An AANE Love Story

annual appeal


Dear Community Member,

Ben would be the first to tell you that he didn’t expect to find his soulmate in his weekly AANE support group. But on August 1, 2021, he married Dina, the source of his life’s joy and purpose—a woman he met nine years earlier in the group.

When Dina joined Ben's group in 2012, he was pleased to find someone who shared many of his interests and passions. Like Ben, Dina had learned she was on the spectrum late in life. Like him she loved movies, and going to museums, and had an interest in Judaism. Like him, she was single.

So Ben was even more pleased when he asked Dina to join him for a baseball game, and she said yes. Over the years that followed, they went to countless films and exhibits and lectures—as friends. She thought he was good at talking to people, though probably not as good as he thought he was. Still, she was impressed. Ben has epilepsy and can’t drive, so in 2017, when Ben's mother was hospitalized for heart surgery, Dina offered to drive him to see her. A year or so later, when Ben was in Israel and awake with jet lag, the only person he wanted to talk to was Dina. He woke her up, but she didn’t mind.

And maybe they would have stayed just good friends for even longer if, in 2019, Bill hadn’t been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. When he received the diagnosis, he called Dina distraught. Dina helped him calm down, soothed his fears. Just as he was about to get off the phone, he said, “I love you.”

Dina hung up the phone. She thought about it all night—did he love her like a friend? Or as something more? The next morning, she called him back to ask. “More than a friend,” he replied. And she said, “I love you, too. More than a friend.”

Ben says Dina never saw his epilepsy or cancer (now in remission) or Asperger’s—she saw him, and loves him for who he is. For Dina, who has always felt bad about being “strange,” she has someone to be herself with, someone to take care of, who also delights in taking care of her.

Ben and Dina found each other through AANE. Others find friends, people who understand, and a community. This season, please give generously to help us continue our mission: helping people with Asperger's or similar autism spectrum and neurodiverse profiles build meaningful, connected lives.




Brenda Dater, MSW, MPH
Executive Director

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