How Date Night Looks Different For My Autistic Husband and I

My husband and I just celebrated our 14th anniversary. Our journey has not always been easy, but I can’t imagine spending my life with anyone else. One thing that is extremely important in any relationship is finding time just to be together doing something you both enjoy. My husband and I both treasure our date nights, or in most cases, date afternoons, but since my husband is autistic, things look a little different for us.
Going on a date or any social situation can be very difficult for autistic adults.

My husband has trouble with social interaction, communication, certain noises, and crowds. However, with a little effort, my husband and I have found places that we can enjoy together. We wanted to share ten sensory-friendly places that make great spots for a date. These date ideas are great for couples who have just started dating, couples who have been married for years like us, and everyone in between.

Bowling
Bowling alleys are a great place for a date. Although they can be noisy, they often have very few people bowling if you visit during less busy times. Many bowling alleys also have food and adult beverages, so you can have the whole date in one location.

Arcades
My husband absolutely loves visiting arcades. He personally finds that noise is more tolerable when he is doing something he really enjoys, but each person is different. We try to pick more adult-oriented arcades because they tend to cause less sensory overload.

Casinos
Casinos are basically adult arcades. Much like a bowling date, a casino has food, drinks, and entertainment all in one spot. A trip to a casino doesn’t take much planning or preparation other than deciding how much money to spend. Hence, it is an excellent choice for someone who gets stressed out when a date idea requires too much planning beforehand.

Local Parks
Throughout our marriage, my husband and I have spent a lot of time visiting parks. Most parks offer several quiet areas to choose from, so we can just enjoy each other’s company! Sometimes we pack a picnic lunch, and other times we stop by after going out to eat to relax in nature. When we travel, we love to find new parks to explore.

The Drive-In
A trip to the movies is a wonderful date night idea! However, going into a theater can be overwhelming if you have sensory sensitivities. My husband and I went to the drive-in all the time when we were dating. This may be a summertime activity in some areas, but some drive-in theaters open year-round!

The Beach
No matter what time of year it is, listening to the water and walking in the sand can be super relaxing. Most people have access to some sort of beach, even if it is just a lake, so this date idea does not have to require expensive travel. Neither my husband nor I are fans of actually getting into the water, so our beach dates rarely involve swimming, but just watching the water can be very romantic!

Amusement Parks
Most amusement parks are wonderfully accessible for people with autism and other sensory needs. They will usually have a program that allows people who cannot wait in traditional lines to wait outside the line. We have used these accommodations at many theme parks, and they work great for my husband, who gets a lot of anxiety if he has to wait in long lines. While we are waiting, we often find the park’s arcade or grab some food. We always look at the website of the place we are visiting ahead of time for the information we will need.

Flea Markets
You never really know what treasures you can find at a flea market. No matter what someone’s interests are, they will probably find something cool to look at. Many flea markets are outside, so staying a comfortable distance from people is easier, and the noise is less overwhelming than it would be at an indoor shopping center.

The Zoo
The zoo isn’t just for kids! Zoos tend to get busy on weekends, so if you need a more sensory-friendly experience, weekdays are often the best time to visit! Many zoos now have signage to point out both noisy and quiet areas. Some zoos have taken it a step further and created rooms where visitors can go to avoid sensory overload.

A Fun Night In
Sometimes, it can be fun not to do anything at all. I treasure kid-free nights where we can order pizza, watch a movie, and snuggle on the couch! You can even do this after bedtime if you have kids and don’t have anyone to watch them.

Date nights can be complicated when you have to factor in sensory needs. Adults on the autism spectrum may have a harder time finding a great location for a date, but that doesn’t mean they can’t go out and have a great time. My husband and I hope these unique date night ideas can inspire you to plan a sensory-friendly date experience soon!

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15 responses to “How Date Night Looks Different For My Autistic Husband and I”

  1. Stephanie Grillo Avatar
    Stephanie Grillo

    Glad I came across this article as I will share it with a good friend who’s wife is autistic. A great list of ideas for dates for anyone.

  2. This was a really interesting read! I love it because it showed me how little I know about autism. I just assumed places like casions and amusement parks would be overwhelming for any autistic person.

    1. I don’t really think there is any one thing that is overwhelming for every autistic person. It is a diagnosis that covers a very wide spectrum of symptoms, difficulties, and strengths. A lot of neurodiverse people I know personally love amusement parks because rides offer sensory input that they enjoy. My husband doesn’t speak for everyone though, just himself!

  3. Very informative read. I found the list of date night places to be interesting. I’m definitely surprised to see a casino on the list, but they really are adult arcades – so that makes sense!

    1. We had a hard time narrowing the list down to ten places, so I thought we might leave that one out, but my husband was insistent that it make the cut.

  4. These are some awesome ideas! We don’t have autism in the family, but my youngest son has anxiety and adhd so has some sensory issues as well. I am going to have to try the kid-friendly ones for family outings.

  5. These are amazing date ideas. Really like the flea market idea, it’s unique and bonus if you snatch some really good deals to take home as souvenir 🙂

    1. My husband and I just did that one yesterday and had an absolutely wonderful time. We found a few too many things to take home.

  6. These are great ideas. I like the idea of going amusements parks for date nights. Sounds really fun.

  7. I would honestly never have thought about how it can be different for those with autism. I struggle with a lot of social situations living with ADHD but never thought much of it. I just thought that different people like different things and thats it. But there’s so much more behind it when you’re neurodivergent.

    1. That is so true! My husband was diagnosed in his early 30’s, so I don’t think either of us realized just how many of his preferences and dislikes were really related to his neurodivergence!

  8. Aaawwww…I love reading this, over and over again! Kudos to you both for finding these safe havens for you, to just be you!

  9. I am happy to know that you have found places that you enjoy together. As a couple, there is no right or wrong because every couple is unique — instead just find something that works for the both for you and it’s going to be PERFECT.

    Love the idea of drive-in or overnight at a beach for a date night.

    1. Absolutely! Every couple has to find what works for them. That is definitely something I’ve learned over the years.

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