Joy twirls stems -- of fall leaves. And she eats the entire apple, core and all. (Her school staff recently asked us if that was OK, and we have no objections!) It wouldn't be that big a step to twirling the apple stem. The Stem Twirlers Club strikes me as a delightfully stimmy meditation!
So-called neurotypical folk use other sensory-intense aids to meditation/prayer and remembrance as well...
- lighting the Advent candles
- walking the labyrinth
- praying the rosary
- and many more, in many traditions
I got an extra nudge to contemplate these things from a post at Both Hands and a Flashlight this week, called Autism Beatitudes. It's a thought-provoking and lovely piece. Several of my favorites in the list:
Blessed are those who do not speak, for they shall teach us what lies beyond the limits of words.The author acknowledged in his post that he is not on the spectrum himself, and solicited feedback from readers who are. I feel a little hesitant myself, as I stand on the outside of Joy's twirling and stimming, at the prospect of assigning meaning to it. What is happening in her mind as she spins the stems or spins herself? Is there a fundamental difference between her quiet leaf-stem twirling, and her teeth-gritting intensity as she stims on a set of car keys? Is it over-romanticizing to think of these things as a potential meditation or liturgy? How similar, and how far apart, are the intense stim-experiencing of a set of Mardi Gras beads and the deliberate, specific prayer experience mediated by the counted beads on the rosary? What level of intentionality does it take for an experience to belong in the realm of prayer/meditation?
Blessed are the spinners, for they shall experience life from every angle.
Blessed are the stimmers, for they shall grow their wings and fly.
Blessed are those who are faithful to their rituals, for to them all the world can be a holy liturgy.
I'll likely contemplate these things further next time I find myself with an apple or a leaf in my hands. Meanwhile, I'd love to hear any responses from you!
UPDATE re: responses -- In addition to the thoughtful discussion in the comments, Professor Mother has posted an insightful reflection on stimming and meditation from her own experience. Well worth checking out. See also (don't know why I didn't link this before) the piece I co-wrote earlier this year with Barbara of TherExtras -- not addressing meditation specifically, but lots of thoughts on stimming. And, a detailed insider-perspective on stimming at Reports from a Resident Alien from last month.