Tuesday, June 12, 2007


I recently learned that there is a whole series of unwritten rules about hugging, rules that in 35 years of life, everyone just assumed that I knew and was purposely not following. This of course was not the case, but one of the bad parts of being autistic is not knowing these unwritten rules and not being able to figure them out on your own.

For me a hug was a hug and all hugs were created equal. I had no understanding of the difference between the "I'm just being polite" hug and the "best friends" hug or even the "I barely know you" hug. To make things worse for me, I'm sensory seeking for touch, so I love to squeese and be squeesed, so being hugged has always been a good feeling.

My fiance gave me a quick tutorial on hugging a few weeks back. She'd realized, as she learned more about autism, that the reason I'd been hugging in what seemed to be a creepy way, was that I didn't know the rules. So now I have the added joy of having to think when someone hugs me, "what kind of hug is this?" and "where is the let go of me sign?" Of course there is an advantage for her, now she's the only one who gets hugs from me that are undistracted by thinking about the rules.


Freelance Writer-Mother-Wife-Veteran said...

Too bad really that hugs are not universally welcomed!

Daisy said...

Your fiance sounds like gem. She is no good not to assume anything, but to help you learn the rules instead.

reform_normal said...

heh...my neurologically quirky boyfriend doesn't seem to know when to stop hugging either. I remember the first time I hugged him, I was waiting for him to stop when he wanted to, which wasn't happening. I decided to use the opportunity to get a little more comfortable with hugs in general, because it was a choice I made to hug him, and then I stopped the hug.

Over time, I've learned to stop when I need to or want to with pretty much all physical affection, pretty much all of which he seems to enjoy in virtually unlimited quantities. It worked, and I can be much more affectionate with him than with just about anyone else, even though I still don't have his infinite tolerance.