One almost can’t run a basic Google search for the word “autism”, especially in April, without practically tripping over websites that urgently suggest that the visitor “Walk for Autism” and “Find a Walk Near You”.
The goal, of course, is to raise funding, which will most likely be allocated toward efforts like “cure” and “prevention”, to fulfill the dream of ensuring that people like us no longer exist…or maybe the goal is a new Bentley, but who’s watching (?).
As a result, the hearts of many people on the Asperger’s/autism spectrum sink just a little during the month of April, which is both saddening and needless. Nobody deserves to feel like that.
Here is my response to those efforts made by those organizations…
I’m walking for autism, alright. I’m walking for my autism. I’m also walking for any other autistic person who might need (or could use) the support. 🙂
I’m walking to find a quiet place to enjoy some time in solitude. A place where I have space. A place where I feel like I have room to move. A place where I can hear myself think. A place where I can breathe sigh after sigh of relief. A place where I can feel like I have the world to myself.
I’m walking away from crowded places and people who drain me. I’m going off by myself to recharge. Every time I do this, it’s a new adventure. Fresh ideas spontaneously pop into my mind. Songs I’ve never heard start playing in my head. If I contemplate intensely enough, I can begin to identify what I’m feeling.
I’m walking out of the mall, the noisy restaurant, the overwhelming grocery store a few minutes early. Away from the claustrophobia-inducing crowds. Away from the mindless herds. Away from the materialism and greed. Away from the foraging for ever-greater collections of Stuff in hopes that it satisfies some kind of subconscious emptiness inside, since nobody’s comfortable with who they actually are anymore.
I’m walking into my sanctuary to read and write and color. I’m surrounded by books and laptops and coloring books..and cats, and my partner. I have more than everything I need. One could definitely say I’m fortunate, even blessed.
I’m walking with my headphones on. Chances are, it’s nothing most people have ever heard. It’s probably a fusion of traditional ethnic influences set to a contemporary beat. But it gives me a socially acceptable excuse to say “go away” to the world when I need to.
I’m walking with one close friend. That might be one of three in-person girlfriends. It might be my partner. It might be my mom. Or it might be…myself.
I’m walking away from gossip. Most of the time, it’s incredibly pointless to talk about other people. What do gossip-hens hope to accomplish? What do they contribute to the world?
I’m walking without making eye contact. Eye contact has the same effect for me as a potential threat. It’s overrated anyway.
I’m walking to avoid shutting or melting down. I’m taking the time to retreat into myself. An outsider might perceive this as narcissistic; I need it to do it as a matter of survival.
I’m walking as part of my daily routine. I’m not ashamed of routines; they center, balance, and anchor me.
I’m walking while stimming. I might be painlessly fiddling with my lips, my earlobes, or my hair. I might be curling my arm up against my chest. But that’s just aesthetics; what I’m really doing is managing stress.
I’m walking while pondering the mysteries of the universe. The universe is a wild, beautiful, tragic, cruel, and fascinating place. It has its rules, and when rubber meets road, the universe always wins. If you can’t beat it, join it.
I’m walking while processing. Endlessly processing the events and conversations of the day, the thoughts that I had to prematurely set aside so that I could attend to something else.
I’m walking while solving the world’s problems and sending good vibes to humanity. Nondenominational prayers and warm thoughts are sent en masse to anyone suffering. Encouragement is beamed toward those embarking on new and sometimes frightening journeys. Love goes out to all of the innocent.
I’m walking while processing that conversation from earlier today. I might have really screwed up. Or maybe I might have said something of genius. Or I’m forming a reply in my head. Or making a mental to-do list.
I’m walking while talking to myself. I don’t care if people think I’m “crazy”. It helps me process, and that’s what counts.
I’m walking to stay loose and ward off the pain/stiffness, a manifestation of the Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, which often comes bundled with autism.
I’m walking to reconnect with nature. I can reclaim my spirit and my space in the grand macrocosm.
I’m walking to make sense of the world. Because sometimes the world makes no sense. Walking doesn’t change the world. But it does make it better.
Yeah, I’m walking for autism…
…doing what many autistic people do…
…I’m walking to find myself.
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(Image Credit: Cyril Rolando)