Autism in Motion

We all have proprioceptive struggles

Autism is being understood more and more as a neurological difference that causes our sensory input to give us different information than the way neurotypical individuals process such input. We are “wired differently” in our neurology from all of our senses, and each of us is different.

I went looking for more information about the way we move as compared to neurotypical individuals. Much has been made recently of “micro movements” that seem to be common in autistic individuals, and how these movements might interfere with NT intuitive interpretation of social interaction.
Instinctive rejection of differing neurology is done rapidly and unconsciously by others interacting with autistic individuals.
Much comment has been made regarding how this could possibly be the basis for autistic social struggles.

I have been reading about involuntary movements and also about autistic “gait”.

I wrote about this a bit in the early days of the blog. I had been surprised to discover just how odd my gait must appear to others.

Gait is being analyzed and understood today through the use of diagnostic tools unimaginable only a few years ago.

I am attaching a link to an older article that discusses gait analysis and diagnostic imaging of individuals with various neurological diagnoses.

Most fascinating to me was the included video showing these gait differences clearly. ( thank goodness it was a clear and slow moving image that I could actually process! )

I was astounded to see my own gait reflected in the image for autism in the video. I have always been clumsy and awkward and my mother constantly criticized my way of walking, forcing me to crawl on the floor moving my head from side to side (remember the “patterning” theory of development in the 1960s?) and walk for hours trying impossibly to balance a book on top of my head.
She hated my my posture, and my gait, even going so far as to take me to a podiatrist, wanting him to fix my funny way of walking.
I recognized even at the time that he thought she was causing my self conscious and timid, awkward movement to be worse through her constant criticism.
He ended up telling her I had an extra bone in my ankle and that I could not help the way I moved.

She left me alone after that, what a relief!

I don’t believe for a minute I have any extra bones, I was so grateful to him for helping to free me of the continual harassment and criticism.

I digress.

When staying overnight with a sick friend at a hospital for a couple of days just a few years ago, I had to continually walk down a hallway which had a huge plate glass window at the end of it. When it was dark outside, this acted as a mirror to reflect my image as I walked toward it down that long hallway.
I could not help but observe my gait and was amazed to see how very odd it was! I tend to plant one leg and to swing the other leg around it in a sort of semi circle. One leg (my left) is almost straight in flight, moving forward without almost any deviation, and I weave my right leg around this one removing it from almost directly behind the left and swinging it in a sort of arc, placing it in front of the left, Sort of a weaving motion.

I was stunned. No wonder people look at me when I walk!!! How odd! I knew my gait was “off” but I had not realized how it looked to others. WOW.

That recognition was a couple of years ago.
Today I was searching online for articles on proprioception and gait, as well as micro motor motions.

I found this article from a few years ago. https://www.spectrumnews.org/features/deep-dive/autism-in-motion/


Please watch it and look at the part where the motion of the autistic individual is shown.
Is there really a recognizable autistic gait?
That autistic individual portrays the exact same gait that I recognized in myself just a few years ago.
How interesting!
Are you aware of your gait?

What does it look like?

I am going to continue to search for more information about autism and our bodies in motion.


4 thoughts on “Autism in Motion

  1. I have no idea whether I have this “autistic gait”. What I do know is that, when I was about fourteen, my sister would comment that she was ashamed of being seen outside with me because I don’t walk like someone my age. Then again, I also have mild cerebral palsy, which I didn’t find out about until a few years ago and then thought was left-sided hemi. Now that I recently started in physical therapy, my PT is commenting on how my right side is my poorer side. I’m assuming my movements are all over the place.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Absolutely amazing Deb!!! I’ve never noticed any sign in this from you! I wanted to comment now, but will watch the video next. I wanted to cry when I read about walking back and forth with a book on your head… And crawling…I don’t remember that at all. What I do know is that when walking into Walmart or any other store, I look at how I walk too. I always have. And do I recognize myself? Nope!

    I feel very devastated at what you had to endure growing up. But you finally (in your 60’s) found the answer!!! What a relief that must be! It doesn’t make is less devastating though. Know that you are very, very loved. And the contribution you continue to make to the previously undiagnosed adult autistic community is giving comfort and understanding while they are on their journey to knowing themselves (phew…I’m not even going to try to unravel that!!!).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. When I was a teenager, a friend’s father had seen his daughter with me at a distance and knew it was me because of how I walked. When I joined the military, I was always singled out in basic training for my odd gait. Most of it was because I seemed to bob up and down compared to others. I didn’t notice that motion in the videos, but it sure is interesting. I’d love to have that analysis done. Thanks for sharing this, and I’m glad that podiatrist found that “extra bone” in your feet!*)

    Liked by 1 person

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