(My) Asperger’s / autism and clumsiness

I’m currently reading Tony Attwood’s book called “The Complete Guide To Asperger’s Syndrome” and I must say, despite its age (10 years now) and some of the semi-bothersome pathology-based terminology (the book is person-first, while I prefer identity-first), it’s a really decent book overall.  As in, pretty excellent, actually.

Tony was ahead of his time, talking about Asperger’s/autism in a rather neutral light, while everyone else in the professional community was still Hooked On Pathologics.

In his book, he mentions clumsiness as a trait of Asperger’s.  I don’t recall the current diagnostic criteria for the autism spectrum mentioning that, but it almost should, given the fact that I, like so many others, slam-dunk the criteria–and we also report being uncoordinated.

Here’s a typical day for me…

Trip over cat.  Dammit Vanessa, you’re gonna kill us both!

Drop keys and SoBe water bottle.  Thank goodness for the cap, tightly screwed on.

Drop phone.  Thank goodness for the Otterbox cover.

Trip down the stairs.  Almost eat it, but catch self.  Cuss again.

Get to office; roller bag catches on multiple door frames.  Dammit, I’m so clumsy.

In office, I don’t dare get up once I’ve sat down; I’ll trip on the protruding chair legs and stumble.

Papers fall out of files and off my desk.  Headset falls off desk.

My floor is littered with post-its that have fallen off my table.

All day, every day is filled with dropping, falling, tripping, stumbling.

Thank goodness I can at least drive. I’m surprisingly coordinated at that.

Coming home from work, tripping up the stairs (who does that??  Well hell, I always have).

Staying out of the kitchen while my partner makes dinner.  Having him dish up my dinner for me.  Complete with a spoon, instead of a fork.  We’ve both agreed that forks are not my friends.

Being clumsy, for me, means…

  • Having to set everything that sits on the counter back at least a foot.
  • Clearing the way so I don’t trip over things.
  • Pushing in any chairs between me and the door at the library.
  • Weighting stacks of paper down and clipping them together so that they don’t come cascading off my desk.
  • Knowing how many stairs are in each staircase so that I can count them if I’m carrying something and can’t see them.
  • Knocking things into the sink.
  • Having everything I’ll need for a while close by so I don’t have to reach far.
  • Scolding partner for leaving half-full cups of water in my way.
  • Scolding partner for leaving anything else in my path.
  • Getting my roller bag caught on every door frame.
  • Having to consciously remember what I’m holding so I don’t drop it.
  • Walking slowly.
  • Doing dishes slowly so as not to get water all over the kitchen.
  • Dishing up my dinner slowly.
  • Doing everything slowly, and with deep concentration, staying focused on what I’m doing.
  • Dealing with the sudden irritation of feeling my partner suddenly pull me out of the way when someone comes barreling down the grocery store aisle.
  • The embarrassment of bumping into something or someone.
  • Constantly untangling cords.
  • Wishing I had panoramic vision.

Those are just a few examples.  Most of them happen to me every day, multiple times a day.

Given what I’ve seen and read from others, I’m sure I’m not alone.  When it’s happening to me in the moment, though, and not to anyone else around me that I can see at that moment, it can sure feel that way. 🙂

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80 Comments

  1. I often have bruises and cuts I have no idea where from (or when). Always walking into things, getting caught on things, tripping over my feet (and having a permanently damaged knee as a result) ……I’m hopeless.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. 🙂 Very! I am probably dyspraxic hence my inability to fold anything properly (a standing joke here at home) as well as my ability to drop anything and everything.

        Liked by 2 people

          1. Yeah, I do wonder if its because of the Aspieness or as well as, as a co-morbid thing. Its such a tangled web of various brain wirings, I wouldnt know where to begin working it out.

            Liked by 2 people

          2. page is being a bit odd, so I will reply to your question below (thanks for the compliment btw, usually takes me a few attempts to write without mistakes – which I sometimes miss, IRL i often say the wrong word which confuses people).

            Dyspraxia is a developmental disorder that causes problems with co-ordination and movement. Often occurs in people with dyslexia.

            Co-morbid is when conditions often occur together, possibly because they are related in some way, like the dyspraxia and dyslexia, or asthma and hayfever. Autism often has a lot of what I call bolt on extras, like the dyslexia, dyspraxia, OCD, ADHD, eating disorders, even asthma seems to occur more often in autistics.

            Liked by 2 people

          1. yup, makes for an interesting household 😉 in seriousness its the only relationship in which I’ve felt accepted and understood for me, and he feels the same. We have both been in NT relationships that just didnt work because of the total lack of understanding. Outsiders might think it odd, both sat not talking, noses in laptops or books, but it suits us well. We both have somewhat different triggers thankfully, and because of his knowing for much longer and a family with other aspie members, he copes better than me.

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  2. You aren’t alone. I cannot recall how many hundreds or thousands of times I was told, outright and in public (e.g., by parents and siblings and teachers) that I was “unhuman, actually subhuman” (statement of a slightly younger sibling) for “lacking the human grace and air” (statement of a fourth-grade teacher) and “being not quite alive” (statement of a third-grade teacher) and so on.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You are NOT alone. I cannot recall how many hundreds or thousands of times I was told, outright and in public (e.g., by parents and siblings and teachers) that I was “unhuman, actually subhuman” (statement of a slightly younger sibling) for “lacking the human grace and air” (statement of a fourth-grade teacher) and “being not quite alive” (statement of a third-grade teacher) and so on.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. I disagree. The fact that anyone can make an error at any time has nothing to do with the horrible (as I experience it) action/mindset that is “laughing at yourself.”

          Liked by 2 people

  4. I remember my teacher who use to walk really slow when going down stairs, I always wondered why she did that and secretly wanted to have her grab my arm for stability. I never offered or told her though, unless she finds it on here.

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    1. Yup I do that, I get very nervous on stairs – or anything involving height – and gingerly walk down as touch on ice. Don’t get me started on my stance on ice!!! I almost have a phobia of the stuff and my attempt as a child at ice skating would be funny if not so painful. I can do things that require me to sit on my backside, but not if they require me to balance on my feet 😉

      Liked by 3 people

  5. Yes, indeed. Very much understand. This is so me. Clumsiness was one of the areas I was much scolded for growing up. Taken me a long time to become more forgiving of myself. I like that you have worked out some helpful strategies. I have some similar ones. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for chiming in, dear one! Ugh I’m so sorry you were scolded growing up! 💐💐. I mean, it’s not like we plan this stuff, right? 😊. “Gee, that door frame looks good; I think I’ll run my shoulder into it!” Said no one ever. 💓🌺💓

      Liked by 3 people

  6. I routinely clip doorways with my shoulder, hip, or an outflung hand, and don’t even get me started on the blunt head trauma incidents. I hope I never have to have my head shaved for any reason because it won’t be pretty…

    Are you bad at sports, out of curiosity? Like always being either too slow or too fast trying to catch a ball?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I don’t know about you but the only thing I can ever catch is colds! Sports I was hopeless at, the one no one wanted on their team (tbh I didnt want to be there at all), the one time someone dragged me to a salsa class was mortifying, by the time I worked out which foot I was supposed to move (lefts and rights, not good), they were about 50 steps ahead of me and I was so confused I wanted to run out screaming. I’ve nearly knocked myself out a few times with hitting my head too, including at work. I shouldnt be allowed out without being bubblewrapped.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Oh I can catch a ball… with my face. 😦 I lost count of how many times I woke up in the nurse’s office and they made my mom come get me. I even got knocked out running a relay race. Never could learn to skip, either, or work that stupid plastic lemon on a rope toy that was big in the 80s.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. oh I remember those! Yeah, lethal. Playgrounds were the source of so many injuries (broken tooth from falling, admittedly I was teasing the boys) . I’m a firm believer that exercise is downright dangerous, for me anyway.

          Liked by 3 people

    2. I am so bad at sports that, when I was at school and people were required to choose up teams for something in the gym, nobody would take me (even as the last member) EVEN when specifically ordered to do so on penalty of failing the course or some other serious punishment for them. Things soon reached such a point that the gym instructors would decide to agree with the other students that it was far better to have one team play “one person short” (e.g., having only four people for a five-person activity) then to force the team to have its full number if having its full number meant having me. Otherwise, you see, class simply could not have continued.

      Liked by 5 people

      1. You aren’t alone. I can still remember the one time one of the other girls wailed at the PE teacher: “no fair, *we* got stuck with her last time!” Sheesh, it’s not like I even wanted to be there to begin with…

        Liked by 4 people

    3. I am so bad at sports that, when I was at school and people were required to choose up teams for something in the gym, nobody would take me (even as the last member) EVEN when specifically ordered to do so on penalty of failing the course or some other serious punishment for them. Things soon reached such a point that the gym instructors would decide to agree with the other students that it was far better to have one team play “one person short” (e.g., having only four people for a five-person activity) than to force the team to have its full number if having its full number meant having me. Otherwise, you see, class simply could not have continued.

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      Liked by 3 people

  7. I definitely get this when I’m tired! Not so bad every day, but sometimes. I can never do anything fast. My Dad had a bit of a thing about my clumsiness when I still lived at home (must never touch the walls! And oh heavens the summer of broken glass…), he’d get really angry, so I think I developed an instinct to try really really hard always to be in control of my clumsiness! I reckon there’s some automatic “panic focus” process now, that runs constantly in the background and drains my energy. But when I’ve crossed that tiredness threshold I do literally walk into walls.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes! 👏🏼👏🏼. It hits me hardest when I’m tired, too. My downfall is that I tend to want to do everything fast, so this amplifies the whole thing. OMG I’m sorry you had to endure the irritation of your dad. It’s not like we’re doing this on purpose! 💐🌷❤️

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      1. I was punished for pointing out that I was not doing it on purpose, and for supplying evidence that I was NOT doing it on purpose. (For instance, why would a child who’d just been served a huge plate of her favorite flavor of ice cream drop that whole plate “on purpose”?) Since pointing out that I wasn’t doing it intentionally, and proving why, was considered lying, every punishment for clumsiness brought with hit a second punishment for being a liar: then a third punishment for refusing to repeat “the truth” that my parents, teachers, siblings, classmates, etc. required me to repeat if I didn’t want to be host further: namely, “the truth” that I “did it on purpose.” (If it seems odd to you that classmates would get involved in such a “grown-up” thing as punishing another child for apparently being a liar or for apparently having done something wrong on purpose, this happened because – at my school, at least – whenever a teacher wish to bully someone, he or she enlisted the help and co-operation of those students whom s/he didn’t bully or [at least] wasn’t bullying at the time. They knew that, if they refused to cooperate with the teachers plan and to accept and use the teacher’s advice on how to hurt me worst, they might well be the next targets.)

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Oh wow 😰💐💞. I can’t even imagine. How sick is that?? Were these people even in touch with reality?? 😡. That’s just–wow. I’m so angry at those people on your behalf. That kinda shit makes my blood boil. That’s just plain sick. Sending you loving, supportive thoughts 💞💞💞

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          1. I don’t blame you for not believing me, because I had (as a girl, teen, and woman) therapists who didn’t believe me either (and he didn’t believe some of the other facts of my life. (For literally decades, even AFTER Asperger’s was FINALLY recognized and “on the books,” there were only one or two times I was eventually able to show a therapist that any hard-to-believe aspects of myself and of my life were real. Once I ever succeeded there, the next problems that a therapist typically had with me were that /a/ I have too many different kinds of co-existing problems for him or her to feel comfortable about making sense of the interrelations of them all, and /2/ I didn’t have the usual things that the therapist had dealt with, such as drug abuse or alcohol issues or having been raped or any of the things that, well, they had been taught about. & that were used to seeing in their office. ( One therapist actually exploded in desperate anger at my problems: “why on earth wouldn’t you be an alcoholic or an adult or a rape survivor or something else that I actually know about, instead of having all these other things that are beyond my experience even one at a time, let alone all together?!”)

            Liked by 1 person

          2. Oh no I believe you, my lovely. It’s the other people’s behavior that I can’t believe. I totally believe it happened, I’m just so saddened. It’s emotionally hard to believe that people would treat an innocent child this way. I’m so saddened for you. People can be so extremely cruel, and for no reason!! 😰😡. The therapist is over-the-top, too – sounds like they felt incompetent (which, if they’re getting angry and having an outburst at you, then they are!). Completely unprofessional behavior on their part.

            But no, I completely believe *you*. Those other people are sick and if I could punish them for what they did to you, I would.

            Walking by your side, dear friend 💚💙💜

            Liked by 2 people

  8. Were any of you (like me) MORE than merely “scolded” for this?!I was taught, from every direction, that my actual competencies (even when admitted to be excellent) didn’t count — in fact, that these only made me worse — because it was horrendous and unconscionable for any such thing to co-exist with the sub-human soul (or not-quite-REALLY-a-soul-or-a-mind) that my clumsiness proved.

    Never forget that, in English and many other languages, the word for the opposite of clumsiness (“grace”) is ALSO the word used (among many Christians and in numerous Christian-influenced cultures) to mean “eligibility to enter Heaven.” My family and I aren’t Christians, but the USA has a highly Christian-influenced culture, and one of the schools I attended was nominally Christian.

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    1. Count me among the athetically hopeless. Nice to meet some others who get it. 🙂 kategladstone, I used the word “scolded” above, but that is only because it was more palatable for me than getting into a description of how my mother beat me- both verbally and physically-for being who I was. I have my days where I can get detailed and days I just can’t handle saying a lot. I understand where you are coming from. I felt like dirt under my mother’s shoe most of my childhood. And what an interesting point about the word “grace”. As a Christian, I never thought about it in that light.

      Liked by 1 person

          1. I could always identify with Alison, I was soooooo much like her in virtually every way at school.

            I love the film but the ending annoys me in one way, they change Alison!! Goes against the message surely…..grrrr

            Liked by 3 people

      1. Then your experiences with your mother were very similar to my experiences with my mother Although my mother has made a total turnaround in the last few years – after I was diagnosed at age 43 (I’m now 54), and after she started learning (though TV, Facebook, etc.) about the autism spectrum and its implications (which rubbed her nose in such matters as, for instance, the fact that I had NOT BEEN the liar she punished me for being when I was simply accurately reporting that I WAS NOT INTENTIONALLY making certain “impossible” mistakes or doing certain things wrong or failing to see certain things or failed to be sufficiently non-clumsy to be human, and so on — she still wants me to somehow “forgive” her for it all, and she still thinks I am wrong to continue to have been damaaged by PAST maltreatment now lahat it’s all over (some of the maltreaters repemted, the rest are either dead or otherwisecouut of my life), and now that she’s really trying to make amends in some very concrete and sincere ways: she thinks that what she is NOW (very sincerely) doing should, somehow, erase all consequences of my having ever been injured by her previously having spent over half a century doing (with equal sincerity) things that were very different indeed, in nature and therefore in results.

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  9. Everyone, injuries are apart of life. I’ve broken my wrist, cracked my hip, rolled my ankle, broke my pinky finger, and have had countless bruises from playing sports and “horse play” or fighting. It’s ok though think of them as battle scars of life. The body heals.

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      1. I liked ! Attwood is a very interesting person, he explained what is asperger and gave some help- strategies tfor everyday aspie life, and in some moments he maked us laught. I was struck by the fact that his son is aspergertoo and makes use of drugs to try to socialize with people and often he has to be hospitalized. In his family Attwood could see some people with asperger very closely.
        I went to Rome to meet another aspie person who gave his testimony, now he is also a self autism advocate and good writer.
        I send you the link

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Oy! You’ve hit another one of my spots with this. I am a total klutz! My one real physical skill is driving; I even did it for a living for almost 20 years. (City transit!) Getting out of my own way is NOT one of my skills, however. It seems anything that involves intense visual focus is good, all else is questionable. Can’t catch a thrown object to save my soul- or my face! I trip going upstairs, too. Escalators make me very nervous while getting on and off; etc. etc. Thanks for this!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. “My one real physical skill is driving.”

      Oh wow, you too? I’ve often remarked to my partner how surprised I am that my driving is so decent, given the rest of my clumsiness lol. And yep, I can identify with all the rest of what you said, too! Lol. Just goes to show that we’re not alone, eh? 😊❤️💚

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  11. Recent conversation on the phone:
    Me (to my mum): You get those mystery bruises too, don’t you?
    Mum: You mean when you go round the door too tightly and bang your elbow and then forget about it?
    Me: Yeah, that.
    Mum: Of course I get them. So does your dad. Everybody gets them.
    😄

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Your list is one I could have written. I am super clumsy and always have marks and bruises and don’t know where I got them. I trip going up the stairs often and I even choke on my own saliva… not even kidding. I have had several concussions in my life and one was severe enough to have Post Concussive Syndrome and it took me almost two years to come right after. That was from falling down the stairs – and while trying to catch myself I managed to destroy the living room by knocking over two giant cat statues and the fire guard into glass and ceramic things and denting the wall.It was epic. I also do things no one does, like trip going up the stairs, or just walking on a flat surface, walk into telephone poles on the sidewalk knocking myself on my ass, get my head slammed in a car door, or shut my robe tie or sweater in a drawer and walk away only to be yanked back, cut myself with scissors because I miscalculate the length of the scissors, cut myself through an avocado because I think it is harder than it is, hit myself in the teeth with the glass when I go to take a drink – or stab myself with the fork, smack myself in the head with the blowdryer, I even have left the house without my skirt before going to work and stapled my fingers. I have found humour in it after all these years. I am blessed and my husband is a gem and helps me out by cooking and doing other things to lessen my chances of injuring myself, like stopping me when I have shut my robe tie or sweater in a drawer and gently opening the drawer to free me before I walk away. lol. Great read, thanks again.

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