Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Why I Twirl the Mechanics

 There was a comment submitted recently about the twirling of the belt loops that sparked my interest. The commenter was correct that everyone has a sensory need of some sort. People not on the autism spectrum may twirl their hair, tap a pen, a foot, or any of an infinite number of potential things to meet the sensory need of that moment. So then, for myself, what are the ingredients to spur the belt loops? 

Quite often the need for some sort of sensory distraction comes with processing. Sure, I'm not going to lie, when there's a beltloop that's torn either on the top or bottom it is nothing short of sensory heaven to twist and twirl. It's a calming bliss that is impossible to describe unless you know this feeling. However, outside of a quick trip to sensory paradise, the need to twist is there when there needs to be a lessening of the proverbial volume of my brain.

Volume of brain? Yes, let's take the initial email on my phone that alerted me to a comment on my blog. As I unlocked my phone with my right hand my left hand was twirling a beltloop as my brain began to fear every potential bad comment I could have. Who did I make mad? Was someone out to make sure my blog would be ruined? Were those catastrophic thoughts? Absolutely, but that's where my brain goes with any unknown and to lessen the alarms my brain offsets this with that little bit of sensory input of the twisting of the beltloop.

When presenting I've noticed I will start off with a bit of twirling and by about the quarter mark I've quit but as soon as Q&A begins, I'm back to it because of the unknown aspect. I love the questions and answers segment, it's actually my favorite part of any presentation, but there's still that momentary sense of stepping into the unknown and the beltloops ease the stage fright.

So in short this is a coping mechanism my body has learned to help me to either focus or to dispel anxiety just a bit to allow me to fit in. When presenting to police officers I do stress these sensory needs in that, if an officer thinks a behavior is annoying or not necessary, they can try to request, or by force, stop one of these sensory needs for it to be replaced with a different behavior later because they could be taking away a much-needed coping mechanism.

So do remember this if you know someone on the spectrum that has any given quirk like this. Everyone does have some sensory need in one way or another, but for us on the autism spectrum that need may be absolutely needed at times to get through the chaotic nature of this thing we call life.

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