"My brother has always wanted what most of us do: love," writes Danielle Bacher of her younger brother Randy, 27. Finding it has been a complicated, decade-long pursuit that she charts for Esquire in a piece titled "My Autistic Brother's Quest for Love." Randy's childhood was marked by speech troubles, physical therapy appointments, and bullies. "All he wanted was real friends. [At the country club pool] he'd purchase french fries, candy, and soda on my parents' account for all the boys who'd just made fun of him." But love was what he truly sought. It first came in the form of a girl he met at 19 at a center for students with special needs. When things ended, he "became inconsolably angry," threatened suicide, and spent 10 days in a psychiatric-care unit. A more stable but-not-exactly-stable 18-month relationship with Amy (all the women's names have been changed) followed, then a few online relationships, and then ... Farah.
He met her online, too, in 2014. He lived in Orlando; she was in Malaysia, and eight years older at 34. Three months later, they decided to have a baby ("never mind the impracticality: he lived in an assisted-living facility" and had help doing things like showering). She flew to Florida, and after being caught in bed together, they fled for a week before returning to their respective homes. Farah, not pregnant, returned to the States in March 2015, and they met at Randy's father's Pennsylvania home, where Farah rifled through Bacher's father's papers and berated him for his spending habits. That visit ended with the police being called, and Farah opting to leave, for good. "I really did love Farah," Randy tells his sister. "Yes, I am handicapped. Yes, I have special needs, but my disabilities have nothing to do with love whatsoever." Read the full piece here. (Read more love stories.)