I make no secret of this fact. I read a lot. I read, and read, and read, and then I read some more. Interestingly, I tend to read at a rather slow pace, as opposed to the speed-reading people claim to do. This might be for a lot of reasons, I cannot say for certain. One of them has to do with the way in which information gets “tracked” in my brain. But beyond that, I cannot really be specific. You see how much more productive it can be to research a “difficulty”, normies of Central Western Sydney?
The reason I mention all of this is because whilst I was never really all that active in fighting the Rain Man stereotype, oh boy do I suffer from it having been there. And if there is one thing I hate, it is a stereotype that causes people to suffer merely through its own existence. Which brings me to this post on the Unstrange Mind journal.
The lady responsible for this journal has a lot to say about the practice of hand-flapping. A lot about a video that makes a number of grave errors in trying to build a case that it is okay. A lot about why that case (“they might start doing something more ‘annoying'”, for example) is wrong. But nowhere in the 1000+ words this author expends does she ever mention that not every autistic individual “flaps”. Or rocks. Or anything.
As I mentioned before, I have had occasion to meet online an autistic adult who was in the armed services. As I have alluded to, I am willing to bet that the amount of rocking or flapping he does is precisely nil. Getting through basic training whilst rocking and flapping is not possible, and I have plenty of relatives who have been through basic training that I can ask for backup on that fact. So there we already have one reason why an autistic adult might not waggle their hands like they are gripping The Imaginary QuickShot™. But there is another, one more personal to me, that is much, much more difficult to deal with.
People seem to think that you will happily forfeit your personal space to them when you have diabetes. The lights that go on in their weak minds run something like “has diabetes, so we can violate his personal space when we wish to as long as we can come up with a diabetes-related excuse”. And the violations can be pretty nasty at times. Holding a person by the head and pouring “lolly water” (my piece of shit male parent’s words) into one’s mouth. Handling a person like they are a slippery fish, or dancing around them telling them to stop moving. These are all things that are extremely upsetting to a person with a great sense of need for personal space.
Reread the last four sentences I just wrote, and do so repeatedly. Try to imagine them spoken in a voice that resembles a really angry Michael Ironside. Try to speak them that way yourself. Do this dozens, even hundreds of times. Think about how you feel after the nth time, after you have done it so much that you really feel like ripping someone’s head off and rolling it down the road.
You are not even in the same universe as how angry telling me “flapping is part of who we are” (emphasis mine) makes me.
First of all, given what I have written above, about serious violations of personal space and personal sense of security, the words “what you mean we, paleface” come to mind. You know what I find comforting when I am confronted with a person who does not understand where their space ends and mine begins? Kicking them. Punching them. Grabbing them by the head and forcefully smashing it into something unyielding. Hitting them with a baseball bat. On an imaginative level as well as real and physical, these are my “stims”. Would you really like to see me freely practising them indiscriminately out in the wide world? No?
But I really want to quote something from this article that I can use to make my position completely clear:
At home I was blamed for the bullying and told I was bringing it on myself. In a misguided attempt to shape me into someone who would not deserve to be bullied so much, all my mannerisms and stims and quirks were under attack. I felt like I was constantly picked apart for behaviors like walking on tiptoe, clearing my throat, flicking my fingers, spinning around, talking too loudly, grunting instead of talking, and so on. I spent . . . wasted . . . so much energy and focus on trying to make my body and face and voice do all the proper things. But no matter how hard I tried, I kept always doing something wrong and getting called out for it.
Really? Because, I hate to say things that are exceedingly obvious, but has it occurred to you that telling people like me that we must Waggle The Imaginary QuickShot™ or we are not autistic (more on this anon) is a form of bullying?
When I am not rubbing the bridge of my nose or scratching my head, and these twitches of discomfort increase according to how low my blood glucose level is, I am dead still. Sometimes, professionals will tell me that they did not realise I am autistic because I do not spend all of my time in front of them Waggling The Imaginary QuickShot™.
During the 1980s, because of the rap music stereotype, it was expected that all black men throw their hands about like they are swimming in imaginary water, speaking with every word emphasised, in effect getting down with their “bad self”. I fail to remember the trailer in which this stereotype was played for a very ironic laugh, but the scene involved a black man auditioning for what appeared to be a part in a play. I understand that Vin Diesel‘s self-directed film Multi-Facial plays on similar stereotyping and difficulties associated with multi-ethnicity.
Point being that the more people like this write that we rock, we flap because it is comforting to us or whatever (as I think I have firmly established, in cases like mine it is not), the more psychological professionals are going to tell us we are not autistic because we do not conform to their rocking, flapping stereotype. And that is a big problem for people like me.
You rock. You flap. Not we.
Edit 13 January 2014, 1909 hours: When I wrote (albeit quickly) the poll below, I did not anticipate that someone else might want to repost it elsewhere. The poll, that is, not the article. Apparently nobody ever wants what I have written getting into the public eye. Not that such would surprise me from the passives and normies. But anyway, I will see what I can do about the poll below. For those who care to read up on why it exists, note that “a lot” in this case means that it reduces your ability to do other activities. And I will be quite frank about something. I could guesstimate that I have seen enough people in public to account for the entire population of Australia. I have never seen anyone else Waggle The Imaginary QuickShot™, either.