Guest blog: Sex on the autism spectrum

Image by the briliant Stuart F Taylor

Did you know this week is Autism Awareness Week? And tomorrow (2nd April) is World Autism Awareness Day. To mark it, @HowlieT has dropped by with a kickass, funny, informative guest blog about sex on the autism spectrum. So whether you are on the spectrum yourself, or you’re shagging someone who is, she has some top tips on things you might want to think about to make sure your banging equals a banging time for both of you.

Sex on the autism spectrum

These days, I have less of a sex drive and more of a sex Halley’s Comet (it occasionally appears, is terrible to behold, etc), but I definitely do have what my doctor politely calls ‘an autism spectrum condition’ and I have also had ‘the sex’. Unless you’re reading this and you’re related to me in which case: 1. I’ve definitely never had any of ‘the sex’ and b. why the hell are you reading this please go away and never, ever mention this over dinner.

Having both autism and also having shagged in my time, this is going to be an informal guide of sorts. Not some kind of tick box list on how to seduce and shag your autistic crush because, as a fairly popular saying in what I’m going to call ‘the autism community’ goes, ‘if you’ve met a person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism’. So this is not a guide to everyone, more a few pointers on some of the things that matter to people like me, and the particular challenges that might crop up in pursuit of a good shag.

First and foremost:

Clarity is king

Depending on the context, if I said “I like to be told in advance exactly what we’re about to do, what you want me to do, where you want me to be and rough guidelines on how to do/be, and if you’d occasionally affirm that I’m doing it right that would be great”, it could either be the preface to a deeply kinky scene or a really boring meeting with HR. Depending on your HR department it could be both.

But before you panic and think that sounds like the least sexy thing invented since tax returns, let’s go back to context. Because I challenge you to find me someone in history who hasn’t at some point told their lover in fantastical detail exactly what they want to do to them. I don’t just mean sexting, there’s plenty of historical love letters that go into almost horrifying detail about what Partner A wants to do to Partner B when they next get together (James Joyce I’m looking at you. I’m not kink shaming, just kink bemused-ing). It’s basically anticipation, but it’s anticipation where I can deal with the screaming anxious bit of me that doesn’t deal with spontaneity very well. It’s a two for one: foreplay and forward planning. It’s heightened anticipation and not worrying that you’ve misunderstood something horribly in a way that’s about to get you laughed at like that dream you had.

And that’s not to say that you have to set out a script and never deviate from it, you can ask ahead of trying something you might not’ve discussed in advance in the moment, and honestly? If you’re asking me it helps me ask you. Because you might be able to read my facial expressions but I really struggle to read yours. It’s also fair to say that, whilst we should never assume consent in longer term relationships we often do, because we are nothing if not human, and if the person you’re fucking really liked that thing you did last time there’s a pretty good chance they’ll like it again. But that’s not always the case. We’ll put a pin in that for when we get to sensations. Possibly literally, but the short version is; not sure? Ask!

Which brings me neatly onto…

Use your words

Now not everyone is good at dirty talk, it’s just a fact of life, plenty of people absolutely cannot get out of their head for long enough to mutter filthy nothings, but most people can at the very least say affirmative things right? You don’t need to be able to monologue, but a few well placed ‘yes’s and ‘thats good’s and that sort of thing go a really long way.

Now here I am, entirely a case of the pot calling the kettle black, because I could (and given half a chance would, and at least once did) have an entire shag without any noise more noticeable than a sharp intake of breath. I don’t really like loud noises, they make me jumpy and anxious, I certainly don’t make them for anything other than when the hot water unexpectedly runs out in the shower, and frankly I think we’d all do better in life if we only ever raised our voices to warn of imminent danger in the event of, say, a lion. But you don’t need to be loud to be affirmative, you can just make happy noises, and that’ll do. Just be aware that there’s a really good chance the person you’re fucking might not make very much in the way of audible noise back. Of course there are some autistic people who go the other way on sound, who revel in crushing blasting noise and banging things. I guess if you’ve found yourself one of them its time to work on your thrash metal shagging playlist?

So, back to that pin…


Now it’s a reasonably well known facet of autism that you have some funky responses to sensations, it’s what underlies a lot of what people think of as ‘autistic’ traits, rocking, flapping, repetitive motions, anything that comes under the category of ‘stimming‘ or self stimulating. No, not like that.

Now this is one of those areas that’s going to be so incredibly unique to the person you’re trying to shag that I can’t begin to tell you what they might or might not like. But I can tell you what happens for me. For example, I tend to feel things in a way that I can only describe as ‘more’. Soft things are sort of like the tail end of an orgasm, equally scratchy unpleasant fabrics can and will distract my entire brain so that I can’t adequately form a sentence for thinking about the sensation. And the most fun bit? Sometimes my tolerance for a sensation changes in the middle of a day. I have before now been having a perfectly nice day at work, before suddenly becoming aware of the inseam on my jeans and being unable to focus until I get home and take them off in the doorway. Sometimes I have to go and hide in the bathroom for half an hour because there are too many things to look at in my flat. It’s a wild ride!

And yes, that goes for other-person’s-body sensations too. Sorry. Maybe I was really into it last time we fucked, maybe I was even really into it 5 minutes ago, but now it feels sick-making-ly weird, or it’s so consumingly distracting I can’t focus on the shag, or it just plain hurts now and if you don’t stop I’m going to lash out and accidentally kick you in the face without meaning to. Be prepared to hear “yes, yes, yes, oh god actually get off right now”. It’s nothing personal. Honest.

But, there’s an upside! Because I have at least three points on my body that I can describe only as the sources of the best feeling in the world (bridge of the nose, nape of the neck, back of both wrists if you’re wondering). Pressing reasonably firming into those is like receiving the best massage of your entire life – it’s like having an instant dopamine button, that immediately suffuses me with the most wonderful floaty feeling. Like being in a pool on holiday. How brilliant to know where those are on another person! To be able to bring that much joy to someone just sat on the sofa! Or, frankly even over the dinner table in public! It’s fucking brilliant.

And finally, if you’re trying to chat up an autistic person, they may not notice anything short of a fully fledged mardi gras parade, and there’s a really good chance they won’t get the subtle hint of ‘stay at mine’. See: the time I stayed over in a boys bed and we spooned all night and I just slept, the time I was surprised when being invited back to a hotel room to continue some kissing lead to taking off of clothes, and the time I had to be dragged into the toilets by a friend who said: “That man is trying to flirt with you – do you want to have sex with him or not?” because it hadn’t occurred to me there might be a reason someone was buying me drinks and paying me a great deal of attention all night. But equally, if you’re pursued by an autistic person? Just prepare yourself for a very blunt but banging chat up line.

My personal favourite? “Shall we do some kissing?”


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