JTJTJT

Autism and Tattoo

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Hello,

I haven't posted much been busy working and saving, but I was reading a few bad customer/ tattoo etiquette threads and thought I would post this.

I have autism (Asperger's syndrome specifically) and I'm just wondering how best to negate the effects in a tattooing session.

Asperger's for those that aren't aware is a lifelong condition where the brain is wired differently to normal people, people with Asperger's have trouble communicating, making eye contact, understanding what other people are thinking, empathy as well as non social things like being obsessive with details, having supernormal interests and physical things like rocking, flapping hands and ticks.

for reference think Sheldon Cooper, Temple Grandin, Gary McKinnon (the man who hacked the US)

Because of Asperger's I know that I come off like an arsehole to people I don't know well and I'm even more odd and twitchy when nervous.

Any thoughts on the best way to:

a) explain why I'm 'off' without scaring the artist away and

b) controlling or working around my ticks and stimms when being tattooed.

bonus question would a tattoo artist be offended if you said you liked his work and a lot of his pieces but would like a tattoo (Japanese bodysuit is what I'm aiming for) in a slightly different style then give example of pieces of his that are good and pieces by other artists who's style you like.

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I think you'll find professional tattooers are pretty stand-up people and will be more than helpful giving you the tattoo and experience you strive for. Everything you just said you should say to a prospective tattooer. Just be honest and they will work with you. If you're worried about giving off the wrong vibe while planning a tattoo, maybe reach out to them via email, so you can take the time to articulate what you want to say. As for working around your ticks and stimms, the tattooer will be able to brainstorm options better. My suggestion that comes to mind would be to request a private tattoo session to block out the sensory overload of a busy shop. Some artists that do big japanese scale works have private studios to accomodate the client's privacy and the long sessions.

As for the reference material, just show them what you have and what you want. If they're into it, they will work with you to get you the best tattoo possible.

Where are you located? Perhaps we can suggest some artists. Or do you already have an artist in mind?

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I truly don't think you'll have a problem finding someone who is a professional. I'll agree with @HaydenRose that if you're able to set something up prior to the appointment simply to discuss the design and where you're coming from that there shouldn't be a problem.

Have you been tattooed before? Maybe @jayessebee can lend some insight.

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I've worked with a girl with autism for years now, and hers isn't all that prominent, but in my experience, most people catch on quite quickly.

Especially those in service industries etc, who deal with different kinds of people a lot. They don't necessarily know what makes her act differently, but they can tell that it's something, and usually treat her with much respect and patience.

Point being; Most tattoo artists have dealt with a loooooot of different kinds of people over the years, and, unless it's a complete douche, will probably have a lot of understanding for your situation and not be scared off at all! :) Let them know that you do obsess over details, so setting off some more time to go over the design might be a good idea, and if you think your ticks could be an issue, talk to them about what ticks you have and how they work, so the artist is aware of it and can work with you on it! :) If you have a hard time explaining it, write them an email in advance and send your reference pictures, and I'm positive you'll find a way of making it all work out! :) Best advice I got. Hope it turns out good :)

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I get treated all kinds of funny, but a tattoo shop is about the only public place I feel OK- probably doesnt hurt that its one of my special interests and ive been doing it for about 20 years now. I have fairly severe aspergers/HFA- i can go days without speaking, I dont look at people, I talk way too loud when I do and ramble when I get going. I also tap patterns with my fingers (yngwie Malmsteen arpeggios) and feet and sway, but only when Im standing. I find that I need a "script" to deal with social interactions and when I dont have one and something unexpected happens I shut down completely. I've got a pretty good script for tattoo shops- I have alot of them, I have read just about every book out there and am pretty steeped in the history, plus at this point I know alot of people in the business and tend to just get tattooed by people I know or friends of friends so to speak... I'm also pretty upfront about the difference and people in shops are usually interested rather than put off. I find that I am able to sit like a rock because i can focus my mind down to one thing (sitting still) very easily. Unfortunately I do tend to get bad hives from anxiety which can be a serious problem but I manage it with medication, sometimes successfully. Case in point last month I was up in DC with @CultExciter and friends, got the worst hives I ever had, took a ton of Ativan, got tattooed anyway then went and passed out in the car on the streets of Adams Morgan for a few hours haha.

See, rambling^^

In short, I would say think about medicating your stimming, even with something like a little benedryl. Make sure you go to the best artist you can get to, trust their judgement on your ideas, but get the tattoo you want. Explain your condition simply at the consult, and most importantly have a good time and don't panic- its a big deal to you but its everyday life to the artist, and you will do just fine.

PS. Im not sure how I come off to other people, but I know @CultExciter and have met @ShawnPorter so maybe they could chime in- Ive been told I have dead eyes or look mad all the time lol

burger.jpg

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@jayessebee sure does drive fast though!

John, you know, I even relate to levels of social anxiety, but you always come off as polite and genuine, and to me, that makes for a good friend. I enjoy the different idiosyncracies individuals hold. I mean, most people who encounter me assume I'm just a jolly bald guy (which doesn't always play well in tattoo shops, but that is how I personally deal with discomfort), but I've got some sass when need be. Thanks for always being rad.

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Thank you for all your replies,

@HaydenRose what is the acceptable amount of reference material you usually bring I started planning this roughly three years ago and lost the actual planning process so now I have thousands of pictures e.g in my folder on waves that I like I have 231 pictures etc. (examples deleted for length)

I live in Wales but am anticipating going to London, I was looking at Alex Reinke, Stuart Robson, Ian Flower and Matti Sedholm I narrowed it down to Mr Reinke and Stuart Robson mainly because I don't drive so should be easier to get to by public transport + because Mr Sodholm doesn't visit the UK often. Out of the two I like both their work although Mr Reinke might be less happy with me adjusting designs.

@gougetheeyes No this is the first and last tattoo so I have nothing to base the experience on. I have another year to wait until I'm 21 which is the minimum age Alex Reinke will tattoo someone so I still have time to contact them both and see that they think about the project.

@jayessebee It's good to hear from somebody else with Asperger's that's had so many tattoo's,

The main issue I can see is that I feel nauseous if I stay still for too long it's worse when I'm upright (standing or sitting) but still noticeable when I'm lying down I suppose the only thing to do is get tattooed in bursts and spin in circles every fifteen minuets or to as well as bringing some serious occupying fiddles (hanayama puzzles, minesweeper on the phone, and a few packets of blu tack).

on a related note do you find you tend to sweat unreasonably high amounts when nervous?

I think in some ways there will be some scope for the artist to be creative I'm much more concerned that the waves, wind bars and general background look exactly as I want them than what the main subjects are. I think that Japanese tattoos I don't tend to look at the individual subject as much as a) the whole thing and when I get closer how the entire piece interconnects to form one and in the styles I like a lot of the background shows through between pieces.

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I dont sweat but I get hives and tunnel vision

You can easily break the tattoo down into many sessions but the initial one may be longer to get it lined out

Thank you for all your replies,

@jayessebee It's good to hear from somebody else with Asperger's that's had so many tattoo's,

The main issue I can see is that I feel nauseous if I stay still for too long it's worse when I'm upright (standing or sitting) but still noticeable when I'm lying down I suppose the only thing to do is get tattooed in bursts and spin in circles every fifteen minuets or to as well as bringing some serious occupying fiddles (hanayama puzzles, minesweeper on the phone, and a few packets of blu tack).

on a related note do you find you tend to sweat unreasonably high amounts when nervous?

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@JTJTJT there is a thread on here somewhere about reference material, but don't sweat it too much. Bring a few pictures that really hit home for the idea you want. If you know which artist you're going to, maybe try to draw reference from their portfolio. That's usually what I do. As long as you make clear what you want (and what you DONT want) then it's best to let them create the design and do their thing.

Hope that helps. Happy tattooing!

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If you have challenges with anxiety/sitting still, talk to your PCP about the possibility of getting a short acting benzo like Xanax for the tattoo. It may make things easier on you and the artist. Even a non-benzo like propranolol can do wonders if s/he's uncomfortable prescribing scheduled stuff.

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I love this thread too both my kids have severe Autism . I think you will be cool if you break the sessions down , get some headphones on to watch a film or listen to some music and keep your focus. Don't take any mad meds without speaking to your doc first !

Yeah I should note my meds are prescribed

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I was diagnosed with autism also. I never though that would get in the way of tattoos, other than the fact that I'm more sensitive to pain and physical sensation in general than most people. I'm not entirely sure I was diagnosed correctly, but either way I'm socially awkward. Being stabbed with a needle for hours is a great excuse for any eccentricities you may have. It would be weird to be entirely normal in that situation. Also I think tattoo people are most accepting of differences than most.

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One quick question, has anyone had a bodysuit lined out before any shading or colour?

Thank you for the support guys/ladies.

I'm not an expert on this, so perhaps somebody else will be able to offer better insights than I can, but I think it's typical to approach a bodysuit piece by piece so that you'll start with your arms or your back and finish those before starting on other parts of your body. I can't think of ever having seen an entire suit lined before the shading is started.

Congratulations on setting up the consult, I hope it goes well, and you're going to end up with something truly incredible.

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Obviously for bigger pieces I.e whole fronts or backs including the tops of thighs etc lining sessions can be extensive. Even so, to line out a whole bodysuit at the outset would seem to me to be quite "all in" in terms of commitment.

I think I've seen evidence of some Chinese / Taiwanese artists who seem to have lined whole bodysuits out at the outset but I couldn't swear to it.

I'd go along with just about anything Alex Reinke said on the subject however.

He seems like a very reasonable, professional person, and I suspect for any nervous client, autistic or not, he could be a good choice.

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Yeah, I found what I was thinking of. YZ Tattoo from China posted a picture of the second session in a full body tattoo a few weeks ago. It looked like the guy was 90% lined and they were starting shading from the bottom up.

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