First, to be clear. I am toward the neurotypical end of the autism spectrum. I am not autistic, nor do I believe I have Asperger’s, though I at one point as an adult began an evaluation. But I probably met criteria for AS when I was younger, even though it was not a common diagnosis at the time. I’ve compensated quite a lot (part of the subject of this post), but I still have a number of traits associated with autism spectrum disorders.
A lot of those traits still affect me adversely, but, as I said, I’ve compensated a lot. And my kink contributes to that compensation.
Some of the qualities, off of the top of my head (some more problematic than others):
- I tend to look at people’s mouths, not their eyes, when they’re speaking to me. Eye contact takes an effort of will, and not just because of cleavage.
- I frequently over-explain and/or make speeches. It’s a tic and compulsive, even if I know my audience has understood me or heard the speech before. It’s more so when I’m anxious.
- I am a very literal interpreter. This can make typos . . . interesting. My first thought is almost always to assume that what is written or said is what was intended, sometimes resulting in something quite far-fetched in my head. But it doesn’t seem far-fetched to me at first.
- My sensory processing is unusual. I frequently simply walk into things and not remember, and wonder later what the bruise is from. I hit my head on the light fixture when I go a certain direction around the table pretty much every time. It is relatively uncommon for me to notice something I see, or later remember seeing it, if it’s not relevant to me at the time I see it. My color perception is also off — it’s pretty well established that my “green” is miscalibrated (teal and aqua really don’t exist for me). On the other hand, I’m incredibly responsive to tactile stimuli (mysterious bruising aside). I’m also easily overstimulated, from any of the senses or from crowding, resulting in anxiety spikes.
- Claustrophilia. Oh, lordy, yes. Bondage isn’t just sexual for me, it’s soothing and calming, especially when I’m anxious. If it isn’t a sexual/highly interactive scene, I usually fall asleep promptly when in secure, comfy bondage. Think of Temple Grandin’s cattle crush.
- Need for structure. I’m a list-maker. I need calendars, schedules, and predictability, or my anxiety spikes.
- I have some degree of prosopagnosia / face blindness that may or may not be associated. I have a hard time recognizing someone I may have known for years if they shave, grow facial hair, or change how they wear their hair, or even go to or from glasses. Those are my cues, not the facial features.
- I consistently miss nonverbal cues. If you need me to hear something from you, it needs to be in your words.
That’s a long list, and it sounds a lot like Asperger’s. But I know the tics well enough and can usually manage them well enough — even if sometimes by absenting myself, if I can’t plan around and avoid the things that stress me — that it’s not as socially awkward as AS usually results in.
What about kink? I already mentioned bondage. If I’m having a rough day, Jalan usually offers the straitjacket. Those things are made the way they are for a reason — similar concept to swaddling a baby. Straitjacket and blindfold, especially, and I relax almost immediately.
I sleep in bondage almost every night. Sometimes the cuffs and collar aren’t locked to each other or any anchors (though more often they are), but they’re locked on and that makes me feel better. Stricter bondage might mean I have to wake Jalan partway through the night as my joints complain, or that I feel physically stiff and uncomfortable the next day, but I usually sleep especially well in moderately strict bondage.
Submission is also obvious. But it takes a certain style of dominance, one that I’ve found in Jalan. “Funishment” would not work well. Changing the rules on me midstream, without warning, would not work well. Penalizing me in any way for speaking my mind would not work well. Capricious anything does not work well. It takes absolute trust for me to feel safe in my submission. Jalan knows this, and has never done the slightest thing to make me feel anything but completely safe with her (not that that’s her style anyway).
Those are the nos. What are the yeses? Rules. Frameworks. Schedules. Limits. On the fly, we also have a speak-only-when-spoken-to protocol that she can invoke (but never as penalty). As often as not, I’m the one requesting it. We also have short-term-use protocols for “no electronics,” “do exactly and only as you’re told,” or “sit by my feet and be attentive to possible service,” and others.
Less obvious is my fashion fetish. Materials that are tactilely interesting appeal to me. Latex and spandex, especially, are turn-ons, whether I’m wearing them or seeing them and imagining touch. Soft leather, too; I’m loving the last couple of years’ worth of boot fashions! Sensation play — especially Jalan’s use of fingernails — sends me every time.
I’ve also made conscious choices in my life outside the D/s relationship that help me manage. I almost never dissemble. I’m usually tactful and diplomatic, but I don’t try to send subtle messages. I’m direct. And I deliberately assume that people I’m interacting with are likewise being genuine and honest with me unless and until there’s systematic evidence otherwise for that individual — after which, I try to avoid interacting with them at all. Yes, sometimes that is like naivete. Sometimes I’m manipulated or taken advantage of. Sometimes I’m flat-out lied to. But I’m happier this way. I’d rather have those problems than always be wondering what do they really mean by that? I’ve lived both ways. This is better for me.
I’ll close with one of my favorite quotes of all time that reflects that, from the movie Harvey:
Years ago my mother used to say to me, she’d say, “In this world, Elwood, you must be” – she always called me Elwood – “In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.” Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.