Why did I enjoy the edge of the playground? The solitude. Recess is an overwhelming experience. Kids were loud, I never knew which group I was supposed to go to (and honestly, I didn’t have an interest in people), and many of the playground activities like the monkey bars were way out of my comfort zone. I liked walking the edge of the playground. Lining things up, or even just walking in lines calmed me in a way that’s hard to describe. It was a way to reset.
But, there was a part of me that always looked at the monkey bars. My mom came to the playground after school every day for weeks until I finally built up the courage to try them. My biggest fear was that I would fall. I have always had gravitational insecurity, unsure that I will remain on the ground. I feel as though I could float off this earth and so the idea of intentionally allowing my feet to be so high off the ground was daunting.
But I did not fall. In fact, one day I climbed three monkey bars in a row with my mom’s help. My first time off the edge of the playground.
Life is like an endless series of monkey bars. Things that we are very unsure we can do. But once we achieve them, it opens a door and a whole new world. It opens up the rest of the playground. And once that happens we are unstoppable.
These posts will contain an ongoing series of monkey bars and how I went about conquering each one. For my literal readers, the monkey bars are meant to represent challenging life events that I overcame. These are challenging for all but specifically and uniquely challenging to those of us on the spectrum. There were times when I fell on the first try. That happens to everyone. But all falling means is that particular piece didn’t fit the puzzle…all you need is to try a different puzzle piece until you find out which one is supposed to go there. I have found a lot of my puzzle pieces and my hope is they will fit for some others too. I am still looking for many, but I hope that here will be a place we can look together.
Trust me I know how frustrating being on the spectrum can be. But don’t limit yourself. You are so capable of overcoming your anxiety and fears, all you need is the right puzzle piece! You hold the key.
Let’s face it. This world was not designed to be accommodating to our way of processing. Our society is centered around fast-paced social activity, most social situations are loud and daunting, and there’s often a lot going on all at once for us to keep track of. But we can do this. With the right tools we can navigate our way and not become completely overwhelmed. Because what we need is the strength within.
There are many large scale nonprofits out there right now that alienate us without realizing it, by using harmful language like “let’s beat autism!” or “let’s find a cure!” While I understand the perspective, they do not realize that this is not the correct language and as a result make the very population they wish to help feel unwelcome. One of the largest in particular does not have the support of many of us on the spectrum because they research to “end autism.” Our way of processing is not a disease, even though it can definitely feel that way. This only creates fear and anxiety for those of us on the spectrum. Instead, we need to use more language that acknowledges that this is a way of processing that is not wrong, but just needs extra help. We need to create more self-esteem builders.
I personally think our way of processing has many gifts and is in many ways more advanced. However, that comes with a price…we process too much too quickly and must manually learn to filter. But we CAN do it. And once we do we tap into such special parts of our brain that typical brains just don’t have.
So let’s set off and practice some monkey bars together.
“What I am looking for is not out there, it is in me.” -Helen Keller
Each post I will leave a comments challenge! Please tell me in the comments what your greatest challenge has been so far. Are there any specific topics you would like addressed?