Autism and Sex: Don’t Desexualise Me!

One cis woman’s account of navigating sex whilst autistic.

When you Google ‘relationships with an autistic partner,’ one of the more frequently asked questions is: “can people with Asperger’s Syndrome have sex?”

Considering this is a frequently asked question, it shows that we automatically link Asperger’s Syndrome, or Autism, with sexlessness. It also shows that we’re taught to not talk about it. Because the takeaway is: of course they have sex. Just like many other human beings have sex. But, the discussion point is: why on earth did you even have to Google it? 

If you are someone who would Google the above, this isn’t on you. It’s on society. We’re not educated efficiently (or, at all) to learn about this topic, which means we are left to our own devices as we attempt to learn more, and fill that gap in our understanding and knowledge.

People rarely ever think about people on the autism spectrum sexually. It’s almost as if we’re considered to be sexless.

The truth of the matter is that sex for autistic women (hereafter to be referred to as aspies, aspie-girls, aspie-chics, autists, or aspien) is as varied as anyone else’s. I use the term aspie as one that I identify with, but please be aware that not everyone will feel comfortable with the same language and terminology. It’s best to ask each person what feels right for them. Sex with and for an aspie really can be quite different from any other sexual experience you are likely to have, but perhaps not in the way you might think.

The misconception: what people think aspies are like in bed  

More often than not, people think of an aspie as socially awkward, and sexually non-existent.  

In our society’s mind, they’re pacing back and forth across the room while avoiding the cracks, repeating the same line from a movie over and over.  

They are flapping their hands and glancing at you with intermittent eye contact, and are obsessed with knitting or numbers or narwhals. 

They are likely believed to have mental health issues. The kind that neurotypicals are said to not touch with a 10-foot pole. And understandably so! 

Because….well, I mean – fucking hell – none of that is sexy! Our world has desexualized the aspien person and forced them onto the fringe where sex can be absent, confusing, overwhelming, or worse – mentally and physically abusive for them.  

It’s time for openness and honesty. It’s time for you to hear, from an Aspie woman, what sex is really like. 

In this blog post, I choose to be vulnerable. I choose to risk KK sexual suicide at the expense of throwing my curtains wide, to share that I am a Kitten. I am an Aspie. And I am beyond proud.  

I roar that intimacy for aspie-chics does, in fact, exist – and can be incredible.  

Though, before I completely expose my proverbial T and A, I think it essential also to share that if you were ever to meet me in the sweet flesh, you’d likely never guess that I am neurodiverse. In other words, you wouldn’t know that I had Asperger’s Syndrome.

This is massively due to my progressive upbringing by incredibly “tuned-in” parents (who raised me with the right wrap-around support) and my systematic study of human behaviour since. 

I have become a human analyzer. A human behaviourist. A camouflaged chameleon. In the aspie world, we women call it: masking, and we get very good at it very early on. Some neurotypicals hear this and feel a wave of sympathy for us. They think that we shouldn’t have to hide our true colours. That we should be accepted for who we are. Unfortunately, we live in a society that usually makes that impossible. But, you know what? Often we’re so good at it that we don’t blink twice.    

I have always needed to observe people to fit in socially, survive and thrive, and eventually needed to do so socio-sexually, as well. I examine people’s mannerisms, how they move their bodies, their gait, when and how they shift their weight, their speech pattern, when their eyes narrow or widen. Just–the whole everything of them. I’ve tried on their antics and words for size, to see what fits, what feels comfortable, and what to force when it doesn’t until it feels like a bodystocking. 

I live in a streaming state of reflection. My senses are on fire all of the time! I’ve learned to find the balance between loving this about myself and managing it so that I may still appear like a peaceful, functioning, sensible adult. (Which I am, most of the time.)  

So, Reader, read on if you wish to understand some of the experiences of one aspie woman. This insight into my life might be helpful in starting to understand some of the experiences I have, but it should be said that every individual will have their own, unique ways of experiencing the world and sex. Feel free to take what you learn from me not as a gospel, but as the beginning of your journey into understanding your unique Aspie partners in the future. Unlike society will have you believe, sex with aspien people can be fundamentally transformative. I can assure you; you’ll probably have a whole different mindset after.

Aspie Sex: It’s Great! 

Being autistic can mean it’s more challenging to understand the strict boundaries that our society puts in place for us to follow without question. 

For instance in 2016, 93% of the UK labeled themselves as ‘straight’ or ‘heterosexual’. 

But, ever since I can remember, I’ve been attracted to both males and females. 

Part of my aspie charm is defying the rules of the public and just going with what feels right. Since many aspiens find it easy to talk about stigmatised topics without the slightest flinch of inhibition, they can also be very sex-positive. We’re able to talk about sex with no concern because boundaries are transparent to us. 

Check out the Make Love, Not Porn article we posted when interviewing Cindy Gallop to discover how talking about sex can change the world. 

Autists are highly stimulative. This means their senses are ablaze. Scents, textures, sounds, tastes, visuals, feelings (both internal and those of others) are all inputs that can create a sensory playground for an aspie-person. 

With our senses on overdrive, people who have High-Functioning Autism or Asperger’s Syndrome feel more intensely than neuro-typical people. So, sex for us literally feels different. Our sense of taste can be stronger, too. So, we often savour things in more detail than neurotypicals. 

The difficulties of having a sexual relationship with an aspie

Some may consider the following a ‘downside’. That said, others embrace it, find it endearing and love it. What side of the fence you fall on is totally up to you, but the key is awareness.

This so-called ‘downside’ is that, while being uninhibited is freeing, it can be tricky for some aspies to know when they’re being hit on, navigate jokes and sarcasm during flirtations, and just generally understand social cues. This can lead to misunderstandings. 

Sometimes, these misunderstandings are all in good fun, and a partner can learn to ‘speak our language.’ Other times, it can lead to arguments, all based on a misinterpretation. When it comes to communication with someone with Aspergers or Autism, you need to put more effort into learning each other’s communication style.  

Knowing when to reel in bold conversation, switching over to a new topic, or simply stopping talking altogether and just listening are not impossible, but it can be a challenge.  

Many aspies can struggle with focus in general. 

I vividly remember 69ing a gorgeous man with whom I share a special connection. I thought to myself (nearly out loud) How, the fuck, am I going to focus on pleasing him while he’s lapping me up and down, side to side, in and out? 

But I discovered that he had my mental stimulation gripped tightly long before there was any skin-to-skin contact weeks earlier via chat. Dirty talk and sexting can seriously heighten the whole experience, and it just built suspense to the point where I wanted to burst. 

The care we held for one another was palpable and kept me engaged and wanted to please him while he pleased me synchronously. That care just may be an essential non-negotiable for an Aspie-person. Otherwise, expect that they may zone out and get lost inside themselves.

Sensory Overload: Sex With An Aspie

Autism is a sensory disorder. 

It basically means there’s a whole lot of stimuli happening simultaneously along your physical body, as well as in your brain. 

Don’t be afraid to ask questions about general preferences. 

If you see your partner fidgeting, twirling their hair, doing the leg-bounce, or doing anything repetitive with their hands, they’re likely self-regulating or self-soothing as a way to cope with, or respond to, their environment. It’s a sign that something is bothering them. That can be something as small as there is too much noise in a room, to something more extreme, like being in physical pain. 

Talk to your partner. Open the “portal of trust.” 

This can lead to a tremendous build-up of arousal. Simply by showing your partner that you care – that you can spot when something’s bothering them – proves that you understand them, which is sexy as hell. 

In general, it’s best to forge some sort of mutual understanding. Be open, be communicative, and transparent about the What If scenarios. Find out what turns your partner on and if there are any trigger touches or words you should know to stand clear of. They’ll appreciate that and it might help them regain their confidence, and yield a more pleasurable experience for you both.

Top 5 Things You Should NEVER Say To An Aspie 

So you’re gettin’ your groove on, hittin’ your stride– it’s all good!  The conversation is developing, you’re following all my tips, and you’re getting it on in style. You think to yourself: It is time to open the portal of trust… But, with one wrong sentence, the arousal’s gone and you have an upset partner. 

So, here’s how to not fuck it up. 

I’ve heard it all: words of empowerment, encouragement, dismission – the whole gamut.  

For me, learning more about how I operate just meant gaining a deeper understanding of how I’m wired, so I can be better at living in a shared world with neurotypicals. That’s really what any aspie-person wants in a world where their quirks set them up to feel alien. 

Here are the Top Five no-nos when responding to someone letting you know they are aspire:

1. “You’re too hot to be autistic!”

This usually comes from someone in a well-meaning way.  But don’t say it. It’s dismissive and false. Aspies can look good on the outside and be their quirky, lovely selves on the inside – and who’s to say what looks hot anyway? 

2. “Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry.”

Why would you be sorry? Our Autism makes us who we are. Just because we need to mask to fit into society, we wouldn’t want to be anyone else. 

3. “Well, I mean– everyone’s a little on the spectrum, aren’t they?”

Also well-intentioned but simply untrue. The way an aspie walks through the world is different.  We are reminded of this multiple times a day– some of us are just better at hiding it.

4. “Wow, I would have never guessed it.”

This isn’t a horrible thing to say. But, it implies that we need to act a certain way to be accepted. While that, to some degree, may be how we feel, we don’t want to be reminded of it. It also suggests that you’d prefer it if we weren’t autistic. And, being autistic is a massive part of our identity. So, it’s not the best thing to say. 

5. “Everyone has something, I guess.”

I’d never call you a douchebag for saying this because I’ve trained myself out of that sort of behaviour – but it is sort of a douch-y thing to say.  Don’t say it.

The best things to say to someone with Autism

Rather than landing yourself in a sticky situation (and not the good kind) by saying any of the five things above, try these three instead.

1. “Cool – what more do you want me to know about that?”  

This shows that you aren’t about to run for the hills after I’ve nakedly outed myself to you.

2. “Ah – that explains why you….” 

I love this because it means you’re about to show your knowledge base on the topic, and also that you’ve been paying attention. It shows interest in something inherently me. However, only say this if you have some knowledge on the subject. 

3.“Should that change anything?”  

Personally, I adore this one. It demonstrates a lack of shock, which,  for me, is a relief.  Not a fan of shock. But to others in the Aspie community, they may find this dismissive. You’ll have to gauge each individual response… As mentioned above with our terms and identifiers, we’re all unique and distinctive. 

Remember: just because you’ve met one aspie person, it doesn’t mean you have cracked the code. It only means that you’ve met ONE aspie in a world full of aspie people with their own preferences.

We’re not all the same. There’s no one way for an aspien to have sex because there’s no one way to be aspien. We’re human beings and we have our quirks, likes, dislikes, and things that make us who we are. That doesn’t change just because you have autism. 

There are many of us out there – perhaps even more than you realise, masking away in plain sight, right under your nose! Some want nothing to do with sex but still crave connection and intimacy in other ways. 

With the right dialogue, and of course, consent, you just might have something cosmic coming at you full throttle. So, breathe in, and brace yourself, because it’s sure to be a ride you will cherish always, and never forget!

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