I grew up with my father holding my hands in a deathgrip at
my sides, and I cannot now tell it it was to stop my stimming, or his own. I
listened to my father repeat words and phrases and become more and more
frustrated with himself as he did so, and listened to him scream at me when I
slipped into echolalia myself. I watched others around him become impatient,
and watched him hide his struggles.
So now, at twenty-five, when I am in a restaurant and hear
an older man at the pool tables five feet away performing some elaborate
echolalia, clearly designed over years to sound like social interaction to an
allistic person, I lean out into the table to duck my head and flutter my hands
at the edges of my vision along with my laughter the next time someone at my table
says something funny.
When I hear in the comic shop, looking for stories, a mother
berate her son for “being so hyper” and look up to see a child turning in
circles with a book clutched to his chest, tell him to “knock it off!” I wait
until the mother’s back has turned and her son has trotted away from her to
pull a book off the shelf, wave my hands excitedly and spin in a circle with
the book clutched to my chest.
I see their faces change with my small acts of rebellion. I
feel myself change. Small lights spark within my own mind at the sights and
sounds of my brothers and sisters: You are here, and so am I. I will not hide
that I am here, so that you can see me. I am a rocker, a flapper, a spinner. I
walk down the sidewalk like I’m walking down a corkscrew some days. I watch
people drive past me, gawking, and could care less, because I am lost in the
joy of spinning, of locomotion and seeing everything.
And I have seen faces change even in the act of driving past
me. I watch them stare, recklessly, at the young man spinning down the sidewalk
with a serene smile, and by the time they have passed on, a scowl has turned to
a puzzled frown, a frown to a neutral wondering, and if they were simply having
an alright day, the sight of someone spinning along is apparently enough to
elicit a smile of their own.
Sometimes I walk down the street as though my hands held a
jumprope, windmilling my arms from the elbows at my sides with every step.
Sometimes when I do this, I break into a run, and it feels like flying.
If you see me, walking down the street, one of two things: I
will either be stumping along with a strange gate and a blank frown, or I will
be flailing, spinning, skipping, jogging, running, twirling, or bouncing along,
possibly walking on the curb or the wall that runs alongside the sidewalk,
grinning or smiling or even laughing our loud.
I laugh. I laugh in public. Loudly.
I tell myself stories. I am a writer, and I write first
within my own mind: I will speak my stories to myself as I walk, the words and
thoughts bursting from my throat unbidden and unguided, until I see another
person on the path. Then the throat-grate closes again, and the words that wish
to spill forth are caged once again just below my jaw.
But I have yet to be called names for displaying this
I am a creature of habit. Only now am I coming to realize
that there is not only nothing wrong with being a creature of habit, it is not
an uncommon trait among Auties. As a creature of habit, I am allowed certain
freedoms that I do not think I could otherwise manage: It might be a bad day,
but if I walk into my coffee shop and attempt to make mouth words and nothing
comes out, the barista simply starts clicking buttons, and based on the time of
year knows what I’m most likely to order. If my bad day continues, and all I
want is something nutritious that I don’t have to cook myself, I know that I can
walk up to my favourite food truck and simply by walking up to the window, the
cook knows me and knows what I want. Most of the people I interact with on a
semi-regular basis know that ducking my head and fluttering my hands means “Yes
please thank you…” Even if I am having a bad day, I can usually croak out
So I take no shame in my habitual nature, and I let myself
follow the behavioral impulses that come up. I let myself spin, and flail, and
walk on walls and skip and hop and popopop. I purr, and meow, and hiss, in
public, and it is taken as an adorable personality trait by those who love me,
and the rest of the world can go suck a bag of eggs.
Because those who take the time to get to know the flailing,
spinning, purring, popping mad trans*kid find that they love me, partially because of