Growing up, I hated the fact that I wasn’t “well coordinated,” or “athletically gifted,” or otherwise all too dextrous.
Turns out, the starting stats for The Life Autistic cheat us in physical skills.
They just do. We’re not naturals at this.
So I decided to cheat back.
After college, I lived in my grandmother’s attic, where the muggy winter temps of Virginia took their toll. To keep warm and, well, “not bored,” I tried juggling my folded socks.
They were just the right size, they didn’t bounce, and after picking up dropped socks for a half-hour, I’d gotten a good cardio workout and slightly better at juggling each time.
It never occurred to me that my autistic traits might hinder natural athleticism, but they might accelerate what I needed to pick it up.
Discipline. Habit. Focus. Practice. Repeating and trying something I wasn’t good at. Hour after hour. Day after day. Week after week.
I’m not a natural. I’m still not.
But I can be an unnatural.
After months of dropping balls, hours of YouTube videos, and days of practice, I became a passable juggler. Enough to where it impresses kids, some adults, and can put on half a show and keep people entertained.
What I didn’t realize was that juggling helped erase a lot of my clumsiness.
The only real anecdote I have to show for it: I’ve owned iPhones for 10 years now. I’ve gone from a 3G, to a 4S, to a 5S, 6S, and now an iPhone X – a beautiful glass block.
I’ve never put any of them in a case, because I don’t drop things much anymore. And if I do, I can catch falling objects with (more) ease, and that’s saved me hundreds of $ in broken iPhone glass.
Yeah, I still run like a duck with giraffe legs, and I can’t throw darts/baseballs/cornhole bags with much accuracy at all.
I’m still quite autistic, but thanks to its benefits, I’ve erased one of its deficits.