“You’re really cute. Do you like sex? I like sex but I have not had any sex in six months. Would you like to be my girlfriend and have sex with me?”
This is an actual email I received from a male member of a co-ed Asperger’s Support Group on Facebook. My profile says married. I do not flirt online. When I do privately email a male aspie if they are in crisis, I always mention my husband and my family. I never imply that I am single or looking. This does not deter them.
Because Asperger’s is characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction, I recognize that most of these guys are not trying to offend. They are truly trying to reach out to someone of the opposite sex in the only way they know how: an extremely straightforward way. I am not rude to them. I do not belittle them. I do remind them that “I am married, and this is not an appropriate way to approach a lady you are interested in dating. “ This often strikes up a conversation about HOW to appropriately approach a woman. But… I am a forty year old woman.
For the following story, I’m changing all the details. The town. The name, etc. A couple weeks ago, I joined an Asperger’s Support Group on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/Aspergers2/
A young girl joined the group. She had an unusual hyphenated last name. Little Jane Unusual-Name was using her real profile and her real name. She began to tell us that she was diagnosed with Asperger’s and she felt misunderstood by everyone. She then told us she was 13 years old. As a mom to four kids, this set my Mommy Alarm off at full volume. ** ALERT ** ALERT **
Young aspies tend to be especially trusting and vulnerable. I immediately wanted to protect this girl. I told Jane that she should be careful on the internet. She shouldn’t be disclosing her age using her real profile. She said her parents had warned her about the internet but her profile was ‘safe’. I explained that I am a mom with four kids and that I was concerned about her. I bet her I could tell her where she lived and where she went to school in less than five minutes. She agreed to the challenge.
She had no location listed. She had only 3 pictures of herself. In one of the pics, she was with 2 boys she had tagged. I went to their profiles and both were from Smallville, KS. In one of the girl’s pictures she was wearing a shirt that said SJH (Smallville Junior High, I presume). I googled her very unique name and it directed me to King’s Landing High School’s facebook page located in… Smallville, KS. Her profile did not allow private emails, so I posted to her in the group and said you live in S****e, KS and you go to KLHS. I posted it like that. I didn’t write out the town name.
She immediately BLOCKED me.
I posted to the group and asked someone to please ask this girl to stop using her real name and real profile in online groups with strangers. I used my secondary fb account and posted to her. I told her that if I could find her information – anyone could. Blocking me would not stop others from finding her if they wanted to. I advised her to set up an anonymous profile and not use real pictures of herself if she is looking for support in online groups. The group administrator blocked me. He said no one should be using a fake profile even though many of the members obviously do. No one is really named Aspie. I hope this young girl listened. Predators aren’t always THIS easy to spot:
The problem with online Asperger’s support groups is that they aren’t screened. There truly is no way to know that every single person in the group truly has Asperger’s. Since there are so few services for adults, many “aspies” are self-proclaimed without an actual diagnosis. These groups often get trolls and other individuals who are just looking to antagonize or harass members. They are usually removed fairly quickly but they can do a bit of damage before they leave. Young aspie girls are especially at risk. The young, vulnerable aspie girl is a predator’s perfect victim because not only is she is so desperately reaching out, she is most likely very naïve as well. They may not recognize the warning signs of a predator, troll, or malicious person until it is too late. So please, young Aspies – when you go online for support – do as so many adults do:
- Create a separate profile.
- DON’T use your real picture. I can search for you by using your image just like they do on the MTV show CATFISH. Use something that won’t identify you: your favorite TV character, cartoon character, peace symbol, etc.
- Don’t have a location listed on your profile.
- Don’t join ‘local’ groups with your anonymous profile. (Groups like “I love Smallville!”” could give away your location.)
- If you are solicited for sex, don’t reply. Replying to that person will send them an email with your profile name. Record their name somewhere. Tell someone. If they are a member of a group, you can forward their email to the group administrator and block them.
- Be sure to always report abusive content—whether it’s on your profile page, or someone else’s. You can also report inappropriate Pages. (Remember that reporting is confidential, so no one will know who made the report.)
- Be careful who you friend. That 19 yr old boy may really be a 39 year old man or 43 yr old woman. You really don’t know.
- Be cautious about the information you do share. It surprising how easy it can be to piece together information about you from the information you share.
- If you are sharing something about the way another person has treated you, don’t use their real name either. Saying “Gabriel Hobbes really made me mad today!” gives readers an opportunity to google Gabriel Hobbes and maybe even figure out who you are.
- Be aware that just because it says Asperger’s Support Group does not mean it is 100% SAFE! As I mentioned before: there is no screening. Even adult Aspies have had trolls and predators email them. The internet is NEVER safe.
- When you are new to a group, sometimes it is better to observe for a while. You will soon discover the members/admins who are very active and seem to be trusted by the group. Although the internet is never truly safe, these individuals would be the ones who are least likely to be trolls.
- Just because someone says they have Asperger’s doesn’t mean they do. I have met several individuals online who claim to have Asperger’s just to troll.
- Remember Asperger’s is a spectrum disorder. Not every Aspie you meet online is going to be like you.
- Finally: Please remember that NOTHING is ever private on the internet. Even in a ‘secret’ group. Anyone can take a screenshot of anything you say at any time and share it. Once you put it online, it is out there for anyone to share. Please be mindful.
I’m a slightly chubby, 40 yr old married woman. If I am getting solicitations on facebook, a pretty teenage girl will definitely be solicited. Please be careful.