I recently watched a video on trauma. The speaker mentioned that children are generally very loving and affectionate, but that children typically do not have trouble hugging people unless there is a history of trauma or they’re on the spectrum.
I did not know that I was autistic when I was kid. I always found it incredibly frustrating how my family members would violate my consent by hugging me when I very clearly did not like being hugged. I understand that my lack in knowledge of my autism at that time does not make me an exception to the rule, because I am autistic.
But I do not understand why I or any other person should have to justify their decision to not give consent to be touched. The fact that it is their body should be enough.
A few months ago, I had a conversation with someone wherein I mentioned that I do not like being touched. I do not like hugs. I hate holding or shaking hands. The idea of kissing someone completely repulses me. After I told this to the person I was talking to, they started to go into this speech about how certain experiences can damage us and it takes a long time to get past those events…
They thought I had experienced trauma. They thought that there had to have been something wrong with me or some nightmare in my past if I could not enjoy the fundamentals of the human experience (as they perceived it). I, of course, felt a need to defend myself and my life experiences as I had never been attacked, raped, or abused.
I am just autistic.
Apparently, the the fact that I am a living being does not entitle me to turn away hugs or handshakes; instead, it is the fact that I have a neurocognitive difference from everyone else. Simply saying No, thank-you to a hug is not enough.
I have to divulge personal information for it to be valid. No, thank-you. I am refraining from this hug because I am autistic and hugs make me feel uncomfortable. Would you like a note from my doctor to make sure my claim is valid?
Obviously, that statement is a bit dramatic, but I honestly feel like some people would actually like a doctor’s note.
- Food For Thought: Why do people have to divulge personal information to avoid hugs? — February 5, 2019
- An #ActuallyAutistic Review of ABC’s “The Good Doctor” — January 30, 2019