Autism and sex.
[Possible TW for rape and consent issues]
So, let’s talk about autism and sex. Yes, autistic people can have sex. We can enjoy sex. And we can consent to sex. Yes, even ‘low functioning’ people (and functioning labels are shitty anyway).
I wanna talk about consent. Because I see people talking about getting ‘clear, verbal consent’ and while that’s a good idea in a lot of ways for a lot of people, it doesn’t always work that way with autistic folk. Let me explain. If someone asks me ‘do you like this?’ there’s a good chance I won’t know the answer to that. Because for me, that’s vague. Are they referring to the whole atmosphere in general, the act of sex, the way they’re touching me, the place they’re touching me? It’s too vague for me. And sometimes, I can’t even verbalize what I’m feeling anyway.
If I’m experiencing a particularly strong sensation (and strong for autistics can mean something different to allistic folk) I am likely to go pretty non-verbal. So verbal consent isn’t always gonna work because not everyone can BE verbal.
Another issue with consent and autism is the idea of body language. See, I can’t read body language very well, and I display body language in a different way to allistic people. I need my husband to verbalize his consent and his enjoyment because I can’t tell. It doesn’t need to be words, it can be general sex noises that I already know are ‘good’ noises from him.
And as for myself, I fucking hate wearing clothing for too long because of the texture on my skin. So my husband has had to learn that me being nude isn’t a sign that I want sex.
A lot of autistic folk have issues with textures and sensations. So the people we have sex with need to learn the difference between sex acts we don’t enjoy just because, and sex acts that freak us out because of the senstations. In my case, I cannot stand massage oils and basically anything slick on my skin. Guaranteed meltdown time.
Now, when something triggers me in an autistic way during sex, I am likely to shut down. So, if someone I’m having sex with does something that makes me feel wrong, I’ll probably just lay there and accept it because my brain has sort of gone somewhere else and I don’t have the ability to respond physically or verbally. So this is something the people who have sex with me need to know the signs of, so they can stop completely if I am accidentally triggered. This has happened a few times to me, when someone has touched my nipples or the time I found out how much massage oils bother me.
One thing I do during sex is that I don’t always seem to realize it’s probably inappropriate to have a conversation that’s not about sex. But my brain is doing many things at once so if I’m having sex, no matter how fun it is, my brain probably also really wants to talk about Star Trek or what we’re having for dinner or that cat I saw yesterday or whatever else. My allistic husband has had to get used to this.
So yeah, this is basically everything I wanted to say about autism and sex. A lot of it is basically from my own experience so it doesn’t necessarily apply to ALL autistic folk, but from what I’ve heard a lot of other autistic folk say, I think my experiences are fairly common.