I’ve talked to autistic people who like dancing. Even my brother used to go out dancing all the time. I’ve heard Larry Foard and Sue Rubin and Charles and a bunch of others go on at length about how amazing dancing can be for auties. I’ve never really danced much before. My approach to mandatory dances has often been to run off and spin in a corner somewhere (preferably near enough to the speakers to drown out sound). So while I’ve talked to autistic people who think my mannerisms (especially when they’re in response to things around me) are just like dancing and stuff, and who dance a lot themselves, I’ve never really considered myself one of “those crazy auties who actually like going and getting themselves overloaded dancing and stuff”.
I just got back from a conference on relationships and sexuality for people with developmental disabilities. It was a lot of fun. I learned a lot there. I got to meet Dave Hingsburger which was really cool since I’ve always admired his work (and got to meet a lot of self-advocates who said the same thing). And saw Tia Nellis speak (I’d heard a lot about her too). And I think I learned to dance.
The trick is basically to stick my body in the middle of all the noise and commotion. At that point I get to watch it bend every which way in response to all the stimulation, probably trying to find some way to handle it without screaming or something, but also in the midst of a synesthetic physical sensation that sort of guides the movement. Add in some echopraxia and it’s ready-made dance moves without even having to think about it.
Now, I was still fairly sick at that point. So I was exhausted, even though I was having fun. But these movements were mostly non-voluntary with a small number of voluntary additions. So this strange phenomenon started happening where I’d be dozing off and my body would still be dancing around just as vigorously. When I explained this to a staff person later, she said “I wish I could dance that well in my sleep.” But all those crazy dancing auties seem to now have me on their side, I want to try more of this. It was a lot of fun.
(Edit: Dave has blogged about meeting me too, and I have to say I think it’s cool being compared to a three-legged dog, at least in that context. ;-) )