Cantu researched autistic communities online, but was disappointed by how many of them were made by non-autistics.
"These sites either portrayed autism in a negative light, or grouped us together without showing that each of us is different," she told Buzz Feed News.
The researchers asked 80 women ages 15-29 and 61 moms how attractive several fictional men were, how much they liked their personalities, and how much they'd want to either date them or set them up with their children. Both groups preferred the men who were rated most attractive, and both selected the ones with the highest-rated personalities as long as they were at least moderately attractive.
However, when parents were the ones choosing between the men, looks played less of a role.
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"We wanted to create a website that brought together people on the spectrum for dating and friendships, but also be able to differentiate people's spectrum traits," Cantu said, adding that she often saw online communities separating those with Asperger's and autism, and felt that none were "inviting to everyone." Cantu told Buzz Feed News that, contrary to the way the community is often portrayed, everyone on the autism spectrum has different tendencies and preferences.
"For example, just because someone is on the spectrum, does not mean they have social anxiety," she said.
Moms said they'd consider setting their daughters up with the men who were rated least attractive, while daughters weren't even open to dating them."This may signal that unattractiveness is less acceptable to women than to their mothers," lead author Madeleine Fugère said in a press release.
"It might also mean that women and their mothers may have different notions of what constitutes a minimally acceptable level of physical attractiveness, with mothers employing a less stringent standard than their daughters."Perhaps our parents, being older and wiser, have grown to understand that looks don't matter so much.