February 14, 2019

It seems to me that very few people are willing to write publicly about how autism can affect romantic touch. I want to say a couple things about that, because if you feel the same way, I want you to know that you’re not alone.

First, “sensory sensitivity” might make some kinds of touch uncomfortable. That doesn’t mean you’re broken! It also doesn’t mean you’ll never find someone to do things with comfortably. Good people will respect your boundaries, and do their best to make you feel good. Please, please don’t do anything unpleasant just because it’s “normal” and you feel “weird” for not liking it. Everyone has preferences, and it’s okay if yours are different!

On the flip side, the same kind of “sensory seeking” that makes stimming feel nice can also make some kinds of touch feel extra nice. There may be things you enjoy for stimmy reasons, things you enjoy for sexual reasons, and things that feel doubly nice because you enjoy them for both reasons. Autistic people experience many things more intensely, including good things, and I hope you find someone who really appreciates that about you.

Some autistics experience more of the first thing – touch aversion due to sensory sensitivity. Some experience more of the second thing – touch enjoyment due to sensory seeking. Many of us experience a bit of both.

Communication styles also affect physical interaction, but that’s a whole other topic. For now, I hope you feel a bit more secure that your preferences about touch are valid, and that there are others like you.

P.S. I write from my personal experience as an autistic. What I share is not a substitute for advice from an autistic medical professional. Also, some of my opinions have changed since I first wrote them.