I want to talk about the 5 repetitive behaviors I have with adult autism, and one of them I’ve done since I was two years old – so 46 years, and I recently stopped doing it. So stay till the very end because we’re going to reveal it.
Repetitive Behaviors I Have with Adult Autism
So first on the list that I’ve done with my autistic behavior is tapping.
Number 5 – Tapping
So, I was such a tapper growing up, I would just use my mom’s wooden spoons from the kitchen. I tapped on my bed, I tapped on the desk in school, I was constantly tapping.
Finally my mom gave me, on my 12th birthday, a drum set – and that was the best day of my life, because people with autism, they have repetitive behaviors and they call it stimming, it’s self soothing. So, it actually makes me feel good.
When you’re doing these behaviors you’re not crazy, you’re not mentally ill, you know, you just do these things because it makes you feel better, they actually say that it can release endorphins and dopamine into your mind so it’s a feel good drug that you produce by doing these stimming behaviors.
So, you know, I loved music. I was constantly listening to my sister’s music and my dad’s blues music. The gogos had a great song called We Got the Beat and I just could not stop tapping to that song, and all the other songs that my parents listened to.
I finally got the drum set when I was 12, and it still took six months to get the first cymbal for that drum set, but I was in heaven. Now I could actually drum with drumsticks and get some total satisfaction from some loud banging noises with a drum set.
Number 4 – Twitching
I still Twitch today, it’s something that I’m doing, because I quit this other thing that I’m going to get to in a minute, but I find myself going to bed and twitching my feet and I have to do that sometimes.
You know, it could be restless leg syndrome, I don’t know, but the first hour in bed, depending on how much caffeine I had for the day or how much I worked outside.
If I haven’t done any work outside and I’m jacked up on caffeine, then I can twitch my leg, you know, for an hour or two until my leg feels tired enough to where I can stop. So twitching is something I’ve always done. I did it underneath the desk at school, wherever I could.
Number 3 – Humming
So, along with the music, which I love so much, I’m constantly humming songs, and I can’t get songs out of my head actually so if I hear a song, it can stay in my head until another song comes along and replaces that one.
I constantly have a band playing in my almost 24/7. I mean there’s a song usually playing before I go to bed, and sometimes it’s very irritating because it could be a jingle from a commercial on TV because commercials are geared towards getting stuck in our heads.
You know what I’m talking about, or you know those one hit wonder bands where they just had a ridiculous song, you know like Who let the dogs out and then it’s in your head for the next week until you can finally replace it with something else. So humming has always been there, along with my love for music so that’s definitely a big one.
Number 2 – Looking outside
I work from home so it’s very hard for me to just focus for four hours straight. I usually will do like five to 10 minutes on the laptop and then I have to look outside. I’m attracted to nature, it’s a peaceful place to be. I wish I was outside more. You know, I was a very happy landscaper. Let’s just put it that way when I landscape for a living and I mowed lawns, mowing lawns was the best thing ever for people with autism and Asperger’s because we like to do repetition.
I like to see the cut grass line, you know, juxtaposed with the uncut side of the lawn. I like following patterns, so mowing and washing dishes are excellent choices for people with Asperger’s.
if I had to go get a job right now I would definitely wash dishes, but I always look out the window, I’ve been looking out the window, ever since I was a little boy doing that and listening to music with my Walkman blaring Ozzy and Judas Priest, growing up in the 80s, along with looking out the window.
then the number one, the thing that I’ve done over 46,000 hours of I’ve calculated this, I’ve done this since I was two years old, and that is rocking back and forth.
One – Rocking
Now this is my biggest escape in the world. I’ve had so many daydreams and fantasies, emotions and memories all tied with rocking back and forth.
In fact, I did it so much I had pads on my knuckles. They’re finally healing because I haven’t rocked back and forth for the last four months. You can look at the other videos on my YouTube channel and see the progression.
You can see the last day I rocked I was actually kind of a nervous wreck and I was scared to quit. But since I stopped rocking back and forth, it’s coming out in other ways.
It’s really hard to just stop all your coping mechanisms all at once. I am proud to say that I have greatly reduced my, I do not rock back and forth anymore, like I said, I’m doing other things now, but I’m definitely not wasting 14 hours a day rocking back and forth like I used to.
So I think all of these things are because, for one, I’m a very highly sensitive person. I was a very sensitive boy growing up, I was scared of my surroundings, I didn’t feel safe in my surroundings and I just felt grounded and safe when I rocked back and forth.
I started on a rocking horse, and then I had a little rocking chair that my dad passed down to me. I don’t know if he rocked, you know, as a teenager I know he rocked in that rocking chair as a little boy as well. I know that he has Asperger’s just like I do, even though he doesn’t know that.
So those are the five repetitive behaviors I’ve had in autism, back to why I started. Not only was I highly sensitive, I think I was hyper aware of my surroundings, and I was very sensitive, had a sensory overload, you know noises scared me, certain noises were very jarring and scary.
And maybe I was just restless. I was hyperactive. I had a lot of energy, and there were times when my dad told me I have to sit still or I have to stay home today. I can’t play with friends.
We used to have a day called Family Day which killed me. You know someone with Asperger’s and autism and hyperactive, I love to play and when my dad said we’re having family day, which usually meant just hanging out around the house watching my dad mow the lawn. I couldn’t do anything.
Same thing with high school and grade school, you know I was a big dreamer I just dreamed about, you know, traveling the world or going to Ivy League colleges or getting a Ferrari or Lamborghini or being a rock and roll drummer.
I hated school. I did not excel in school. I could care less about math or history, all I wanted to do is become a rock and roll drummer. My number one love was music until I discovered alcohol when I was 17, and was the great escape for almost two decades, until I nearly died from alcohol and drugs and got into some bad addictions and negative coping mechanisms.
But, I’m here to say I survived, I stopped rocking, and I’m learning positive coping mechanisms every day. You just have to get that excess energy out if you feel like stimming all the time.
There’s other things you can do to relax, you can go for a jog or a walk, you can take a hot bath. You can do a sauna, you can look into meditation. Meditation is just incredible, even if you only do it a half an hour a day, you’ll see a tremendous change in your behavior and your stimming patterns. So I hope this helps, Click that subscribe button if you’re new here, and we’ll talk to you soon.
Erik C Johnson