Autism Awareness: Touch

Should this be a hands-on situation? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

It might sound like a shock to you, but one of my love languages I think is touch. However, that only really applies in a romantic relationship. If it is any other kind of relationship, touch is intrusive and I don’t really care for it. I need to know someone before I can feel comfortable with their touch.

Touch is passing a boundary. It is becoming more real than before and it is an uncomfortable sensation at times, especially if you’re not expecting it. If someone wants to pray for me in a church service and suddenly puts their hand on my shoulder even, I am not thinking about the prayer but instead internally saying “Please move your hand. Please move your hand. Please move your hand.”

This doesn’t apply to just strangers. With my own family, I can tend to accept it, but it’s not my favorite thing. If my mother didn’t think I had done a good job shaving in the morning and wanted to show me where and got her finger and started touching specific parts of my face, I would recoil every time.

Another kind of touch I hate and this no one gets to do is to take off my glasses from me. Again, I can’t explain why that is, but if someone takes off my glasses or puts them on me, it is highly intrusive. If I went to a doctor and he needed to look into my eyes, I wouldn’t let him take my glasses off. I would do it myself.

In a romantic relationship, I seem to connect that touch to love a lot easier and I can enjoy that kind of touch. That kind of touch is also in its own way, exclusive. No one else gets to give touches like that to me.

This is coming from someone who is high-functioning. Now picture it coming from someone who is not like that. How will they react to a touch?

Let’s take this over to a church service. As much as I think Corona is overblown, I am certainly appreciative of one aspect. Greeting time has gone out the window. No one is coming over to shake my hand that I don’t know. That was always the part of the service I liked the least.

If you’re dealing with someone on the spectrum, be very careful about touch. Actually, that’s a good piece of advice for anyone since there are plenty of people not on the spectrum who are not crazy about touches from people they don’t know. Just because they allow you to touch them doesn’t mean that they are liking it. If you do get to the point of touch however and it is welcomed, then you have crossed a huge boundary and you can personally celebrate that.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)
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