Autistics Do It Better
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 bedroom—anxiety, 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.