“At the end of the day this film is not about autism; it’s about love. Being more caring to the person next to you; being compassionate. This is a movie about love through a different lens; through the eyes of autism.” Carolina Groppa
By Debra Muzikar
(This is an excerpt from an interview with Caroline Groppa during the making of the film “Autism in Love”. It is streaming on the Independent Lens site through April and on Netflix.)
There is very little written about autism and romantic relationships. That’s because the prevailing attitude is that autistic people are loners and don’t have the same desires as neuro-typical people. Carolina Groppa and Matt Fuller created a breakthrough documentary called “Autism in Love” that explores romantic relationships in the autistic community.
The inception of the project was the brain-child of Carolina Groppa who was working on compiling a book on autism and romantic love with Dr. Ira Heilveil, a psychologist and board certified behavior analyst. When compiling the book, Carolina was intrigued by the stories and decided they were so compelling they would be better served in a documentary.
In 2013, Carolina partnered with Matt Fuller to set out on making this documentary. They decided that they would dedicate an entire year to the project. The duo started in Los Angeles where they are based reaching out to autism groups. They formed focus groups interviewing over 30 autistic adults ranging in age from 18 to 60. From there they found stories in other parts of the country. Their first film interview was with Dr. Temple Grandin.
The stories are what makes the film real and unique. When asked what the biggest surprise was in creating this movie, Carolina says “It was how people outside of the autism community don’t really know much about autism. They rely on what they hear in the news, which is mostly negative.”
Autistic people have desires just like neuro-typicals. Romantic relationships may look different from how neuro-typicals are brainwashed to believe.
“The idea that how we connect is better than how autistics connect is a fallacy,” Carolina says.
Autistics may actually be more authentic in their relating. “There is no need to lie or mask their needs. The couples have an understanding of each other. Going out to dinner may not be an option because of sensory issues. The partner understands this and doesn’t try to manipulate to get her way.”
Not all autistic people have a desire to find a partner. Temple Grandin has stated that she’s never had an interest in love or marriage.
When asked why do you think this film is important, Carolina replies, “At the end of the day this film is not about autism; it’s about love. Being more caring to the person next to you; being compassionate. This movie explores love through a different lens; through the eyes of autism.”