So there’s this blog post I read about quiet hands and abuse. It’s a really good read and I think it makes really good points. I am also finding myself all sorts of conflicted about the whole concept.
I mean, in general I totally agree with the point of the post. And what the author went through as a child is absolutely awful, and I cannot even imagine why anyone would do things like that. This idea people seem to have that stimming is wrong is very upsetting to me, and I wish people wouldn’t be so afraid of a little repetitive movement. I feel very sad that the author of that post went through what she did, and I wish the world weren’t like that.
On the other hand, well, I do horseback riding. I am in a theraputic riding program, and I am pretty sure that I am not the only person there on the autism spectrum. Sometimes, when there, I hear my teacher say to a student, “quiet hands” or “quiet feet.” If I were to only go by that blog, that would be a horrible thing for her to say. Now, I don’t know about what the context is beyond horseback riding. I don’t know if the people in their life are trying to make it so that they don’t stim, or if this is isolated to riding. I do, however, know about the riding context. And in riding, quiet hands and quiet feet are actually really freaking important.
Why is that? Well, as the blog said, because behavior is communication. In this case, communication with the horse. When I ride, I only sometimes talk to the horse with my voice. Mostly I talk with my hands and my feet and my knees and my thighs and my hips and my torso and my head and… everything, really. I would never have gotten as far as I have in riding if I weren’t able to have quiet hands and quiet feet. So if an autistic person gets on a horse, and honestly really enjoys riding, is it still wrong to say “quiet hands”? Personally, I don’t think so.
I think it’s a context thing. In most contexts, no one is hurt by someone flapping or exploring the texture of a wall or whatever. In most contexts, if someone is made uncomfortable by that, that is their problem and no one else’s. But in some contexts, it matters in a really direct way. I guess I just think that there has to be some way to find middle ground.