Autism Acceptance Month – Day 23 – “b...

I have heard the phrase “but you don’t look Autistic” so many times. What does autism look like? I didn’t know we had any specific look. If you have met one autistic person… you have met one autistic person. We are all different in appearance (unless you know Autistic twins). Autism is how our brains are wired – it does not affect appearance. You might know an Autistic person with a co-morbid condition that does affect their appearance. That is a situation unique to that person. Every Autistic person is different.

This is a very small sample of what Autism looks like:

Thank you to everyone who submitted photos!

Autism Acceptance Month – Day 22 – Echolali...

Echolalia is a fancy word for the repetition of spoken words.  For typical toddlers, it’s a transition period in language development. For autistic people who don’t have functional language skills, it’s a means of communication.

When I was first learning about autism, I didn’t think I did any echolalia. But then it hit me: I did, and have been my whole life. When I was younger, I used to repeat animal noises sometimes, or I would say “I’m bored” repeatedly. I got yelled at for doing both. My step-dad yelled at me for saying “moo” as he thought I was using it call people fat, when in reality I just like the way the sound felt as I said it. Other relatives would yell at me for saying “I’m bored” and tell me to figure out something to do, when the figuring out something to do was what I needed help with. I was attempting to ask for that help, but they just saw me as annoying them. It was a hell of a realization when I figured out that what I had been doing was echolalia.

My best friend and I speak in echolalia a lot when together in person, which I think confuses many people. A lot of it is either memes or in-jokes between us, yet we have full conversations we understand. Or we make cat noises such as “nyah”, “mao”, or “mew”. Sometimes we will use other animal noises in our echolalia.

It does make me happy that memes are an accepted thing now, so Autistics like myself can use them as a type of echolalia and it doesn’t come off as too weird. We can also quote our favorite books, movies, and TV shows to find the words we need to help get our point across. It’s a form of scripting, but is also echolalia since we are repeating others’ words.

While sometimes it may seem like meaningless repetition, I assure you that Autistics using echolalia are actually trying to communicate with you. What they are saying has meaning even if you don’t quite understand what it is yet. So please don’t yell at any Autistic person in your life for echolalia; instead, try to find out what they’re trying to express.

Autism Acceptance Month – Day 21 – Stimming

— What is stimming? —

“Self-stimulatory behavior, also known as stimming, is the repetition of physical movements, sounds, or repetitive movement of objects common in Autistic individuals.” – Wikipedia Definition

Stimming helps us regulate sensory issues, helps us show our emotions, and is also quite fun sometimes!

— What is the first stim you can recall having? —

Spinning or twirling! I loved to spin as a kid and still do. I remember wanting to play with the Sit n’ Spin all the time. I also loved going to the fair or amusement parks that had rides that went in circles. In fact I still get quite happy flappy when I get to go ride those kinds of rides now. They are the best!

Another early one I had mentioned in another post was swings. One of my favorite rides at fairs and amusement parks are the swings, where you also spin. Best thing ever!

— How do you usually stim? Are you a tactile stimmer, pressure stimmer etc.? —

It really depends on what I need sensory wise, my mood, or if I am just doing it because it’s fun. I enjoy most types of stimming. So my answer is: many different ways!

— What’s your current favorite stim? —

That is a hard one to answer. Lately I have been stimming a lot with my Fidget Cube. My other favorite stims are playing with any of the jewelry I wear when I leave the house and, of course, swaying side to side or twirling (though I call that whooshing).

— Do you have different stims for when you are happy or agitated? —

Yes, yes I do. I tend to flap to express my emotions. Where I hold my hands and arms in relation to my body to flap depends on my mood. If I am happy/excited my arms are up in front of my chest and face flapping. If I am agitated or angry I have my hands and arms at my sides and flap near my waist.

When out in public and I start to have anxiety issues I usually stim with any of the jewelry I am wearing, pull out my fidget cube, or maybe even carry a small plushie to pet.

— Do you stim in public? —

Yes, as I would rather look a bit strange to others over having a shutdown or meltdown. If someone asks what I am doing I can educate them about stimming (or have whoever I am with explain, if I am non-verbal).

Please do not try to stop an Autistic person from stimming, unless it’s harming them or someone else or it’s disrupting many people. We stim because it’s a NEED; it helps us regulate and focus ourselves. Otherwise we are too busy focusing on the sensory issue, the anxiety issue, or whatever else is causing the need to stim in the first place. And yes, sometimes there isn’t a need and we just stim for fun as well. To an Autistic person, stimming for fun can feel amazing and make us happy.

I will be doing another post soon on types of stim toys and showing off my collection of them!