The positive message of The Rosie Project

Showing the world that Asperger’s Syndrome does not rule out romantic love


The Rosie Project is a book written by Graeme Simsion about Don Tillman, a highly intelligent professor in genetics, who starts an scientific-like project to find a suitable spouse by means of a detailed questionnaire. In this way, he tries to avoid the process of social dating in which he has been unsuccesfull in the past due to his social oddness. In the context of this spouse project he meets Rosie Jarman and decides — although she is not eligible as a spouse according to his questionnaire — to engage his genetic skills in order to help her find her biological father. During this search—without realising it at first —they fall in love. In spite of his lack of emotional reciprocity Don appears to be capable of loving and Rosie actually appears to love him in his own odd way.

I recommend reading this book to everyone. Alternatively, you can listen to the audiobook below:

Without mentioning it explicitly in the book, it is clear that Don Tillman is a very high functioning fictional character with Asperger’s Syndrome. Indirectly it is suggested by the lecture that he gives about the genetics of Asperger’s Syndrome in the beginning of the book and by the research plan that he makes up later on in order to collect DNA samples from all of the potential biological fathers of Rosie. The best evidence, however, is his highly systemized autistic insistence on sameness with respect to all of his activities throughout the day in order to be as efficient as possible.

The great value of this book is its positive message about the possibility of experiencing romantic love despite of autism. Ofcourse it is a challenge to overcome the autistic difficulties, which requires a willingness to think out of the box about how it is still possible to intimately relate to one another. However, I am convinced that it can be done, as I have met many couples that have shown me that they had managed to do so. Patients and their partners often tell me that in treatments too much emphasis is being put on the negative aspects of autism spectrum disorders, while they actually feel more supported and helped by messages which provide them with a positive perspective on their potential possibilities.

The Rosie Project conveys such a positive message about Asperger’s Syndrome and romantic love on a worldwide scale. Therefore this book can be expected to be a great support for individuals with autism who find themselves acknowledged by it. I am going to recommend them reading it. Thank you Graeme for writing it!

By the way, in the meantime Graeme Simsion has written the sequel The Rosie Effect … (read a preview on Medium)

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