23 May 2012

Yes, Autistics have sex.

Dear people who keep typing things like "can autistic people have sex," "do autistics have sex," "can autists have sex," and "is it possible for people with autism to have sex" into Google and then clicking on my blog,

Yes, Autistics have sex, can have sex, and can want to have sex.

Some Autistics actually get married and have children through biological means, otherwise known as having sex. Some Autistics are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, genderqueer, or pansexual, and they have sex too.

(Yes, some Autistics don't have sex or haven't had sex or don't want to have sex, but the reasons for that are as varied and diverse as for non-Autistics who don't have sex or haven't had sex or don't want to have sex.)

Being Autistic does not mean lacking the ability to have sex.

And no, asking Autistics if they've ever had sex or can have sex is not okay. It'd be inappropriate and rude to ask a non-Autistic, seemingly "normal" person if he, she, or xe has ever had sex or can have sex, and it's equally inappropriate and rude -- not to mention incredibly offensive and insulting -- to ask an Autistic if he, she, or xe has ever had sex or can have sex.

And for the sake of everything green on the earth, please stop Googling "can autistics have sex." Please.

Sincerely,
An annoyed Autistic blogger

***

FIVE YEARS LATER (17 January 2018).

I am adding an FAQ to this post because some people are definitely just googling out of innocent curiosity (though that doesn't take away from the fact that many people ask in not very innocent and actually outright malicious ways):

Content/TW: Mentions of sexual abuse and violence follow.

Q. Is it possible for autistic people to have sex?
A. Yes.

Q. Is it possible for autistic people to have romantic and sexual relationships?
A. Yes.

Q. Is it possible for autistic people to get married?
A. Yes.

Q. Is it possible for autistic people to fall in love?
A. Yes.

Q. Is it possible for autistic people to date?
A. Yes.

Q. Is it possible for autistic people to date non-autistic people?
A. Yes.

Q. Is it possible for autistic people to date other autistic people?
A. Yes.

Q. Have you had sex?
A. You're an internet stranger, so why would I answer that question?

Q. Has [specific other autistic person] had sex?
A. I don't know. Maybe yes. Maybe no.

Q. Can autistic people choose to be celibate?
A. Yes.

Q. Can autistic people be asexual, gray-asexual, or demisexual?
A. Yes.

Q. Can autistic people be aromantic, gray-romantic, or demiromantic?
A. Yes.

Q. If an autistic person is on either the asexual or aromantic spectra, is that because they are autistic?
A. Not necessarily. Being autistic does not inherently mean a person will be either asexual or allosexual, or on the aromantic spectrum or not. For many autistic people who are both asexual and autistic or aromantic and autistic (or aro, ace, and autistic), there is no connection between autism and asexuality/aromanticism. For other autistic people who are asexual and/or aromantic, there is a connection.

Q. Is it safe for my autistic adult child to have sex?
A. If you are the parent of an autistic adult, the best thing you can do to support them is to make sure they have access to consent-based sex education and information about different types of protection so they can make informed decisions about safer sex.

Q. Do autistic people masturbate?
A. Some autistic people masturbate.

Q. Can autistic people masturbate?
A. Yes.

Q. If someone is sexually interested in an autistic person, wouldn't that make them a pedophile?
A. Not unless the autistic person is a child. If an adult (non-autistic or autistic) is sexually interested in an autistic child, they are a pedophile. If an adult is sexually interested in an autistic adult, they are not a pedophile.

Q. If someone is sexually interested in an autistic person, wouldn't that make them a predator?
A. If they exploit, manipulate, or abuse the autistic person, or otherwise violate that person's consent, then yes. But a non-autistic person is not a predator simply for being sexually interested in an autistic person.

Q. Can autistic adults meaningfully consent to sex?
A. Yes, and we can also decline to consent or withdraw consent once an interaction has started.

Q. Is all sex with an autistic person predatory and therefore sexual abuse, sexual assault, or rape?
A. If a person forces sexual acts on an autistic person against their will, that is sexual abuse, sexual assault, or rape. If an autistic person consents to sexual acts with a specific also-consenting person (or more than one consenting person) at a particular time, then all involved are simply having a good time.

Q. I know an autistic person who masturbates in public. What do I do?! How do I stop it?!
A. Teach autistic people about boundaries. If you are the parent or teacher of this person, show them that it is OK to masturbate if they are in private in their own room or a bathroom with the door shut and locked (if there is a lock). Teach them that it is never OK to masturbate in front of other people unless they consent first (like in mutual masturbation). You should also make sure that the autistic person isn't actually doing something else that might look like masturbation but isn't -- like scratching their anus because they have gastrointestinal issues and perhaps irritable bowel syndrome. If that's the case, you can also teach the person that other people might wrongly assume they are masturbating and they might still want to seek a private place to scratch.

Q. Are there any resources for teaching autistic people about sexuality and relationships?
A. Yes, there are several. For example, check out the following just as a starting point:



Q. I dated an autistic person once and they were a complete asshole. Are all autistic people complete assholes?
A. No ... We're individuals, which means that some of us are assholes -- and some are far worse than simply being assholes -- and plenty of us thankfully are not.

Q. If an autistic man keeps asking me on dates/groping me/sexually harassing me/pressuring me into sex/standing too close to me/making other sexual comments to me, even though I have told him to stop and that he is violating my boundaries, do I need to cut him some slack because he is autistic and doesn't understand social cues like neurotypical people?
A. NO. Being autistic is NEVER an excuse for sexual harassment or any other form of sexual abuse or sexual violence. He knows. He is choosing to be an asshole and to increase stigma against all the non-asshole autistic people in the process. (Autistic men also do this to other autistic people, especially those who either are or are assumed to be women, and it is still not OK. Also autistic women and non-binary people can do this too, and it is still not OK.)

Q. Can autistic people impregnate their partners/become pregnant?
A. Yes.

Q. Should we allow autistic people to impregnate their partners/become pregnant?
A. Autistic people should have the same reproductive choices and freedom as all people in society, including the ability to choose to become biological parents and the ability to choose to use different forms of contraception and birth control, and the ability to choose to either carry pregnancies to term or to abort them.

Q. OK, but isn't it a bad thing if autistic people are reproducing children that are also likely to be autistic?
A. No, unless you are in fact a proud support of eugenics, in which case, why the hell are you on my blog?

Q. I just typed a question into the internet. Why are you being so rude?
A. Because a lot of people brazenly demand personal and invasive details about autistic people's sexual lives/histories, especially when they don't even know us personally, and they often do so in a really condescending way because they're assuming that no autistic person could ever possibly want to have sex or be capable of having sex. So even if you personally didn't mean anything offensive or mean by it, plenty of other people have, and being asked the same thing repeatedly gets really annoying and frustrating. In any case, it's still probably better that you asked the internet instead of asking a random autistic person you know.

Q. Can I ever ask a specific autistic person if they have sex?
A. Only if you are actually propositioning that specific person because you would like to have sex with them. Otherwise it's really rude.

Q. Does being autistic affect how autistic people have sex?
A. It depends on the person. Some autistic people might have to work around tactile sensory sensitivities to have enjoyable and pleasant sex. Other autistic people might specifically be kinky and do BDSM because their specific kinks match their sensory-seeking needs. Some autistic people may need to be very explicit during sex about what they are enjoying or not enjoying. Some autistic people may need their partners to only use deep pressure and avoid light touches (or the opposite). If your romantic and sexual partner / datemate / one-night stand / scene partner / sex worker happens to be autistic (and you know this), feel free to ask what they like/dislike and what is absolutely off-limits (but you should try to do this anyway regardless of neurotype).

Q. Will you have sex with me?
A. No.

Q. I am lonely man with high-functioning Asperger's desperate to find Aspie girlfriend/wife. You are beautiful and would be perfect. Please contact me; we are meant to be together.
A. NO.

35 comments:

  1. Also, some Autistics are asexual, and it's not necessarily because they're Autistic (either because of sensory issues, social communication difficulties, histories of abuse relating to their status as an Autistic person or a form of internalized ableism). Even if it was, it would be okay for them to be asexual as long as that's what they felt comfortable being and identifying as, and it wouldn't invalidate their identity. I'm sick of seeing in some spaces how ableism, sometimes masquerading as social justice, is used to tell asexual people with disabilities that they're not real or not okay.

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    1. Agreed, and I didn't mean to omit mention of asexual Autistics. My parenthetical that the reasons that Autistics may not have sex or want to have sex are as diverse as the reasons of non-Autistics is meant to be read to include asexuality, vows of chastity, religious reasons, lack of interest, sensory reasons, or anything whatsoever -- directly related or completely unrelated to being Autistic.

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  2. I needed to read this today!
    I am horrified that people have asked that question!
    But I am ever amused by your explanation... who knew an autistic would be explaining social appropriateness to a NT??
    oxox

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    1. Yeah, that happens too. Mainly in cases where the NT is doing something socially inappropriate because of not seeing that the autistic is fully human, has feelings, etc, is where I've seen it, but also in cases of NTs who are really socially inept.

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    2. Personally, I believe the high functioning autistic people have better social capabilities. Autism is merely another way of thinking, and whatever part of our wiring allows us to come to understand the social norms must be adept at that area. I am diagnosed with mild autism and dont find it offensive at all when people ask me a serious, direct question. Curiousity is encouraged, and I like to open and honest about this topic. Normally I'm an offensive jerk, but when it comes to education in anyway, you cant go wrong. there are just certain guidelines that need to be followed for general safety. and alot of autisms (my prefered use :P)that can talk and funtion normally are open and honest as well. but, they can be tempermental and misunderstand often, so common sense still dictates that it would be wise not to ask them abut something they might not fully understand. but I think that if they make it known to you that they are disabled, and are straightforward and honest in their ways, then venture frth and be curious. if you dont ask and learn, then stupid stereotyped assumptions will become the reigning knowledge on this topic.

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    3. Why is it inappropriate to google curiosity?

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  3. Can we all agree that all people can be socially inept? I know NTs get the badge for being better socially equipped, but as a NT I find this honor facile at best. Most NT I know are dreadful in social situations, I being one of them. As far as the things people type into google, I can only imagine how annoying it is, but you're indignation, Lydia, reminded me of my own and it made me smile. Thank you for making me smile. You're very funny and people can be really, really annoying. Which is also kind of funny, in it's own way. But I am very happy you are writing and always happy to read what you have to say.

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    1. Most NTs wouldnt ask a stranger on an airplane (that's my personal metric for socially unacceptable questions: would you ask the person next to you on an airplane, knowing that you're stuck in the awkward aftermath for a few hours?) if they can have sex, so asking us is just...GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAh.

      (I've considered going TMI on people, starting with an in depth vocabulary lesson, buuuuut I'm a jerk)

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    2. So true Ariane!!!
      I can completely, completely agree with you!

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    3. i think it`s not accurate or realistic to compare non-autistics and autistics, especially in terms of socialisation. sure, nts can be socially inept. anyone can. autism isn`t social ineptitude. it`s a literal blind spot in social interaction. it`s not comparable to nts because it`s the reason autistics aren`t nt. it`s minimising and misrepresenting the difference to make any sort of comparison. as well as condescending and insulting. the same way you wouldn`t make similar comparisons with any other minority or disability.

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  4. I find I half agree with you, and half totally disagree.

    It is indeed incredibly inappropriate for a person to ask a total stranger about their sex life. I wish I could be surprised that such things happen, but sadly I'm not. People really should know better.

    On the other hand, the googling thing? I commend those people. I refuse to condemn ignorance unless the person in question fills their gaps in knowledge with assumptions and prejudices and never bothers to actually find things out for themselves. But if a person, when faced with an ignorant society that tends to perpetuate misinformation about ASDs, actually goes and looks it up for themselves instead of simply accepting whatever rumor they have heard, GOOD FOR THEM. Especially because they have done so without being so offensive as to ask a person about their sex life.

    I'd really rather people google this stuff than just believe whatever anyone tells them, and I don't expect people to magically know things on their own.

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  5. No, autistics can't have sex because they were born without genitals. They can reproduce however, and they do so through spores. This has been scientifically proven.


    .....


    .....


    Seriously though, as an autistic myself I find the whole notion pretty amusing; that some people really wonder wether we flesh and blood humans do it or want to. Rule of thumb: if it's alive, then yes.

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  6. Hey, don't assume it's always a negative thing ... I landed on your site because I googled "can autistics have sex," not because I don't already know the answer, but because I'm an autistic person struggling with feelings of sexual inadequacy and wanted to see what I could find about autism and sexuality in general.

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  7. I'm autistic (I have high functioning PDD-NOS. Some psychiatrists think I have Asperger Syndrome) and I had sex with only 2 people in my 23 years of existence (which isn't a lot for most people my age). For me, sex is slightly overrated. Additionally, I consider myself bisexual.

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  8. I´m not autistic and i don´t find it "incredibly offensive and insulting when someone asks me if i have ever had sex or can have sex". Why is it insulting? We are social beings, asking is ok if it´s polite. You don´t have a way to know if the people googling that question have an authentic curiosity because of their lack of information about autism, maybe answering in a less childish way would do a difference, as if you could actually tell them the why´s and how´s about it. Sex is natural and it´s not a choice or a luxury, it´s a need and a truth. Grow up.

    For me is not

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    1. Ah... I think you may misunderstand the point here. It seems to me that what causes the offence is not the idea that people wonder can autistics have sex, but that it has actually entered their heads at all that somehow autistics are *not able* to have sex.
      I wonder if left-handed people can have sex? I wonder if deaf people can have sex? I wonder if German people can have sex? I wonder if people with green eyes can have sex?
      Why would anyone ask those bizarre questions?
      Of course they can.
      Why on earth would you ask???
      You wouldn't, because they *are* bizarre questions.
      So, what is it about autistics that somehow suggests that they have this incapacity for sex?
      And fwiw, no... you don't go round asking random people if they can have sex. You do??? Weirdo. Word of advice: stop.

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  9. Hi.
    I have asked this question because I actually saw my son masturbarte and try to what it seems to relieve himself. I mean I have just ever once in a while pick at himself but never at this level.

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  10. People ask this question because they don't know, people like parents who have a child with autism.

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    1. Why though?
      What on earth is it that they imagine magically prevents autistics from engaging in sex?
      Seriously. What puts a thought like that into someone's head?
      Its bizarre...
      And asking people if they can have sex? Really? Hey, nice shirt... say, are you able to have sex? When does that scenario ever enter the realms of appropriate behaviour?

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  11. People ask that question because they don't know, people like parents.

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    1. Then they are both incredibly rude and incredibly foolish. Of course humans and other living beings can have sex. This is one reason they should be providing their autistic offspring (who presumably came into being because they themselves had sex at least once) with sex ed, and information about both safe sex and bodily integrity and boundaries.

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  12. I typed in how do autists experience sex as I'm doing some research and was wondering about body tension and armouring and wondered about whether anxiety, tension and difficulty relaxing would diminish the enjoyment if sex, since relaxation is key to pleasure and orgasm. on the other hand, sex might feel great if your sensory issues enhance your experience. By sex I'm talking about the whole gamut of sensual pleasures - body and genitals - that is part of a bigger definition of sex than masturbation or intercourse.... I'm not sure if I'm being clear but would anyone like to comment?

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  13. I was thinking, well maybe my scores indicate that I'm on the spectrum, but I like masterbating, so does that mean I'm not? So I googled it to help confirm/disconfirm my preliminary diagnosis.

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    1. Some autistic people masturbate and some don't. Probably like in the non-autistic population, the majority of autistic people do masturbate to some frequency, and a minority do not.

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  14. I only asked because when I was younger an autistic guy exposed himself aroused. I told him to go on and never come back but I have been told that he could have overpowered me and raped me.
    Curiosity only....long time ago.....

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    Replies
    1. Well, autistic people can be rapists just like anyone who isn't autistic can be a rapist too, but being a rapist is not a characteristic of autism. It's a characteristic of rapists.

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    2. Rapists are rapists. They can be autistic or NT. And really autistic folks tend to be more likely to be victims than perps, statistically.

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  15. I'm an Aspie ace and have often been told that my asexuality is just a symptom or a feature of my Asperger's.
    To me, I don't really care what causes what, but I do mind being marginalised and erased.
    It's quite odd that if you have a few labels, you find that many people will automatically begin telling you that the one they find least desirable is 'caused' by the other ones.

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  16. Many people in the world have many different ways of perceiving and few are diagnosed with any atypicality. Those who are diagnosed are also likely to be more self-analyzing than people who aren't diagnosed (regardless of whether they should or could be). Sexuality is still massively repressed in every country, and education around sexuality is grossly deficient. Therefore, it is understandable, but not ethically justifiable, that neurotypicals would ask stupid, disrespectful questions of autistic people. I've never once felt unsafe as a young woman around the autistic teenage boys I used to teach, and they definitely were curious about sex in their own unique ways, just like most teenagers are. They, just like all teenagers, should have gotten a much better education about sexuality and how to express it respectfully, but the media most people consume really hinders that effort. The real problem is that our societies seek to unnaturally define and control sexual choices, without educating people about what their choices really are. Autistic people are more likely to be victimized because autistic and nonautistic people are uneducated about sexual choice. You're free to say yes (if you are sober and over 18), you're free to say no, you're free to take legal action against anyone who tries to take that choice from you.

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  17. An aspie here and have a higher than normal sex drive due in part to it being how I show affection.

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  18. Some of us really enjoy sex. Not to stereo type, but for those that do... some of us do become fixated on becoming better,learning and mastering everything there is to know about a particular subject. Sex is one of those subjects of interest for some of us.
    For me, it was the mastering to give complete satisfaction to my partner. This was highly intriguing as each woman was a new and different challenge and I wanted to be sure I gave her total pleasure. Some I could not due to things I could not become comfortable with, like overly aggressive acts that to me, were somewhat disturbing.(hitting, choking, etc.)
    I have five children, I enjoy my time with my wife, and she never complains about our sex life. In fact, she is usually the one that instigates our love making sessions.
    Now, I am not bragging by any means. This had all come about because when I was about 20 I was not into sex, and I did like to date and spend time with my girlfriend at the time. But, the lack of knowledge about, and lack of experience, caused some to cheat on me. Yes, we have feelings, and that hurts. So..I studied. and I practiced and even went as far as to going to a close friend that is a lesbian and asked her about things like oral, etc. I learned a lot. I then went to Masters &Johnson here in St.Louis to discover more,I was slightly disappointed as they could not help, and was nice enough to be given a few books and some other resources of information.( it was the late 80's one could not just google porn or sex ed material, our choices were books and magazines, and the occasional VHS tape of porn, which I always felt like everyone thought I was some sort of major pervert for buying it just so I could learn...) But the sad truth is, I never wanted to lose another person I really liked just because I was not a sexual individual. It is not so much the sex I actually enjoy, it is the pleasing of my partner out of my love and affection I have for her that I most enjoy.



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    1. Thank you. I think I'm dating a man on the spectrum but he either was never diagnosed or doesn't feel comfortable opening up about it. He is the best sex I've ever had though so I was just curious

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  19. I searched it because I wondered if the dislike of being touched complicated things. I don't think I am autistic but I hate being touched which definitely complicates things for me.

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  20. I don't know why so many people are offended by this question. It depends on the person. I am autistic and pretty sure sex is not possible for me. I do not know how to get past the sensory issue or understand sexual attraction.

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  21. My question is not whether autistic people CAN have sex, but rather Do they engage in sexual activity. It is not meant to be offensive-- it's merely curiosity

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