Tag Archives: parenting

Intimacy and Autism

The thing to understand about intimacy and caring within a relationship is this: the skills necessary for healthy love began being acquired long before “relationship” was even a consideration. Especially a romantic sexual one.

It begins in early childhood.

So, with Valentine’s Day only a week away highlighting stories and gifts meant to celebrate romantic love, I am sharing insights for caregivers meant to guide you as you guide your loved ones toward healthy relationships. Specifically if you are the parent or caregiver of someone with autism or a similar disorder.

Note: Anytime we talk about guiding people with autism we are talking about guiding people with challenges that are similar to, though more extreme than, people without autism.

Some things to know as you teach love and sex:

Autism influences sexual behavior.  Intimacy is a sensory experience, and people with autism have a heightened sensitivity to sensory input. A person with autism may have an extreme distaste for certain smells or an intense excitability from certain textures. Regardless of the severity of the disorder, these sensory issues are bound to influence sexual behavior.

Autism can influence sexual orientation. In large part due to the aforementioned sensory sensitivities. When a person has a heightened sensitivity to sensory input it can be easier, and feel safer, to relate to someone of the same gender. There are more familiar textures, smells, and sounds. Alternatively, it can cause uncomfortable sensory reactions to their own body or gender. There is still more to learn in this area, and we continue to do so.

Sexual Education is highly important for your autistic loved one. Not only for their sexual wellness, but for their overall self-awareness, self-esteem, and social skills. It is vitally important, all the way to the point of step-by-step instruction, especially related to clean up and privacy.

However, it is even more important that the person doing the educating is comfortable and capable of non-judgemental teaching.

The ability to love oneself begins in early childhood.  And when adolescence sets in, when arousal becomes overwhelming and a huge driver in the neurotypical person, in the autistic person with a sensory challenge it can be such a strong driver that it creates a blindness to the world around them, complicating an already challenged social skill system.

In most cases, they find themselves wanting to masturbate in public and in front of people in the living room. They don’t know how to go about dealing with the drive they’re experiencing but they love the release they get.

Caregivers: Right then and there it is important for you to be comfortable, be explaining, and slowly – one step at a time – regardless of language development, regardless of apparent cognitive understanding, teach privacy and self-love.

In this way, slowly but surely, you will impart to any individual – regardless of their level of challenge – the means by which they can become the best possible partner they could possibly be.

If you cannot do this, you will negatively affect any ability they may have of having an intimate relationship.

If you are an autistic adult, or you love someone who is, and childhood is long behind you but you want some ideas you can work with now, I have a few to share.

Number one: Be clear. Be clear with the when, where, and how. Be willing to discuss things you would normally, perhaps, simply engage in. This is good advice for both the neurotypical partner and the autistic one.

Number two: Take no offense. You can play with sensory reactions to moles with hairs, or certain smells, but don’t be offended by them.

Number three: Turn special interests into fetish play. An example could be someone who is extremely into automobiles might find it exciting to have “vroom, vroom,” sounds during foreplay or upon entering. If this offends you, you’re in the wrong relationship. If this embarrasses you and you are unable or unwilling to get over it, you’re in the wrong relationship.

Whether you are at the beginning of this journey, or quite far down the road, it is important to remember: It is not just the individual and their challenges that determine the style and level of intimacy in a relationship, it is also the life that came before. The experiences they had that helped develop the skills necessary for intimacy in the first place.

This is true regardless of diagnosis.

Intimacy begins long before the two come together, no pun intended.

If you are at the beginning, begin well.

If you are quite a ways down the road, consider the beginnings and work to understand their influence. Then, begin at this new beginning and be purposeful with your influences.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Road with snow on the edges

Where’s the High Road?

The liars in my life are hurting me today.

Usually, they inspire me to seek the high road. Find a path that’s not so riddled with chaos and finger pointing. Find a path that leads to healing and happiness with no dark allies or caverns to caress.

Today, however, I’m wondering if I’ve ever been right about exactly where the high road lay.

I’m raising my three great-grandkids. My grandson and his estranged wife find them to be too much, and so I’m raising them. Today, as is often the case when they’re off having a visit with their mom or dad, I’m left with enough time to think, and to wonder if I’ve ever been right about exactly where the high road lie.

My mind wanders back to the time when my cousins were visiting. I was a young mom and my mother was at the table listening to the complaints of her niece, my cousin. Her niece, my cousin, was saying that her dad, my mother’s brother, was rough on her; judgmental, pushing her to succeed. That one time he slapped her. My mother was aghast. “A parent should never hurt a child. I would never do that.”

At first I was dumbfounded and unable to breathe. Then I burst out, “Are you kidding me?” I went on a tirade about the many times she’d kicked me and pushed me down the stairs. I landed on a time where I was only eight years old and she was slapping me from side to side over and over and over and over and over again, to the point where I got giddy with hysteria imagining my head a ping-pong ball being bounced on the table back and forth until the players were too tired to play. All because I had spent ten cents too much at the movie theater. And I’d only done that because I knew I had a dime to replace it with when I got home. Unfortunately, my little brother had stolen my dime. So I was in trouble and my head bounced around with my brain inside hurting and hurting. Just another day in the life of my childhood.

That day I had decided to choose the high road, I thought.

This would come up many times in my life with my mother and my cousins. Times when they would say to me, “Well then you need to tell everyone these truths,” and I would ask, “Why? My mom visits you guys, I don’t. My mom would lose if you hated her, and I wouldn’t gain.” And I would leave my mom’s relationship as intact as possible with her brother and her sister and her nieces and her nephews.

When my father died my mom attacked me, then lied about it. She told everyone I’d attacked her when all I’d really done is held her arms down and said, “I’m not a little child anymore. I love you mom, but you have to calm down. I love you mom, but you have to calm down. You can’t hurt me anymore.”

But I was wrong. She could hurt me all the way until she died. And even her death hurt me. And her sister and her brother and her nieces and nephews, well, they just never knew the truth. About her rage or her cruelty.

I thought I was taking the high road by not spreading the venom. But, in fact, I think it was the opposite. I was allowing her to maintain a fantasy that possibly trickled down into the lives of others. Perhaps her nieces and nephews would have operated differently with their own parents had they known it was a family trait. Perhaps what I took was actually a chicken’s way out.

The low road, where we hide and don’t want to face the consequences of shouting out the truth.

So, today I’m wondering: where is that high road?

These kids I’m raising are so beautiful. So adorable. I love every second of it, except when I’m not with them.

Their mother seldom sees them, but she makes sure to get pictures when she does. She posts on her Instagram and Facebook pages about how much she loves her kids, how much she’s always there for them, and how much she lives for them. Meanwhile, she’s really living with another guy and doesn’t even have proper beds for them when they visit her. She makes sure to get enough of the holiday events that it looks like she’s a constant presence in their lives, when really she’s barely there at all.

There’s more to say, but that’s enough.

Because of this truth, my grandson, their dad, has gotten into a bit of a competition online with her. Well, no, that’s not true. He takes the pictures, but he doesn’t really post them like that. He’s a different kind of guy than that. He’s a good dad, as far as his moments with them go. They know he loves them. He’s always warm and friendly with them. He just doesn’t have the stuff that dads are made of in him. He doesn’t know how to care more about spending time with the kids than going to a concert or buying a video game or getting a cool tattoo.

Tattoos. They’ve become a symbol of all that’s bad for me, even though I know better.

So, I’m sitting her wondering: where’s the high road?

Is the high road me letting them hang onto this false identity, so they have at least some little semblance of something with their parents? Or is the high road in telling the truth? Being loud about it. Saying, “Actually, they’re shitty parents, and they mostly hurt their children through their selfishness and I’m doing the work and I’m loving it.”

So, that’s my question.

Where is the high road?

Which choice heals, helps, or hurts?

I really don’t know.

Lynette with Tsara

My Mom as a Mom vs Me as a Mom – Regarding Gender

My daughter, Tsara, wrote a blog post earlier this year (click on the following link to read it: Born a Girl). It is quite amazing, as is she.

Every once in a while I read something my children have written about an exchange between them and I. Always, I am amazed to discover how lovely they remember me to have been. I am relieved to be remembered in the very light I hoped they would remember me in. Blessed to discover that any time I have suffered typical mom guilt, they did not also find me guilty.

Generally, when my children write their memories, I am surprised to rediscover how seldom we remember the same events and conversations. How differently we store our past. However, in this blog my daughter has a footnote that reads:

*I’m not sure mom said that part, about being able to choose to become a boy, but I know she might have. And I remember thinking it at that time, so she probably either said it, eluded to it, or simply left room for me to consider it.

This time, I do recall that my daughter asked her question. I do not recall my answer but:

When I was a child I went to my mother with similar misinformation. In my case, I told her that I remembered being a boy and was looking forward to being one again. She laughed at me and humiliated me by bringing me in to tell the story again and again and again every time someone new dropped by. I cried myself to sleep a lot over this and swore I would be better if I had a daughter who wanted to talk about things like that. I kept my eye on the subject, and even made friends with people who were transitioning from one sex to another. So when it was my turn to be a parent I was ready.

I’m so relieved to see that I passed the test. And yes, I probably said you could chose to change it.

If you don’t understand what I am talking about it is because you haven’t taken the time to ready her blog. I suggest you do. #motherdaughter #gender

Love and direction

Love in the Direction of Healing

A friend of mine asked a question which led to an answer that I have refined for this post. I hope it helps someone.

Love alone isn’t enough to heal brains and bodies.

Love alone isn’t enough because some people’s idea of a loving act is incorrect for the circumstance and is actually going to further the problem or condition. That is how we end up with co-dependencies between people, etc.

It is love with direction, and not just any direction but an “independence building self love and appreciation” type of direction, that heals.

Most people don’t know how to love this way. So, someone has to direct them to give the correct direction. And so it is that we become a society of health or ill-health promoting beliefs. The leaders in media religion and politics propagate… the state of things.

Unless we choose for ourselves.

This statement also applies to therapies and medicines.

In the end, its not the therapy or the concept of love that heals but the knowledge and intention of the leader, the therapist, the lover and the client culminating in chaos or coalescing into health.

Many medicines and therapies are just there to keep us alive and hopeful until we figure this out.