Jan 06, 2012 21 Share

Autistics Do It Better


Illustration. Author holding banana with speech bubble.
Artwork by John Scott Holman

OK, so that isn’t necessarily true, but I got your attention didn’t I? 

I’ve never been skilled in the art of subtlety, so I’ll just come out and say it: Autistic people have sex! If reading this statement makes you feel a bit nauseous, well, tough—autistic children grow up! Contrary to popular belief, not all of us are quirky, asexual robots. C’mon Temple Grandin, people are animals too! Enough about cows, let’s talk about the birds and the bees. 

Unfortunately, many parents dread having the sex talk with their children, carefully avoiding that particular can of worms as long as possible. Guess what, with or without you, your child will one day get hold of a can opener. If you don’t educate them about sex, someone else will. Think fifth grade is too early? Well, their peers don’t—word around the schoolyard goes from Pokémon to Penthouse in the blink of an eye. 

Your child may not be asking about sex, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t thinking about it. This is especially true of autistic children, who are less likely to come to their parents with questions and concerns, yet more likely to be confused and disturbed when hormones kick suddenly into high gear. The wrong kind of sexual education can be outright dangerous. Make no mistake, sex is powerful, but ignoring it solves nothing. 

My parents began worrying about my sexual curiosity relatively early. At 11 years old, I happened to read that the world would soon end in a “massive nuclear orgasm.” The following evening the principal of my Christian school joined my family for dinner. We found ourselves discussing the book of Revelations. I informed my principal that we were, indeed, nearing the end times... and would all soon die of nuclear orgasms. 

In reality, I was something of a late bloomer. I had no interest in sex whatsoever during my early adolescence. Peer pressure got to me eventually. Honestly, my first time was pretty disappointing. This isn’t like that scene in “Titanic!” I thought. 

Sex is a bit tricky for an undiagnosed autistic with sensory issues. I complained the whole time. “That feels weird … Your perfume is making me woozy … I can’t concentrate—the cat downstairs is eating too loud!” Eventually I gave up, crawled out of bed, and went to make a grilled cheese sandwich. My girlfriend broke up with me before the cheese had time to melt. I could not understand why she was upset. What did I do wrong this time? The whole evening was baffling. The grilled cheese was good though! 

I’ve since learned that healthy and honest communication is the key to enjoying sex. If parents begin an open and constructive dialogue, children will feel more comfortable continuing that dialogue with future sexual partners. An autistic person may bring a lot of baggage to the bedroomanxiety, sensory issues, phobias, and emotional dysfunction can be a major turn-off. Initial experiences may prove awkward and upsetting. However, with time, patience and open communication, many autistics become quite comfortable with sexual activity. Some of us become really comfortable!  A few just don’t see what all the fuss is about. 

Some autistics are heterosexual, while others are asexual, homosexual, bisexual, or transgendered. Autistic or neurotypical, gay, straight, or sidewise, everyone deserves love and respect, both of which are vitally important beneath the sheets. 

Our autistic deficits follow us into the bedroom … but so do our unique assets. After a bit of practice, you may quickly realize that autism has an upside—we are persistent, focused, inventive, detail-oriented, uninhibited by social conventions, and … we leave no project unfinished. What more could you ask for?!

No matter how much it freaks people out, autistics have sexual feelings. We may, at times, express our sexuality awkwardly or inappropriately, but who doesn’t? There’s no such thing as normal, in or out of the bedroom. Be safe, be educated … and watch out for those nuclear orgasms.  

 



Comment Options

Anonymous (not verified)

harm

sounds like some of the religious nonsense in your family had a negative impact as well.

Anonymous

One point of clarification:

One point of clarification: gender identity and sexual orientation are entirely different things. Autistic people can be trans, yes. But that says nothing about whether they're gay, lesbian, bisexual, heterosexual, pansexual, asexual, etc...

Anonymous

Thank you!!

thank you so much for sharing!! I love your point og view, and your humor!! I have an 6 year old autistic boy who asks a million questions every day, I try to be honest and open about all he wants to know, and I will continue being so :-)

Anonymous

THANK YOU !!!

Thank you for sharing, thank youuuu so i know how to understand my partner.

Anonymous

GREAT JOB SCOTT!

This is by far the funniest artical of yours I've read Scotty! I love your writting. Keep up the good work Love! 

Anonymous

Love this!

This is great! As a parent of an 8 yo kid with autism, I really appreciate this advice. It's so smart (and funny!  Personally, I also have some major sensory issues so I can really relate to that) and I will definitely be following this as my son gets older. Thank you for your honesty!

Anonymous

Scotty: For me it wasn't the

Scotty: For me it wasn't the Cat, but being distracted by the sequel to 2001!

Anonymous

Thanks

My youngest brother is quickly approaching the age where this topic is going to come up, it's really good to gain perspective on it. Thank you!

Anonymous

Great stuff!

Great stuff!

Anonymous

Thank you for pointing this

Thank you for pointing this out!

Anonymous

Shanti

With me I just thought 'this is taking too long' and lost interst quite early on. Maybe on medication it would have been better. I'm not sure if I even want to get back intot he dating game as the last relationship was horrendous. Actually it pointed me towards my diagnoses so I guess I should be thankful. But this artilce will at least make me think that it may not be as impossible as I keep thinking it is. Thanks once again Scotty for another stelalr article.

Anonymous

Sex and Autism

I have opened that door with my son and am not ashamed I did .  What people don't realize is exactly what you said.  Autistics as well as all of society, want and need sex.  Hormones come and we all have to deal. I am proud to say, that as a Mom of an aspie, I have had the talk continue to talk and have prepared my son.  I leave no stoned unturned in explaining the sex, how to protect yourself and how to be careful, just like I would have with a neurotyipical person. Parents you as a parent have an obligation to let your kids know, there is no shame in that.  If I am asked something I don't know, we research until we have discussed a,b,c, and d.  A good parent doesn't let their child learn about sex from the friends.  We are responsible for every child we raise.  Thank you young man and kudos to you for being so open.  Millie

Anonymous

Thanks for the info and a good chuckle

Love, love, love your perspectives!!!!

Anonymous

I can really appreciate this

I can really appreciate this post.  I went undiagnosed for 18 years (actually I was in intense therapy "preventing" it for that long).  My son has Autism and he's reaching that age of "it's time to adress the sex issue."  

Anonymous

Autistics Do It Better....

I am sooo happy as a parent of an soon to be 17 yr old ASD child to be reading this!!! There is not enough information out there like this, and like you stated....our kiddos don't come and ask us all the things we wished we would. I feel very comfortable sending/suggesting this link to many that this could help! Well Done! Well Said!!! And WELL THOUGHT!!!!

Anonymous

Love this :) Made me smile

Love this :) Made me smile and lol!! But, most importantly, feel a lot less anxious about preparing for the transition into adulthood with my little autistic, up and coming into manhood, boy. Thanks for that!!

Anonymous

blogging in heat and light

John Scott Holman is a force to be reckoned with - listen and read his viewpoints and you will "know" neurodiversity in all of its fluorescence and incandescence (both heat and light !) thanks, Scott Wright - iSTAR project - University of Utah 

Anonymous

Thank You...

Thank you so much for putting that into words that make perfect sense.. Also for teling everyone who reads this that Autistic People and have physical and emotional feelings just like every other person on this planet. I like your choice of words when you said "Thre is NO such thing as NORMAL"... Everyone on this planet has there own personality no two people are alike! So again thank you so much for putting this article in simple clear and understadable words...

Anonymous

I was a bit taken back by the

I was a bit taken back by the photo and opening. Of course sex needs to be discussed with children and youth on the spectrum who can understand at all about it and mine have been talked with. But as a Christian it is vital to me to also teach them responsibility in handling their feelings and this can be challenging. Sex is only for marriage and is to be heterosexual and appropriate; even in autism spectrum/aspie people or they too will be judged.

Anonymous

Awaiting your next publication

Think this is your best article to date.  Funny, quirky but dead-on true.  Can wait for your next publication, "The Aspie Sutra"   

Anonymous

Awesome Article!

REPOST on Autism Hangout.  :)