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All of these traits come under the umbrella of ‘Behaviour' and are all innately linked. I have always found it very difficult to control my behaviours and traits.  When there is too much sensory or information input to focus on, and a problem, stress or unexpected change displays itself to me (which happens constantly) solutions to problems seldom come up because my brain can’t think about new possibilities of helping, without first removing the old sensory stimuli or overwhelm cause. These injustices turn into a communication issue expressing our needs, which are often communicated through our behaviours.

Our behaviour won’t change because someone is shouting, telling us off, or even if someone is offering a party, or a treat, in return for what they judge as ‘good’ behaviour, simply because the way we behave is often way beyond our control. If our behaviour changes, as a result of these things, know that it is simply a mask- and certainly doesn’t help in the long run. It’s a mask, that destroys capabilities and forces us to operate to the worse of our abilities, it’s a mask that is evidence that we don’t feel safe in our own skin, we don’t feel like we are worthy of being ourselves. The truth is that the only way our behaviour can change, for the better, is only once the injustices from the environment has been removed. Often, behaviour is not a choice, it is a necessity to communicate.

when it comes to behaviours, its important not to have a tick list, because what is important, is the root of the behaviours, not the fact that we do certain behaviours or traits. This is because all Autistic people are different and many Autistic people may miss diagnosis because they don't behave or look stereotypically Autistic, making them miss out on vital support.
 In this way, for Autistic individuals, we must first look at the root of the behaviour, and help empower capabilities the best that we can- because it’s not our fault, that so much of the world, and its people, are unwittingly a counterproductive learning and development environment for us.


Stimming: Stimming is a behaviour – a defence mechanism - that has to come out. Stimming is a repetitive movement or noise. For example, flapping hands, twirling hair, tapping feet, or verbalising of various words or sounds in a repeated manner. It’s important to understand that ‘stims’, although judged to be unprofessional and wrong, are actually very helpful in empowering Autistic people to cope with the mayhem of their surroundings. This is because stims helps us control the negative input – the sights, sounds, smells, injustice, change, overwhelming emotions like fear, anger or excitement and happiness, etc – can be controlled, with a safe, sensory output, because the brain is able to focus on this one, menial task of moving your body in a certain, repetitive way. While stimming, the brain can process the negative sensory or information input in the back ground, while not causing too much distress – thus empowering us to not only feel calm, but also feel at peace and systemise data and problem solve with mind wandering (Stim)ulations. Stimming types: Sometimes it’s hard to tell when my stimming is indicative of a shutdown or regression of capabilities, or whether I can still be capable after stimming. I have different types of stim, and those who know me well, know how to ready my stims, to help me. Everyone’s stims will be indicative of something different, and it’s a good idea to try and learn what different types of stims may be reality for you or the Autistic person you know. My experience may not match up to yours, for example. Usually for me: Capable or happy stims – aka - ‘The Fairy!’ The faster, bigger controlled movements are indicative of high energy, capability or excitement. Often flapping my arms at an unintentional right angle, with my fingers to my palm, relaxed but tight enough to form a fist. I’m especially excitable if I’m wriggling my butt like a worker bee! Shutting down Stims - aka - ‘The Whirlwind!’ Slower, less controlled, erratic movements and whole arm flapping are more common for shutting down stims. I won’t be able to form a fist with these stims, and my fingers will be loose – movement will come from my shoulders and not my elbow. Attempting to systemise data and process information Stims – aka - ‘The Butterfly!’ Small, fluttery, controlled movements are more indicative of focus stims. My arms will be still in front of me, and my wrist, hands and fingers will pretend to be butterflies, in a circular motion. Angry, injustice, meltdown and frustrated stims – aka – ‘The Super Skier!’ Both hands will sharply go from in front of my chest, to down and behind my bum, in a skiing motion, repeatedly and very painfully because its erratic, sharp and uncontrolled. Frustrated at being unable to communicate – aka – ‘Melodramatic Karate Chop Hands!’ My hands will fly about all over the place in a series of poorly executed, totally uncontrollable and probably quite offensive version of karate chopping. I say offensive because karate is an art form, and when I say karate chop, just imagine an angry toddler sharply waving their arms about with no regard of the art form but still insisting it is karate chopping. That’s me, with my inability to express myself right now! This usually is a precursor to shutting down or angry meltdown stims. Totally shut down stims (verbal stimming) – aka – ‘The Blub-Blub-Blub Bambi!’ When I am totally unable to move my body due to pain I verbally stim – with syllables, rolling one word, over and over, because it’s the only path let to take to regulate when I’m so exhausted and overwhelmed that I can no longer function in any way I normally can. Hidden away stims – aka – ‘The Rock-En-Roll” Twirling hair, tipping from my toes to the balls of my feet, clapping my fingers to the palm of my hand, in a pocket. Vestibular stims – aka – “I’m not going to fa-aaaah-ll! Oops” Balancing, in a repetitive manner, is a form of vestibular stimming. For example, rocking on your feet, walking on every available edge, to balance, for example, walking on the edge of the curb and not the pavement, or along walls, or swaying. I tend to walk around on my tippy toes, as a form of vestibular stimming. I do think that this could be a reason why many Autistic people walk on their toes, and not the flat of their foot. That, and it was so painful for me walking with flat foot, that it felt like I was pulling muscles, just by walking with my foot flat. I also, as a child, loved swings and any apparatus in the park that involved repetition and balancing. I do believe this is because it allowed my brain to systemise the overwhelm, while feeling at peace.

Self Injurious Behaviours (SIBs) Some stims, are harmful, and naturally, those stims should try to be re-directed as a safety measure. My SIBs: Biting my nails until they bleed- and not stopping. My nails are less than a cm long, and it’s totally disgusting in many ways - I know that I do - it’s just that I can’t even process I’m doing it to tell myself to stop because it’s a subconscious defence mechanism to make me feel safe again. Stimming is so helpful, when it’s safe, but some stims-like nail biting, pulling hair, scratching or self-harm (SIBS), aren’t helpful and can hopefully be replaced with a different stim. Learning to replace harmful stims with safe healthy ones is possible with time and patience. To counter the nail biting, I have a spiky ball with me, all the time wherever I go. At first, I did the same ‘picking’ movement on the ball, to stop me picking my nails, and now I don’t pick and instead I squeeze, strike and throw the ball- I’ve been enabled to move on from picking movements to something healthier. Safe healthy stims really do help; not only to stop me from self-harming, but the stim its self helps give me clarity and focus and relieve stress and express excitement.

Communication / Communicating pain When I was a child I was deaf and could not speak until I was 7; preferring to communicate using ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphics and sign language. As an adult I still have grave difficulties with communicating, and expressing myself, so being able to stand up on stage in front of 100s of people, is a real challenge; but I love a good challenge, as it’s the trials of life that help you learn how to improve and allow you to thrive for the better. For me, I find communication very difficult almost as if I’m listening to someone who keeps talking in different languages. I process information very slowly, which means that I cant always respond quick enough for people to want to talk to me again. 60% of people think that someone who doesn’t respond quick enough is being rude; this one of the million reasons why I am so passionate about changing perceptions and educating people. I process maybe 6 words in every sentence said to me, and that’s does not guarantee I understand which makes communication go one of two ways – I go overboard trying to understand or I shy away and cant process the conversation or situation or overwhelm toc communicate my thoughts, needs or pain. I was once nonverbal and clinically deaf, and who communicated with sign language and my behaviour, I totally agree. Many Autistic people communicate in a nonverbal manner, and sadly, many people don’t yet know how to understand or empathise with us when we do so. This can lead to injustices where we become misunderstood, which in turn makes it much harder to communicate. My biggest difficulty with communication is when injustice makes it too difficult to communicate or get my words out. This in turn, ignites my trigger response – injustice shutdowns, which make it impossible for me to communicate verbally – if I try, I can only get out syllables and mashes of noises – no words that can be strung together to form a sentence. When this happens, a huge injustice loops surfaces, and my behaviour goes wild to try and incorporate a form of communication to gain help.

Frozen defense modes Adrenaline responses to normal everyday life that should not be ‘stressful’ can be chaotically unjustified to many Autistic people like me. This injustice overwhelm can cause severe burnout – and during burn out, I tend to go into a type of frozen defence mode that I like to call “Freeze, Drop and Roll” which is part of the ‘Fight, Flight Fawn’ adrenaline responses. I’m not going to lie; My hearts thumping just thinking about it. Freeze: I must stop doing everything to cope with overloading stimuli. This can result in disassociation, day-dreaming and intense periods of staring into space. I start operating in burnout, while attempting to manage the adrenaline and overwhelm. Drop: then begin shutting down. I drop; my physical abilities lower, and drops, my minds abilities, lowers and drops. The answers I know in my brain, become inaccessible to me. What I understood before, I suddenly cannot. At some point during the drop stage of a burnout, exhaustion hits; and as an effort to recover… Roll: I roll! As a vague attempt of recovering, because I cannot safely allow myself to fully shutdown yet, I instead start to stim to enable me to cope with the chaotic demands of life. I’ll audibly vocalise a single word and focus on how the syllables roll off my tongue. I’ll listen to music, even though I am overwhelmed, and I’ll focus on how the soundwaves rolls through the air; the vibrations rolling onto my skin, my hands dancing through the air, fingers rolling together like a wave of sound. I’ll find my body swaying, rocking, knees buckling, rolling. Yes, when it comes to stimming to recover from overloads, I tend to rock and roll! I think I saw your eye roll at that reference; hey, you’re catching on – it’s all about rolling here. Every-day, I get multiple and huge adrenaline anxiety symptomatic responses, to basic things they most people wouldn’t. for example, trying to do basic life skills and basic injustices - I was going through fight or flight rushes of adrenaline countless times an hour as part of my normal function - but I was getting adrenaline for things that most people, just wouldn’t. I’d still get spikes even with all my safety measures in place. Even with my privileged back-ground of an understanding, supportive family and environment that empowers me to thrive. It’s not ‘normal’ to get adrenaline for stuff like this – just existing. Yet, it is for me, and it is for a lot of Autistic people, I believe. Maybe, it’s our normal? Maybe it’s all in how I, as an Autistic person, process information? If an Autistic persons overloads, shutdowns and meltdowns appear to occur from ‘nothing’ to outsiders, but these responses ARE real, ARE legitimately very upsetting and ARE often traumatising (little t trauma), with real causes...then it makes sense to me that this same processing could mean we process more harm, more anxiety, more fear and more trauma from ‘nothing’; thus triggering the Fight, Flight or Freeze adrenaline responses in daily situations that are not considered anxiety inducing. This means every scenario - even safe ones- are perceived as dangerous with potential to cause us or others harm - (harm from abuse or emotional harm from simply existing ‘wrongly’ or ‘badly’) - and may be one reason why we experience more adrenaline in normal situations when others do not. It’s a traumatic defence response, taught from a society hell bent on abusing and changing us, for every tiny part of what makes us, us. No wonder we have more overloads, shutdowns, or meltdowns? It was never our fault. I believe-it’s our fight or flight mode being activated ALL THE TIME! Fight: Adrenaline surges through us, to try and give us energy to fight for survival. In this way we become better problem solvers. This is why I often say that when we are scared, we can use that fear, to problem solve how to feel safe again. Meltdowns are a type of ‘Fight’ survival adrenaline response to injustice, overwhelm, problem solving and anxiety. In this way lashing out, is a survival-based response, and not a fault of the person – even though it could be safely trained, and healthily repurposed / re communicated elsewhere. Flight: This is where you run or hide from the stressful situation. I don’t tend to have meltdowns much, in fact I tend to shutdown instead – in this way, my adrenaline hormone usually impacts me with a ‘flight’ necessity, where I hide from the offending sensory or information adrenaline input. Sensory dens are great for times like this! Fawn: People-please to diffuse conflict and create a safer relationship. It has an essence of masking to it – where you mirror what you believe people want from you.

Obsessive behaviours and communication Everything is so overwhelmingly beautiful and interesting to me that I am constantly tuning out the daily grind, and likewise, important information, and instead noticing the things that no one else does; the way the leaves shiver in the breeze in a lone bush in the middle of a busy, car jammed, fumed up street. The way a decaying building, holds so much history in its walls. I see truth, and history, in daily life, passion and facts, and it drives my every move, empowering me to understand more; sometimes it means that I am in my own world, day dreaming, or behaving oddly, but it in no way means that I am not happy, learning or developing. As Autistic people, We thrive in routines, rules, protocol and day to day structure; which means that we often do things by the book, exactly as we should, it means we will follow rules, it means will be punctual, honest, loyal and trustworthy. I obsess and hyper fixate on my expectations and needs and justice seeking to the point where it puts me at harm, because it is wrong of me to not be obsessed or passionate by justice. I will always, always, follows rules or protocol. I can’t break the rules like that, even if a part of me knows that I wouldn’t get in trouble, I just can’t, because the rules are rules. As an Autistic person, I must follow routines, and I must follow protocol and abide by the rules - because following routines enables me to seek out patterns, and decode daily life, empowering me with enhanced abilities and understanding. Likewise obsessive behaviour can seem totally unnecessary but provide a sense of healing and justice seeking for us. Why do I tap every door I walk in? because it makes me feel safe. Why do I obsess over doing the same thing over and over, to such rigidity nothing can change? Why do I obsess over the same hair brush or clothing or tooth paste? Because a change in that can mean there’s a sensory injustice coming which means not only will I feel pain and discomfort, I will be judged for it too, making me double down and obsess, because injustice make obsessive thoughts of injustice loop, and thus, so do the obsessive behaviours, repeat, rinse, repeat. Why does obsessive flapping or humming, or stimming, or collection making or needing routine behaviours heal me, because it makes me feel safe. Why do I obsess over-eating then same thing, because a change in that expectation represent danger and something unjustified that I cannot avoid. Being obsessive with my behaviour, is a very logical way to communicate how important these behaviour are to us, because we are repeatedly communicating, “Hey! This is important to me! Help me!” With this excessive ‘obsession; for justice seeking, maintaining a routine and facts, come the obsessive communication and behaviours – the stims, the verbal onslaught and questions that seem totally pointless but are actually vital to our processing and healing, where as its often judged as selfish, rudeness, authoritative dismissal or carelessness. Here are some examples. These questions are signs that we are trying to cope in a world of constant chaos and change – we are not being rude or naughty or challenging authority. These questions are very important to us as Autistic people, and they do serve purpose. When we are trying to find reason within a world that just does not make sense with illogical demands and tiresome rules, Autistic people search for understanding through endless questions. When we are asked to do anything, no matter how little or well practiced, it represents a big pressure that something out of their control will go wrong, and they may be become exposed to ridicule or rejection. That ‘something’ could be merely dealing with a change in expectation, demand, routine, or injustice. In this way, Autistic people are confused, and equally frustrated, in their attempts to overcome their challenges by trying to learn from more information, in a desperate attempt to control what they don’t yet understand and avoid further rejection – so often, finding themselves the butt of rejection, even so. This is because the problem, was never them – it was society and what society teaches people about Autistic people. I have a huge process, in order to understand how I must do anything, and this often becomes obsessive because I am Autistic and live in a world where nothing makes sense and everyone convinces me I am wrong at everything even though I was certain I was doing something right or correct, which makes us hyper vigilant and obsessive to avoid. This also means when things don’t go right, our obsessive behaviours and communication works over time to help us, often spiralling us into shutdown burnout or meltdown. In this way, I need to first understand why, how, when, who what, where, when, and every part of the process that leads to that thought process, job, demand, expectation and healing process, Sure, everyone does this – but for Autistic or disabled or chronically ill people, this process is something that can be disabling to the point of lowering functioning, capabilities and abilities they used to be good at, whereas the impact on neurotypical people would not be even remotely as severe. This process of questioning includes things involved the most tiniest aspects that most people would even question, to the point of obsessiveness because we cannot naturally make connections, and then trust our own judgement, even if we are correct and so we naturally behave and communicate as if to reinforce the obsessive behaviours and questions needed to heal and adapt. So what if my questions are not answered? What then? Queue: easily misunderstood chaos, and a lot of pointless sounding questions, that are essential for our optimal functioning and wellbeing.

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