She explains she has a soft spot for animals, both her German shepherd and “cats trying to fit into spots that they can’t.”Symptoms of Asperger’s vary widely, but often include a lack of social intuition, obsessive interests and trouble reading body language.
Getting a date — with someone on the autism scale or otherwise — isn’t so much the end goal as validation that Mead and others can start down the road to romantic intimacy.“It’s just chatting,” he says, his cadence flat but his lips smiling.
If she was late getting home from work, “every minute that I wasn’t there he grew more anxious.”That led to meltdowns.
Until age 12, Mead had trouble computing why events and activities, even small ones, might not match up with the daily schedule.
Now an animation student at the Toronto Film School, the Pickering resident is focused on “blending art and computers,” with the very specific passion of animating cells in 3D surgical simulation programs used to train doctors.
He still recalls his best friend, Nick, pulling away in Grade 3, “a tough learning experience.”“He just stopped wanting to play with me.
He was teased about his reticence with other students.“There were times when I’d have to hug my mom for five minutes straight just to go into the classroom.”Social cues came slowly through incidents he filed away in his memory, referencing them as needed like an index.Launched this year in conjunction with a sexologist and a dating coach, his free half-day workshops invite “Aspies” to meet, mingle and trade social cues more easily.The participants hear from experts, share their challenges and play out exercises involving speed networking, positive thinking and facial expressions. In one activity, participants pair up and sit facing each other in a row to describe who they are.“I love gadgets, I hate clothes shopping,” says Durham.“He died seven years ago next month and we’re still talking about him.”His mind moves at a fast clip in a group setting, but he’s at ease.It’s a level of social comfort he’s worked hard, and long, to attain.‘Imagination on loudspeaker’Raised in the heart of Richmond Hill with his younger brother, Cameron, Mead struggled through much of his childhood, despite receiving plenty of professional support in the classroom and the clinic.“Things had to happen on time,” says his mother, Lori Bateman.