|The wedding vows are complete - you may now kiss the bride. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
There are plenty of books and experts on the school issues. Plenty of debates, too. Whatever you want to believe, there's probably an "expert" with that opinion. As an educator, I have plenty to say on the subject of school and being different.
As with school, there is an abundance of expert opinion for parents, educators, and autistics regarding success in the workplace. Again, I have strong opinions and most of those are related to the social aspects of school and work dominating our culture. "Emotional intelligence" is given too much weight, in my view, as we judge introverts, creative individualists, and anyone not charming as being somehow defective. We've made introversion a disability — or at least a professional liability.
But, the questions that seem to be asked even if I am speaking on the other topics is… "How did you meet your wife?" and "What is your marriage… well… is it…?" The other question is, "Is your relationship normal?"
We met in junior high. We knew each other through high school and after. We're introverts interested in science and history. We both enjoy learning. It is really that simple: similar interests help, especially when you are an organized, methodical, maybe obsessive learner. We are note takers and list makers.
Our marriage is like any other. We've had serious problems, and we've had some good times and some fun times. The problems originate in our personalities: we are not good at communicating, we are not affectionate, we are not "bubbly" or naturally outgoing.
There is no "autistic" marriage, nor is there an "introvert" marriage. Relationships are different.
There are asexual autistic couples. LGBTQ couples. Polyamory also seems more common among autistics when one partner is more intellectual than physical. I certainly know more LGBTQ couples within the autistic community, and more transgender individuals.
Curiously, what mothers (and it is overwhelmingly mothers) want to know is if my wife and I are intimate. Do we like contact? Do we touch?
This question arises because many autistic children, teens, and even adults do not like touching. I know one autistic who loves to bake but cannot stand to touch most of the ingredients or the dough. For her, the intimate parts of a relationship are a struggle with the sensory overload. Therefore, I understand the question.
Mothers also wonder for the simple reason they don't want a son or daughter to be alone — and they consider touch and intimacy part of relationships.
My wife and I are not into public displays of affection. We are unlikely to hold hands and kiss in public. We even maintain some distance at home and in bed so we can sleep. My wife is not a "hugger" and not a "cuddler" in any sense.
But, that doesn't mean we never hold hands or kiss or cuddle. We are not as physical as some people, probably not as physical as "average" couples. We are more physical than other couples with at least one autistic partner.
For us, the stresses of life become overwhelming. It's hard to be intimate when you are worried about school or work. When you struggle to navigate other social situations, it's hard to be fun and relaxed and playful in private.
Let us know if there's something more we can add. In general, we're just too people living normal, stressful lives. What matters is that we're friends and companions, able to live together and enjoy doing some things together.
We can try our best to reply to any specifics, within some reason.