Somebody recently made the comment to me, "I had the music cranked and was rockin' like an autistic kid". And I thought to myself (in this order), that's funny. No, that's offensive. Wait, is that offensive? Hey, all the papers on my desk aren't aligned straight.
Here's the thing that struck as most important about his statement though. The rocking behavior is prevalent enough to be included in dumb puns in general conversation. That means pretty much everyone knows it happens. But I wondered if anyone ever really thought about why. I never really thought about why... and I do it too.
I am a card-carrying member of the autistic spectrum and a lifelong rocker. It isn't something you're likely to see me do since the full act is generally limited to when I'm going to sleep. Since I was a baby, I've rocked myself to sleep and I continue that behavior 40-something years later. It is also almost certain to happen if I manage to find a chair that rocks in some way. The alternate, lesser form of this (that often goes unnoticed because the neurotypical folks do similar moves) is shaking or sort of undulating a foot.
But why? It is such an innate thing for me and always has been and yet, I never really put any thought as to why I do it. Is it a stress-reliever? Sort of, but not entirely. Is it a way of blocking out the outside world? It can be, but not most of the time. I really tried to think about it for once and nail down the reasoning, but I found it makes more sense to explain what it feels like.
Rocking is just like breathing. It's that semi-voluntary movement that will happen whether you consciously control it or not. I don't always know when I'm doing it, but I always know when it stops. If I'm forced to stop, an internal tension will build up in me so fast that I feel like I'll have a panic attack. Just like being smothered.
There is a silent metronome inside my head, actually my entire body, that ticks away 24 hours a day. I don't hear it. I feel it. And I'm compelled to move with it in a way that brings order to my world. It's not my heartbeat or my breathing. It's not the song that's playing on repeat in my head all day. It's not the pace that I'm walking. Those things have their own separate and unrelated rhythm, though they will sometimes align for a little while if the beat is already very close. The speed of the metronome will change throughout the day as well, but there is no identifiable pattern. It doesn't get faster with excitement or slower with boredom. It just changes for no reason. Most of the time, I would describe it as a brisk walk or a little faster.
What will change with my mood or stress level is the intensity of the rocking. If I'm stressed out, the rock will be harder and each move a bit further. But the speed of the beat is unaffected. This can sometimes block out some external stress, but if I go too far, it can actually make things worse. It's a fine line.
The one and only scenario where the metronome stops entirely is extreme anger. Rage. I think most people experience these emotions very physically, even violently. For me, it is the only time I feel complete stillness. It's as though I've stopped breathing, and at times, I've found that I have. To be abandoned by my internal clock is a feeling I can barely handle. It's paralyzing. Thankfully, it's also rare.
Back in my happy place, there is another element to this feeling that is harder to describe. The movement has its own unique energy. I can't make it or make it go away, but I can very easily redirect it. The best example being when I shake my foot. I'm simply transferring the movement from my torso to my ankle. It's barely a conscious decision, but a necessary thing for practical modern life (and not getting awkward stares). The same kind of thing happens with my muscle jerks (or tics), which I have every day. I will feel the energy build up to what feels like a semi-voluntary movement, but I can sometimes change where the tic happens with a little concentration. Can't explain it. Just happens. All of this does seem a bit metaphysical. I think it sounds ridiculous too, and I've been feeling it for as long as I can remember. Too bad I can't channel that energy into laser beams or something. Because that would be awesome.
I may have drifted off the subject.
Anyway, there. That's why I do it. It probably isn't any less mysterious and probably sounds even weirder than it looks, but that's what I got out of my little moment of introspection. That's why I like to rock like an autistic kid.
Monday, August 24, 2015
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
|Andy, Steve, Kristin, and I on the Subtlety Train.|
But it was super fun!
But seriously, it was crazy hot. I'm not even playing. Crazy hot. For reals. Ridiculous.
This incarnation of Disneyland will be very familiar to anyone
|What's that green thing behind the castle?|
Main Street USA
|We don't need no stinkin' Partners Statue.|
Once you step outside of Main Street and the hub, you enter a fantastic sampler of Disney attractions, lands, and show elements from all of the other parks all over the world. Let me explain with a tour of the park, by lands and attractions.
|This, people. This.|
|I want to live in this.|
I absolutely loved the art direction, characters, music, and special effects in this attraction. The animatronics were fantastic and the effects were impressive, especially the use of lasers and video projection mapping. I was surprised however, by the pacing of the ride. It felt slow at times and there were odd pauses in action. My educated guess is that the desired pace of the attraction (fast and energetic) was being dampened by limitations in the ride system. The trackless vehicles felt sluggish on acceleration and rotation and the vehicle seemed to have a low top speed. The pauses appeared to be caused by vehicles waiting for other vehicles to clear a path. It is unclear if these limitations were self-imposed or a condition of the available technology.
In the end, it was a great show, a great story, and Albert is adorable.
|The heat is on.|
Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars
|Straight outta DCA.|
Toy Story Land
|"Reft, right, reft." I know, I'm awful.|
The Green Army Men performers (same as DCA and DHS) did catch my attention though. It is culturally insensitive to say this, but hearing Sarge yell out "left, left, right, left" in a thick Chinese accent is pretty hysterical.
This land was a mind game. You know that crazy dream you had where you went to Disneyland and all the rides were all mixed up together? Been there. Like for real.
Though it started with the classic tribal gate that you see in California, most of this land looks and feels like Animal Kingdom in Orlando. And there are a lot of interesting blends of elements happening here too. As I said, there is no Frontierland so the closest thing to the Rivers of America is in Adventureland. There is also no New Orleans Square or Liberty Square so no steamboat or sailing ship either. Instead of Tom Sawyer Island, the island is home to Tarzan's Treehouse (which we didn't have time to see) and is accessible only by rafts. Now here's where it gets super weird...
|What is going on here?|
|Welcome to the jungle.|
|Can you feel the AC tongiht?|
And air conditioned.
|The future that never was...|
Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters
This is nothing unusual, but always fun and like its previous incarnations, it has its own slightly unique track plan and scenery. Despite being a new layout to us, Andy still managed to murder me at it.
|The force is strong with this one.|
|The DisneyQuest telescope. Look familiar?|
We rode it twice.
it's a small world
|it's a tiny, tiny world|
|A wonderful world of color|
I hope you enjoyed your journey with us. Please gather all your personal belongings and step out the same way you got in because we didn't have enough room to put an exit on the other side. Thanks.