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  • Kristy Forbes

When my body doesn't obey my mind

Updated: Feb 25


As people, we tend to get a bit stuck in our belief systems, ways of thinking and interpretations of human behaviour. . I learnt very early on in life that going into someone's kitchen while they were cooking and stirring their pots of food would often be received as almost offensive. . Even from my own perspective, I'd find it difficult not to be bothered by someone doing this when I was preparing food. . For me, it's more about control rather than offence. . This morning, a member of my family was cooking porridge for breakfast . I walked into the kitchen to have a conversation with them and I was drawn to the pot. . I knew it wouldn't be received well, but I could NOT stop myself from picking up the wooden spoon and stirring it. . I was told with a giggle, and a very patient "I've got this, thanks".. . But I couldn't stop. . I was so taken in by the steam, the creaminess and the opportunity to stir it whilst taking in all of the sensory goodness, . That I felt like I had no control over whether I did it. . Not doing it would have been almost painful. . This is on a lower scale of the sensory driven disconnect for autistic people. . You'll find that many non speaking autistic people with significant support needs report a disconnect between the intentions of their mind . and whether their body will follow through with those intentions. . They report not having any control over their bodies at times, particularly where sensory opportunities present. . This can involve pulling objects apart, absconding or running off from a parent, putting our hands into textures whether it is deemed appropriate and safe or not (butter, fire, faecal smearing are just a few examples) and the list goes on. . The difficulty that comes with this very real challenge, is that almost every solution developed to address this aspect of autism is based on reinforcement and punishment. . There tends to be a misconception that an autistic person chooses to engage in these activities . And that providing an unpleasant 'consequence' will deter the behaviour. . Reading the experiences of autistic people challenges almost every perception and theory written around their behaviour. . When we view this from a new perspective, . That we are often, in fact, punishing an outcome of a neurotype (autism) that the person has NO CONTROL OR CHOICE over, . Then we can come to see how very sad and uninformed some of our approaches are. . I've read all kinds of solutions to sensory driven behaviours. . Cold showers, taking away items of comfort.. . And when, in particular, our non speaking autistic children who are yet to find ways to communicate are subject to these methods, . My heart breaks. . They're unable to tell us . "I can't stop myself". . On top of this, . many non speaking autistic children may laugh hysterically following these incidents . And we mistake this for defiance . It is often fear. . When overwhelmed with emotion, . Our physical expressions of emotion can become confused . And where tears are appropriate, . laughter will move into it's place. . and vice versa. . When I am nervous, when I receive very bad news, . I laugh. . And it has found me in so much trouble throughout my life. . Please, read the writings of autistic adults. . You will be well informed and enlightened, . And more connected to the beautiful person your autistic child is. . <3 . . Kristy Forbes Autism & Neurodiversity Support Specialist inTune Pathways


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