I asked Justin to write what he feels and thinks about, as most of you know. He wanted to talk about physical touch and what it feels like from their point of view.
Physical touch what’s that????? really EWWWWW
No really, I don’t understand physical touch. To me, it just doesn’t really make sense. I’ve never been one to hold someone’s hand or hug them. Even in a moment of sadness I just kind of stand there awkwardly saying what can I do to help. I know I look insanely awkward, like I want to run the fuck away, but also understand I don’t want to be a douche nozzle. For me it’s really hard to explain why physical touch is so foreign and odd. It kind of feels like someone who touches me could control my every move, and before you say “Obviously, that can’t happen,” well, no shit. That’s one thing that’s funny about autism. I am incredibly smart and I have an insane memory about things that I am obsessed with. But you’re also stuck with these things you do that you know is dumb and not true. Like no shit someone can’t control me they’re not Luke Skywalker.
If I’m having a meltdown, touching me is the worst. It’s like a hot poker wherever I get touched—even if they’re trying to be comforting. I start sweating and start to almost stress, because I’m not sure how to react. This is also what it’s like if you randomly touch me—it almost startles me. I know you aren’t doing it to be an ass, but it is a little weird to me. I feel horrible with my wife cause I know she wants to hold hands and touch, but it is so insanely foreign to me. I think she’s to the point now she does understand and knows I love her (obviously).
People also don’t understand how scary someone touching you can be when you are surrounded by noise and chaos even if things can be calm. For example, my wife’s boss took everyone on a day cruise around the Puget sound where we live. We were on the top deck surrounded by the other employees she knows well. Everyone was talking and moving and having a good time. Their faces were different to me (even though I met them all), but I’m so focused trying to block out everyone else it’s overwhelming. It can also be scary in public because I don’t know how long to stare at you before I am creepy Justin and you start getting weirded out.
I don’t know what to do with my hands, so I fiddle with my phone, goatee or anything. I don’t have any idea what body language means—it’s definitely a different language. If my wife wants a hug or cuddle she pretty much has to just say “I want a hug, dummy,” before I get it. If she tries to hug me or flirt with me I’m just like uhhhh….hey, what are you doing? She has gotten to understand she just has to say it. It’s almost like knowing only half the language of a place you’re visiting. Like you know enough to kind of get around and ask where the bathroom is and stuff, but you don’t really know how to speak more than “Where’s the library.” There are also times someone will say something nice to me and I brush it off its usually cause I had no clue what you were talking about at the time. My brain processes some things fast and some things I take forever to get. I also might hear you tell me a joke then when I get home I finally get it, and laugh randomly, scaring the hell out of my wife.
TIP: If you’re hanging around someone who’s autistic and want to hug them or touch them, just ask. Physical contact can be tough, so it never hurts to ask them.