What's worse than being trapped in your own body and not being able to get what you want to say, think, feel out? I have observed my brother, my clients, etc. "get stuck" within themselves. I don't know if its stuck in their body or within their mind but it looks excruciating. Imagine not being able to control it.
I have a client that when told to turn off the computer, he will start to do it and right before he hits, "shut down," he will yell out "I'm sorry!" and keep playing the game. It's like he wants to listen and wants to follow through but something within him is not letting him finish that last step.
Can you imagine not being able to move on until a task was completed? Not because you are devoted to completing everything before you do something else, but because you literally cannot stop to take a break, answer the phone, go eat, etc. because your body physically won't let you.
Everyday before school, my brother has to close every door on the second floor of our house before he is able to move on, go downstairs, eat breakfast, and get on the bus. If he is forced to go down without closing the doors - MELTDOWN! Or, if he realizes he didn't close them, for whatever reason, he stops what he is doing and rushes upstairs to close them. One day when I was getting him ready, he stopped dead in his tracks on his way to the bus and refused to move until I allowed him to go back inside. He ran upstairs to close my door that was slightly cracked open. How did he even know? I thought he had closed it earlier that morning!
Everyday, we get in our cars and realize that we left our bedroom light on. The majority of us will probably just go about our drive (because I'm sure we're all running late) and forget about it. What if you couldn't? What if you HAD to turn your car around and go turn off the light? I'm not talking about something like an over or curling iron - which could be detrimental if you left it on, but a light! Something so little, that you didn't want to leave on but you did. Tough luck, you move on. But what if you got stuck on that? You couldn't move past it. You couldn't follow through or concentrate on anything else until you knew it was turned off.
Could you imagine a day being ruined by leaving a light on? Could you imagine feeling so uneasy within yourself because of a light? And what sucks, is that I doubt my brother or anyone else can even stand this feeling. They would probably love to just walk out that door and forget about that stupid door that they didn't close, but deep down they are driven to turn around and go close it because if not, they will be a mess inside for the remainder of the day. Even more stuck inside themselves than they were before.
Autism from a sibling's point of view...
My name is Paige and I am 24 years old. I graduated from Towson University with a Psychology Bachelors Degree. I am now working towards my Master's in Education of Autism and other Pervasive Disorders at Johns Hopkins. I am also a Behavior Data Specialist at the Kennedy Krieger Institute Neurobehavioral Inpatient Unit. My younger brother, Sammy, is 19 and has Autism. He is completely non-verbal, unaware of safety, is not toilet trained, cannot get himself dressed, and has difficulty with everyday activities that we all take advantage of. He works harder every single day of his life than anyone I know and he always does it with a smile on his face. He is my true hero and inspiration and because of him, I have dedicated my life to advocating and creating opportunities for individuals with Autism. I hope that I can make him proud and this blog is just a small part of the awareness I hope I can create about Autism and support other siblings impacted by Autism. I love you Sammy - thank you for everything.