Rules of Consent for an Autistic Kid (and anybody else)

[Originally known as Rules of Consent (Complicated Version for Big Boys)]

1.) If you are doing something to somebody else and they say ‘Stop!’ or ‘No’ or ‘Ow’ or ‘I don’t like that’, STOP IMMEDIATELY. Follow up by asking if they’re okay. Don’t start up again unless they invite you to. You can instead suggest something else to do: play a different game, watch something, hang out and talk.

2.) If you have tried to do something with or to multiple people in a short timespan (which might be a few minutes or an hour or a day, depending), and those people say NO, don’t experiment by trying it on new people. For example: if two people don’t like ‘joke hugs’, don’t try it on a new person for at least a day. If three people don’t like it, wait a week before trying a new person, and so on.
3.) Respect a closed door. Never open a closed door unless you’re the one who closed it, or the owner gives you permission. Only knock once on a closed door. Special requests override the knock-once rule. So do life-threatening emergencies.
4.) When you are a guest, wait for an invitation to do things unless it’s a biological issue: you can ask for a drink of water and to use the bathroom, but do not play with toys or explore the house unless they invite you to do so. You can ask questions about things in the house, but not if you can play with those things. (If they want you to play with those things, they will invite you to do so.)
5.) Hands off. Don’t grab people. Don’t restrain them. Don’t hold them down. Explicit exceptions: you’ve both agreed to play some kind of wrestling game. Somebody is in danger of being hurt (running into traffic, falling off a tree, and so on).
6.) Respect personal space. Don’t stand closer than an arm’s length to a stranger, a hand’s length from a friend and you can hug family, but you have to ask first.
7.) Respect personal boundaries. Everybody has different personal boundaries regarding personal space AND personal interests. Rule #1 also applies to topics of conversation. If somebody says, “I don’t want to talk about that,” say, “OK!” and  change the subject. You can always talk about the weather or your pets.
8.) If you have observed that somebody does not like it when a third party does something (they say, “No,” or “Stop,” or “I don’t like that,” or “I don’t want to talk about it,” or “Don’t touch that,”) do not test if that rule also applies to you. Assume it does.
9.) All these rules also apply to other people interacting with YOU.