“Autistic people hate hugging“.

That’s a stereotype. It’s such a common stereotype that, directly before my own diagnosis, on finding out a new friend of mine is autistic, I apologised to her for hugging her. She laughed and said that genuine hugs, that she is ready for, are fine. She just hates fake hugs and unexpected ones. That’s one autistic person’s perspective.

I am autistic and there’s nothing more delicious to me than a good, firm, authentic hug. I just love ’em! That little squeeze that lets me know I’ve been missed. Even someone I don’t know so well (not a stranger, I might add) I’d far rather a hug than an awkward handshake, where I feel the clamminess (mine or theirs) and then immediately start to analyse whether my hand was too firm or too floppy. I’d also rather a hug than jiggling from one foot to another, wondering how to breach the ‘hello, how are you?’ barrier. That’s another autistic person’s perspective.

Some autistic people really don’t enjoy hugging because it feels that it breaches our personal space. Yet another autistic person’s¬†perspective.

Then there are those of us for whom hypersensitivity to touch means it achieves the opposite that the hugger intended – it’s painful and causes distress. And nobody offering a hug surely wants that? That’s one more autistic person’s perspective.

NONE of these perspectives involve the reasoning that autistic people are emotionless. That’s the important takeaway here.

We are ALL different. Some of us hug, some of us don’t. Not so very different to any other neurotype.