FREE RESOURCE: Autism Shapes

So I am aware that this is a sex blog, but it’s also an autism blog, and, as usual, I have a bee in my bonnet about the general public’s perception of autism and their limited understanding of what the autism spectrum actually is. Functioning labels (“high-functioning autistic” and “low-functioning autistic”) are limiting and without nuance, and are mostly defined by how much one’s autism inconveniences the people around them and/or impacts their ability to contribute to an ableist and capitalist society. They fail to take into account the fact that most autistic people don’t have the same level of difficulty unilaterally with all aspects of life, and they make me so annoyed that I want to bite people.

So I made a PDF, because confrontation scares me. You can access it by clicking here. Essentially, the PDF introduces the Autism Shape, a way to visualise the experiences of autistic people in a way that doesn’t limit them to a sliding scale which goes from “not very useful in a capitalist society” to “rather useful in a capitalist society”. The blank template looks like this:

A sort of graph thingy with eight straight lines protruding from a black dot in the middle. These lines are marked at intervals, labelled from 1 (closest to the centre) to 10. They are all labelled with different things an autistic person may struggle with. From the top, clockwise, these are: Social interaction, Sensory perception, Interoception & self-care, Flexible thinking, Adjusting to change, Paralinguistic communication, Verbal communication and Cognitive empathy. In the bottom-right corner, there is some text which reads, “Morgan Peschek, 2019. Feel free to share, but please credit me!”

The idea is to prioritise the nuanced, lived experience of autistic people over the perceptions of their “functioning” that other individuals might have. You mark your own values on the template, with 1 meaning “I struggle a lot with this” and 10 meaning “I’m fucking amazing at this”, and then you connect the dots to create a fun shape, like so:

A radar chart related to the autism spectrum, with eight "spokes" each labelled with a different aspect of autism. More information is available in the PDF.
The same graph as before, but this time with a teal eight-sided polygon drawn onto it. This is my own Autism Shape.

I’ve been developing the Autism Shape for a while now, and I’m really pleased with it, but I’m always open to suggestions! I’m particularly interested in input on how to make the PDF more accessible to people who use screenreaders, and to people with dyslexia for whom black text on a white background is difficult to read.

Who this resource is for:

  • Autistic people who want to define and express their own experience of autism
  • Professionals who work with autistic people and who know that the high/low functioning model is a pile of shit
  • Friends and families of autistic people, only for the purpose of showing it to said autistic person and saying, “Hey, this might be a helpful tool for you!”

Who this resource is not for:

  • Anybody who plans to build an Autism Shape on behalf of an autistic person. Obviously you can help them, but the whole point of revisualising the spectrum is to help autistic people define and express their own experiences.
  • At the moment, people who can’t read English, because I don’t have the means to accurately translate it or to commission a translation (let me know if you do!)
  • Anybody who practices ABA (Applied Behaviour Analysis), because if you use my cool resource as a way to harm autistic people, I might actually bite you.

I really hope that this tool helps my fellow autistics, and I encourage all my readers to share it far and wide. And on Saturday, I’ll be climbing off my high horse to deliver some smut, since this is a sex blog – stay tuned!


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Rest as Radical Resistance

I play with LEGO as a means to rest, so this photo is of a little LEGO housefront with a window and a door, atop a piece of green LEGO, with an above-ground pool, a fence, a flowerbed and a windmill also made of LEGO. Also, my hand is in this photo because I fucking suck at photography.

I have been on hiatus.

I’m actually not sure if I can call it a hiatus. I didn’t really intend to take a break from blogging, much like I didn’t really intend to take a break from working, talking to my friends or showering when not absolutely necessary. My mood took a bit of a nosedive a few weeks ago, and I’m slowly recovering the ability to function to my usual (and still less-than-optimal) degree.

I’ve had a lot to contend with, too: first, I graduated from uni (with a 1st class degree in English, baby!) and then I had a birthday, and then I had a tribunal about disability benefits to attend, and then I had to move out of my old flat. Note that I did not mention moving into any sort of new accommodation – because student tenancies are stupid, I am technically without a fixed address at the moment. My possessions are mostly in a storage unit, apart from a stash of clean knickers and sex toys at my Daddy’s house and some other bits and pieces scattered across the homes of my mum and my other two partners, 60 miles away. In case you were wondering how my autistic ass has been coping with the change: it’s been 19 days since the move and I’m still having nightmares about leaving possessions behind.

I’ve been feeling so angry with myself lately about letting my blog fall to the wayside. I love blogging. I’m passionate about sex and disability and relationships and kink. I feel so at home in the sex blogging community and I feel a sense of responsibility towards the people who read my content to churn out some more. But I don’t want to churn out crap, and I’ve barely been able to assemble a coherent Tweet lately, so I’ve been forced to let my brain have a break.

There’s been one other factor complicating the whole blogging thing: the seemingly imminent end of the world. There are children in cages in the U.S., Bitcoin setups using the same amount of energy as Denmark and so many more crises unfolding all at once. On the one hand, this makes writing about how much I love puppy play seem embarrassingly futile. I sometimes feel as if I should be chaining myself to something or scaling a monument or flying to America to vandalise ICE vans, but I can barely drag myself to the corner shop at the moment. I have to accept my own limits.

And then, on the other hand, I feel an enormous amount of self-imposed pressure to do what little good I can manage by writing about sex and kink, and hopefully making other people with non-mainstream sexual proclivities feel a little bit less alone. I would never devalue the work that other online activists do, and I do regard my blog – especially the bits about disability and queerness – as a form of activism. But I just haven’t been capable of writing anything that makes any fucking sense as of late (as evidenced by the three garbled documents in my Drafts folder right now, taunting me every time I open WordPress). That’s a limit that it’s been harder to accept, because “blogging more often” sounds like such an achievable goal on paper. In reality, though, I don’t even have the executive function to charge my laptop half the time.

In spite of knowing I need it, I’ve been regarding this accidental period of rest with a festering resentment. I know I need to slow down, I know I need to rest, and I know that I’m holding myself to standards I would never hold another person to, but I’ve still been beating myself up about not blogging, not working, not “achieving” anything. I also know, from therapy, that I’m supposed to ask myself, “What would I say to [insert loved one here] about this?” whenever I’m beating myself up. And I know what I would say.

Rest is an achievement. It’s not just a passive state of being; in this late capitalist hellscape, where we’re always under pressure to be doing something, it takes some real effort to allow ourselves to rest. I sometimes regard my own rest as a means to an end: if I can just rest for a while, I’ll be able to do something again soon after, and that makes resting worthwhile (if uncomfortable). But actually, resting doesn’t need to be a means to an end. Your rest doesn’t have to make you more productive in the long run, or better at your job, or any other thing besides rested.

There are bastards making money from our reluctance to rest. Employers who exploit their employees are an obvious example, but anything which is designed to keep you busy is also preventing you from resting. (This is one of the many, many reasons that diet culture is entirely, well, a cultural construct, and wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for several fucked up aspects of capitalism.) To consciously choose to rest, to just fucking chill, is to spit in those bastards’ proverbial faces.

And my rest, I suppose, is particularly profound because I’m multiply marginalised. Homophobia, transphobia, ableism, bigotry in general, they keep their victims on their toes. Being queer and AFAB and disabled means that I’m expected to work harder than my cishet, male, abled counterparts, and there’s something that feels quietly radical about just… not doing things. I’m not financially privileged enough to completely stop doing things, but spending a couple of weeks just taking some deep breaths and surviving as a queer, AFAB disabled person is not what bigots want me to do. Bigotry relies on us being exhausted and distracted and miserable, and taking some time to rest patently defies that. And I like to be defiant.

I wanted to explain my unexpected hiatus to y’all, but I also wanted to share my thoughts on rest because it really is difficult to rest and not feel guilty about it. I hope this blog post has helped to reassure at least one person that their rest is not just a state of inaction, or a means to boost their productivity – it is an act of self-love and of resistance, and I am exceptionally proud of anyone who is currently pulling it off.


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Kinks I Don’t Have

Stock photo of a fluffy black-and-white feather against a blue background, a reference to tickling, one of the kinks I don't have, and also a nice complement to my blue-and-purple blog colour scheme.

Sometimes, my vanilla friends like to tease me about how kinky I am. I don’t mind it; I love feeling seen by them, and there’s never an edge of malice or shaming to it. But sometimes, I’ll express that something is a kink of mine, and they’ll respond, “What isn’t?”

Today, I am going to answer that question.

Specifically, I want to think about the reasons for me not finding a kink appealing. I can usually identify what’s hot about kinks I do have – pet play is primal and unrestrained; CG/l fulfills my need for approval and nurturing, whilst also feeling super taboo – but I think it’ll be just as telling to investigate what turns me off about kinks I personally don’t have. (Naturally, I’m going to try and be as neutral as possible and to avoid shaming people who do have these kinks, because most, if not all, kinks are harmless when played with ethically.)

1. Coprophilia, AKA scat, AKA poop

This one is firmly on my list of hard limits, rather than just a kink I’m not actively interested in. Partly, this is because of the health risks it poses, which sit firmly outside of my risk profile – but also, it just squicks me on an instinctive level that I can’t override. Once, when a friend confided in me that they had an interest in scat play and felt conflicted about it, I searched Tumblr for scat-related porn (back in the days when you could find porn on Tumblr). I grew to understand it in theory – the intense sensory experiences of smell and texture, the potential for erotic humiliation, the taboo of it – but I just couldn’t get past my own knee-jerk response, which was, I’ll admit, disgust. That doesn’t mean that I think the kink is disgusting, of course; most people poop, and I eroticise piss, which seems to be only one step away from scat. It’s just that my Caveman Brain is producing a disgust response, presumably because it has identified scat play as unsafe in some way, and I’m incapable of shutting that off.

2. Food play

Some of y’all might know that I’m recovering from an eating disorder. You might also know that recovering from mental illnesses does not stop me from enjoying related kinks, as is evident in the relationship between my blood kink and my occasional self-harm, so it’s probably not my eating disorder that prevents me from finding play with food sexy. Instead, I think it’s the sensory component. I’m autistic, and some sensory experiences are fucking awesome for me – like touching fluffy things, or sniffing a lemon-scented body wash – and some are hellish. Anything that could be described as “sticky” falls into the latter category, as do many forms of “wet”. I hate showering because I hate the sensation of being wet. I hate going out in the rain for the same reason, but I also hate to use an umbrella, because the fact that my legs are wet but my top half is not is even more distressing. The idea of being covered in food makes my autistic skin crawl a little bit, and even covering somebody else in foodstuffs would make me cringe.

3. Leather and latex

I’ve lumped these things into one because my lack of interest in them both comes from the same place. Firstly, there’s the autism component: squeaky, creaky noises go straight through me, and I know there’s a lot of potential for those noises to arise in latex and leather. Secondly, leather and latex garments require a lot of care to maintain. I can barely keep myself and my dildos clean, and I just don’t think I have it in me to polish latex or leather as frequently as is needed. I also imagine that trying to keep such expensive garments clean and intact would make me so anxious that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy wearing them, particularly since latex has a reputation for tearing. I can admire other people’s latex and leather outfits from afar, of course, because people always look hot as hell in them, but I don’t think I could ever become a latex or leather wearer.

4. Tickling

So I have this really odd thing where if you get close enough to me and wiggle your fingers as if you’re going to tickle me, I start laughing before you even make contact. But it’s not an excited laugh – it’s just some anticipatory reflex thing, because frankly, tickling annoys me. I’ll tickle other people if they’re really enthusiastic about it, but the sensation of tickling just isn’t an enjoyable one for me. Light tickling, like the kind you can achieve with feathers, gives me Bad Autism and makes my skin itch relentlessly. Harder tickling with fingers is a little painful and a little irksome. This doesn’t mean, though, that I don’t want to be made to laugh in kinkier contexts; my Daddy can often make me shriek with enjoyable giggles by grabbing my shoulders, shouting, “Earthquake!” and shaking me roughly. I like laughing during scenes, especially when a top is using my laughter as another way to control my body, but tickling is just never going to be a way to get me there. It’s not fun laughter so much as involuntary laughter, and I like to save my involuntary responses in scenes for things like gagging and squirming.


What I’m gathering from this is that a lot of the things that stand between myself and some common kinks are rooted in autistic sensory aversions – and that’s okay! Nobody ever has to justify, to themselves or other people, why they don’t have any particular kinks, but I felt like it would be as interesting an introspective exercise as considering why I do have particular kinks. Are there any common kinks that you just don’t gel with, and do you ever think about why? I always love to hear y’all’s thoughts in the comments!