Why We Autistic Individuals Do Some of the Things We Do

Sometimes especially when I’m working on something challenging, I can get very overstimulated. Often, I end up doing things that I’m self-conscious about, to make it easier, such as punching my leg, rocking, breathing quickly, or clenching my teeth, just to, as the autistic talk show host Carly Fleischman says, “make the output block out the input.” Sometimes, if I really can’t handle it, I’ve gone into the hallway or into the courtyard and screamed at school, which is something I’ve been working on.

One of the best things about being open about my autism is that it removed a lot of my self-consciousness when I do these things. They aren’t particularly polite, and I don’t want to do them too often, but at least I can be myself around them and feel like there’s nothing wrong with me because I have these tendencies; I just have a different brain. I spent several years keeping my autism a secret, and during those years I tried harder than I usually have to mask my tense feelings: Fake it till you make it, you know? However, one of the most liberating parts of sharing my story and my autism has been feeling like I can do these things and now people understand why.