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Autism and Falling in Love: Why I Dedicated My Book to the One That Got Away

Kerry Selfie A few weeks ago, I wrote a letter on The Mighty about the one that got away. Growing up, I never thought I was going to have a girlfriend because of my sensory issues, delayed speech and eventual lack of ability to talk to others for long periods of time. After two decades of therapy, I overcame a lot of my obstacles. Today I’ve become a national speaker, appearing at more than 400 venues in the past four years. During this time, I’ve had four amazing girlfriends who taught me a lot about what it means to be in a good relationship.

I was 18 when I fell in love for the first time in my life. I told myself then that I wanted to write a book to help others on the autism spectrum understand and succeed in relationships. Seven years later, during my break up with my recent girlfriend, I was a complete mess. I did everything I could to seek out help to fix the things that went wrong in the relationship. I wanted a second chance so I sought out books, professionals, autism life coaches — basically everyone I could find to work on myself.

This all helped me finish my own book. And as much as it became a self-help guide for others, I wanted to do something special for the one that got away to help her feel special and loved if she read it, too. That’s why there’s a sunflower on the front cover. I gave her a sunflower the first time I told her I loved her. I’ve also decided to donate 50 percent of the proceeds to Autism Speaks and the other 50 percent to one of her favorite charities, Best Buddies. The last thing I did with this book was write her one last “I love you” letter.

And I wanted to share that letter with The One That Got Away and with any adult on the autism spectrum:

If you ever come across this article I hope you know I really do love you and I truly didn’t understand how things were bothering you. I hope if you ever read this you’ll watch the movie “Adam” because it depicts how an adult with autism can be blind to others’ perspectives in relationships.

Growing up, I had to be the guy who constantly worked on things so I could have a life where I could get to a point where I could have a relationship. I had to make my therapies my 24/7 job. I’ve seen so many relationships where people who are on the brink of breaking up say they can change. But they don’t mean it. For me though, changing is something I’ve had to do my entire life.

Hopefully, if we ever do get to communicate again, I can show you what I’ve been working on to be a better partner…

I’ve spent so much time trying to overcome my obstacles as a child. One thing I say is, “Autism can’t define me. I define autism.” Now as an adult, more than ever, I want to define how to be a better partner for the people I care for.

Kerry’s new book “Autism and Falling in Love,” tells the story of how he was nonverbal as a child and overcome the odds to become a national speaker and find a relationship as an adult. You can learn more about Kerry and his book here.