The Life Autistic: The Silly Reason I Walk Alone

Screen Shot 2018-07-30 at 11.58.39 AM.pngI was touring the campus of Pensacola Christian College for the first time, walking with my campus mom.

Until I heard a voice about ten feet behind me.

Ahem . . . Hunter.”

I’d done that thing again.

There I was, what seemed a mile ahead of my tour guide. I’d walked way too far, but not far enough to hear her tut-tutting at my apparent sprint ahead. I marooned both of us, not by design, but by, well—

See, there’s this thing.

I walk to get places, and I walk fast, and that’s my default setting.

It’s nice when I need to get from point A to point B, or when I need some exercise, but shoot, when I started socializing, being more human, getting to know people, I didn’t realize how much of a socially-illiterate walker I was.

Until arriving at college, I don’t think I walked with another person before.

And that’s when I learned why I’d walk alone: because I walk like I am alone.

It’s not like I’m trying to get away from you if I’m more galloping than ambling. I’m not trying to be rude, inconsiderate, etc.

Walking is a focused, driven, routine, one-track thing for me; it’s how I’m wired, and left to my own devices, I’d walk without stopping, loping along, maybe even talking at myself while I ignore things around me.

I’m learning to slow down.

To walk with people.

To take in surroundings.

To realize that the destination is not the only thing that matters.

They say You’ll Never Walk Alone, but in The Life Autistic, you often do.

 

 

 

The Life Autistic: What Juggernaut and Autism Have in Common

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Yes, you’re reading that right. I’m comparing people on the autism spectrum to an ominous, imposing Marvel character and Deadpool 2 star: Juggernaut. 

I mean, just look at ol’ Cain Marko here – you can’t help but notice the similarities between people like us and a force like him. Muscular physique, Hulk-like strength, metal headgear — ok, maybe wishful thinking here.

Since it isn’t that cool stuff, let’s check the real comparison:

The Juggernaut is described as physically unstoppable once in motion, does not tire from physical activity, and is able to survive without food, water, or oxygen.

While I wish I could say that autistic people could run without stopping and without tiring, I can personally attest, within a quarter-mile, that is not the case.

So what is it then?

Routines.

Routines are near-unstoppable, difficult to shift, and tough to interrupt while ongoing for autistic people.

Dr. Hume puts it mildly when she writes (emphasis mine):

Whether at home, school, or in the workplace, transitions naturally occur frequently and require individuals to stop an activity, move from one location to another, and begin something new. Individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) may have greater difficulty in shifting attention from one task to another or in changes of routine.

Trust me, this sucks. And I’m a grown-dang man, too.

One of my kids can be whining about something or, well, actually need help. But God help me, if I don’t finish washing dishes first, or make the bed, or fold this last stack of laundry and put it away — FIRST. And those are mundane things!

A mundane routine or task can be the most important thing right now for us, even at the expense and detriment of truly important things.

Once you get Juggernaut going on something mission critical, like pulling weeds, or preparing coffee, the motion feels like it needs a cosmic force to be diverted or interrupted.

But there’s good news.

You don’t need the Hulk or Mjolnir to divert an autistic routine.

If you’ve got kids or people like this, read about transition time strategies for managing micro-changes to tasks, actions, and routines.

Don’t always try stopping Juggernauts in motion.

Motion is good – just understand that it’s a difficult force for us to suppress, and unlike the actual superhuman, it’s something that can be diverted, transitioned, even made positive.