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Autism: Handwriting

24 Oct

While I am desiring to write about positive experiences, growth, healing, and blessings, my reality is very different. It isn’t so much that really bad things are happening all of the time, but more that, in my own experience, I am near continuously in the midst of a strong internal battle that makes things seem, perhaps, worse than they appear from the outside.

I will write about this, but I wanted to make a really strong effort to share something positive about my life. Sometimes all I have is a brief moment in time, and in one of those moments, I took this picture.

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When my son was young and homeschooling, I used these books with him to teach him cursive writing, or penmanship. He hated it. So many tears over such a small exercise, but the activity really did hurt him. His hands, it seems, just weren’t built for this. He struggled with fine motor control, was severely frustrated and bored with repetition, and overall, it was one of his most dreaded lessons. He quickly moved from these books to the computer, where he was much more comfortable. His typing speed is around 80 words/minute with high accuracy at this time, but the lessons served their purpose. When he has to he can write very well – but it still hurts, and still takes him a very long time.

For me, however, I prefer writing by hand. I can type well, and maybe have a speed between 40-50 words per minute. My accuracy is good, and it isn’t like it hurts me or anything. It just… doesn’t feel the same. When I need to think, I do best writing things down. When I write things down, I connect best with what I have written on paper. So the reason I prefer writing by hand, rather than typing has just about everything to do with the way my brain is wired.

I connect better with the written word than to the spoken work, and in fact for many things (especially praying) am still unable to connect well my thoughts to what is coming out of my mouth. So people talk to me, and I write back. If I speak, I am often tormented for days, even years after. I need to write my response. If people are praying in a group, I remain silent – praying in my head within the silences, but not out loud. It isn’t that I am against praying out loud, it is just that I can’t. I know that both of these issues look bad, but what can I say? How can I explain? I have Autism. My brain is just wired that way.

When my words are spoken out loud, it is always for the benefit of the people I am with. So then I am not actually praying to God in that moment, but almost to the people I am with. It feels wrong, but when I am silent (and this is likely not true, since I have explained to pretty much all of these people about my disability, and my struggle with the connections in praying out loud) I worry that others believe it says something about my faith. It doesn’t.

Not only do I only speak for the benefit of other people, but the connections are still not at all good. I have been working on this for 30-40 years, and still it isn’t a natural thing for me to talk. Words do come out, it is just that I am unable to think well – not nearly to the depth that I exist within my mind. So the words that come out are often not what I meant. The words come out wrong, and awkward, and I often fear they offend people when that is not what I meant at all.

What is more, people take these wrong words that I have spoken, and try to read into them, which kind of ends up like the game “telephone,” where the message received in the end is nowhere near what I started out saying. And then I end up in trouble for something I really wasn’t saying to begin with.

For all of these reasons, I prefer to write. Since it is not ‘normal’ it often isn’t received well, and since I write every detail of what I am thinking (so as not to be misunderstood, or dishonest) I am told that I overwhelm people with my writing – and at 40, communication – though others who know me seem to think I do okay now – is as difficult for me as it was when I was a child.

I love to write, and am often complimented on my handwriting. Even so, when I looked for a routine this fall, and came across these books, I decided that I would work on my handwriting. This has turned out to be one of the most soothing parts of my routine. It isn’t new. It is pretty much how I was taught to write, so long ago. It isn’t difficult. As I said, my handwriting was good to begin with. All I do is take the letter, and take the words, and copy them – over and over.

Much like my writing, I love this. I can do this. I am confident in this. And maybe I am not growing, much (though I have found I am more conscious in forming my letters when writing) with this activity, but mentally it calms me. Sometimes that is all I need.

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One response to “Autism: Handwriting

  1. kazst

    October 24, 2016 at 2:05 pm

    I can completely relate to this: “Words do come out, it is just that I am unable to think well – not nearly to the depth that I exist within my mind. So the words that come out are often not what I meant. The words come out wrong, and awkward, and I often fear they offend people when that is not what I meant at all.”

    I do talk a lot. But most of what I say comes out wrong. I am not happy with it, and others are often not happy with it.

    Liked by 1 person

     

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