Last night I heard a very interesting saying.
Compulsions are emotions in action.
Have you ever been in an extremely awkward situation and you don’t know how to respond? You just kinda freeze. Inside, your emotions build and build until you find yourself compulsively rubbing your eyebrow or blurting out a random (and probably mortifying) response. Your emotions can’t find the proper outlet, but the energy must be released. Hence, the expression of a compulsory action. You have about as much control over it as a reflex.
Spending money, drinking excessively, eating, cleaning in the middle of the night…these can all be compulsions driven by the build-up of emotions that are not appropriately expressed. Using these compulsions instead of learning to express your emotions delays your emotional development and usually gets you in a heap of trouble.
When you have an expressive disorder like autism, these compulsions are a bigger part of your life and can be disabling.
Stimming is a repetitive motion that many autistic individuals utilize to release emotional build-up. Some forms are harmless and others are destructive. All are socially awkward.
Some parents love to see their children flap their hands because this is the only real expression of happiness or excitement they will see in their child. Others despair as their child repeatedly tries to bang their head against a wall.
The ability to express emotion is natural and beautiful and necessary for your health, well-being, and social interaction.
It is something we have to constantly work at and mature in as we face new situations in life. It is one of our biggest form of maturing. How you respond to tough situations tells people a lot about you as a person and your level of maturity.
It is also one of the hardest things you have to learn in life.
Knowing this will be exponentially harder for Tyler is difficult for me. He will be put into countless situations where expressing his emotions will be impossible and because of this he will be judged and misunderstood. He will stim. He will be rendered speechless.
But he will grow and learn and mature. For now, his mother and father are his voice. We are his anchors and his allies. Every victory will be hard fought and won through patience and love.
We are parents like all the other parents…loving our children, growing them, and fighting for them when the lions come. And in Tyler’s case, giving him a voice when he loses his.
From my heart,
I am leading a team at the Arkansas Walk Now for Autism Speaks this October. This is part of my way to give Tyler and other autistic children and their families a voice. For more information about joining Team Ty-ty or supporting our efforts, please use the following links: