Touch and the Autistic Person
Let’s touch on a subject (see what I did there? 😉) that can get confusing across neurotypes.
Some non-autistic people have been incorrectly lead to believe that all autistic people do not like to be touched.
That’s not true.
While some autistic people do not feel comfortable with touch, many are more than comfortable with it.
In fact, some of us can be what non-autistic people might refer to as “touchy feely”. Guess what? I’m one of those autistics!
I love hugs, snuggles, squishes, and kisses. I was actually forever getting into trouble as a child for touching people too much. Full disclosure, I’d walk up to the children of total strangers and pinch their cheeks! 😳
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The best way to improve communication with your autistic loved one is to understand how your autistic loved one’s mind works! Intentions, motivations, and personal expressions (facial expressions or lack thereof, body language, etc.), are often quite different in autistic people than they are in neurotypical people.
Experience a better understanding of your autistic loved one by reading books about life from an autistic perspective as well as stories that feature autistic characters. You’ll have so many “Ah ha!” moments and start seeing your autistic loved one in a different light (and you’ll have a better understanding of their behaviors, which you may have been misinterpreting up until now).
Books I recommend for a better understanding of your autistic loved one:
Boundaries? What are those? 😄 The kids didn’t mind, but the parents took issue, and I can’t say that I blame them.
To this day, cheeks are one of my favorite stim toys (I just ask the person they’re attached to now before grabbing away).
Anyway, enough about my cheek-squeezing stim.
This is about touch and the comfort or discomfort of autistic people in regards to it.
Now, as touchy feely as I am, not just anybody can put their hands on me, and certain types of people and different types of touches can really make me uncomfortable.
For example, I don’t like being touched from behind if I don’t know the touch is coming. I flinch every time and will practically jump out of my skin.
I don’t like soft, light touches. For example, an arm caress. You may think you’re being romantic, but it just makes me feel tickly and itchy and kind of crawly. *shudders*
I don’t like repetitive rubbing in one spot, either. I had someone who used to take my hand and rub the same spot with their thumb over and over. Drove me mad!
I do, however, like firm touches and enveloping hugs. Firm squeezes are fine, too. Deep tissue massage is also a favorite.
Unfortunately, due to certain touches bothering me so much, people, time and time again, have taken my requests to touch me in a different way as a personal rejection of them, which it never was. 😕
If your autistic loved one appears to be rejecting you, that’s most likely not their intention. It may just be that certain touches cause sensory overload. Ask their preferences and how they prefer to show affection.
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