This is a video by my friend shinymetalbrain (she said she was curious what she looked like when exuberant so turned the camera on):
I did a video response of my “happy dance” (which was also recorded while I was in that kind of mood, and which should be useful for my “trying to get at-that-moment displays of emotion for a set of staff-training videos so they can read my body language better”):
I don’t know what her experience has been with professionals (or at least I don’t know the totality of it). But I really did have a psychologist determined to stamp the happy dance thing out of me. He took me to get a fish for his aquarium, and I did the happy dance while squealing “fish” a bunch of times. He chastised me for “inappropriate” displays of happiness. He told me that regular people don’t get that excited over a fish, at least not by the time they were teenagers, and neither should I, nor should I show it because it looked strange.
A different psychologist told me that if I were rich I could get away with these things and be called eccentric, but since I was not rich I would have to learn to act normal. That was… interesting. Especially since the most I ever managed was wearing myself out and still getting called psychotic or autistic or crazy or retarded by random people. If I’m going to get called those things either way I’d rather not wear myself out in the process.
What strikes me as strange is that someone would want to eliminate a happy behavior. I mean, I can understand eliminating some of them. The very common behavior in non-autistic people of joyously slapping me on the leg or back when very happy would be one I’d be very eager to see changed. But running back and forth flapping and squealing is apparently not acceptable unless you just won the lottery or something.
Is it exuberance and happiness themselves that aren’t acceptable? I’m not sure, but I sure wonder. When I filmed this, I was just in a good mood in general, the kind of good mood that makes it nearly impossible to sit still. There wasn’t any event sparking it, it just happens a lot. I don’t see a whole lot of people in that mood most of the time, or if they are they don’t run all over the place. The closest I remember was a girl in college who started dancing around and saying that springtime made her want to frolic and that she didn’t care if she looked like a dork. Maybe it’s looking like a dork people are afraid of. I’d rather be happy and looking like a dork than running around all the time afraid I might look like a dork.
(And what’s wrong with looking like a dork anyway? And why do I suspect that the whole concept of “dorkiness” is intimately tied to neurological unusualness in its various forms?)
Interestingly, I did an abbreviated version of this in front of a geeky non-autistic woman at MIT in response to something she said. She misunderstood me. She thought I was upset about something. Hence another reason for attempting to catalog my body language in realtime (at least for staff — some of the situations are personal enough I probably wouldn’t be comfortable putting them in public, but anything like this running-around-happy thing I might).
I remember confiding in someone on a BBS chat that I sometimes got so happy or excited I had to run around the room and couldn’t sit still. The person said to cultivate that and never forget it and never mind what people say. It was a long time since then before I was doing that very often again — I wasn’t very happy — but I’m noticing in the past few years I’ve done it more and more. And I haven’t forgotten what that person said to me.
I don’t remember what my handle was, or even which BBS it was on, but his handle was Sony. As if that narrows it down. He was the guy whose user description was “A cross between Joe Isuzu and a chipmunk, with busy shirts.” I was the kid who probably bored him silly typing out all my dreams. If he’s reading this, thanks for the advice, and maybe reading this site will give you a clue why I was so, er, annoyingly repetitive sometimes.
I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the idea that it’s inappropriate to be more excited than usual about something ordinary, or to express that excitement in a physical way that doesn’t harm anyone. Someone replied to my video telling me that if there weren’t social rules against this sort of thing, most people would do it. Sounds like one social rule that could use rewriting. Of all the numerous attempts to train me out of doing harmless and innocent things, this was undoubtedly the most illogical.