Possible challenges in achieving orgasm for individuals with ASD
Are there people on the spectrum who face issues achieving orgasms? Absolutely… as is the case with people not on the spectrum. The reasons for these issues will vary on a case-by-case basis, but here is a brief list of possible challenges unique to autistic individuals:
Personal accounts of individuals on the spectrum often reveal they were not given the proper amount of sexual education during their teen years, often leading to sexual issues in adulthood. The ideal sex education curriculum needs to be well-rounded. Sex education is not only about STD protection, birth control, and identifying the sperm and the egg. Sex education is also about encouraging sexual exploration and learning more about what your body likes and doesn’t like. It’s about learning what areas are usually stimulated in order to reach climax and the proper technique for stimulation. This does not need to be a hands-on demonstration (except with a sexual partner), but it’s good to at least talk about it.
Educators may assume that students with ASD will just “pick up” on it like the other kids, but keep in mind we don’t “pick up” on things the same way others do.
2. Temporary surrender of self-control
In order for an orgasm to be effective and enjoyed to its full potential, it requires one to temporarily surrender self-control to the unknown energies and forces. One also has to be aware that the body responses that occur during and after an orgasm are often unpredictable. These things may include the length of time, range of intensity, changes in body temperature, heart rate, involuntary muscle contractions (usually in the pelvic region), and the amount of seminal and vaginal fluid that is discharged. It’s like sneezing, according to Dr. Alfred Kinsey.
For autistic individuals, self control is essential. Letting go even a little of that self-control can be an issue when engaging in intimacy with a sexual partner.
It is important to point out that not all of that self-control has to be surrendered to enjoy an orgasm. Most people have found ways to retain some of that self-control. These things may include choice of location, choice of stimulation target, choice of sexual partner, and auditory response.
Even so, some individuals still feel that the sensations and loss of control that accompany climax can end up being far too overwhelming — with oneself or with a partner. They may avoid intimacy and orgasms altogether.
For the vast majority of ASD individuals, giving up self control for a few seconds or moments of orgasmic bliss doesn’t end up being a major concern.
3. Surrounding environment not sensory-friendly
As the environment plays a crucial role in our sensory sensitivities in our daily life’s activities, it is no different in the bedroom. We will not be discussing the sensory issues in detail in this article, but here is a list of some environmental factors which can affect our sensory sensitivities during intimacy and orgasm:
- Aroma (specific types and strength levels)
- Air temperature
- Body temperature
- Body moisture
- Lighting levels
- Colors and hues (found in lighting, walls, objects, bedding, etc.)
- Body exposure to the elements
- Bedding (mattress, sheets, pillows)
- Frequency and intensity of noise in the background (music, TV, pets, outdoor noises)
Our sensory interaction with the surrounding environment dictates the level of ease or difficulty in sustaining arousal and climax.
4. Sensation areas in the body: over-stimulating or under-stimulating
The autism spectrum involves a diverse scattering in all the five areas of the sensory profile. In every individual, there are areas which may be hypersensitive, areas which are more-or-less elevated, and areas which may be hypo-sensitive (see also Sensory Processing Disorder). It is possible that hyper-sensitivity can be developed around the genital region and other sexual “hot spots” to the point where it takes minimal effort to reach climax. It is also possible that hypo-sensitivity can be developed in these same areas to the point where sexual arousal is not left to be desired. Then, there are some cases where an individual can only “get off” when their genital area is rubbed or comes in contact with a certain texture, pressure, or surface firmness.
The amount of physical pressure given by a partner or object can play a significant role. Some people may need to be held tightly or pressed down in order to climax. Some people may need minimal pressure or touch in order to climax. In all cases, the person needs to have control over the amount of pressure being given.
5. Breathing technique
The orgasm quality, not to be confused with quantity, can affect some individuals due to the challenges in proper breathing technique (often applied in tantric sex). In a way, breathing and spoken language are interconnected. Proper breathing and spoken language are not naturally acquired in autism, even for those who have learned how to speak. Those of us with speech difficulties or a history of delayed speech can appreciate the challenge of figuring out when and how to breathe while talking.
One reason why learning spoken language is a complex task is that speaking involves learning how to breathe “correctly” when projecting sounds. Training the body to achieve an ideal quality orgasm also involves monitoring breathing technique, which can turn into a multitasking activity. If a person concentrates too little or too much in his or her breathing technique, then it can affect the quality of orgasm.
However, the level of advancement in breathing and spoken language skills do not in any way determine the ability of the body to experience orgasms. With practice and exploration (by oneself and/or with a partner), an individual can learn to figure out what breathing pattern works best for his or her body to prepare for ideal quality orgasm.
For those of you who want to be even more experimental and explore more into how orgasms can be achieved just by breathing alone, a woman featured on an episode of TLC’s Strange Sex is well-known for instructing this technique.
Before drawing into immediate conclusions that the difficulty in achieving orgasms has to do with the lack of proper sex education, issues with self-control, environmental sensory violations, sensation responses, or breathing technique, you may want to consider other factors. Some factors to consider are: trust issues, aging, health, prescription drug side effects, anxiety over body image, history of sexual trauma or abuse, or simply your partner not knowing the correct approach and techniques to ‘get you off’. Consulting with a trusted doctor, therapist or other health specialist may help you determine if any of these may be causing your difficulties.
If your sexual partner is unaware of the approach and techniques to reach you to climax, you will need to guide your partner through the strategies you have discovered works for you.
Now, on to final thoughts and a few entertaining facts about orgasms….