Autistic, Staring, and Silent

I’ve heard some parents of autistic children mention that their child stares into space, sometimes for long periods of time, usually without saying anything.

I was one of those Aspergian/autistic children.  And I did this. 

Now I’m an Aspergian/autistic adult.  And I still do this.

I won’t claim to speak for your child, nor any other autistic person, no matter what their age.  As usual, I can only speak for myself.

And today, true to form, I will .

What was I thinking about when I was staring into space?

As a child, I would stare at my dinner plate, imagining that the plate was the surface of another world.  I would imagine what it would be like to inhabit that world.  How there’s nothing to do, and how boring that must be.  I did the same with the kitchen table surface, and throughout the span of my early childhood, practically all other surfaces, too.

I also analyzed the patterns, swirls, and direction of the grains of that wooden table, trying to make sense of nature’s randomness, trying to create order from chaos.  This frustrated my brain, because I couldn’t quite achieve success.  The chaos remained.  So, I resorted to burning it into my head, committing it to memory.  I found that to be more soothing.

As an adolescent and teenager, I would analyze my school day, mentally reviewing events and conversations and interactions in my mind. Trying to see if I did everything right.  Agonizing over anything I did wrong.  Editing my side of the conversation or my actions.  Rewriting a better version instead.  No longer under the gun of the immediate situation, being (finally) able to think of that perfect comeback in response to someone who made fun of me, or able to stand up for myself and say what I truly felt in situations involving unreasonable authority figures.

As an adult, I’ve left behind the morphing of table surfaces into other worlds, and I usually don’t have to endure a whole lot of bullying or teasing.  But I still pick apart conflicts in my head, where there has been disagreement.  Or I agonize over a clientele member’s case that I couldn’t solve.  Or a clientele member who dropped out of care before I could truly help them.  Or whether or not I hurt someone.  Or a friend I had lost touch with…or simply lost.

Alternatively, I might ponder the nature of the universe and/or its creation/evolution (they’re often juxtaposed in mainstream society, but for me, they merge into one and the same).  Or I might have an a-ha moment, regarding either my personal life and interests, or perhaps my professional life.  I might have a sudden inspiration involving a creative or professional endeavor.  I might decide to go to a conference, or to write a blog post.  Or I might suddenly be struck with a passage of writing, an abstract art design/pattern or color scheme, or a hook of music, or a flash of long-forgotten memory.

We might not always be able to explain what we’re thinking or feeling when we stare into space in silence.  Sometimes that’s because we can’t even identify it; other times, we can identify it just fine, but our spoken language might lack the words to describe it.  (Spoken language is often clunky and archaic, not to mention horribly inefficient, after all.)

When we, the people on the Asperger’s/autism spectrum, do this, we’re processing.  We’re dreaming.  We’re inventing.  We’re editing.  We’re self-checking.  We’re imagining.  We’re creating.  We’re analyzing.  We’re trying to make sense of the world.  We’re remembering.  We’re theorizing.  We’re connecting dots.  We’re communing with a world beyond our physical realm.  We’re taking time for ourselves.  We’re enjoying silence.  We’re reveling in Just Being.

The staring and the silence are nothing unhealthy or abnormal.  They’re merely unusual (although, increasingly, we’re realizing that they’re not so unusual after all).  They’re not pathological.  They’re not “evidence” that we’re “lesser” or “broken”.  They’re simply a fact of life for many of us.  They don’t go away as we develop and age, but they may change form and/or function.  They’re beautiful, though.  I’m thoroughly convinced that they provide the source of numerous inventions and ideas that propel humanity forward through evolutionary stages and serve as the seed for the lion’s share of the dreams that become reality for the benefit of all.

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23 Comments

  1. funny thing is, everyone does this– autistic people do it longer and more often.

    “what are you doing when YOU do it?” “…thinking.”

    “ok, so what do you think someone is doing when they do it for a lot longer?”

    “…thinking, for a lot longer?”

    “gooooood!”

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Wonderful post! I can relate to this staring into space/analyzing patterns/daydreaming…and I agree that this is valuable time to find inspiration and solutions, and simply recharge and BE. Thank you for putting this in such beautiful words!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind words! I’m really glad you enjoyed it ❤️ We do need our “Brain Time” to just let our minds run free 😊😊

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep! Totally. It’s like if we’re “too quiet”, then we must be that proverbial sinister cat that is always plotting against them lol 😊😊

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post!
    I know what you mean!
    I love this silence in which everything may happen.
    Happy thoughts for you 🙂
    And you can be sure that i ‘m waiting for you and loving your silence too.
    about words that can’t say all and right way, i find help in poetry.
    sometimes i can’t express myself that it comes poetry to help me to say it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, dear friend! Yes!!–I find poetry and other creative writing to be an excellent avenue of expression, too. Isn’t it amazing? I don’t understand much Italian yet, but I do love the writing you do (and a good friend of mine who knows Italian is coming to visit me for an extended period of time, and she will help me translate while she’s here! Yay! So excited.) 😊

      Silence is very under-appreciated; I’m glad you find peace and calm in yours as well! ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hehe thank you very much, girl! 😊 Agreed! If people knew everything we were thinking, they would get exhausted lol ❤️

      Like

  4. My word! Daydreaming is ESSENTIAL to my well being. I must do it daily or else I become edgy and cornered.

    And you are right. It is incredibly difficult to put into words where my mind goes. I can speak Yiddish, compose soul soaring classical compositions, say the right thing, paint a masterpiece, feel all my perfumes and their personalities….in my mind. My mind is a glorious place to be. Leaves become magical to watch, rockpools come to life and I can see the energy around trees hum, simply allowing myself to vague out while I’m silently staring.

    How to express the emotion, energy, capabilities etc of my mind??! I cannot. I stay quiet and hope one day to find a way to release all my mind can do.

    I used to watch classically autistic children at the school I volunteered at; standing on the top of a swing set, just still, staring out into space. I knew what joy they had in their lives. But no one else will ever know. I felt so sad that people want them to become engaged, productive and of this world.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, thank you for sharing your perspective! What an amazing comment ❤️

      Oh yes, daydreaming is a must! Lol 😊 In fact, it’s exactly the reason that I *can* be productive in our world; I think up my best ideas during times in which I’m off by myself, quiet, with no one else around. Without my alone time, I wouldn’t be able to receive those inspirations, and I certainly wouldn’t be (“sociably acceptably”) able to write them down (or, in my case, type them out in my mobile lol) for later reference 😊

      To release my mental energy, I must create. Yep, that’s another “must” for me. If it doesn’t come out through music composition, then it must come out through creative writing; if not that, then through art; if not that, then through blogging; if not that, then through a nonfiction writing for work. It has to come out somehow, and my brain just works its way down the list of possible creative avenues 😊

      None of that would be possible without daydreaming or alone time. The “alone” part is very important to me; if someone else is in the room, even if it’s someone near and dear to me, the energy of their mere presence will interfere with this whole phenomenon. 😊

      I agree, too, that it is dang near impossible to communicate this brain activity to someone else, especially someone who isn’t on the spectrum. There’s simply no way to explain it. Someone on the autism spectrum would likely be able to relate in their own way, but I’ve never been able to help neurotypical people understand it at all. I wonder if that’s one of the reasons why we often feel lonely, even when in the company of loved ones? 🤔

      And that’s probably why I feel a *lot* less lonely since I’ve found the spectrum community! 😍 Here are hundreds of people who actually understand me, because they do the same thing! I’d never encountered other people on the spectrum before.

      That’s so very cool that you’ve been around with autistic children so much. You’re familiar with how they appear outwardly, whereas so many people are not ❤️

      Wouldn’t it be neat if there existed a technological device that could be connected between the mind of an autistic person and that of a neurotypical person, so that each could truly understand each other? No explanation or confusion! 😊 (Completely voluntary between both people, of course) 💙

      Anyway, I’m rambling a bit, but your comment inspired a cool thought-cloud/train – thank you! You gave me a big smile this morning ❤️

      Like

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