Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Dance like you are 'unaware'

Many of us have heard the adage: "Work like you don't need the money, Love like you've never been hurt and dance like no-one is watching."

There are many forms of the quote these days, and it's hard to find the 'true' source, some attributing it to Irish Proverbs and Mark Twain. Regardless, the heart of the message is one I find inspirational... live for the now and don't allow yourself to be held back by others.

Recently I've been having a few discussions with people along these lines. We've talked about how people feel a 'pressure' to fit in, which can cause some of them to behave differently. The outcome of this is that many adults wonder who they are, and what happened on their life journey to become someone they are not.

For people with Autism the pressure to fit in may be a heavier weight than the rest of us. The humming, pacing and flapping that many Autistic children do is often frowned upon by society. I'm fairly certain that Jono is completely unaware of the looks we sometimes get from people when out at the park or at the shops... I notice it though.

He usually hums when moving, walking should somehow be accompanied by noise... wether it just 'feels' good, or it's now an ingrained habit I am unsure, but one thing I am sure of I is that as he goes on in life people will ask him what he is doing, make fun of him for doing it and at times demand him to stop. People will be people.

Currently his brother and sister will mimic him at times, and he gets annoyed with them. Which again I am unsure, it may be that he realises they are 'making fun' of him... or that he doesn't want someone else doing it becuase it is 'his'... or perhaps he doesn't like it being brought to his notice. Until they bring it up though, he is largely 'unaware' that he is doing it.

So where does the dancing come into this? My daughter will dance along to a song, and suddenly notice people are watching and get embarrased and stop. She tells me she is worried what other people will think of her. I tell her don't worry, because they are all worrying what other people will think of them.

It's a big lesson to learn, especially for one who is only 6 years old.. but I hope she gets it, I want all my kids to get it. This is one lesson Jonathan can teach all of us.

He doesn't hold back. He doesn't feel judged. He isn't aware of others looks, and he is just comfortable being himself.

This week in your life,
Dance... like you are 'unaware'.

Update: The day after I wrote this, I had a 'sleepover' at my Mum's place, helping her with something. I left my place around 7pm, wearing a trackpants, long shirt and a fluffy polar fleece dressing gown, as I knew we wouldn't go out anywhere. On the way home the next morning, I stopped at a petrol station... and 'almost' took off the dressing gown so I could appear more normal. Then I remembered this, and left it on because it was warmer, who cares what people think!! It was a good feeling :)


  1. I can just see you at the servo in the dressing gown . . and you're right. Who cares whaat people think about things like that . . stir 'em up!! Love you. Mum

  2. The funny thing was, moments before that I saw a guy walking to a different servo dressed in his flannel pj's, and thought to myself.. what a wierdo!! Takes one to know one?

    Then I realised he was probably after milk for the coffee or something and in a hurry before he started work.

    Love you too!

  3. Hi, I am a jr highschooler...and im a playwright. I am working on writing a play about an autistic child who dances. I was wondering if an autistic child can comprehend dance and if they can how do they 'dance' around others? Also, How do they communicate...can they talk like you and me??

    Thank you

  4. Hi Chaslyn, Thanks for your interest. I can only give you one perspective as I only spend any large amount of time with one Autistic person... I do know others, but I don't spend anywhere near as much time with them.

    One thing at a a time - as for talking, Jono has 'suddenly' realised what talking is good for, and that he can get his point across better with words, he can initiate conversations with people, and hold 3-5 word sentences for 5-6 turns, back and forth. This has only occurred in the past few month, at the beginning of this year we were lucky to get 3 word sentences, and only one at a a time. I know of Autistic teenagers who are not talking at the age of 13-14 years, and I also know autistic children who can talk extremely well from a young age, though it's not always in a fashion that makes sense to the conversation being had.

    As to the dancing, generally they love rhythm and dance, and will 'boogie' along to songs that make them feel good, but in my experience it's only brief moments. They can learn a routine, but it's very challenging. Last Christmas Jono performed 3 little dances that he performed with his school end of year concert, even doing a solo, but total time would have been around 10 minutes for all 3 performances. Where as the year before he simply sat on the ground and cried because the music was too loud.

    As to how they dance around others? I'd say they are relatively unconcerned about the 'others' and just happy doing their own thing and feeling good.

    Feel free to ask me any other questions you may have and best of luck with your play.