the internet. It is interesting to realize how sexuality, in a similar way to autism, also manifests itself as a spectrum. So, in the same way that we have Carol, who is asexual, there are people who identify themselves as demisexual. This is the case of the next couple we are going to interview, Annibal and Melissa.


Marcos: Well, for those who don't know, demisexuality is a way of identifying people who are not initially attracted by a physical attribute or some sexual characteristic of another person. Rather, they depend on an emotional connection, and afterward there will be desire and the sexual interest.


Annibal: My name is Annibal Franco, I am 35 years old and I am an art teacher. In March 2019, I received my autism diagnosis.


Melissa: Hi my name is Melissa, I'm 22 years old, work as an accounting clerk, and I don't have an autism diagnosis.


Annibal: Yeah, about being demisexual, we both consider ourselves demisexual, and in relationships the most important thing is always having mental connections. We were super connected from the beginning because we both consider that love is not only the fact of having passion. We also make a point of this friendship, this connection, of wanting to be together.


Melissa: Of wanting to see the other well.


Annibal: Of thinking about the other. We always think of each other constantly.  And we see ourselves being with each other in all the moments of our lives, isn't that right love?


Melissa: And I have a great affection for Annibal. He is my best friend and a wonderful boyfriend.


Annibal: Alright, talking about our day-to-day life. Maybe because of my autism, right? Or also because of personal reasons, both mine and Melzinha's, you know. I always believed, in principle, that I would always need my time and she would always need her time, but the interesting thing is that our integration has been so great that we... Let's say, how do I say this? We can rest being together. I think this is really the best of our relationship. About autism, and the need for an emotional bond, I admit that I have met many autistic asexuals and demisexuals. Maybe even most of the ones I know. Now, about autistic demisexuals, I think it makes a lot of sense, why? Because autism brings us a socially and automatically relational difficulty, so we naturally-we autistic people-have a difficulty in generating connections for several reasons. So, when we manage to find this person, it is magical. So, that is why I say, it may even be more common. But when you get that special connection, it goes far. We are not forming a diagnoses, but the curious thing is that Melzinha has many characteristics, and she also has this social and emotional difficulty. And she can only see herself in a relationship, right, honey? where there are these mental connections.


Melissa: Yeah, I don't know for other people, but for me it's indispensable. I've never been able to connect with anyone, even if it's like a hookup, a kiss with a stranger without having, it's....


Annibal: That connection.


Melissa: That emotional connection.




Melissa: We intend...(laughter).


Annibal: Move in together, maybe get a dog.


Melissa: To get married and not have kids. Even because I never wanted to, and neither did he. So, we already have...


Annibal: Everything will work out. [both laugh] A very romantic and cliche relationship, right love?


Melissa: Yea, I think that deep down everybody wants this, but they just don't admit it.


Annibal: We want it, we dream about it, and we hope it will always be like this, right love? And I love you.


Melissa: I love you too.


Annibal: Kiss. [sound of kiss]




Sophia: Oh, what a cute couple. I really wish you a lot of success in your plans together, because your story is very beautiful and inspires us a lot.


Marcos: Absolutely, it ends up being encouraging, right? For the moment that we are living, hearing stories like this really inspires. And I loved what you said about how "everybody wants this and won't admit it". I agree 100%. Everybody is very hypocritical. People end up putting on armour, being defensive, but deep down deep down, that's exactly what everybody wants. Of course, in this case it is a moment of great expectation that the couple is living, it's great, but there are other phases of life, eh?


Sophia: That's right Marcos. In fact, our next interviewee has already been in a relationship, has lived her own experiences and is in another moment. She will tell us a little bit about her story. As she is a teacher, she has been participating in several video activities lately, and because of this, she is very overwhelmed and opted to write a text instead of recording the interview. Therefore, we invited the actress Ju Colombo to represent her.




[Teacher in the voice of Ju Colombo]: I am 45 years old, I’m a teacher, and I have been diagnosed for about a year. I have had this of not fitting in feeling since I was a child, which has been more or less accentuated depending on the time of my life. I learned to live with this. It doesn't bother me anymore. For example, why don't I have close friends and why don't I mind not having close friends? Why is it so hard to talk to people who don't share my interests? Why do I have no, no interest in sharing things with people? I have already been in relationships. The overall challenge has to do with issues of emotional adjustment and communication. My last relationship was a, [light laughter] an emotional tsunami. My life is very quiet. I worked very hard to achieve this quiet/calmness. Then someone full of problems came along and captured me. Other people's dramas, other people's problems, other people's demands, and I stopped living for myself to live to help the other to solve unsolvable problems. This role is very exhausting, and very lonely. In the medium term I get exhausted and the relationship exhausts me and goes into crisis. Dating and relationships suck a lot of energy, and then my projects, my interests, are left aside, because I don't have the energy to switch. Two aspects are challenging, but the hyperfocus and my professional life have been, throughout my life, much more stable and rewarding. I finally understand who I am, what my limits and characteristics are, and I can better avoid exhausting situations and possible meltdowns.


Marcos: For those who have not heard the term, ‘meltdown’ is a kind of nervous breakdown, right? It is a lack, a temporary loss of emotional control. And both ‘meltdown’, ‘shutdown’ or ‘burnout’ are conditions that can affect an autistic person in stressful situations.


[Teacher in the voice of Ju Colombo]: And I am difficult to live with because my behavior is marked by an eternal dichotomy between being logical and regulated, at the same time that I am flirting all the time with an executive dysfunction. I need order, organization, repetition, clothes, food, habits and predictability, so I don't fall into dysfunction and disorganize myself externally and internally. And the presence of another person makes this very difficult. I also think that I live a paradox, at the same time that I really want a relationship, to be with someone, to get married.  I have a huge need to be alone, and I get very tired of co-living together with another, because I overdose on social interaction very easily.




[Teacher in the voice of Ju Colombo]: Love is… walking hand in hand through life. There has to be peace, understanding, partnership, welcoming. If there isn’t, what's the point of it happening?




Marcos: Yes, this is a question for the listener to reflect about. And this paradoxical situation of wanting to be together, but also wanting to be alone, is very common among autistic people, by the reports that we hear, by what we know here. I think that getting to know yourself, understanding your limits, is an important first step for this adventure with your partner.


Sophia: And speaking of a couple's adventure, let's get to know the relationship of the intergenerational couple, Lucas and Arlindo, and how they deal with the challenges of this shared life.


Arlindo: Hey Sophia, good evening. My name is Arlindo Barcelos, I am 50 years old and as far as my profession is concerned I am in a period of transition. I have always been an artist, I used to embroider party clothes and wedding dresses, now I am taking a nursing course.


Lucas: Hi Sophia. My name is Lucas Silveira Biondini, I am 23, I am a student, and I was diagnosed when I was 12 or 13 years old.


Arlindo: Sophia, we met through social media. At first because of autism. It was a time when I was researching about it because I identify myself with the autism issue. I have no diagnosis, but Lucas himself agrees that I have many characteristics.


Lucas: Sophia, when I met Arlindo, I had just gone through a… I was going through several processes that I had... I almost succeeded in a suicide attempt. I was hospitalized for almost three months at João 23. A month in a coma, a month and a little bit in a coma. Yes, when I met Arlindo my life was very turbulent, my grandmother for example, had just had a stroke, and there was an absurd pressure on me, because she is very attached to me and I am very attached to her. And so, I met Arlindo and was able to get away a little bit and focus on myself, you know? Learn who I am, and a life without being dependent on my parents. A life where I could begin to be alone, you know? Completely alone, living alone, together with him, you know? Having control over house things, all that stuff. He had to teach me absolutely everything: how to tidy up, how to do this, I had never touched a broom in my life, for example, made food. The only thing I ate before I met Arlindo, I had a very high food selectivity, it was either sweets or meat and rice, nothing else. And then with Arlindo, he introduced me to, and began to gradually increase in my several things, including the only thing I always hated, which was greens. These things. So today I eat. I am eating many, many things that I would never have imagined eating. It is more about having this responsibility towards myself and seeing the world in a more sociable way. Which is one of our labels.




Arlindo: We have many common interests, arts, theater, concerts, cinema, news programs, day-to-day life...


Lucas: Politics.


Arlindo: Mainly politics. Day-to-day life at home with our animals, taking care of our plants.


Lucas: We cook very well together, so much so that before the pandemic Arlindo was unemployed, receiving unemployment insurance, and he and I opened a business. We sold cakes and sweets and doughnuts, that kind of thing, it was called 'good cake', you know? I even had a good customer base, but the pandemic came, and then, with this issue of my suicide attempt, I couldn't go out on the streets to make the deliveries, you know? Autistic or not, that too, regardless of the label, the ICD [Formal Diagnosis], the label or not, me as a person, and Arlindo as a person, our relationship is good, and has its frictions, like any relationship, due to life issues.


Arlindo: Well, Sophia, the issue of hyperfocus, for me what bothers me the most about him, is the need [Lucas on the background: It is multifocus…] he is very focused on physics, on astrophysics, which are subjects that don't interest me at all.


Lucas: But then we always reach a consensus, you know? For example, we reached a consensus a while ago that I not interfere in the course, unless it is something so absurd that, for example, when he is working, I understand that if he does that, he will kill someone, you know?


Arlindo: What I admire most in Lucas, is his availability and the pleasure he has in caring, and the biggest challenge for me is the issue of age, because for me it is embarrassing. For example, the last time I accompanied him to the doctor, the doctor asked if I was his father. [Lucas laughing in the background] So this sometimes makes me… I have a certain level of embarrassment to expose us in the street as a couple because of this.


Lucas: My biggest dream is, me and Arlindo in Portugal, him in his dream, sitting on a balcony, [sea waves and seagulls sounds on the background] on top of a mountain, near the sea. Looking at the sea, and me looking at him making tapestries and rugs, and me with a, I don't know, a computer. And that sea breeze and all that stuff and the two of us there together.




Marcos: When Lucas was talking about never having touched a broom, about his food selectivity, that he had to learn to eat properly, it sounded like I was listening to a story about another person.


Sophia: Hush up, but really, autonomy is a very relevant issue in relationships with autistic people. Now we will hear Carol Cardoso, in which the issue of autonomy is also very relevant, but in her case as an autistic woman and a lesbian.


Carol: Hi, this is Carol Cardoso, I'm 24 years old, I was born in Belém do Pará, but I've lived all my life in Amapá, now I'm living in São Paulo, and my autism diagnosis only came in 2018. I identify myself as a lesbian, because most of my life I have only had romantic interests in women. Although I knew very early on my predilection for women, I always fought a lot against this, because my whole context was completely unfavorable to LGBT people. Undoubtedly, the fact that I am an autistic woman and a lesbian, positions me differently in relation to people who are not in this milieu. It already starts with the fact that, because I am a woman, it was much more difficult to get my autism diagnosis, so I had other issues of self-acceptance prior to the discovery of my sexuality. For example, my difficulty in communicating, also my difficulty in making friends during adolescence, childhood and adolescence. It made it impossible for me to build a support network that I could count on during this delicate period of life. Until very recently I only had bad and traumatic stories to tell, but fortunately today I can say that I managed to build a partnership with a person who understands me, and the fact that she knows I'm autistic was crucial. In regards to relationships, the greatest thing to me is the ability to talk a lot about different subjects, to have a open communication, without the person thinking that I am strange or that I speak strange things. Because, as I had a lot of difficulty in communicating in many contexts… for example, not asking for information, not knowing how to ask for information, not knowing how to talk to people I didn’t know, not knowing how to start a conversation… so… this ends up leading to the people around me being accustomed to this lack of ability to take care of myself, by myself. And when people have this idea about someone, it is hard to imagine that this person can get emotionally involved, to the point of having a romantic or sexual relationship. It is very common for people to associate dating with the highest level of skill development, that our disability manifests itself in a spectrum. So, we can develop specific skills that make it possible for us to have a romantic relationship, at the same time that we may not have skills that for people are basic. But that for us requires much more work, much more effort. But what I mean is that we need to respect people in their integrity, how they want to live their lives, and that if for some reason this conflicts with the way we want to live ours, to accept that this is the way it is, that we don't need to stay together as a couple, but that we can keep respecting each other even if we are not.




Marcos: This quote from Carol, about the perception that people have of relationships, of dating, as evidence of the development of abilities in autistic people, on the one hand, you can't put this as a possibility for everyone, right? As we have seen, there are different ways of people relating or not relating. They can be in different stages of life, in which they can want someone, or they can be in a relationship, or they can have already lived a relationship and even, not necessarily want to be with someone. And on the other hand, you sometimes have doctors questioning, or even postponing the diagnosis of an autistic person, because of the fact that he or she is in a relationship, married, has children, in short, it is a possibility. Having an interest, or being in a relationship, or having a family, is not directly related to autistic characteristics, because it is a broad spectrum.


Sophia: Even Marcia and Giovani, who are two autistic adults, and both had children in previous relationships, today they constitute a new family.




Giovani: My name is Giovani Ragazzon, I'm 43 years old. I'm a systems analyst at SAP, and my autistic diagnosis came in 2010, the year I joined the company, along with my son's diagnosis.


Marcia: My name is Marcia, I am 44 years old. I work with software development, software quality, linked to the accessibility part. I also work at SAP, and my diagnosis came in 2015, a bit before I joined the company.


Giovani: So, we met at the company. I was already working there, when at some point it was mentioned that there would be another autistic person joining the team. A lot of work was done with the team and so on, to receive this person, and then Marcia joined the team. We stayed there just as colleagues because I was married and she was married. Then in 2019 I got divorced, and so did she. And we already had, we already had that bond, that friendship, and from that friendship, the friendship got stronger, we got closer and closer, and we became a couple. In relation to typical couples… well! to begin with I don't know much, I don't interact much with typical couples. I am very much like, everyone has their own life, live their own life, with their own joys and problems. I have nothing to do with that. But from the little that I have seen, that I perceive, because it is difficulty for me to perceive things if it isn’t right in my face, is that many times people try to leave everything very separate, and a relationship for me is not this. For me a relationship is together, it is a unity. Look, I don't know what we have in common with typical couples.


Sophia: It was even very strange, during the pandemic that... I heard a lot of "oh my God, now I will have to stay in the same environment with my husband the whole day" and I found this very strange, because for me it was very good to be with Giovani the whole day.


Giovani: That is the best thing. This transparency that we have is something that, in general, is very divergent from the others, because people invent stories to fix things, because they don't want to tell something, which to me makes no sense at all.




Giovani: Our dynamics of housework/taking care of the house is kind of on demand, like, if one of us sees that something is wrong, they go and fix it.


Marcia: We don't have tasks defined by the standard: "Ah, this is a woman's task, this is a man's task", we don't have that.


Giovani: I think it is fantastic, that Marcia comes in and says "honey, I don't want this" or "honey, I want that" and doesn't beat around the bush, telling stories and making believe, it is a direct thing. For me it is excellent, and this posture of hers of being direct, she is not dry, not rigid in anything, she is just direct, she takes tremendous care with me. It is something of hers, because she knows that I have this difficulty, of not being able to understand between the lines. So even if in some moments, with some people, this is important, "you have to speak more like this, more like that", she helps me a lot in this. And things that I don't see, she always points out, "honey, this situation is this, because of that".


Macia: I have several difficulties that he can foresee, like, we talk a lot and it is very easy to communicate with him, because sometimes I don't even say anything and he already understands everything. I say two or three words and he already foresees everything I'm going to say. These are things like that, it is a syntony.


Giovani: Mind reading [laughs].


Marcia: Mind reading. It is very strange. I think he really has a superpower there [laughs], he reads my mind, and sometimes I don't need to explain anything, he already understands.


Giovani: The biggest challenge, you know. Not to grow old happily together, that will be the easy part, but that we be able to do this while giving support to the children, who in the future will no longer be children.


Marcia: Which are children with autism, right?


Giovani: Yes, one is currently 11 and the other is 14, and I still have another son who lives with his mother, who is 12. The challenge is being able to lead these children. We are on our path. We are adults, we work, we have our own lives, our own things, we are on our way in life. But they aren’t. They have their limitations, their difficulties. To some extent, I believe I can say, greater than our difficulties, our limitations as autistic people. And the world is cruel, so we have this concern, this challenge, that the world be able to treat them with equality. We always talk about inclusion, equality, but our fight is for equity. Because there is no use treating and evaluating everyone equally and including everyone in the same basket. There has to be equity. Our plan is to organize this house now, to leave it our way. To do things little by little, leaving our mark on it, so that as time goes by it will be our little house, and we will grow old together, smiling from the balcony, on the bedroom balcony, watching the sunset, or in a motorhome on the road, traveling around the world, when we are very old together.




Sophia: What common sense says, and there is some truth in it, is that autistic people don't like to communicate or socialize, and they have difficulties exchanging information. It is not by chance that this is one of the diagnostic criteria, difficulty in social communication for this condition. Nevertheless, we already have studies showing that autistic people like to socialize, especially when they are with other autistic people. So, this communication difficulty can be minimized, or even eliminated when we are with another person on the spectrum. This is very well exemplified in Marcia and Giovani's statements. In this way, the arrival of the diagnosis can affect or impact the way people deal with romantic relationships and their perception of romantic love. This is the case of researcher Amábile.




Amábile: My name is Amábile, I am 34 years old. I work in the area of rural extraction and with cooperatives. I do research with women, through affective perspectives, and I also work as a holistic therapist. An integrative therapist. And I am going through the diagnostic process, I am now going through the process with a psychiatrist. The trajectory to get to this diagnosis was a long one. Because, since childhood I always had some characteristics that called peoples attention. Especially when I entered school, because before that my different characteristics didn't get in the way of me living with my family, the neighbours. In relation to affective relationships, I always had some issues, in all my relationships. I never had a relationship longer than a year, it was always very complex because I couldn't identify my feelings. And we live between understanding what we feel, understanding our demands, our needs, understanding this need of the other, understanding what is required, and what I have to do, but not understanding why I have to do it, what my place is in this relationship.I think I live so well alone [laughs]. I have a lot of issues with sociability. So, to relate to another is also to relate to other people.




Amábile: Going through the diagnostic process has already improved my life a lot. It has improved because I’ve already begun relating while informing myself, informing myself about things I know about myself. Love is related to admiration, to sharing, to common dreams, but I never felt.




Sophia: Empathy is a crucial point in a relationship. The myth that autistic people cannot be empathetic has been falling apart. What happens is that there are two central aspects of empathy as a scientific concept. There is cognitive empathy, which is more related to the perception of the feelings of the other person and to putting oneself in the other's perspective. And emotional empathy, which is linked to how you really feel when you perceive what the other is feeling. So, as autistic people often have difficulties to elaborate and translate their own feelings, which is a point that I found very interesting in Amábile's statement, when we try to put ourselves in the other's place this can be a challenge. Even for autistic people who identify themselves as hyper empathic because emotional empathy is usually very well preserved in the case of autistic people. When we identify with the feelings of the other, this identification is often visceral. Due to this, a relationship is even a learning opportunity. We stop looking only at our own issues, to be able to build something together with another person. This can also be observed in the testimony of the researcher and doctor in psychology, Dr. Vicente Cassepp-Borges.




Vicente: The message I want to leave for the autistic people that are in a relationship, or that are looking for a relationship, is the importance of this, that they have for the autistic life. A loving relationship... I think that is the work that we do in psychotherapy, at least, to be a person who is more adapted in society. The loving relationship is something that has a lot to teach us, and it has a stronger value perhaps than therapy. So, the idea is to try to live healthy relationships. It is important that the person who is on your side is nice, and to experience the relationship as that too, as a space for learning in life, you know? And it is very rewarding to live romantic relationships. Also, not to get frustrated when things go wrong. To understand that mistakes are part of the relationship, that we will make mistakes, but we try to get it right. You will have a new opportunity with another person, and when that happens you have a new chance.




Vicente: Don't give up. But also don't get frustrated. Don't put all your chips on the love relationship, that it will be the solution to your problems. If someone is sad or whatever and they think that a relationship will solve their problems, it doesn’t work like that. It’s not a loving relationship that resolves, it doesn’t resolve problems. It's there for when we have already discovered the happiness within ourselves. It’s something that compliments this happiness.




Sophia: Folks, I think this is what we wanted to bring to you. Of course, we could have spent much more time talking about the issue, but the most important thing we wanted to do was to demonstrate all the diversity that exists, and even to dispel some myths about autism, that this theme affects everyone in one way or another.


Marcos: We hope you have enjoyed this asynchronous and polyphonic conversation, in which we tried to at the very least give space to and allow for the representation of different ages, genders, and identifications. Inclusively, respecting the different forms of communication, which we know exist among us autistic people.


Sophia: I was very happy with this opportunity promoted by the Defiças [Disability] Portraits Project, which encouraged us to create this podcast. For those who want to know more about the project, you can check the website "". There are other podcasts and visual art pieces by Brazilian artists. I thank your audience, and of course the participation of our guests, who allowed themselves to count a bit of their stories and experiences. Those who don't know me, for more than six years I have been one of the creators and I am host of the channel "mundo autista" (autistic world), on the YouTube platform, where you can check out more of our content about the discussion of love on the spectrum, among several other issues that we address there, which range from issues related to diagnosis and tips for autistic people and their families, and also everyday issues. About the discussion of relationships specifically, you can check out any of the following videos. The first is "autism, sexuality and relationships", the second "autism and sexuality" and the third "what does love have to do with autism?".


Marcos: Check it out, it's really worth it.




Marcos: The guest researchers participating in this podcast were: Táhcita Medrado Misael, PhD in Psychology; Vicente Cassepp-Borges, PhD inPpsychology. The interviewees: Amábile Tolio Boessio, doctoral degree in rural extension; Carol Cardoso, architect and content producer; Caroline de Souza, autistic activist and owner of the Instagram “Autistando” [“Autisting”], who was represented here by the actress Isabela Garcia; the unidentified university professor, represented by the actress Ju Colombo. Also, the interviewees: Annibal Gouvêa Franco, an arts teacher, and his girlfriend Melissa Marcílio, an accounting assistant; Arlindo Barcelos, a nursing student, and his husband Lucas Biondini, also a student; Marcia Moreira Machado, a developer, and her husband Giovani Ragason, also a developer. A special thanks to the actresses Ju Colombo, who, as we mentioned at the start, plays Dalva in the soap opera "Um Lugar ao Sol" from the channel Rede Globo, and the actress Isabela Garcia, who plays Ana Bezerra in the soap opera "Bebê a Bordo", also from Rede Globo. This podcast was realized in partnership with the Department of Anthropology at Western University, Canada, represented by researcher Pamela Block, the artivist NGO Ateliê Ambrosina, and the NGO ABRAÇA. We had the collaboration of first cut and treatment editor Radija Ohana. Codirected by the main presenter and producer, journalist and writer, Sophia Mendonça.


Sophia: Kiss, everybody.


Marcos: And also in script and finalization, the scriptwriter and developer Marcos Maia, who currently speaks to you. And more love, please.


Sophia: Lots of love from heart to heart and stay well. Kisses.





[intro music]


Olga Aureliano: Ateliê Ambrosina is the NGO in Maceió-Alagoas that is leading the realization of Defiças Portraits, a project funded by Western University of Canada. Work on the local production with me, Vanessa Malta, and Bruna Teixeira, and as researchers we have anthropologists Nádia Meinerz and Pamela Block. The script, recording, and editing is by Marcos Maia and Sophia Mendonça, co-creators of this episode. Finalization and intro music by Rodrigo Policarpo, and transcription by Beatriz Simões, with proofreading by Bruna Teixeira and English translation by Deise Medina and Matthew Medeiros. See you next week.

[intro music]

Card cinza claro, quadrado, do podcast Retratos do Brasil com Deficiência. No centro de um triângulo em diferentes tons de lilás, a cabeça branca da medusa, de perfil esquerdo. O triângulo tem pontas arredondadas e está na horizontal, voltado para a direita. A medusa é uma figura feminina, da mitologia grega, com serpentes no lugar do cabelo. O rosto dela é branco e as serpentes são vazadas, com contorno branco, fino e parecem se mover em todas as direções. Na parte inferior, o nome do podcast. A frase Com deficiência está em negrito e Podcast, em negrito, maiúsculo.
bottom of page