Sense of touch…

Some people have stated that I’m unusual as a person with autism, because I like physical touch. My response is a fairly stock answer that ‘It’s a spectral condition and that we’re all different’.

I like touch, I enjoy the intimacy of contact with people I know. But put me in a crowded place with people I don’t know and nothing to distract me from my lack of personal space and I’ll probably run for the nearest exit or otherwise meltdown. I am fine with concerts, in fact my favourite bands will have me at the front and centre of the stage and I’ll sacrifice my space for the experience. Yet, normally, I don’t want strangers to touch me.

I lived in the French speaking region of Switzerland, and love the Country and the culture, but the Swiss do believe in kissing each other on greeting and departing; not the French one kiss on each cheek, but three kisses, which always confuses the French and frankly seems to terrify the Germans. This is something which is not usually performed on the first introduction, but is considered the norm on saying goodbye on a first meeting. It took me a while to get my head around this concept and on occasions, just like in English protocol, I had to expressly ask what was accepted or expected of me. I still do this in the U.K. despite having lived here for most of my life. Some people would say that this is my trying to mask my autism or to fit in a predominantly neurotypical world; possibly, this is the case, more a case of me not wishing to be impolite or get convention wrong and look ignorant, after all, none of us wants to look the fool.

So, yes, in I’m friends with a person, I am perfectly happy with physical touch and contact. I’m happy kissing or hugging as a form of greeting or bidding someone goodbye. I’m also more than happy with physical intimacy on a more romantic level, but that’s something I really don’t discuss.

I’m fairly sure that the perception that people with autism don’t like touch is a purely personal thing, I know NT people who are incredibly anal about their personal space and  I’m also aware that some people on the spectrum are similar and completely opposite to me. We are after all, all wonderful and unique people and what pleases one soul, may not automatically please everyone.

Also situations differ, in the event that I’m having a meltdown, I need very firm pressure and I generally prefer firm pressure than a light touch. My own sense of touch is heightened during periods of stress and I can feel my environment and soft touch during stress feels a like static.

I would be interested in how others perceive this sense.


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