About rocking

Among other things: Rocking is body language. Rocking is emotions. 

There is a slow happy!rock. And an anxiety!rock. And anger. And affection. And any number of others. And they are not the same.

And it is possible to look and understand. It is possible to learn how to read rocking, to know what it’s showing.

This is body language. Meaning shown on a body.

They tell us that we do not have body language, that we have a flat affect. And then they try to make this true; they try to flatten us and stop us from moving and showing emotional body language.

But we aren’t flat. We have body language. And rocking is part of it. (And any number of other movements. Not just rocking. But rocking is on my mind.)

I can’t tell you how to read it. Not much. Not yet. I’m trying to figure out some of the words for that. It is hard to describe body language in words, even body language that is socially valued enough that a lot of people have tried. All the more so this.

What I can tell you is that autistic movement is meaningful. Not mysterious. Not ethereal. Not in-another-world. Meaningful, present, and possible to understand.

(Not simple. Communication between people is never simple, and never formulaic. Meaningful. Complicated.)

Keep that in mind. The first step to understanding is knowing that there is something to understand.

Meeting sensory needs without violating boundaries

Sometimes people feel a strong need for a certain kind of sensory input, and then use other people’s bodies to meet that need even over their objections.

It’s not ok to do that. Not for sex, not for comfort, not for any other reason. People’s bodies are their own.

But sensory-seeking isn’t the problem. Failing to respect boundaries is the problem. There are other ways to get sensory input that don’t hurt anyone.

Here are some things that can help.

Squishables. These are giant big round stuffed animals. Hugging them feels like hugging, and hugging them and rocking can be very satisfying.

Fidget toys, like the ones available at Office Playground, can be helpful for some people.  Having something satisfying to do with your hands can make things feel a lot better.

Dollar stores and cheap stores and the cheap kid toys rack that a lot of stores have can be a good source for cheap fidget toys, too. (Silly putty works well for some people, for instance).

Wooden baby toys like this one and this one can be good. So can marbles. (Because they are hard and smooth and round and cold and can be rolled).

Listening to music on headphones can make being in spaces bearable. (Sometimes spaces are bearable either by holding onto people, holding objects, or listening to music with headphones. It’s good to have options that don’t require hanging onto others).

Stimming without objects can help too – flapping and rocking, in addition to being expressive body language, can be really useful as ways to regulate oneself and meet sensory needs.

Sensory Squids is a good blog about this for adults. (Because, you know? Most of us don’t outgrow this).