Three Ways Kink Helps Me Access Fulfilling Sexual Experiences and Relationships As an Autistic Adult

By Stevie Lang

As an Autistic person, the way I do most things tends to be a little different from the ‘norm’ and true to form, my sexual interests and desires have always been somewhat, unusual.

BDSM (an acronym meaning bondage and discipline, domination and submission, sadism and masochism) is one of my most enduring special interests, and it’s also one of the main ways I experience sex and sexual attraction.

BDSM meets a lot of needs in my life. Some aspects of it are important to me on an almost spiritual level as a deep part of who I am and what I desire; some aspects are a fun form of recreation, almost like a perverted hobby; and other aspects form the basis of some of my favourite ways of connecting with others and having close and meaningful relationships.

However, as I’ve learned more about my disability and my Autistic brain – and begun to accept and articulate the accommodations that I need in relationships and sexual contexts – I’ve realised that the joy I find in my kinky proclivities isn’t entirely random. While I don’t believe that people need to explain why they’re kinky, and personally I don’t see these things as the ‘reasons’ I am kinky, they are likely part of the reason why being kinky brings me so much joy and provides such an important source of fulfilment in my life. What’s more, I think the things I am about to talk about, explicit and tailored communication; sensory accommodations and roles and responsibilities based on your unique needs – these are all things that any person can take away and apply to their own relationships and sex life, particularly people who need specific accommodations to be able to feel relaxed and comfortable in their social and intimate relationships.

  1. Kink and BDSM usually involve a lot of explicit communication

It’s important to note at the outset that not every kinky relationship or encounter involves stellar communication, there is nothing inherent about kink that makes good communication magically happen. However, in BDSM the stakes do tend to be a little higher in terms of the personal risks we take on and this can encourage people to engage in more clear and effective communication.

We also find that in kink relationships, there are less social scripts that can be followed or relied on. Anyone who does BDSM in real life for more than five minutes will usually be able to explain why the popular representations of kink that do offer a socially recognisable script, like the notorious Fifty Shades are effectively useless as relationship templates. If we want to get the things we actually want out of kink and have mostly functional connections with other people, we usually have to find ways to articulate what it is that we want. While this is essential in all relationship in kink it tends to be foregrounded more and take place earlier in the relationship. This helps me create the space I need to ask for accommodations, whether they are physical, sensory or relational. It also helps me avoid up front any situations where my needs aren’t going to be accommodated.

In my experience, kinky people also generally tend to be more willing to explore non-verbal and alternative forms of communication. While it might be a tired cliché, a ‘contract’ signed between dominant and submissive partners in a relationship can be a way of communicating in an ongoing way through a written medium, which can then be discussed, edited and clarified in writing, through conversations or through a mixture of both. For me, while I’m not currently party to any contracts of the kinky kind, having documents of other sorts that reflect different aspects of my relationships helps me immensely as someone who can have a slow processing time, or more ideas than I can possibly share at once, or suddenly find themselves without the ability to communicate verbally.

2. BDSM practices help me manage my sensory needs especially during sex

In BDSM terms, I am a ‘switch’ which means I both bottom (receive sensations/experiences) and top (give sensations/experiences).

Both topping and bottoming play important roles in helping me manage my sensory needs, both generally and during sex specifically.

When I am topping, particularly if I am also playing a dominant role in the ‘scene’ or kink experience, I usually have a say about when and how I am going to be touched. I can restrain a partner so they can’t touch me at all or make rules about when and how they are allowed to touch me.  For me, this is a crucial accommodation, allowing me to avoid sensory overwhelm. It also helps me relax and feel more comfortable getting into my body, knowing that I am not about to be confronted by a type of touch I find dysregulating.

Bottoming plays a different role in my sensory world. Certain kink activities, for example, rough play that involves being pushed around, painful sensations, repetitive sensations like flogging and spanking or being restrained are all powerful ways to engage with our senses, particularly our proprioceptive and vestibular senses that don’t get a lot of attention. In this way, kink provides much needed input into my sensory diet, helping me stay better regulated throughout my day-to-day.

Additionally, my sensitivity and ability to lose control to sensations actually becomes a positive when I am bottoming, because my main job, in this context is to receive and react to sensations. Most tops thrive on the intensity of reactions, and as someone who is acutely aware of all the variations and varieties of sensation –  be it pleasant or otherwise – I sure can deliver. Knowing that in a given scene my role is to bottom and give in to sensation, helps me be a fun, reactive player rather than a ball of nerves who is socially and sensorily overwhelmed (and therefore withdrawing).

3. Structured relationships with clear roles and responsibilities support my inner need for things to be simple.

My Autistic brain thrives in situations where there’s a lot of clarity. I also have a bit of an inner need for things to be black and white. Unfortunately, in almost every situation I have come across in life, black and white thinking gets me into trouble – except in kink!

Black and white thinking helps me get deeply into dominant and submissive roles I might be playing in a scene or a relationship. It also means that I thrive in the kinds of structured relationships that often feature in BDSM dynamics. Feeling like I clearly know what my role and responsibilities are in a relationship – and even having written documents to refer back to – creates the space that I need to relax and feel like I understand this social situation, for once in my socially awkward life. This allows for a kind of relaxation and calm that creates space for me to ‘unmask,’ that is worry less about whether I am ‘coming across’ as an Autistic person and focus on connecting with someone.

***

While this is just my experience, I think that these concepts can be helpful for anyone who wants a better sex life, particularly disabled people. Having more explicit communication, and experimenting with non-verbal or alternative communication; learning and managing your sensory needs (yes everyone has them!); and finding ways to structure your relationships in ways that are reflective of your unique ways of being are helpful foundations for any relationship, even if you’re not tying each other up.

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