I have been reading a variety of blogs on autism. These are written by actual autistic people, and are a damn sight more helpful than other things that come up with you Google.

I am very angry again. I am, at this very moment, using scrap wood, old flatware and leftover bailing twine to construct entirely new genres of heretofore unimagined profanity, which I am probably going to unleash on the next person who thinks brain-weird makes someone not a proper human being.

This is making me particularly inclined to throttle someone. With my VERY UNQUIET HANDS, tyvm. It's an article written by someone who has undergone what I gather is a particularly pernicious form of behavioral training applied often to autistic children whose stims are predominantly manual -- basically, shouting QUIET HANDS! at them whenever they start touching things, and then punishing them if they can't immediately smack their hands down on their lap in plain view and keep them there.

Cops ask you to do that, you know. When they stop you for speeding. They want to know where your hands are at all times. We let the police give orders like that because there is an entirely reasonable perception that someone who has their hands hidden under the dashboard or behind them on the seat might suddenly pull out a weapon, giving the police officer no real time to react.

I have no idea why we think we should let teachers do this. Do autistic children routinely carry switchblades? Should they?

Apparently many people think that this makes your hands quiet. I think these people probably generate mysterious hollow whistling noises when the wind blows across their ears just right. I wonder sometimes how they would get their sneakers on in the morning if Velcro hadn't been invented.

Those are not quiet hands. They are exactly the opposite. Those are polemic. Those are books burning in a pile so that the ideas of the Establishment will have no competition. They are a missionary chanting the Lord's Prayer to keep away the impure thoughts. They do not stop talking; they just scream I WILL NOT I WILL NOT I WILL NOT to keep from saying anything else.

If I had to watch that for more than a few minutes, I would probably break down and tell you for the love of GOD please start flapping your fingers or petting the carpet or whatever you're wanting to do, you are driving me INSANE.

I might also deck your teacher. How do you all feel about sudden loud punching sounds, if the shouty noises die down immediately afterwards?


  1. When my mother wanted to punish me, when I was little, she would require me to sit on a kitchen chair, in the middle of the kitchen floor, without moving at all. No leg swinging, no finger twiddling, nothing. I would sit there and cry myself breathless because it hurt to sit still.

    I'm 'normal', apparently. Never occurred to me that anyone could be stupid enough to require this of someone autistic.

    1. There's another one, written by a mother with a small autistic daughter, in which the mother has to politely ask teachers not to fight with the child over her not-going-bonkers binky, which happens to be a length of string. Why would you even...? It's a string, not a hand grenade. The string itself causes no one any issues. This is a prime opportunity, in fact, to teach creative problem solving skills.

      Situation: Need to practice writing.
      Problem: Need both hands for this, do not want to lose binky-string.
      Solutions: Put string down in lap; put string down on desk; wind string around fingers; wind string around pencil; have Teacher tie string around wrist.

      This is for some reason very difficult for allistic adults to grasp, I am guessing. And they treat the autistic kids as learning-disabled.

      The goal here should be to teach kids -- ALL kids, allistic, autistic, space alien, whatever -- to cope with the world, not to be tiny little identical robots. Some kids will have more trouble than others. Why you would even think to make things more difficult than they already are for the autistic ones, I have no idea.

  2. If it makes you feel marginally better, most of the advice I've ever gotten on dealing with kids with autism - the milder sorts that can actually cope with an average twenty-student classroom - were things like "mark a box on the floor with tape. They have to stay in the box (i.e. no wandering off and bothering other students) but as long as they are in the box and making some attempt at doing their work, let them do their thing," and that for some students, wearing snug, stretchy clothing like Underarmor undershirts can help alleviate the /need/ to stim.

    OTOH the fact that there are teachers who get so hung up on a piece of string suggests that some people may need more explicit instruction on how not to be assholes to kids.

  3. I work as a therapeutic support staff (wraparound services if you've heard of them) for children with autism. A lot of the psychologists keep telling me to interrupt my client when they're stimming. It drives me crazy because...why? They're stressed, I don't need them to do work at the moment, and it calms them down. As long as the behavior isn't destructive or self-harming, I think they need the stim breaks to function.

    1. I can see the importance of finding autistic children a stim that works for them, and that also doesn't disrupt other people around them. Fair's fair; we train allistic kids to sit the fuck down and not steal crayons for the same reason. The only reason I can think of to demand they not stim at all, though, is to force them to look "normal". That seems both unnecessary and unnecessarily cruel.

      If you're really paying enough attention to notice that the quiet kid in the third row is winding and unwinding a string around her fingers when she's not doing anything else, you're either me, or you're entirely too concerned with how other people occupy their minds.


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