Possible ways to help many autistic people find love?

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Mona Pereth
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29 Feb 2020, 3:41 am

Below is an article I just now published (at least tentatively) on my website. (It will probably get revised in response to feedback.)

Possible ways to help many autistic people find love?

Quote:
Every time I look at the Love and Dating sub-forum on Wrong Planet, I become more and more convinced that finding a romantic relationship is a problem that many of us cannot solve as individuals. Self-improvement is important, but nowhere near enough.

Most of us, if we are to solve this problem at all, ever, will need the help of a much bigger and better-organized autistic community than now exists. Those of us who have managed to find love without the help of our community have done so, in large part, by extraordinary good luck. (I speak as one of the lucky ones.)

How could a better-developed autistic community help? Several ways:


1. The most obvious way would be by making it easier for us to meet other autistic people, as potential romantic partners as well as potential friends.

But that, by itself, is far from enough. It would be great for some of us who have found that an autistic partner similar enough to ourselves can understand us better than anyone else can. But it would not be enough for all heterosexual autistic men, due to the high male-to-female ratio among autistic people. And it would not be enough for those autistic people, of whichever gender or sexual orientation, who would prefer an NT partner for whatever reasons.

Yet, as I will explain below, there are some important ways that a better-developed autistic community could make it easier for autistic people to find NT partners too.


2. A better-developed autistic community would make it easier for work-capable autistic people to find decent-paying jobs in autistic-friendly workplaces. (See Autistic Workers Project.)

Most people -- especially most heterosexual women, but many other people too -- want spouses/partners who can earn a good living. 'Nuff said.


3. One of the biggest barriers to autistic/NT relationships is simply the instinctive prejudice of most people against anyone who seems weird. The autistic community, together with the larger autism community (parents and professionals) could do a much better job of overcoming this prejudice, at least within the relatively more open-minded sectors of society, than most of us could as isolated individuals. For example:

Together with the more enlightened parents' and professionals' organizations, we could proclaim an annual "Neurodiverse Couples Week" (perhaps in early February, in the lead-up to Valentine's Day?) to generate annual media buzz about successful autistic/NT relationships (which do exist, relatively rare though they may be) and how to make such relationships work. Conferences could be held for neurodiverse couples and for psychotherapists who specialize in relationship counseling for neurodiverse couples. Interviews with successful neurodiverse couples could be featured on various organizations' websites and quoted in press releases, and high-profile successful neurodiverse couples could speak at the conferences.

Hopefully the resulting media coverage, including some positive role models, could persuade at least some already relatively open-minded NT's to be more open to the idea of a relationship with an autistic person, and to be more understanding of autistic people's needs.


4. For many autistic heterosexual men in particular, a big barrier to seeking a romantic relationship is the expectation that men must be the ones who take the social initiative. Some autistic heterosexual women too are frustrated by being confined to a passive role, which mainstream dating culture still expects despite the progress of feminism. And there are probably some NT's out there, both men and women, who are frustrated by these expectations too, but who feel helpless to challenge them.

The only way to solve this problem would be to create an alternative dating culture. Some of us could (most likely with the help of NT relatives or friends) create commercial entities that I will refer to as Sadie Hawkins clubs. (Perhaps someone else can think of a better, more up-to-date name for them?)

As I envision them, Sadie Hawkins clubs would hold various social events for (1) women who prefer to take the social initiative, rather than waiting for men to do so, and (2) men who prefer that women take the social initiative.

These clubs would NOT be aimed specifically at the autistic community. They would be aimed at all women and men who have the above preference and who also fit whatever other membership criteria a particular club might choose to have (e.g. based on age range or some common interest). But they would be as autistic-friendly as possible, e.g. they would aim to be sensory-friendly, and they would feature structured activities of one kind or another.


I'll post other ideas here as I think of them, or as they are suggested to me by others.


I would very much appreciate feedback on this article.


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29 Feb 2020, 1:18 pm

The fourth reason has especially been a major barrier for me. It’s a major factor in why I became depressed in the first place. I was too shy to ask girls out because I feared being told “No” and even that I would get physically harmed since the girls at the redneck school I went to were often very hostile individuals. One girl I thought was attractive once even slapped my hand because she thought the music I was listening to was too loud, another slapped me on the shoulder as hard as she could, and yet another threatened to hit me in the face as well as called me an “as*hole” because she didn’t like a question that I asked someone.

Women in the culture I live in and even in Austin still expect men to make the first move. Even women I’ve encountered personally who call themselves feminists still sit back and wait for men to approach them first. But even initiating contact first has been unproductive for me.



Mona Pereth
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01 Mar 2020, 3:20 am

Marknis wrote:
The fourth reason has especially been a major barrier for me. It’s a major factor in why I became depressed in the first place. I was too shy to ask girls out because I feared being told “No” and even that I would get physically harmed since the girls at the redneck school I went to were often very hostile individuals. One girl I thought was attractive once even slapped my hand because she thought the music I was listening to was too loud, another slapped me on the shoulder as hard as she could, and yet another threatened to hit me in the face as well as called me an “as*hole” because she didn’t like a question that I asked someone.

Yuck!

Marknis wrote:
Women in the culture I live in and even in Austin still expect men to make the first move. Even women I’ve encountered personally who call themselves feminists still sit back and wait for men to approach them first. But even initiating contact first has been unproductive for me.

The big question is: How many of these feminist-identified women actually prefer to just "sit back and wait for men to approach them first," vs. how many of them really don't like being confined to a passive role, but conform to it anyway because they're afraid of turning men off by being too forward? Personally, I always hated the idea of being confined to a passive role.


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01 Mar 2020, 4:09 am

I like the “Sadie Hawkins clubs” idea: mixed social events that are geared towards oddballs of all neurological types sounds like it could have the potential to help a lot of lonely people.
Even if romance doesn’t result from such events for everyone, the higher likelihood of forming successful AS/NT, male/female & straight/other friendships would also I suspect be a great boon to many.



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01 Mar 2020, 4:45 am

well I can talk a little of the issue concerning how to address it, but then it is just my personal experience. Luckily my boyfriend was not judgemental about it. I think after we met a few times but before we got more serious I mentioned being on SSI because of the aspergers and some other mental stuff. Turns out he's struggled with some depression and anxiety stuff so even if he doesn't always totally understand my aspergers struggles he still does his best to be sympathetic and help me if I need it.

Like just sort of felt like I should kind of see him a couple times to sort of gauge how I figured he might react, but I was still really nervous about mentioning that bit to him, but also figured he should know in case he really didn't want to get involved with someone with issues like that but yeah that didn't really phase him so I am glad. I mean I still second guess myself and IDK how I even actually got a good relationship like this. But also I have tended to like guys that are a little more overweight, I don't know why exactly but I have even dated a couple skinny dudes and well its odd I just don't really like that body type as much. LOl so my boyfriend gives me crap about being a 'chubby chaser', in jest of course but I suppose there could be some truth to it.

Like IDK not sure whether its like a sexual attraction thing or If I just find it more pleasant to cuddle up with a chubby guy than a skinny one. Hard to say. :lol:


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MaxE
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01 Mar 2020, 6:08 am

I actually think these ideas have potential. I certainly helps to live in an area with a large population.

I hope you can organize this and tell us how it went!


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01 Mar 2020, 8:07 am

Maybe not a meet up in February though. A lot of places get bad weather and people can't travel.



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01 Mar 2020, 8:19 am

Mona Pereth wrote:
Every time I look at the Love and Dating sub-forum on Wrong Planet, I become more and more convinced that finding a romantic relationship is a problem that many of us cannot solve as individuals. Self-improvement is important, but nowhere near enough.

Most of us, if we are to solve this problem at all, ever, will need the help of a much bigger and better-organized autistic community than now exists. Those of us who have managed to find love without the help of our community have done so, in large part, by extraordinary good luck. (I speak as one of the lucky ones.)

How could a better-developed autistic community help? Several ways:


1. The most obvious way would be by making it easier for us to meet other autistic people, as potential romantic partners as well as potential friends.

But that, by itself, is far from enough. It would be great for some of us who have found that an autistic partner similar enough to ourselves can understand us better than anyone else can. But it would not be enough for all heterosexual autistic men, due to the high male-to-female ratio among autistic people. And it would not be enough for those autistic people, of whichever gender or sexual orientation, who would prefer an NT partner for whatever reasons.

Yet, as I will explain below, there are some important ways that a better-developed autistic community could make it easier for autistic people to find NT partners too.


I stumbled on the "high male to female ratio", current awareness indicates that there is a higher male to female ratio or something like that would have been more palatable as a middle ground.
Also the increased participation with other autistic people could lead to a securer self identity, much like on WP, I'm sure there is research out there to support this idea, a solid sense of self is more attractive from a stability perspective. Also there are such a variety of preferences from what I read on WP, they could, with time be viewed as a new normal.

Quote:
2. A better-developed autistic community would make it easier for work-capable autistic people to find decent-paying jobs in autistic-friendly workplaces. (See Autistic Workers Project.)

Most people -- especially most heterosexual women, but many other people too -- want spouses/partners who can earn a good living. 'Nuff said.



Capable of supporting themselves financially, through support from a better developed autistic community, whether that be through benefits, government accommodations or a job, would have a wider catchment and be more inclusive I think.

Quote:
3. One of the biggest barriers to autistic/NT relationships is simply the instinctive prejudice of most people against anyone who seems weird. The autistic community, together with the larger autism community (parents and professionals) could do a much better job of overcoming this prejudice, at least within the relatively more open-minded sectors of society, than most of us could as isolated individuals. For example:

Together with the more enlightened parents' and professionals' organizations, we could proclaim an annual "Neurodiverse Couples Week" (perhaps in early February, in the lead-up to Valentine's Day?) to generate annual media buzz about successful autistic/NT relationships (which do exist, relatively rare though they may be) and how to make such relationships work. Conferences could be held for neurodiverse couples and for psychotherapists who specialize in relationship counseling for neurodiverse couples. Interviews with successful neurodiverse couples could be featured on various organizations' websites and quoted in press releases, and high-profile successful neurodiverse couples could speak at the conferences.

Hopefully the resulting media coverage, including some positive role models, could persuade at least some already relatively open-minded NT's to be more open to the idea of a relationship with an autistic person, and to be more understanding of autistic people's needs.


This will need public relations management and that approach unsettles me, its more susceptible to being hijacked for image purposes and alienating as many in the community will not relate to these couples. Im not sure what to suggest instead though. I guess a clear vision/mission statement/goals designed for and by autistics across the functioning levels and from a range of orientations/preferences, could be more inclusive... But how to attract NTs? I guess by recognising the (often hidden because of prejudice) diversity that exists within the "typical community", making the commonalities more open, less "unknown".
Quote:
4. For many autistic heterosexual men in particular, a big barrier to seeking a romantic relationship is the expectation that men must be the ones who take the social initiative. Some autistic heterosexual women too are frustrated by being confined to a passive role, which mainstream dating culture still expects despite the progress of feminism. And there are probably some NT's out there, both men and women, who are frustrated by these expectations too, but who feel helpless to challenge them.

The only way to solve this problem would be to create an alternative dating culture. Some of us could (most likely with the help of NT relatives or friends) create commercial entities that I will refer to as Sadie Hawkins clubs. (Perhaps someone else can think of a better, more up-to-date name for them?)

As I envision them, Sadie Hawkins clubs would hold various social events for (1) women who prefer to take the social initiative, rather than waiting for men to do so, and (2) men who prefer that women take the social initiative.

These clubs would NOT be aimed specifically at the autistic community. They would be aimed at all women and men who have the above preference and who also fit whatever other membership criteria a particular club might choose to have (e.g. based on age range or some common interest). But they would be as autistic-friendly as possible, e.g. they would aim to be sensory-friendly, and they would feature structured activities of one kind or another.


I like this idea, I'd fall into that camp for sure, maybe not when i was younger and aiming to be someone I wasn't, but from mid 30s I got a better understanding of who I am. Yet perhaps women who were diagnosed in childhood would have a more stable sense of self and be interested at an earlier age.

Quote:
I'll post other ideas here as I think of them, or as they are suggested to me by others.

I would very much appreciate feedback on this article.

I like what you are doing here Mona and fair play on your website, I hope some day that I can get to a place where Im more able to be an active participant in these kinds of changes, till then it is heartening to see others doing it.



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01 Mar 2020, 10:25 am

Amity wrote:
I stumbled on the "high male to female ratio", current awareness indicates that there is a higher male to female ratio or something like that would have been more palatable as a middle ground.

Perhaps I'll change that sentence to: "But it would not be enough for all heterosexual autistic men, due to the high male-to-female ratio among autistic people (at least given current understandings of autism; we don't yet know how much the ratio will change as the psychotherapy and research establishment's understanding of autism in girls and women continues to evolve)."

Amity wrote:
Also the increased participation with other autistic people could lead to a securer self identity, much like on WP, I'm sure there is research out there to support this idea, a solid sense of self is more attractive from a stability perspective.

That's an important additional point.

Amity wrote:
Also there are such a variety of preferences from what I read on WP, they could, with time be viewed as a new normal.

Not sure I understand that last sentence. Exactly what are you saying "could, with time be viewed as a new normal"?

Amity wrote:
Quote:
2. A better-developed autistic community would make it easier for work-capable autistic people to find decent-paying jobs in autistic-friendly workplaces. (See Autistic Workers Project.)

Most people -- especially most heterosexual women, but many other people too -- want spouses/partners who can earn a good living. 'Nuff said.



Capable of supporting themselves financially, through support from a better developed autistic community, whether that be through benefits, government accommodations or a job, would have a wider catchment and be more inclusive I think.

What do you mean by "government accommodations" in this context?

I'm tentatively changing the wording of that paragraph to: "Most people -- especially most heterosexual women, but many other people too -- want spouses/partners who can earn a good living. At the very least they usually want partners with some income, even if it's only government benefits, which a better-developed autistic community could help people to obtain also, for those who cannot work."

Amity wrote:
Quote:
3. One of the biggest barriers to autistic/NT relationships is simply the instinctive prejudice of most people against anyone who seems weird. The autistic community, together with the larger autism community (parents and professionals) could do a much better job of overcoming this prejudice, at least within the relatively more open-minded sectors of society, than most of us could as isolated individuals. For example:

Together with the more enlightened parents' and professionals' organizations, we could proclaim an annual "Neurodiverse Couples Week" (perhaps in early February, in the lead-up to Valentine's Day?) to generate annual media buzz about successful autistic/NT relationships (which do exist, relatively rare though they may be) and how to make such relationships work. Conferences could be held for neurodiverse couples and for psychotherapists who specialize in relationship counseling for neurodiverse couples. Interviews with successful neurodiverse couples could be featured on various organizations' websites and quoted in press releases, and high-profile successful neurodiverse couples could speak at the conferences.

Hopefully the resulting media coverage, including some positive role models, could persuade at least some already relatively open-minded NT's to be more open to the idea of a relationship with an autistic person, and to be more understanding of autistic people's needs.


This will need public relations management and that approach unsettles me, its more susceptible to being hijacked for image purposes and alienating as many in the community will not relate to these couples. Im not sure what to suggest instead though. I guess a clear vision/mission statement/goals designed for and by autistics across the functioning levels and from a range of orientations/preferences, could be more inclusive... But how to attract NTs? I guess by recognising the (often hidden because of prejudice) diversity that exists within the "typical community", making the commonalities more open, less "unknown".

Perhaps I should add a paragraph saying something like, "This idea has major potential pitfalls, though. In the interests of projecting a positive image, it could end up alienating many autistic people (and potential partners thereof) who don't and can't fit the image projected by the couples who are being put forward as role models. On Wrong Planet, a user with the handle of Amity suggested:" -- and then quote your suggestion above.

(EDIT: In the quote from you on my website, I've taken the liberty of changing "functioning levels" to "ASD severity levels" -- I'll change that back to your original if you prefer.)


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Last edited by Mona Pereth on 01 Mar 2020, 11:50 am, edited 3 times in total.

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01 Mar 2020, 11:18 am

It should not be society’s responsibility to provide mates for autistic people. If anyone should play matchmaker, it should be the autistic people’s relatives or the autistic people themselves.


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01 Mar 2020, 11:34 am

Fnord wrote:
It should not be society’s responsibility to provide mates for autistic people. If anyone should play matchmaker, it should be the autistic people’s relatives or the autistic people themselves.

Indeed. My suggestions do not entail "providing mates" but only making them easier to find, by addressing various systemic sources of difficulty.


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01 Mar 2020, 11:42 am

Mona Pereth wrote:
Fnord wrote:
It should not be society’s responsibility to provide mates for autistic people. If anyone should play matchmaker, it should be the autistic people’s relatives or the autistic people themselves.

Indeed. My suggestions do not entail "providing mates" but only making them easier to find, by addressing various systemic sources of difficulty.

Organizing some sort of mixer is perfectly legitimate. I like this idea of an event to be attended by men who have agreed up front to be receptive to being approached by women. There are also women on this site who need to be bolder in their approach. I am tired of these "he spoke to me twice over the last week, is he interested in me?" posts to which the answer ought to be "ask him for a date and you'll know soon enough".


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01 Mar 2020, 12:00 pm

MaxE wrote:
Mona Pereth wrote:
Fnord wrote:
It should not be society’s responsibility to provide mates for autistic people. If anyone should play matchmaker, it should be the autistic people’s relatives or the autistic people themselves.
Indeed. My suggestions do not entail "providing mates" but only making them easier to find, by addressing various systemic sources of difficulty.
Organizing some sort of mixer is perfectly legitimate. I like this idea of an event to be attended by men who have agreed up front to be receptive to being approached by women. There are also women on this site who need to be bolder in their approach. I am tired of these "he spoke to me twice over the last week, is he interested in me?" posts to which the answer ought to be "ask him for a date and you'll know soon enough".
Good idea, but there should be no imperative placed upon society to do so.


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01 Mar 2020, 12:08 pm

Mona Pereth wrote:
Amity wrote:
I stumbled on the "high male to female ratio", current awareness indicates that there is a higher male to female ratio or something like that would have been more palatable as a middle ground.

Perhaps I'll change that sentence to: "But it would not be enough for all heterosexual autistic men, due to the high male-to-female ratio among autistic people (at least given current understandings of autism; we don't yet know how much the ratio will change as the psychotherapy and research establishment's understanding of autism in girls and women continues to evolve)."

Amity wrote:
Also the increased participation with other autistic people could lead to a securer self identity, much like on WP, I'm sure there is research out there to support this idea, a solid sense of self is more attractive from a stability perspective.

That's an important additional point.

1.
Amity wrote:
Also there are such a variety of preferences from what I read on WP, they could, with time be viewed as a new normal.

Not sure I understand that last sentence. Exactly what are you saying "could, with time be viewed as a new normal"?

2.
Amity wrote:
Quote:
A better-developed autistic community would make it easier for work-capable autistic people to find decent-paying jobs in autistic-friendly workplaces. (See Autistic Workers Project.)

Most people -- especially most heterosexual women, but many other people too -- want spouses/partners who can earn a good living. 'Nuff said.



Capable of supporting themselves financially, through support from a better developed autistic community, whether that be through benefits, government accommodations or a job, would have a wider catchment and be more inclusive I think.

What do you mean by "government accommodations" in this context?

I'm tentatively changing the wording of that paragraph to: "Most people -- especially most heterosexual women, but many other people too -- want spouses/partners who can earn a good living. At the very least they usually want partners with some income, even if it's only government benefits, which a better-developed autistic community could help people to obtain also, for those who cannot work"

Amity wrote:
Quote:
3. One of the biggest barriers to autistic/NT relationships is simply the instinctive prejudice of most people against anyone who seems weird. The autistic community, together with the larger autism community (parents and professionals) could do a much better job of overcoming this prejudice, at least within the relatively more open-minded sectors of society, than most of us could as isolated individuals. For example:

Together with the more enlightened parents' and professionals' organizations, we could proclaim an annual "Neurodiverse Couples Week" (perhaps in early February, in the lead-up to Valentine's Day?) to generate annual media buzz about successful autistic/NT relationships (which do exist, relatively rare though they may be) and how to make such relationships work. Conferences could be held for neurodiverse couples and for psychotherapists who specialize in relationship counseling for neurodiverse couples. Interviews with successful neurodiverse couples could be featured on various organizations' websites and quoted in press releases, and high-profile successful neurodiverse couples could speak at the conferences.

Hopefully the resulting media coverage, including some positive role models, could persuade at least some already relatively open-minded NT's to be more open to the idea of a relationship with an autistic person, and to be more understanding of autistic people's needs.


This will need public relations management and that approach unsettles me, its more susceptible to being hijacked for image purposes and alienating as many in the community will not relate to these couples. Im not sure what to suggest instead though. I guess a clear vision/mission statement/goals designed for and by autistics across the functioning levels and from a range of orientations/preferences, could be more inclusive... But how to attract NTs? I guess by recognising the (often hidden because of prejudice) diversity that exists within the "typical community", making the commonalities more open, less "unknown".

Perhaps I should add a paragraph saying something like, "This idea has major potential pitfalls, though. In the interests of projecting a positive image, it could end up alienating many autistic people (and potential partners thereof) who don't and can't fit the image projected by the couples who are being put forward as role models. On Wrong Planet, a user with the handle of Amity suggested:" -- and then quote your suggestion above.

(EDIT: In the quote from you on my website, I've taken the liberty of changing "functioning levels" to "ASD severity levels" -- I'll change that back to your original if you prefer.)


I would continue the tree quote, but its apparently beyond me and capatcha today to get it working:lol: .
Have numbered points instead.

1.
Re women on the spectrum, the under diagnosed aspect due to criteria designed based on observations of males would likely be a tangent for me... Im happy to acknowledge my bias on this.

I'm not quite up to speed with how to word things in an inclusive way, but in layman terms based on what ive read elsewhere and on posts by WP members, autistic people seem to be orientated romantically and sexually in a whole variety of ways, their preferences may be broader ranging than is typical in a control group comparison the wider community. I don't experience attraction typically, not sure where I fit exactly, or how to categorise, but it doesn't seem to be the norm, I didn't realise that until after I joined WP.
I mean not too long ago it was against the law to practice homosexuality (30 years or so from my pov), but recently we've had openly gay political leaders and even have introduced same sex marriage... LGBTQ is a new type of normal in pockets of the world. What else can become normal eh, so much potential.

2.
I like that.

I mean government/state related supported employment schemes, subsidies/incentives for employing people with disabilities. Perhaps not high earners, but secure in their income because of the supports, or perhaps because of a type of union membership approach, either way security of income is desirable. I guess due to the different approach to maternity leave and alimony in the USA, people in this category may need to be realistic about family planning from the outset though.
3.
Lol, if it helps you sure, feel welcome to rearrange and make as your own though, it was a response worded based on your words.



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01 Mar 2020, 12:11 pm

MaxE wrote:
I actually think these ideas have potential. I certainly helps to live in an area with a large population.

I hope you can organize this and tell us how it went!

The quoted page is in the "Longterm visions" section of my website. I'm not about to implement any of these ideas immediately. The autistic community is not yet sufficiently well-developed, in my opinion. It seems to me that various other kinds of groups (listed on the main "Longterm visions" page) need to be created first, in order for my ideas to work well. However, if anyone else here feels otherwise and wants to go ahead and try one or more of my ideas now, they are welcome to do so.


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Last edited by Mona Pereth on 01 Mar 2020, 12:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.