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Accomodating Autism Communication Special Interests Symptoms Theory of Mind

On Autism, Personality & Being in the Flow…

Autistic joy is hard to explain to another person. Pretty much ANY non-autistic person.

And trying to… drags me into Deep Philosophical Waters…

“What are you doing…?” My former mother’s voice was sharp…

I’m laying spreadeagled on the backyard grass, face down.

“I’ve called you three times.” Annoyed. “WHAT are you doing…?”

I don’t know it in Second Grade… But I have difficuties shifting attention when I’m focused…

I try to focus my ears… Then think back, review my short-term memory, and replay the last few moments. Try to hear and translate anything she might have said while I’m in my focus bubble…

Already at 7, this process of “rehearsing” or “rewinding the tape” to interpret what’s going on is an automatic and constant process when I’m around… well, people.

Checking for verbal mistakes, missed cues…

Just trying to unerstand what is going on…

So I’m still trying to sort it out, choose words carefully to explain, clearing my throat, moving my sleeping tongue, loosening my jaw, getting ready to speak…

“HEY! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!”

“Umm… Nothing…?” Close as I come to a lie at that age.

I’ve been laying in the grass for an hour or so, exploring with my new magnifying glass. There was this great hobby shop in Johnson City. It had all kinds of cool science “toys.” And I had saved up my 50-cent allowance for weeks to buy a “Real, hand-held, magnifying glass — with ALL-METAL handle!!”

I was entranced, looking at grass leaves, dew drops, and…

Ants.

Dozens of ants. One after another. Legs. Antennae. Mandibles. Eyes. Guiltily burning off the occasional leg with focused sunlight…

Endless fascination…

I was in the flow…

“Okay. Whatever you’re doing…” I wait for the command that will end my timeless bliss… “Stop doing it. It’s time for lunch.”

I sigh. Roll over.

And. Trudge. In.

Hardly sounds like abuse, right…..??

Autistic joy is hard to explain to another person. Pretty much ANY non-autistic person.

And trying to… drags me into Deep Philosophical Waters…

Imagine that last, delicious dream you’re enjoying as you drowse in a warm snuggly bed on a lazy Saturday morning when you don’t have to get up…

And someone screams, “GET UP!”

You’re so startled, you temporarily don’t know where you are, what you’re doing, the time of day, the season…

Every. Damn. Day. Many, many, MANY times a day…

Torture.

Being startled out of flow? It’s like that.

Capisce? Dig? Got it?

That’s as close as I can think of to explain Autistic Flow. Or, better yet, Autistic Joy. That same joy you see as an autistic kid dances endlessly in a sprinkler in the sun…

If I had to guess, this is precisely what Being in the Moment, in the Now, maybe even Zen Satori…

Mean.

Now, this is all preamble to what I really wanna talk about…

Here’s the deal on Flow…

I think that’s where I spent most of my time as a young child.

When I wasn’t interacting with family, schoolmates, parents, teachers… the few humans I let into my life back then.

And that time alone… Endlessly exploring, learning, feeling, being was…

Bliss.

Gradually as I aged, these blissful moments became fewer and fewer… further and further and further apart… nearly gone…

First, I was forced into a school system… That I clearly was not wired for. Rigid. Lockstep. Regimented. Regulated. BORING. With no Free Time…

To be me.

Later, of course, it got MUCH worse. Jobs, relationships, finances… Life in modern Adult America.

Now, I’ve developed methods and routines to recapture flow… And I will talk about that in a moment.

But I have some personal speculation to get off my chest. First…

I don’t think I had a native personality when I was a kid…

At least not as neurotypical humans understand a personality.

My natural state, left to my own devices, was wandering from moment to moment of Autistic Joy. No motivations. No intentions. No (verbal) thought…

So… I was either happy exploring…

Or I was forced to don my “personality”…

In other words, the language, facial expressions, body language, polite responses, and social lies that humans think of as “personality”… and that social contact demands. Which is so natural for most humans, they aren’t even aware of it…

But, for me, it was like being dragged out of my comfy pajamas, and forced into the worst, most cumbersome, restrictive, awkward, embarassing winter coat, ear muffs, muffler, heavy snow boots, and mittens your mother ever stuffed you into to get on the bus to kindergarten…

And it still is. At age 66.

Especially, “fun times”… Parties. Family get togethers. Intimate conversation…

That’s when I adopt my “personality.” You know, to survive. Really nothing more than habits of behavior & speech that make it easy for other humans to predict what I’ll be like and feel comfortable around me…

Not an essential Self. Just, ya know, “personality.”

Certainly not me.

I’m going to hazard a guess. Which may be narcissistic delusion…

Flow seems awfully close to what the Buddha described as experiencing “no-self” vs. the “conditioned mind.”

From at least age 2 on, I clearly remember lucid dreaming, long periods of time spent without verbal thought of any kinds, just perceiving, in awe and wonder…

EVERYTHING.

Until I had to interact with humans. Any humans. Even those I was required… to “love.”

And with the “personality,” the joy collapsed.

Not into pain…

Collapsing into the all-absorbing effort of intellectualizing every word, gesture, tone of voice of my own… and interpreting all those of each and every human I was with… And THEN determining precisely the right word, tone of voice, facial expression, and body attitude to priject…

all at the same time…

To avoid being in trouble.

And even at a young age, a growing sense of the need to protect others…

From me.

Because I was different. Because I hurt people without understanding. Because I acted as if I were “arrogant”… etc.

Because I was… Bad.

And I had to protect everyone around me from that.

Every. Single. Second…

That I am with another human. Except very young children. And of course, animals… Since I was, say… 4 years old.

I promised to share what I’ve found about recapturing flow….

It’s simple… You just gotta make it a priority to do it.

Remember what made you happy when you were young.

  • 20 minutes walking in the wildest Nature I have access to… And my thoughts slowly, slowly… slow down. My breathing becomes regular. I stop internally commenting on things I see, smell, feel… And begin simply seeing, smelling, feeling, Being….
  • Light, repetitive, prolonged exercise can get me into a light trance, runners’ high space. Or walking, alone. Or sweeping the floor. Even shaving my face… in detail…
  • Playing a musical instrument… An hour playing scales or studies on my guitar doesn’t always work. I can certainly get sick & tired of it. But many days, it snaps me right into wordless joy.
  • Reducing even one sensory input can restore my inner balance. Turning off the sound of an annoying fan. Taking off tight clothes or shoes. Something so simple can put me in a happy place if everything else is going pretty much okay.
  • Meditating… I’ve used maybe a dozen methods. They all work to get me there, in slightly different ways… at least with eyes closed. Just 10, 15, 20 minutes of relief from the constant internal monologue, intellectualizing, thinking… If you’re autistic, OCD, ADHD, etc., you need to see if periods of silence, deep, deep silence don’t give you relief. If you’ve never tried it, it’s easy to download guided meditations for your phone…
  • And maybe MOST OF ALL… Spending some unstructured, unlimited time on one of my special interests… baking bread, fermenting pickles, gardening, deep-focused reading, writing, searching news…. so, so many others. When I pursue a special interest… alone? Sometimes it’s nearly orgasmic…

In fact, I’ve redefined my understanding of my “special interests.”

They’re not a forbidden pleasure. A shameful quirk. Something I “waste time on” when there’s nothing more important to do….

They are my gateway to Bliss, Satori, Oneness…

Maybe even whatever God is… or isn’t…

My reason for Being….

My job.

I learned a lot that Spring day on the lawn in Johnson City.

I saw Infinity in a burnt-off ant leg.

And, eventually…

I went for it…

By johnnyprofane1

Live. Laff. Love. Rebel...

Pretend Rock Star... Cuz it's ALL cosplay.

I have no credentials to offer. At least none that matter anymore to me.

So I offer my life.

It's all I have to give.

Blog
https://AutisticAF.me

Music
https://open.spotify.com/artist/20QxTBY9Yk0d7BYCt3aVeS

#ActuallyAutistic #AllAutistics #AutisticElder #AutisticSurvivor #AutisticJoy #Neurodiverse #Neurodivergent

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