I love the ocean. I feel so happy there. The weather could be hot or chilly but I feel happy to see the sand and waves. I love the feel of the cold water too. I go too far in it sometimes. The ocean is soothing and the sound of the waves is like a metronome that isn’t steady, but never stops. I remember loving the ocean since I was a baby. I’d run to the water as fast as I could. My family would have to hold me back or I’d go in even in my clothes. It is like a magnet, in a way.
When I go to the tidepools, I can resist the waves because the ocean starts past the tidepools filled with anemones and starfish and a rock strewn field. Only kayakers and surfers venture there. Many autistic people love the beach. Our senses have a field day there.
Clues into non-verbal autism can be found by observing how we move. It is obvious that moving in certain ways is difficult for us. It is easy to be idle when your body frustrates, but we must fight that. My exercising has helped me a lot, though I am far from my goals. In exercising I struggle with many things, but one of the most challenging is doing different upper and lower body movements at the same time. My body will do one or the other. It takes all my concentration to just do the legwork if the movement is even a little complicated. If you add in arms to my steps, I need to stop my feet. This is an obstacle in sports, as you can imagine. In sports you need to run and catch (or whatever). I can’t do that at all. I run or I catch. Period. If I work out and I march in place and then I have to do arm lifts with hand weights at the same time, my brain sort of thinks, “huh?”
The ability to do different actions, arms and legs, is something most people take for granted. It is very frustrating to fight your body the way we do. Some people with autism are frail. Some are soft. But we all need to work on our movements and muscle development. In autism it is the disconnect between our intentions and movements that is so challenging.
I miss my Oma. I think about how many lives she touched. She was like a good-natured, kind-hearted soul. Many times I observed her having the bravery to face hard circumstances after injuries or operations. It impressed me how hard she fought to recover and how positive she acted throughout her struggles. That isn’t easy. No one is perfect. I don’t mean to imply that she had no flaws, but she was, in my opinion, tremendously courageous. She understood what was important; family, good food, a nice view, friends. She loved babies and dogs and they loved her too. My german shepherd is shy and takes her time trusting people, but she always loved my grandmother and stayed faithfully by her side whenever she visited.
My grandmother is in a peaceful place now. I hope she will never again have fear, pain, or war. She has borne more than her share of all three, but she had the grace to smile and love despite the challenges. I have learned much from her example.
It is pointless to get angry at an article like this
which so inaccurately characterizes my life. My ability to “mentalize” is intact. More than that, my relationship with God is profound and fulfilling. In my life, I talk to God throughout the day. He hears my silent prayers and gives me a place to hope.
I think this study is biased. How many non-verbal autistic people did they interview? My guess is none. I think our answers may be totally different than those of the people they interviewed.
It is my theory that researchers of autism from the University of British Columbia have difficulty “mentalizing” how life is for a non-verbal autistic person, so they make a statement that minimizes our deep and rich inner world and call it a study. The majority of people with non-verbal autism can’t communicate well enough to refute these claims, but their inability to communicate isn’t proof of a lack of “mentalizing”. I know that this is an uphill battle; still we have to keep fighting to tell the truth.