One of my favorite fellow bloggers is Joel at the NTs Are Weird - An Autistic's View of the World. His intelligence, insight and positive attitude towards life and other people has really helped me view the world from someone else's eyes - someone who is diagnosed with Autism but whose shared information can be easily applied to other types of disabilities.
Joel recently wrote a post called Card Games in which he discussed the difficulties that many people with Autism experience with touch, particularly in a romantic relationship. Joel, newly engaged, shared a technique, a card game actually, that he and his fiance use to make sure their shared touches are appropriate and welcome.
Their card game is simple - both Joel and his fiance made up a deck of cards, with short descriptions of a kind of touch they would enjoy. They kept their decks separately, and exchanged them with each other when they decided they wanted to enjoy some touch with each other. One of them would draw a random card, look at it (you don’t look until then), and, without showing the other, do whatever the card says.
Quoting from Joel's blog, "For example, you might draw a card that says, “Gently stroke my hair”. So, without letting your partner know what you are doing (but they know you are going to do something they like), you are able to touch your partner - and your partner knows that whatever you do is going to be something safe, which is important for many people, such as abuse survivors. You are doing something your partner has explicitly said is safe."
I think Joel's approach is brilliant and urge you to read his post yourself. I can't wait to brainstorm some other situations in which this approach would work, especially as it applies to Ashley and others who are deafblind. Her sensory issues are also quite intense, and I am sure Joel's approach can be adapted to help her make sensory experiences more enjoyable.
Thank you, Joel. I absolutely adore your blog and all your wonderful ideas. And, congratulations on the engagement!