Autism advocate Debbie Denenburg very kindly wrote this article for my blog. I think you’ll enjoy it…
My autistic mind darts. I compare it to an old time pinball machine where there are bells, lights and flippers. When my mind has been overactive for too long it goes TILT. No activity. It simply stops functioning. I can’t think.
This is why focusing is so important to autistics. We call them special interests. Others call them obsessions. The point is that they provide relief from frenzied mental activity. As autistics we are sense based beings. Like animals we tend to tune in to everything in our environments – all at once. We can’t help responding to sudden sounds, flickering lights, overbearing scents. These things are personal invasions. We can’t control our reactions to them. This puts us in a vulnerable position. There has to be an outlet of some sort. That’s where focus comes in. And focus comes from intently concentrating on one thing.
Personally I have a number of artistic projects in the works. These are my “go to” outlets. I think most people would look at them and think I’m insane. But for me they represent a safe place where something is familiar and controllable.
One of those projects is gluing beads. It sounds ridiculously simple. It isn’t. I take thousands of tiny seed beads and other small craft pieces and glue them onto bottles or pieces of wood. They require my complete attention. Some of these projects take hours, some days and some go on for years. After working on them for a while I feel relaxed.