Category Archives: Sex

20 Jul ’13: The wolf in sheep’s clothing

A few books and blogs written by and for adult Aspie females have alluded to the fact that an alarmingly high percentage of females on the spectrum have reported having experienced sexual assault, molestation, rape and other forms of sexual abuse. This information was of great interest to me, as a survivor of similar, but it had never occurred to me that the incidents could possibly be related to my Asperger’s.

This topic was recently explored within a particularly close-knit online group of adult Aspie females and I was shocked, not only at the number of other women who had experienced some form of sexual abuse, but the sheer extent of some of the abuse tolerated. As stories were shared, we were all taken by surprise at the similarity of many of our situations and experiences. One conclusion that seems to be indisputable is that the Asperger trait of being unable to read non-verbal communication (and therefore unable to discern intent) and our tendency to be naïvely innocent and trusting of people, has resulted in dire consequences for many of us. Furthermore, the difficulty we experience in establishing connections with peers, and our general communication difficulties, mean we often don’t know who to tell or how to obtain support, so therefore continue to suffer in silence.

Respect for the privacy of my friends precludes me from writing about their specific examples here, so I will use my own experiences to illustrate my point.

I was sexually assaulted by a large (15+) group of boys in my high school toilet during one lunchtime when I was 14 years old. It was set up by two females who didn’t like me and persistently bullied me, most likely because of my AS traits. I didn’t perceive myself to be in any danger, even as the boys blocked my route, closed in on me and began pushing me backwards towards the gents toilets. Perhaps if I’d been able to read their intent, I’d have realised what was happening sooner and possibly made enough noise to have alerted help? Who knows. Subsequently, I was also coerced into sexual activity against my will by a few boys/men between the ages of 14 and 16, finally losing my carefully guarded virginity when I was raped by a boyfriend at 16. My literal interpretation and unquestioning acceptance of my misogynistic upbringing and Christian faith meant that I assumed I was now obliged to marry him. So I remained his girlfriend for three months, tolerating all manner of sexual abuse as he ‘trained’ me to meet his needs. That was, until he grew bored and moved on to the next girl, leaving me confused and devastated.

Most, if not all, of these situations could have been preventable if I had been able to read nonverbal communication.

This conclusion has also been reached by many of my fellow Aspergian female friends but as harrowing as many of their stories are, another character trait appears to emerge. Resilience. We each have our emotional (and in some cases, physical) scars but there is a resilience that I think could be born out of the AS tendency to process things logically, using intellectual rationalisation. Although, quite understandably, there is evidence of dissociation of various sorts and many of us have struggled to reclaim our own sexual identity and autonomy, there is still something so very uniquely pure, innocent, and irrepressibly frank in the recounting of these incidents that endears us to each other.

Discovering our common experiences and traits has been a very liberating experience. However there’s no escaping the fact that these incidents have had their impact. Speaking for myself, in my early 30s I was finally in the fortunate position of being able to undertake extensive psychotherapy to undo the damaging effects of my upbringing and experiences, but it wasn’t an easy process. It took two years of serious commitment and nearly cost me my marriage.

Now, as the mother of a young girl who also appears to have many AS traits, I find myself agonising over trying to strike a balance between leaving her to enjoy her childhood innocence and making sure she has learned the safety skills she may need, especially as she starts school soon and will no longer be fully under my watchful protection.

My own mother tells me of a terrifying moment for her, when I was nearly 3 years old. She was shopping and dropped my hand for a moment to pay at the till for something, then turned to look for me and saw me being led off towards a small passageway by a strange woman. Needless to say, I’ve already had the ‘stranger danger’ talk with my daughter and she is fully aware that there are a few circumstances when it is absolutely ok with mummy for her to kick, scream, bite, hit and run away from a stranger. At what point I extend that advice to include people she knows, who are behaving inappropriately towards her, I still haven’t decided. That requires explaining what is inappropriate. And at her current age, much ‘inappropriate’ behavior is still very innocent exploration. This is where I rely on my more neurotypical friends to keep me right. Their more typically developing children seem to acquire this knowledge and reserve quite naturally. I didn’t. I still often struggle to understand the unspoken societal rules surrounding some behavior and hope that people make allowances for me since I’m a ‘thespian’.

Hopefully I can prepare my daughter for the world a bit more thoroughly than my (very likely undiagnosed aspie) mother managed to prepare me.

Next post: The day after… a generation on

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Filed under Abuse, Aspergers Syndrome, Relationships, Sex, Uncategorized

1 Jul ’13: A new era of aspie therapy?

My last blog post kicked off a series of interesting posts in one of my aspie support facebook groups and a private message exchange with a fellow aspie girl (who, I’m sure, will be blogging about this too very soon!) has resulted in a bit of a lightbulb moment!

In my early aspie research, I was surprised to read that, due to sensory issues, many aspies don’t enjoy sex. Happily, I don’t have that particular issue, I think I may fall into the bracket of ‘sensory seeking’ in that department. It’s been somewhat reassuring to find out that I’m not alone in that.  Quite the reverse, in fact. In discussing sex as a stim, it came to light that many aspie ladies are enthusiastic participants in the BDSM scene.

The overwhelming exuberance of the discussion set my aspie pattern-seeking, finding-order-in-chaos, rationalisation-to-the-optimum-process brain into overdrive and the following question came to mind…

Is there a link between sex as an autistic stim, Proprioceptive sensory dysfunction and enjoyment of being restrained during sex?

This was quickly followed by another question…

If so, could the carefully structured experience of bondage, coupled with the emotional and physical release of orgasm, offset impending autistic meltdowns in adults?

It’s an interesting theory, is it not? And oh what fun to research! 😀

Could this herald a new era of autism intervention? Is there an emerging market for a new style of adult autistic sensory equipment? Is my husband going to freak out when I ask for his assistance in my research? Lol

To be continued… 😉

***

A day or so after I published this post, my aspie friend had a bad day and could feel a meltdown building. She sought support from our facebook group so I suggested she test out my theory. She did… and it worked! 🙂 This was her comment the following day:

“I feel great this morning! We had a great BDSM session last night. Even tried a couple of new things that we hadn’t tried before. I needed the rope really tight where I felt anxiety and tension (across my chest). Afterwards my husband gave me a shoulder massage. I felt so relaxed. All the tension, tightness, build up of energy and emotions in my body was gone. It was all released in a good way. I don’t have that horrible ‘full’ overloaded feeling in my body either. I slept really well too. I’ve been having trouble sleeping lately and this was the first night I slept really well. I feel refreshed and renewed this morning. Normally if I’ve had a meltdown I would be drained, tired and feel horrible but all the energy would be released from my body. I would probably sink into a depressive meltdown (depending how bad the other meltdown was) and then spend the next week trying to recover from both. But this time that didn’t happen. I feel great and like a new person.”

I was so pleased for her and even more curious now myself.

You can read my friend’s own blog post about this here: Fetishes and Autism

Next post: The wolf in sheep’s clothing

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28 Jun ’13: Let’s talk about…

Ok. Pushing discomfort aside, this is something I think has been an important signpost in the fog for me.

(Deep breath, make sure my mum isn’t reading…)

*whispers* Sex.

Ok, no going back now *gulp* :-\

I think inducing sexual arousal could be a stim for me. I use it to calm myself when anxious and also, more importantly, to focus when I need to concentrate, especially when I’m bored with the activity I need to concentrate upon. I discovered this particular quirk whilst studying for exams as a young teenager!

Another interesting quirk is that I also stim orally. I sucked my thumb until I was 13, at which point I swapped to chewing the insides of my cheeks (a habit that causes me some distress, not the least because it hurts, but I simply can’t stop!). I recently bought a chewable necklace after reading about how they help other autistic people who stim orally. It surprised me just how much relief this provides and I can almost feel the fizz of chemicals released in my system when I use it. Which leads me back to the slightly uncomfortable (well, shameful – courtesy of my misogynistic upbringing!) admission that I love administering oral sex. Not from a sexual point of view, which is the confusing bit, but from a calming point of view. I’ve tried to work out exactly what it is that I love and it’s something to do with the sensation on the roof of my mouth. The movement in and out typically associated with this activity isn’t what I seek, it’s something to do with the fullness and sensation on my soft pallet, if that makes sense? I’ve recently put the question out to my online community of fellow female aspies and found that this is a fairly common autistic thing. The key downside is that I (as well as many others) also have a heightened sense of smell. This is an unfortunate conundrum! Lol

So moving on to how these activities integrate into a sex life for me, involving other people. Nice idea in principle, but in practice, this has been problematic for me. Not only do I need to know someone VERY well to relinquish enough control to facilitate orgasm, but I also intensely dislike change, including change of partner. For these reasons alone, I typically think very carefully before embarking upon a new sexual relationship. It’s also rare that I experience instantaneous sexual attraction towards someone. Sexual attraction, for me, seems to be something that grows as I get to know someone and feel emotionally close to them. Most of my sexual partnerships have arisen out of close and trusted friendships. In this respect I identify as demisexual. Physical features, including gender, are less important to me than the mind of the person, so I also identify with being sapiosexual. This also seems to be a common theme among autistic women.

My husband, who has been my partner for nearly a decade, is also an aspie, so sex for us is usually fairly routined and comfortably predictable, with not too much dialogue or eye contact. He doesn’t like to connect emotionally during sex because he finds it too overwhelming. I, too, can occasionally find it very overwhelming but I enjoy the emotional connection and actively seek it. This is a common area in which aspergers presents itself differently in males and females.

In reading about stimming in autistic children, I noticed that masturbation is a very common stim. Looking back at my earliest diaries, I noticed that I tried to find a way to write about masturbating when I was 9 years old. I didn’t know that there was a word for it, or that so many other people also did it!  I knew it was a private thing, not to be done in public (I assume my suspected aspie mother must have had an awkward conversation with me about it at a younger age?).  In typical aspie fashion, I didn’t have any close female friends with which to talk about such things, and so stumbled along making up my own rules. The first time I intervened during sex and simulated myself whilst with a partner (in my late teens) was met with shock and delight. I was simply frustrated at his nice but ultimately unfulfilling attempts, and wanted to… well… take care of myself. Something I’ve continued to do ever since. I’ve no idea if this has upset partners, I can’t read non-verbal communication and have never thought to ask any. Aspies are also notoriously blunt, so unless someone were to be as straight-to-the-point with me, I wouldn’t think there was a problem. Rather amusingly, I met my match for bluntness in my husband. He once commented, in our early days, that he wanted to be left to ‘do the job’ himself. Needless to say my usual multi-orgasmic experience didn’t materialise, despite an Olympian effort on my husband’s part, and he hasn’t complained again since! 😉 From my perspective, I certainly don’t mind him having a go but, quite honestly, I simply prefer to stimulate myself. Intense pleasure can easily turn into intense pain for me and it’s difficult to explain that to people. And, for those occasions when I just need to quickly calm or stimulate my disordered central nervous system in order to function optimally, I’m thankful to have the skills required ‘in-house’, so to speak! 😉

Next post: A new era of aspie therapy?

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