Monday, January 31, 2022

Why I Twirl

Last week I talked about the school presentation I had in December and one of the questions a person on the spectrum asked which was wanting me to describe why we on the spectrum may have had fidgets or other movements. While I can't recall what I said word for word I can do my best.

"Great question! Why might we have hand movements that some may consider 'odd'? I can only answer for myself but during this presentation I've been having some hand movements that might just be odd according to some. Have you noticed? No?! Well, when I'm just a tad bit nervous in public I'll twirl my belt loops. It's not very noticeable unless you know what you're looking for, but why do I do this?" 

"It's the way I regulate my anxiety. If I don't do this the anxiety bubbles up and up and it becomes overwhelming to the point that I can't focus on what I need to focus on so this very small movement and sensory input in my fingers allows me to sort of... think of it this way... you're extremely hungry and there's the world's best soup in front of you but it's just too hot to eat. You know the feeling, right? The feeling of soup that's too hot that makes your entire mouth feel like it's on fire. There comes a point, though, that the temperature of the soup gets to the point that it's tolerable and not that overwhelming heat blitz that can't be handled. That's what the belt loops do for me; they lower the temperature of anxiety."

"I have another hand motion and when I was in school kids would, sadly, make fun of it. I do this when I get extremely excited, and I do try not to do this in public but there are times where quite simply I'm going to have to." I then proceeded to show them which is using both hands moving right near the speed of sound either by my ears or cheeks. The room was silent as I continued, "That motion allows me to feel the excitement and start to purge the excitement. Without this the level of excitement is going to grow and grown until it feels like I'm going to explode. I don't know why it works, but it does, and it's my way to manage the emotions that may come during the day."

"It's unfortunate that some get made fun of for such things. Do I wish I didn't have to do this dance of the fingers? Yes, I do but wishing it away won't get rid of it. If you only knew how much strength it took for us on the spectrum to get through a day! Easy things you take for granted may be difficult and exhausting for us and each of us on the spectrum may discover little tricks such as twirling belt loops as a way to help us get through the day."

I've been asked this type of question many times and it is a booming sound of how important these presentations are. I dearly wish that, when I was in school, there had been someone that was able to translate my quirks like I am able to now. That little bit of understanding may have avoided so many years of hardship. I'm grateful that I get this opportunity now and it's never lost on me how much gravity is in each question that begins with, "Could you explain why we..."

1 comment:

  1. Perhaps the difference between your fidgets and anyone else's fidgets is just a matter of degrees. I dont think I know a single person who doesnt have a self-comfort behavior they employ from time to time, either by choice or subconsciously. I wonder if there is a question of awareness here. You seem to be aware of it enough that you can even control it, to some extent.
    What comes first for you, an increase in anxiety or the twirling? I can see how it might be a response that you choose to employ, but I can also easily imagine situations where you have tuned out of your feelings of discomfort so effectively that you dont know youre sitting on a volcano. In those situations, your twirling may serve as a warning, a red flag that you are running out of energy faster than expected, or that your tolerance is more limited than usual and its time for some self-care.
    Interesting. Thanks for sharing this.