No one actually asked this, but I have for quite some time, now.
Hell, I even wrote about it back in 2005! But now I have a much broader history and supply of knowledge from which to draw, apart from the sexual side. Back in those days that was my primary focus so I missed a lot of other things. but those who have been reading the longest might recognize those I missed before.
And some of the knowledge comes from having a child who is diagnosed and is definitely on the spectrum. He and Arwyn demonstrate a LOt of the same characteristics that only differ in degree but not in kind.
Autism is a sort of global label that describes several things going on. One thing does not make one autistic, but it is a constellation of different things that allow one to claim a space on the spectrum. And even those of us who are on it do not usually occupy the same space at the same time. I’m going to depart from some of the mundane DSM characteristics and focus more on what makes the disorder a disorder. There are things about autism that make life hard for both the one who has it and the one who has to live with them.
Management of space: I had written repeatedly about the mess our house was frequently in at least prior to the fire. In my mind, Aryn was being a lazy slob. However, over time and from observing my oldest, she really can not help a lot of it. She simply has no concept of limited space. For instance, my oldest will always and consistently overfill a glass of water…or his bowl of cereal…or whatever container. It results in a big mess when it spills everywhere. We ride the boy constantly about it, and at the age of 14 he should be able to fill a glass without spilling. But he can’t. Ever. Arwyn is not as messy and has learned not to overfill her containers. She simply buys more containers to hold her excess stuff. But soon there is clutter everywhere and I have no doubt our new and mostly empty house will eventually become a cluttered trash heap.
Management of resources. My oldest lovest playing video games and I encourage real time strategy games that require the judicious buld up and spending of resources like Farm Frenzy. And he consistently over spends or fails to manage the resource ( or space in the game) in order to advance. His younger, brother, by contrast, readily figures these things out quickly and easily to advance far beyond his lder bother on such games. Arwyn by contrast has always been challenged by managing resources. I have had to bail her out more than once when she gets in credit card debt. And she has no inerest in real time strategy games cause she would be bad at them.
Time management. Similar to the baove two examples. Always late, always just a little too slow. time gets away when focusing on some small detail that might seem to most as irrelevant.
All of the above are kinda mathematical in nature with some implicit quantity involved. I’m pretty lousy at math myself but have some innate ability to manage things better.
When we get into social characteristics, Arwyn and I are a lot more similar. She is slightly more social than I am, at least in face-to-face type things. I tend toward the social media like blogging (but not so much Facebook) but we both might be described as a bit reclusive at times.
In my article on sensory thresholds, I focused on the sexual side, but Arwyn demonstrate more global characteristics. She likes things a certain way, and woe to anything exceeds that narrow comfort level. A certain temperature, certain clothes and certain foods. Small wonder that sex would be such a minefield with its sensory richness across all senses. Bad lighting would knock her out of the mood, let alone something like a fart.
One question that WOULD likely come up is “What difference would it make if you knew Arwyn was autistic?” It’s why I don’t shy away from claiming my own space on the spectum. Basically it helps explain some things instead of misinterpreting motives. Just because Arwyn can not do certain things does not mean she is stupid or lazy. It means she can not, despite her best efforts. That’s not to say she always gives her best. I don’t believe she does much of the time, but I at least have a frame of reference to determine of she is genuinely able and not willing or unable and unwilling. There is a big difference as to how I deal between those two. Her inabilities mean these things just have to be managed. She is responsible for the things she is able to do, not for things she can’t.
Having that frame of reference makes forgiveness a lot easier, at least for me. It’s not an excuse, it simply is what it is. There are enough other things to be mad and bitter about without adding things neither of us have control over. Thing is, she is in her own particular state of denial. I have to often intervene between her and my oldest because even though she possesses many of the same kind of traits, her tolerance for them is much lower. I am more of a mind that I relate to my boys in being more like than and I acknowledge those similarities and am able to deal a bit lighter and compassonately toward the autistic stuff versus just willful disobedience. I can relate to them. And by the same tokan can kind of relate to Awyn, but on a different level. It does not always make it better but in the long run it is slightly easier.