On the eve of our Unitarian General Assembly meetings, a timely post popped up on Facebook. It was written by Ramon Selove, a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Shenandoah Valley,
who is also autistic.
In it, he explains some of the issues he has with meeting people, touching people and with general noise levels. It is "stressful for me to be in the presence of a large number of people and it is much worse when many conversations are going on at the same time." The link to the full article is below.
Another issue is being touched by people. I was surprised to learn recently, from a fairly extrovert friend, that the kiss on the cheek with which I customarily greeted her was not really welcome. I was distressed that I had unwittingly disrespected her boundaries. Selove covers the "welcome levels of touch" issue in some detail, and suggests icons on name badges to indicate what an individual is comfortable with. For example "hugs welcome" or "handshake only" or "no kissing".
He concludes: "There is, of course, a much simpler approach: encourage everyone to 'ask first'."
So as we greet old friends and make new ones at our meetings, maybe we should bear all this in mind. I am certainly going to try.