I am going to incite a riot in my body. No longer am I simply content to observe the world pass me by. So much of my life has been observing others in doing things – to play, to work, to just move as a fluid action. I long for it. My body screams, but now I am screaming back at it. I am initiating my own movements; sometimes right, sometimes wrong, but always me now. It starts with an imitation of body, so difficult for me who cannot feel myself in space all the time. But I am learning to practice after swim when my body is aware, or at night, to feel myself from the head down. I materialize in the quiet darkness of my room. I move in sync, each limb as an offshoot. To those for whom awareness is natural, this may not make sense, but to feel yourself as anchored in place is everything secure and safe. My life is topsy turvy in a literal sense. It must be what those with vertigo feel. I understand the symptoms of upside up is down. I move to an outside point of reference not my own self. It is hard work to remember the way to positions, to tell myself you are moving right or wrong. It is like driving an object or a car; my mind is the driver and my body the car, but sometimes it is more a tractor trailer in back up, where left is right and right is left.
I live to swim now, where my body is there and is my own. Slowly, I am learning to coordinate my top and bottom. I move in sync in rare occasion, but it is a presence that was previously absent. I love my bathing suit as a clothing. It clings like water to my bottom; its weight is an anchor for me to feel my center. My head is air and floats my body. Mom calls me a frog with its nose out of water. I pretend I am a fish and dive under the water only to end up doing a roll over myself. It is scary, but exhilarating too, to be able to go down then up into air again. I am lucky each time in finding my way up. My butt rises and I know to turn now in that direction.
Why do I tell you all this? For me, the bodiless autist, all the therapy ABA in the world could not do for me what a few hours in the pool do. I swim and it teaches me what ABA therapy could not, how to find my “self” in a confusing world; the real lesson we autists need to learn, selfhood along side mankind.
If you comment to this post and include your contact information Mike will get in touch with you. Please keep in mind though that two different people may very well engage in the same stim for different reason.
It is autism acceptance month. For who I ask? Who needs the message more than us ourselves. As a child, I thought my autism made me bad. It is what I heard, what I experienced through others and even myself. My body was derelict of duty, betraying me always. How do you make peace with yourself?
People judge; it is the way of it. But my harshest critic was me. Life with autism is no picnic, but we need to be kind to ourselves. Accepting autism means accepting ourselves. Acceptance starts with ourselves.
My string is being held captive by my Mom, her idea of punishment for my snapping her broom. It was an impulsive action on my part, one I have repeated to her horror and my shame many times. Let me explain. Some things call out to be done. Obsession sets in until the deed is complete. Snapping is one of them; sticks, brooms, anything that makes a snapping sound. It is a horrible choice - to snap or be hounded in the thought of it. My punishment I deserve. I was warned. But it does to me nothing positive in solving my dilemma. Only removing the item from sight helps. Each time I try to hide it my snap reflex beats me. Can you help with ideas? Mom says we will practice putting the broom away - but first she'll need to buy a new broom. I am sorry for its loss, but more sorry for my loss of string. Good thing Mom understood and let me have my string back when I type and explain it. Typing has its uses; to tell is one of them. To tell is a start to understanding.
The song "Where Do I Even Start" is playing as I write this. It reflects my thoughts. So many voices now Mom describes in Autism; some in conflict, many in unison. I wonder what I have to add to the discussion. Does my uniqueness as an Autist add anything of value for others' experience? For me autism is who I am, my life. I cannot imagine a life in freedom of movement and feeling. I harness my emotions, trip over my thoughts in motion, endless monitoring and planning to do the simplest of things. Yet I do not hate my autism any more than I champion it. It simply "is what it is" as my Mom so often says. I don't think I can make it into something political like so many others do. Does that make me a traitor to others like wise affected? I hope not. My hope is that everyone see the person beneath for their soul’s mind. It is a hope for all not just the autistic. Reading my heart is far more important than my outward appearance. I send you wishes for peace today. For today it is enough.
Self Injurious behavior, "Self Is Bad", I call it. I know I'm not supposed to do it. Sometimes the mind and body are a disconnect.It is not something you do to hurt yourself. Sometimes it does not hurt at all in the physical sense. Others, it is a conflicting pain you seek to override something else. Sometimes it is a pressure valve release. I smack my ear when overwhelmed with frustration. Mom says I am her body and I must not hurt it. Sometimes thinking of myself as belonging to her helps me to approach my body with greater respect. I know that may not make a lot of sense, but it is true. I take me for granted and I get frustrated and blame my body as if it is not even me sometimes. You can't understand the disconnect between mind and body unless you live it. My life is a process of self internal communication, like two people talking and not always agreeing on what to do and how to do it. Only siamese twins have a harder time of it. To you it is unthinkable. To hurt your body is to hurt your mind. For me, it is like sibling wars. Sometimes the body beats the mind and the mind fights back. Keeping peace is the goal. Learning to recognize the interconnection of one as hurting the other is a process, one I am still working on. Forcing the two to work together on mutual frustration is one thing that seems to help. I think to breath. I am doing it now.
Today I have something to say. " It Takes Courage." That is the whole of it; courage for those less obviously autistic to speak out and acknowledge their autism. They could just as easily abandon the label, exchange it for one of "eccentricity", but they do not. In being true to themself, they now face criticism for advocating for their rights, as if speaking out is a sin against me a lower spectrum autist. Well I want to say Thank You. I applaud your efforts in standing up, not just for yourself, but for me.
Asking questions I am very good at. Mom and I take turns sometimes. I do a lot of thinking in my autism. For me, I just want to know what it is like on the other side of physical. It looks so easy in observing what is a huge process for me. Understanding sometimes helps. For me, movement is surgery. I have to systematically prepare for everything not reflex. It is why I love and hate impulse. Impulse is a shortcut to action, a nonthought way of doing that gets something; urges that are strong enough to bypass my need to think the movement through. My music is like that too. It takes the commands to another level - song; and sometimes the song replaces the command in triggering movement. I am much more fluid with music as a background. I love my radio as my most favorite possession after my string. Relaxing I can do with it. Do you know what that is to an Autist? - Everything.
Mom cut my board in half. She said she did it to help teach me two-handedness. It was horrible; two boards, not one, with no carryover for my eye movement, like playing two songs at once and not being able to follow one for listening to the other it was. It made it easy to use my other hand though, until I needed a letter on the other missing half of board. Do you move as a single motion? My movement is tiny steps put together. Hiccup my motion and you destroy it. I am a giant stop sign at times. I lose my place in the action and cannot even start again because I'm left in a different position from where I was at start. This is my motor initiating problem at play. The Board is another problem I have, not seeing parts within a whole. Mom should have known better, but it might work for someone else without my issue there. My issues are not another's, I know. Autism is so individual oriented, issues and solutions both. I often wonder at why they are so intent on recognizing us as a group experience. Autism is as diverse as neurotypicalism but no one calls NT a "spectrum". I wonder too if my being on spectrum takes away from others more able. I am who they aim to eradicate with a cure. But how would you know the difference between annihilating me and them. My life is of little use by society's standards, but a lesser version may yield you a scientific genius, math or music savant. The world might truly lose without these small gifteds. It is in the small extremes that radical work as gains are sometimes realized; to think or do the unthinkable, achieving the previously thought impossible. It takes at least the dedication of the obsession routinely practiced in autism to focus on what others find the absurd, to realize the unachievable goal. NTs make fun when self advocates compare themselves to the Einsteins of the world. I am surprised by this. I guess I am worth more than I think. I am at least in good company in the process of annihilation. Abortions of good NT's happen every day. The disabled have no complaints. We are not yet the automatically acceptable nonpersons NTs are at prebirth. We carry a higher conscience factor. As absurd as it sounds I think it is true. It says a lot about NTs. You might want to think about that.
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