• Darcy Reed

Autistic walls: letting in the light

I would like to explain more today about non-verbal autism. Often people in social situations wonder about the outrageously different behaviors. For one thing, in my case I often like to rock back and forth. When I was little, I did it so much on the couch that it was impossible to untangle what that did to my hair. The interesting thing is that I only did it to calm myself down but it actually had a kind of drug-like effect. It produced a kind of euphoria which I enjoyed a lot.


I believe it was a vestibular thing, not that I know much about that, but it was similar to swinging on a swing and that thrill in the chest you get when you move like that was so compelling. I wrecked a lot of furniture doing that and walls, too. If you rock enough in a chair it eventually scoots into the wall and if you rock a lot then it breaks right through the wall. My parents became efficient at fixing walls. I don’t rock that much anymore. We have lawn chairs that aren’t fun for rocking. I’ve destroyed so much furniture and such that lawn chairs are the best. You can clean them, move them, and they don’t wreck walls.


The adaptations my family made were wise and necessary. One time they had to put lattice over the front windows after I put my head through one of them. A friend of my dad’s came over once and said disparagingly, “It’s so dark in here. Open the curtains. Take that stuff off your windows!” I thought that’s easy for you to say, buddy, real easy. Then I realized that he was at least metaphorically right. That is what we finally needed to do. Eventually, we did lighten up the place.


My behaviors chilled out a bit. My folks brought back the books and artwork, and it was more mellow since those days. It’s been like a dream all these years; like a long, slow motion dream. I have been sitting and silently absorbing everything going on around me for 32 years now, and I have been paying extra, extreme attention on multiple levels. Now it is my task to write on until the understanding unfolds to all the answers I seek. It has been especially interesting to pay close attention in this family of artistic intellectuals, so that’s always a special help.


Once in a day treatment program, they put me in a small, white room with about ten other non-speaking people. The walls were white, no pictures, no TV, no windows, no animals, no objects even to touch. I got walking pneumonia and got to watch my mom go all Viking on the manager. My lips had gone all dry and cracked over the weeks and I was so dehydrated when I got home that I drank so much water my folks were afraid for me.


It then turned into a long-lasting obsession for water after I was, of course, pulled out of there. I’m reliving this so I can tell you what goes wrong for us silent ones when we don’t even know what to report about. Even if we can type it’s hard to know what is morally wrong for us as autistics, so I just lived with it. We should do better for our loved ones and ourselves. We need culture and intellectual stimulation. We are absorbing everything around us. Make it worth absorbing.


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