Autism and Giving/Receiving Affection

HylianHylian Citizen, Mentor
Whenever I hear others talk about autistic people they always mention that autistics "don't like being touched" and act like we are not capable of giving or receiving affection. I get that there are people that actually don't like being touched at all, but that doesn't necessarily indicate a lack of ability to feel or appreciate affection for/from others.

This line of thinking irritates me because I have always been a relatively affectionate person. I only have issues giving/receiving it because of trauma, but not from my autism. I was actually very affectionate and clingy with my family members when I was a small child. Due to that though people act like it negates me having autism, which frustrates me, especially when they are comparing me to my brother who has Asperger's and isn't necessarily as affectionate.

Do you like giving and/or receiving gestures of affection? Did you enjoy doing so as a child? Does this line of thinking irritate you and/or negatively affect how people view your autism?

Comments

  • BenderBender Citizen
    Yes, I do like giving and receiving gestures of affection. 

    The thing is that people can have different needs and expectations in how they express and receive affection, and if they don't align with how others express themselves, they can honestly believe they don't receive any affection, even if they do.

    I'm only comfortable with touching and being touched by people with whom I established emotional intimacy and trust, and I don't like being touched by strangers or mere acquaintances, which kind of indicates that my real problem is with boundaries, not with touch itself.

    And you're right, being standoffish is an unfair generalisation, one of the many affecting autistic people. The whole "if you do/don't do that you can't have autism" is bollocks and even people on the spectrum do it to each other.
  • Teach51Teach51 Citizen
    My HFA guy and I had a major breakthrough with affection and communication today. I finally told him that I have CPTSD  after he said I was "rigid" and I explained my reactive and sometimes delayed responses and that I needed clear signs of respect . He brought me a take away cappuccino when he came to visit today and said to me that it looks like we made it through the communication barrier. I also got a kind of cuddle ( half) and lot's of soft words because I said I love them yesterday, after a fight and meltdown. Things just need explaining. He also told me how to prevent triggering a meltdown after he got angry with me yesterday and melted down. Why we have never given up is a miracle but today it felt that we have cracked the code. Now I know how to avoid pressing his trigger button.🙂 I suppose it's all about caring enough to crack the different communication codes. Autistic bluntness and CPTSD hypersensitivity are definitely a challenging combination.
  • I’ve been denied physical affection just for being me. Aggression and hostility is considered “normal” in the Bible Belt while being kind and open minded is considered “weird” at best and “gay” or “serial killer in waiting” at worst. 
  • HylianHylian Citizen, Mentor
    Bender said:
    Yes, I do like giving and receiving gestures of affection. 

    The thing is that people can have different needs and expectations in how they express and receive affection, and if they don't align with how others express themselves, they can honestly believe they don't receive any affection, even if they do.

    I'm only comfortable with touching and being touched by people with whom I established emotional intimacy and trust, and I don't like being touched by strangers or mere acquaintances, which kind of indicates that my real problem is with boundaries, not with touch itself.

    And you're right, being standoffish is an unfair generalisation, one of the many affecting autistic people. The whole "if you do/don't do that you can't have autism" is bollocks and even people on the spectrum do it to each other.

    On other forums I've seen people perpetuate things like this by questioning other people's autism, solely because they think someone's enjoyment of affection or attention from others doesn't align with being autistic. I had someone ask me if I was diagnosed and tell me that "another diagnosis might fit me better" since my "enthusiasm" for affection and trying to socialize was apparently "odd." 🤔
  • HylianHylian Citizen, Mentor
    Teach51 said:
    My HFA guy and I had a major breakthrough with affection and communication today. I finally told him that I have CPTSD  after he said I was "rigid" and I explained my reactive and sometimes delayed responses and that I needed clear signs of respect . He brought me a take away cappuccino when he came to visit today and said to me that it looks like we made it through the communication barrier. I also got a kind of cuddle ( half) and lot's of soft words because I said I love them yesterday, after a fight and meltdown. Things just need explaining. He also told me how to prevent triggering a meltdown after he got angry with me yesterday and melted down. Why we have never given up is a miracle but today it felt that we have cracked the code. Now I know how to avoid pressing his trigger button.🙂 I suppose it's all about caring enough to crack the different communication codes. Autistic bluntness and CPTSD hypersensitivity are definitely a challenging combination.
    I try to do small things for people to express affection, since after some trauma I often don't feel comfortable letting people touch me. There's a lot of people that don't really count that as signs of affection though, so it's frustrating when they get angry with me for not being "affectionate enough" with them.

    I feel like I can't win because some people think I am too affectionate to be autistic, and some still see issues with how "not affectionate" I am. Humans are so confusing. lol
  • Teach51Teach51 Citizen
    edited May 15
    I really understand you Hylian.
    As a non autistic woman I would probably prefer verbal affection to practical gestures if I were asked to choose. Though on the other hand If someone goes out of their way to do something practical for you, it is something concrete, an investment of thought and time and effort which is ultimately much more valuable than soft words that may not be sincere in the first place.  
    I believe that a high level of trust and sense of "safety"  has to be established between people  before they can open up to those who are fundamentally different in their communication defaults,  and it is rare for people who seem to be like oil and water as my friend says to break this communication impasse. 
    What have I learned?
    My friend had an aha! moment when I told him I have CPTSD. It gave him something concrete and practical to work with. He can now prepare a plan of responses and gather information. This disclosure makes me very vulnerable as sociopaths and narcissists very easily manipulate people with my history and unfortunately have, so it has taken me 5 years to reveal to him my mental and emotional difficulties.
    Then he asked me "what do you need?" I told him endless validation, respect and clear boundaries. So when one has established that the other person is not going to pulverize you emotionally but is on your side, be honest. Say what you need, ask the other person what they need.  Perhaps saying to someone that you may not get it right but you will try your utmost should be enough in a true friendship to show that you care.
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