Springingtiger's Blog


When I Am Alone
April 13, 2016, 12:50
Filed under: autism, disability, food, Health, Parenting, personal development, Poetry, Writing | Tags: ,

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Sometimes I want just to relax
To shout and swear and twitch and flap,
Eat sweeties and unhealthy snacks,
And not worry that I’m talking crap.

Nobody wants to see me stim
So when I’m out I hold it in,
But when I’m in I let it out.
When I’m alone I twitch and shout.

At home I’m allowed to say
Whatever comes into my head
That said outside, during the day,
Would have my colleagues cut me dead.

But in my house I have my chance
To be weird as I want and dance.
When I’m alone I can be free
And you can’t stop me being me.



Stillness in Motion

I cannot sit still, literally, my body moves constantly independently of thought or will. My body is prey to involuntary movement, I often sit and watch my muscles twitching for no particular reason of which I’m aware. We are often told to “sit still”, “don’t move”, “sit at peace” for some of its it is impossible. Some mornings I awaken to discover my leg is bouncing up and down,as it often does when I’m sitting; when I’m awake I may,by force of will, stop it, but rarely in my sleep.As well as the various twitches to which I am prone my fingers have an unfortunate tendency to insert themselves into any convenient facial orifice, for social reasons it’s good to stop them, but my mind is usually focused on other things.

Some of my movements are regulatory mechanisms to support my mental well being. When stressed my body moves more and more violently than usual. However it is fair to say out never stops moving, and most of my movements bring me comfort. I have occasional muscle spasms that can cause considerable discomfort, even periods of impaired movement, but generally I find my movements beneficial.

No one is ever entirely still because the body is always running background processes like respiration and digestion. We are unaware of many off them most of the time, yet without our awareness or wounds still heal and our nails still grow. People make of adjustments to their posture over a day without even thinking about it. The body knows what it’s doing and it knows when to move to prevent cramp or sores; my body just needs to move more.

Strangely most of the time the movement is entirely external. I feel as though I am sitting still and unmoved in the eye of a hurricane.All around me the world and my body are moving, but I am still. Amongst movement, amongst turmoil and drama, in the midst of chaos I am still.

    SPIDER

I sit
Silent,
Unmoving.
Like a spider
I have spun
My web of illusions,
Trapping the unwary
In a web of dreams.
They look,
They do not see.
They think,
They do not know.
They live in hope,
But hope,
Like all dreams,
Will die,
Like my web.
In the end,
There is only
Me



I was watching the Autism File…

I was watching the Autism File on television this afternoon, with an open mind because everyone is entitled to their opinions, and they’re only wrong when they disagree with me. Although the program was about intestinal problems it was two more or less unrelated things that caught my attention.

One non-verbal autistic kid had drawn pictures of himself, always with a hand on his belly but more interestingly when asked to draw his upcoming ear operation, his picture showed the surgeon cutting into his abdomen and his x-ray on the wall had an x marked on the same place. Conclusions were drawn about intestinal problems, but I think the real question to be asked of the parents of non-verbal children is, “Are you sure he is not speaking to you?” Observe your child very carefully, that he is non-verbal does not mean he is not capable of coherent communication, in some cases you may discover he has an unexpected channel of communication, but not always.

The other thing – perhaps not so serious – is that, although Polly Toomey is apparently neurotypical, she stims – tapping her elbow or wringing her hands – throughout the interviews she conducts. Perhaps in a future program she might give an insight into the benefits she derives from it.



Stimming and Mantra

The other day as I was standing at the bus stop waiting for my bus I caught myself – as I often do – rhythmically shaking my left arm. There are many rhythmic behaviours in which I indulge happily and for every obvious one there is a less obtrusive and socially acceptable alternative. On my right wrist I wear a kara – a steel bangle – given to me in Amritsar, on my left I wear another steel bangle with steel beads for my prayers, this bangle makes a very satisfying rattle when I shake my wrist. It was this rattling that alerted me to my stimming at the bus stop.

There is something about using a mala for one’s prayers that particularly appeals to me. There is something very settling in the rhythmic repetition of a mantra, in some ways I suppose I use my mantra as a stim, but more than that. Whether I am counting my mantras on the bangle I heard rattling, on a mala, or on my fingers it is an absorbing activity. It demands some engagement of my mind in the repetition of the words, there is the repetitive physical activity of passing the beads through my fingers and there is an accompanying tactile sensation all of which helps draw my focus from external stimuli and brings it to one point. I suspect that using the Orthodox rosary would have similar results, but I find that the variety of prayers used with the Catholic rosary – for which I have an abiding affection – has the effect of repeatedly breaking concentration. For a while using my mala there is a break from the world wherein I can settle myself into a more stable state.

I find that the way I lose myself when saying my mantra is very different from the sense of losing myself that causes panic which is more of an uncontrolled fragmentation. When I say my mantra it is as if I lose myself in one place, but instead find myself grounded in every place as if in one, in everything. It is a safe sensation of knowing that nothing can harm or diminish me in any way, that I am always what I am, always have been and always will be. Unfortunately I also have a life to live in this world and that’s when things get livelier and more challenging, but it is good to be able to withdraw for a while.



Mature Autism – Happy Headbanger Part 2

I don’t know when I started head banging or how it started, I have been doing it for as long as I remember. Generally it is something I tend to do in private although when I was in prep school (junior school) I managed to make an indentation in the chapel wall by banging my head against it during services, I think the retreat into a quiet place is part of the process. I also learned in school that lathe and plaster walls are unsuitable as it is too easy to damage them. I suppose the finger biting – which has left me with callouses along my right index finger and transformed the knuckles of my index fingers into hard lumps – began at the same time as the banging.

If I go into meltdown I have a tendency to break things, at school it included locker doors and the wall of a kitchen, I do not have an intact door in my house. Head banging is a mechanism that prevents meltdown, I am not sure how it works, but it restores control, relaxes tension and induces a sense of calm. What head banging is not is self-harm, it is beneficial and necessary. There is no appreciable pain, but rather an intensely focussing sensation followed by an enjoyable feeling of relaxation and sleepiness.

I know some parents worry – not unreasonably – about behaviours like hand biting, head banging and stimming, but perhaps they should assess carefully the behaviour to evaluate whether it is useful. If you stop a behaviour that serves a useful purpose then either another behaviour will be found to replace it or a need will remain unsatisfied with concomitant consequences, there is always a possibility that the replacement behaviour will be more damaging. Obviously action needs to be taken where someone is self harming, but it should be observed that – in most cases – the actual harming is done to produce a positive result and is not life threatening, the key is to satisfy the need by acknowledging the behaviour, satisfying the need and substituting alternative mechanisms to satisfy the need. I don’t need to substitute an alternative to head banging because it is not very damaging – at worst a little bruising – and it is not anti-social. If someone’s strategies for self-control are not offensive or dangerous perhaps it’s best to let them keep them.