What Autism Looks Like

I think by now a majority (I’m an optimist – it’s probably a tiny fraction) of the world is well aware that autism presents itself in different ways. Sometimes it manifests into a variety of stims (self-stimulatory behavior / Repetitive body movements or repetitive movement of objects), sometimes is looks like social anxiety, and on the rare occasion it appears similar to that of Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man with a specialized ability or abundance of knowledge and retained information.

For Lennon, what people notice first are his stims. Sometimes this is throwing leaves or rocks in the air on repeat, sometimes it’s flapping his hands. Other common stims (that don’t seem to affect Lennon) are rocking back and forth (this is what I remember with a classmate with autism back in 1994), spinning around in circles, or the repetition of words.

I don’t think anyone really knows the truth of stimming. Is it calming? Does it provide emotional balance? Possibly it provides the individual some help regulating their senses. For Lennon I find some more intrusive than others. For instance, I don’t like him throwing rocks because he could hurt himself or others, but his “happy flaps” make me smile.

I took this video tonight because I wanted you to get a glimpse of what it looks like in our household. There are rarely sounds that come with these hand movements. And they are usually brought on by written words of some kind, in this instance movie credits.

My hope is that you may possibly recognize a person not as “weird” when you see behaviors like this, but identify the individual as someone who just processes things differently and whose body just has ‘unique to them’ needs. These behaviors don’t need to be FIXED (unless they involve self-harm or harm to others), they need to be accepted.

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