Our Voices: What Are the Greatest Myths of Autism and Sexuality?

Autism and sexuality is not a conceptualized idea.  It is a reality.

Myths and misunderstandings tend to be especially magnetized to cultural taboos.  At present, the combination of disability and sexuality remains a taboo to the eyes of those who have not been exposed to the concept.  For those who have been exposed to the concept, there can be the challenge of having it be seen as positive.

In dispelling misunderstandings regarding ASDs and sexuality, resources containing personal perspectives addressing the truths are minimal and difficult to locate. Mainstream audiences require specific directions to those resources, since it’s not as easy as making a phone call to an autism organization or performing a Google search on autism and sexuality. Resources to accurate personal perspectives have increased, but resources to myths often still get mixed in. 

During an autism town hall meeting held in April 2011, Dr. Peter Gerhardt tweeted: “It is just another aspect of human behavior but we have so pathologized sexuality that most are afraid to even discuss.”  It’s true… we are afraid to discuss it.  But why?

Myths are created out of fear and awe — to separate ourselves from anything odd or different from the social norm.

Human instinct relies on establishing explanations to ensure what is happening is “normal” (i.e. why the Sun rises and sets each day).  Traditionally, myths have been created to explain the reasons and responsibility of nature’s occurrences.  Myths are also created out of fear and awe — to separate ourselves from anything we are taught are odd or different from the social norm. We feel comforted and protected when we reside within the social norm.  

The majority of us who receive and believe in myths do not do so out of malicious intent.  The majority of us who consume myths are simply misunderstood, considering we may never have had an opportunity to be exposed to the truths.

There will always be people who will hold onto their belief of a given myth after hearing a truth. When it comes to truths regarding ASDs and sexuality, it may take a while to absorb the facts.  However, most people are willing to listen if the information is delivered in a consistent and convincing manner.

The more voices and stories we hear from individuals, the closer we will be to dissolving this taboo. The unique aspects found in sexuality in general is not meant to be labeled as a social norm, but we can infuse it into our society to where it is not viewed as ‘subhuman’, ‘abnormal’, and any other term with a negative connotation.

So, what are the greatest myths of autism and sexuality? The answers can be found through the people who live with it themselves.  I recently reached out to fellow self-advocates via Twitter and email correspondence and posted the following:

What do you believe is most misunderstood about ASDs & sexuality, and what myths needs to be addressed in regards to ASDs & sexuality?

Here are the responses from a small group of adults on the spectrum who participated in the conversation…

 

 

I think the biggest myth is one that most people have about ASD individuals. That we don’t have feelings like “normal” people.

Wolfie (@wolfie74)

____

I think the biggest myth is that we’re incapable of feeling love or higher emotions at all.

TG (@outoutout)

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…that our people can’t, won’t, don’t want to or will never have a sexual or romantic relationship, so why teach consent?

Mand Hoskins (@Mandlovesgeeks)

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The biggest myth I encounter is that we are incapable of being tender and empathetic to our partners, sexually or otherwise.

Nominatissima

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The biggest myth is that we are [all] asexual. That’s not true. Many of us have families. We have not learned to procreate without sex yet.

Robert Moran (@AspieJourno)

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That there’s anything that can be universally said about the sexuality of Autistics. Some are straight, some are gay, some are bisexual or might not even care about gender of their partner as far as attraction. Some might be very straight to the point, some might be into more extensive sexual play, and some might incorporate “kinky” aspects into their sexual interactions.  Some might be of typical sexual  attraction, some might be hyper sexual, and some have an asexual orientation. There really isn’t one Autistic sexuality, just as there isn’t one sexuality or approach to sexuality in the general public.

Savannah Logsdon-Breakstone

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[The greatest myth is] that we don’t know or are not capable of feeling love… or that we are scared to express sexual desires.

Zachary Harden (@zscout370)

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I’m afraid to express sexual desires, but it was people — “normal” people — who instilled that fear in me. That’s not autism’s doing. Now, when it comes to affection, attachment, love, I often feel those with such intensity that I am overwhelmed and shut down.

David K. March

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There’s this myth that Autistics who do kink play make bad dominants. This is bull crap.

Anonymous

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We are alike more than we are different. We have all the same needs as any other… love, connection, sex — we just may go about getting them met differently.

Lynne Soraya

 

 

The contribution of voices does not end here.  The more voices heard, the more complex and rich this “orchestral piece” will resonate to the audience who need to hear out this awareness.

Self-advocates in the autism community: you have the spotlight.  What do you believe is the greatest misunderstanding about ASDs and sexuality, and what myths need to be addressed in regards to ASDs and sexuality?

 

Image Credits: Jack Heart, Tayrawr Fortune, ortizlucy80

 

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2 Comments

  1. Lyn
    Posted November 2, 2011 at 12:47 AM | Permalink

    I think the greatest myth is that we’d WANT to manage our sexuality like the NT’s do. Frankly, NT’s who’ve been married as long as I have don’t usually look like they’re having much fun. My husband and I tried it their way for a while, but we’re far happier since we decided to do things our own way. Our sex life is great, and it’s funny to think that people might pity him! (I asked him about that; he said maybe it’s because we don’t get as much sleep.) The greatest myth is that autistics’ sex life is impaired just like our ability to go clubbing; the truth is that there’s no correlation between the two at all.

  2. Liz
    Posted January 14, 2016 at 1:17 PM | Permalink

    I have been married almost 28 years and we have a great sex life, now I am wondering if being on the spectrum has helped us. Perhaps the pathological honesty, as my daughter calls it, helps us communicate in ways that people who hint and pussyfoot around things have trouble with. I believe that sexual acts are a form of communication and as goes the communication so goes the sex life.

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