Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Silent Joys

Just over a week ago I wrote The Silent Struggle: What is Different About Me? There is a flip side to that article in that it just isn't that I wonder why I am different in silence but also the immense joys I can feel are often felt in secret.

There are so many seemingly irrelevant everyday things that for me provide for a grand time. The first thing I can remember in life was car rides to kindergarten in the rain. How was that exciting and joy inducing? Windshield wipers! Windshield wipers? Yes, I would stare at the windshield wipers and be transfixed with joy as I watched them go back and forth. There was more than just that as I made a game that had a score system as each time the wipers got to their lowest point as if they were pointed to the right and there was no car, parked car, or pedestrian a point was awarded. If you could have seen me you might think I was lost or staring off into space but that wasn't the case as I was immersed in a very joyful event in secret.

The joys usually continued in kindergarten as I always got to play with these special types of blocks. I wrote about these blocks, and gave a picture of them, in this 2010 blog post but the sheer joy experienced is something that I don't think a person that isn't on the spectrum can appreciate. It isn't that I simply enjoy it, or like it, but these silent joys are felt throughout my entire body.

Continuing in school I often found coloring in block letters to be the most amazing thing in the world. Year after year I got more elaborate on this and in 5th grade I experienced a new level of coloring bliss. It was in the religion book and at the start or each course there was a bubble that had what course number it was and in this bubble the number was white and the exterior was colored and at the end of each course the colors were reversed. Naturally, when I see a bubble number or letter that is white it screams to be colored in so I did so. It started out that I would just color that day's course, but over time I started moving ahead until I finished the book. I was out of things to color so what did I do? I traded books and got to start all over. Here's the interesting thing though and that is I was never told to stop doing this. I didn't try to hide it and the teacher didn't have me stop. Not that this was an issue, if anything, by doing this act of coloring, it helped me pay attention even more so as these silent joys are also the most relaxing thing I know of. So, by coloring, my anxiety level was much lower and I felt at ease.

To this day I still have this coloring joy. It's advanced and while I say I have no artistic ability I am proud of my skills. I will eventually do a dedicated blog post on this (I've been telling myself this since the beginning back in March 2010) art of coloring magazine covers. My favorites are Sports Illustrated and Newsweek as both use big block letters on their covers and the colors I use depends on what team or news event is featured on the cover. Since I began doing this back in 2004 I have done over 1,100 covers and I have kept every one I have done. There are some repeats as to keep my stock of magazines high I will often buy back issues on Ebay in bulk. In the end though when I need to relax and focus there is nothing better than getting out my 30+ Sharpies and engrossing myself in the art of coloring magazine covers.

If I wanted to I could probably make this blog post 1,000 paragraphs long as I think of things that I enjoy to a level that other people could never really understand. Such as how much sensory bliss there is watching anything that spins or being able to research and learn about whatever Kansas may be on any given day. It isn't that these silent joys are just fun or enjoyable, but it's joy to the core; a feeling of sheer elation that is felt all the way to the toes. I may have written in that post about struggling in silence but I also experience immense joy in things that most people overlook or perhaps can't experience joy in. So, next time you see a person on the spectrum doing something that seems mundane, repetitive, or maybe even boring take a step back and wonder if it is something that could just possibly be, for them, the most exciting, awesome, and relaxing thing in the world.


  1. Wow, talk about an optimistic and refreshing blog post; this takes the cake. Great read for a dad who is worrying about his 2nd grader at his first day of school. Thank you for the reminder that Asperger's Syndrome is not to be stigmatized but understood. You've made this parent of an aspie feel better on this stressful day.

  2. Thanks for sharing your experience! My son's relaxing activity is putting puzzles together and the joy on his face makes me light up and once he starts a puzzle he has to finish and be left alone doing it! Your insight gives me greater insight as to maybe how my son feels while doing puzzles and makes me feel so happy that he has this in his life!

  3. Wow very Interesting..when my Son was about 5 he used to drop things (Toys) from the side of the couch over and over for hours, I wonder how It made Him feel..Thanks for Sharing....:)

  4. Thank you! Now I know why God created me.

  5. Tom was diagnosed age 19 he is 21yrs old now. Reading through his school reports with comment such as.
    Needs to improve his attitude.
    Tom is a very quiet member of the form, he would benefit from communicating more in form time and form discussions.
    Although a very polite and helpful student and is a pleasure to teach, Tom must avoid doodling on his work,and scribbling things in his work book.Thank you for your posts I love to read them and it helps me to understand and learn about the difficulties you so bravely face in your everyday life.You are a very special person indeed.Please keep up the good work Aaron.