Autistic Body Language and Emotion

I’ve written some about this topic before, regarding the joy I feel when I see other Autistic people moving in Autistic ways, but today I want to write about how my own movement affects and reflects my emotions. I get a little sweary at the very end when talking about getting rid of the allistic (non-autistic) mask.

Movement

I am attempting to reclaim my own movement, trying to elicit decades’-old kinesthetic memory from my body.

How did I move as a child? How did I experience and express my feelings before I learned to primarily move the way other people do?

Feelings weren’t a big thing in my childhood house. Logic was prioritized over feelings, always. With Spock and Data as my childhood idols because they didn’t fit in with human society any better than I did, the anti-emotion message from my parents was only reinforced.

But then came my job, working with pregnant/birthing people and their families. I quickly gained an education in the importance of emotions and how they can affect people’s lives (and births).

This did not, however, help me with either identifying or feeling my own emotions.

But my natural ways of moving seem to help, at least somewhat.

My movements around other people, even my own spouse, are rigidly constrained. I also find it most difficult to feel emotions when I’m around other people and I’m beginning to suspect these two things are connected.

Autistic Movement

When I’m alone, I move differently. It’s easiest when I’m listening to music because dancing is an acceptable time to move differently than others do. When I’m alone I feel my feelings more accurately and can even sometimes put words to them based on how I’m moving.

The movement creates, amplifies, and clarifies how I feel. Movement, Autistic Movement — the way I move when I’m alone — creates joy and a peacefulness that I’ve rarely felt in the most recent two decades of my life. During those decades I’ve almost never been alone ever. Not since I immersed myself in music — attending classes, playing in bands, tutoring others in music — have I really been alone for long periods of time.

After that was college, when I had a roommate and was constantly around others unless I was in the shower or taking one of my many solitary walks through the woods on my campus’ grounds.

Then I got married and had children, further constraining my movements to those that are socially acceptable and expected.

Natural (Autistic) Movement

When I’m cold or distressed, my hands automatically flutter at my sides. I can tell that I’m feeling those ways when my hands flutter in that specific way. It’s subtle to others, but ever so clear to myself.

When I walk barefoot with my toes hitting the ground first, I feel content and maybe even happy. It’s a bouncy way to walk and makes it almost impossible to feel discontented. It’s energizing.

When my hands are “loud” and move in natural ways that don’t add alleged allistic meanings to my words, my mind is clearer and words are more easily caught, rearranged into meaning, and tossed through my mouth into the universe.

When I don’t feel free to move in those ways, I don’t really feel. Not the way I do when I can move in the ways I need to.

Even when clearly feel, I can’t usually put words to how I’m feeling, but I can pay attention to my outward movements and get a more accurate idea of what’s happening inside myself by putting all of the information together in a pattern that’s uniquely mine.

Reclaiming my Autistic way of moving is hard to do.

The mask that I, as an allegedly “mild” Autistic, have to wear is not only heavy, but it’s partially and semi-permanently fused to my face and body. It has sapped my ability to enjoy my positive emotions or to really recognize any emotions, no matter how strong or important they may be. I’m sure the mask isn’t the only sapping mechanism in this equation, but it’s a huge factor.

And I will remove that fucking stuck-on mask if it’s the last thing I do. I will reclaim the way my body wants to move. I will move that way whenever I can safely do so and to hell with anyone who suggests I shouldn’t.

Just as self-care and being inconsistent are vital, so is Autistic movement vital to my mental health and physical well being.

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13 thoughts on “Autistic Body Language and Emotion

    1. It’s amazing to me how much of a difference it makes to my movement to be alone – completely alone – in my house. And yes! Silly is exactly how I imagine it would be perceived by others! I hadn’t come up with an accurate word for it, but that one is perfect 🙂

      Thank you so much for commenting and reblogging!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Reblogged this on yarn and pencil and commented:
    This is brilliant! From reading this I realise I am similar. When no one else is around my movement and vocal behaviour changes, it becomes more silly – but silly in a playful sense. I’ll kind of dance around the house and make up songs using made up words. Not every time I’m alone but often. I had never thought about this as unmasking.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you for sharing your story. I have always had the NEED, not want, to rock, almost constantly. I rocked my crib across the room and have had a rocking chair in my bedroom since I was 8. There is a rocking chair in the living room as well. I need to stim the constant anxiety out of my body.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Reblogged this on Laina's Collection – sharing Aspergian/autistic writing and commented:
    I’ve been thinking along these lines, too! Trying to remember, reclaim, reconnect with my younger, natural, instinctive self, because that self knows better than my refined, people-pleasing adult self. I’ve even considered starting to spin in circles again! 😍 This is such a great post, and so timely, too! 👏🏼❤️❤️

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Yes, so much this! I have been rediscovering my natural movements through hoop dance, and it is an amazing thing indeed. I’m still unnatural around other people for the most part, but at home I dance and dance and dance and spin and spin and spin and it is beautiful and freeing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s such a wonderful feeling!!! ❤ I'm glad to hear that you've been rediscovering your natural movements too. It has gotten easier for me to move the way I need to around other people as I practice more on my own and in spaces like the gym where people move differently than usual in the first place.

      Like

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