Monday, September 20, 2010

From The Mailbag

This is an interesting question. I can give my take on it, but I have no specialized knowledge of the issue. If any of you have an educated opinion on Asperger's/Autism and BDSM, I’d be happy to hear it.

As a man with Asperger's seeking Master/Slave and bondage scenarios (as a submissive) I have been struggling to find and negotiate safe and successful scenes and am looking for resources or advice on doing so. My usual Asperger's and Autism related resources fairly consistently advise avoiding kinky activities entirely, but since I have no interest in vanilla sex or relationships, that is advice I intend to ignore. So here I am, trying to find out the safest ways to ignore it.

(In case you are unfamiliar Asperger's is related to Autism. In my case resulting in very literal communication, difficulty with non-verbal communication and fairly pronounced social anxiety - particularly as group size increases. Apologies if this question is outside your interest or comfort zone to address.)

The social anxiety aspect of my Asperger's has meant trying to attend local workshops has been of little value, and I have exclusively been using the 'Recon' website, but have specifically run in to three recurring problems (which I suspect will sound similar to the problems of just about any shy or nervous dater, but please bear with me.)

Mentioning Asperger's directly in my profile proved to be problematic, quickly attracting contacts that quite clearly saw it as a vulnerability to exploit (being evasive or suggesting outright dangerous scenes) and leading me to conclude it is not something to disclose early.

Unfortunately, omitting this very important information about my disability and personality, but still seeking all of the scene, safety and limit information that my prior reading has insisted is important... seems to lead tops to perceive me as pushy or unreasonable or such. Or so I assume from the frequency with which previous expressions of interest transform into complete silence.

The few occasions where I have progressed to play, despite me (I think!) being very good at following instructions have always lead to dead ends - despite being told fun was had and that more scenes would be good, contacts have always progressed into silence. I am at a loss how to find out where I’m going wrong ~without~ disclosing the Asperger's and how important explicit instructions/expectations are.

So finally getting to the point I would like to ask you how, when and where you think it would be safest and most sensible to mention (and explain when necessary) my disability to potential Doms... both with such online resources as Recon and face-to-face venues if I ever gain the confidence to actually dress and step through the door.

My initial answer to this would be: what you are describing also happens to people who do not have Asperger's Syndrome. Naturally I cannot know if the people you communicated with and played with declined to pursue things with you because of that. But the fact is: statistically, most online communications of this sort do not turn into meetings. Of the meetings that do happen, most don’t turn into long-term relationships. They often don’t even turn into a second date. This is true of straight vanilla people, and it’s even truer for those of us with highly specific erotic taste.

And every online dating/hookup site is rife with unscrupulous types looking for the vulnerable people. That is why I constantly push people to make real-life friends – and by friends I mean: people you don’t have sex or play with – in their erotic community. Having kinky friends helps you distinguish nice people from bad people, and if you’re someone who has trouble reading cues, a pal who can act as the canary in the coal mine would be a very handy thing.

One question: can you talk to your doctor about meds to ease your general social anxiety? I know people who take occasion-specific medications for that, and I know people who take a daily dose of something that helps. I don't think that pharmaceuticals are the magic answer to every problem, but sometimes they are a tool worth considering.

So my overall opinion is: just keep trying. Be careful online, try to find a buddy who’ll go to events with you, and be prepared to kiss a lot of frogs. And I think you should disclose this before you play. I know that as a top, I’d be unhappy if I felt my partner had deliberately withheld an important piece of information about himself. If you think this is a crucial factor in your BDSM experience, then you need to tell people about it before the scene. Good luck to you!

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