Sex on the Spectrum

April is generally considered ‘Autism Awareness’ month. I prefer Autism Acceptance.  I do not support Autism Speaks. I do not light it up blue. I am not a puzzle piece.

I thought for my second Monday Blog in April. I’d discuss another aspect of my life as an autistic adult.

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One of the greatest dangers that face an autistic adult is not having sufficient information to deal with adult issues.

I’ve noticed a trend where non-autistics tend to infantilize autistics as teens and adults. They treat us as though we’re incapable of making decisions and caring for ourselves. And that is definitely not accurate.

It can and often does lead to a number of issues as we grow up.

One of which is sex and sexuality. I can only speak for myself here and my experiences, though. As we always say, when you’ve met one autistic…you’ve met one autistic.

I grew up in a very sheltered environment. I was the adopted child of closed-minded Baptist missionaries. I didn’t even know autism exited until I was in my twenties. I knew I was different, but not why.

Being sheltered and undiagnosed led to a number of issues. One being a serious lack of knowledge about sex. This all happened before ‘googling’ was a thing. I had no access to information–and no idea I needed information.

That, to me, is the most dangerous thing.

All these instinctual things non-autistics seem to grasp.

I didn’t.

I had no idea how sex worked. How safe sex worked. I had no clue that there were different sexualities.

It seems ridiculous and incomprehensible, but it’s true.

Education is important. CRITICALLY important for autistics.

I had to learn the hard way. I had to educate myself. I made humiliating mistakes. My dating history is littered with bad decisions I could’ve avoided with a little knowledge.

And I’ve completely lost my train of thought. Thanks, Brain. I’ll end this post here.

Bonus round of unrelated yet related things I wish:

– Society didn’t mock adults looking for information that people consider ‘common sense.’

– People wouldn’t say ‘there’s no such thing as a stupid question’ without meaning it.

 

 

 

 

Thanks. No Thanks. Thanks.

April is generally considered ‘Autism Awareness’ month. I prefer Autism Acceptance.  I do not support Autism Speaks. I do not light it up blue. I am not a puzzle piece.

I thought for my first Monday Blog in April. I’d discuss an aspect of my life as an autistic adult.

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The above gif is an accurate representation of how I feel about my brain daily.

True story.

I’ve wanted to write this blog post for over a year but struggled to put my thoughts into coherent words. Something I deal with quite frequently as an autistic. An experience this week made me want to make an attempt yet again–so please forgive any rambling. I’m trying.

I am autistic.

I live in a world that isn’t designed for the neurally divergent.

Let’s be honest, the world was made for the neurally and physically abled person.

The older I get, the harder it becomes to mask my way through life. (If you’d like to learn more about autistic masking, Neurodivergent Rebel has a fantastic video on the subject: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZB38phQNzw)

And with masking becoming harder, it can be a battle to do specific tasks. All the author things I have to do with promo, talking to people, blogging, so many things. It can be overwhelming and some days impossible. I have days where I sit at my desk and stare at my to-do list for an hour without actually accomplishing a single item.

I get comfortable with people and routines, both of which help me climb these hurdlers within myself.

My life has been blessed with a core group of friends who go out of their way to help me…or at least not make my life more difficult.

The trouble is that I struggle with something that feels a bit like imposter syndrome. I know I need help. I don’t ask for it, but when I receive it.

I suddenly feel like I shouldn’t take the help. Like, I not only do I not need help. I don’t deserve it.

This past week offered a prime example.

My point of contact with my publisher is generally one of two people. As my publisher grows, more people are added to the mix. It causes me a lot of anxiety.

My beloved publisher graciously makes accommodations for me, so that I’m able to cope.

The downside of this brilliant kindness is that a negative internal conversation happens. I question myself. I don’t really need this help, do I? I can manage. I’ll be fine. I’m making their lives more difficult.

It’s toxic self-doubt.

I don’t know if many of my fellow autistics struggle with this.  I’m sure some must.

I do need help at times. I can manage, sometimes, but at what cost to my mental health and stress levels?

One of my goals this year was to be kinder to myself.

I don’t have to be extraordinary or superhuman to validate my existence as an autistic and person.

(This is one of my greatest issues with inspiration porn featuring extraordinary autistics with amazing gifts. It inspires non-autistics, but frequently leaves other autistics feeling as though they will never be enough just as they are.)

I’m trying to do better.

How do you handle accepting help when you need it?

What am I binge watching this month?

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I thought I’d share the shows I’m currently binge watching on either Netflix or Amazon Prime. They’re in no particular order.

  1. Skin Wars
  2. Bake Off
  3. QI
  4. Mock the Week
  5. Lords & Ladles
  6. Cold Justice
  7. Nailed It
  8. Court Justice
  9. An Hour To Save Your Life
  10. Salt Fat Acid Heat

What about you? What are you binge watching this week/month? Do you binge watch at all?

What am I watching?

on YouTube that is.

As part of my morning routine during the week, I have breakfast and coffee at my desk while catching up on the YouTube channels that I’m subscribed to. I thought I’d share the ten of the ones I’m checking out at the moment.

In no particular order, of course.

1. Life in the Cottage

2. Lollipop Box Club

3. A Beautiful Fable (She actually has three channels.)

4. Pentatonix

5. Home Free

6. TedTalks

7. Big Gay Fiction Podcast

8. The Paper Letter Blog

9. Neurodivergent Rebel

10. Chloe’s Thoughts

There’s more of course. I follow quite a few autistic, planner, and/or video game vloggers as well.

Are you subscribed to any YouTube channels?

Free to a Good Home–One Used Special Interest.

My special interests can be broken into several categories: collections, games, TV/movies, books.

And hobbies, but hobbies are the special interest that changes most.

Now, I will admit I have a love/hate relationship with the phrasing ‘special interest.’ It sounds patronising to me, and I know I’m not the only autistic who feels that way. But, I haven’t heard or come up with a better word for my autistic obsessions.

Hobbies I’ve tried and abandoned: knitting, chainmail, and many others. Most crafts wind up being more flash in the pan than a lifelong special interest.

Collections: mugs and notebooks mostly.

Video Games: Mass Effect trilogy, Dragon Age series, Watchdogs 1 & 2, Deus Ex, Assassin’s Creed.

Books: this is another one that varies. I tend to switch genres a lot. Currently? Cosy mysteries are my reading obsession.

Movies: a few, but the ones I rewatch obsessively when stressed out tend to be Jane Austen adaptations.

TV Shows: As Time Goes By, Bake Off, True Crime shows (like on ID network), so many shows, honestly.

The Poisonous Influence of Perfection.

Me to my brain:
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Perfection is a toxic poison that strangles out my creativity.

And really, it’s less about perfection in the end product of my writing–and more about attempting to be expectations I’ve set up for myself of what I think others can do–or think I should do.

It’s a theme that has followed me throughout my adult life working first in restaurants, then as a teacher, and later in insurance.

A theme I didn’t truly understand before learning I’m autistic.

I’ve always needed to demonstrate my abilities at work. Striving to be the best. Not to overshadow others, but more to appear capable. I’ve had a fear of seeming unable to manage: work or life.

And as a result, I work myself to the point of exhaustion.

It’s a trend that followed me into writing.

Setting schedules and deadlines I can’t possibly manage.

Overachieving.

It’s not a bad thing, necessarily.

It is when you’re ignoring your health.

Autistics, at least from my personal experience as one, tend to battle inner ableism. This little voice that tells me I’ve not only got to be at the same level as non-autistic authors but better. It’s poison.

It really is.

The same inner voice that tells me I don’t need help or accommodation when I do.

It eats away at your accomplishments and makes missed goals or deadlines seem like monumentally massive failures.

This year, I managed to almost double my word count.

Brilliant, right? Except not, I didn’t take the breaks between projects that I usually do. I’ve ended up not enjoying writing as usual.

And the last two novels I’ve worked on have been a painful slog until the bitter end.

Next year, one of my biggest focuses will be to enjoy myself with writing.

Deadlines are important and so are word counts, but I can’t write myself into a serious health issue again.

 

 

Remember to Breathe.

(Actual representation of me last week.)

I’ve reached the stage of NaNo where I hate words. I’m convinced I could happily burn my WIP. And I’m definitely questioning my sanity.

I’m tired.

In 2017, I wrote approximately 140k across several short stories and three novels.

This year, I’ve written a 90k novella trilogy, a 52k novel, and I’m on track to wrapping up another 65k – 70k novel. Plus a handful of flash fictions. So if all goes well, I’ll end 2018 having written over 200k words in total.

For me? That’s a lot.

In all honesty, this year, it was too much. I didn’t allow myself enough time to rest.  I didn’t set enough boundaries around my time.

Being a pantser (and not much of a plotter), my brain works best with breaks. I don’t really know where my ideas come from. I tend to just…sit and write, whatever comes out–comes out. Burning myself can be worse than writer’s block. More like writer’s too fucking tired to remember what words are.

I’ve promised myself to do better next year by taking breaks between my projects next year.

In part, my drive to do more and more comes from being autistic. I’ve an inner need to do and be more because of a less than healthy desire to make up for other areas where I can’t quite do what others do. (It’s hard to explain if you don’t experience it.)

On my list for December?

Relax, read through my massive TBR list, watch my favourite holidays movies, and wrap up this fun Urban Fantasy.

I’m not kicking myself if I don’t quite hit the NaNo deadline.

Writing should be fun, and if I add too much stress, I’m not doing myself any favours.